Yuanmingyuan Park

A brisk 2 hours at Yuanmingyuan Park (the Old Summer Palace) this morning in beautiful but cold weather produced a single Dusky Thrush, 5 Naumann’s Thrushes, 1 intergrade Dusky/Naumann’s, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk, a single Common Kingfisher, one Grey-headed Woodpecker, 8 White-cheeked Starlings, 14 Willow Tits, 2 Great Tits, 18 Bramblings, 12 Goldcrests and, best of all, 4 late Pallas’s Warblers.

Edit: thanks to Spike Millington and Jesper Hornskov, it seems that my ‘Williow Tits’ were more likely Marsh Tits! Even in the UK, I have never been confident about separating these two in the field, given the variability and capacity to mimic each other. Forever learning!

One of the late Pallas's Warblers at Yuanmingyuan Park

4 thoughts on “Yuanmingyuan Park”

    1. Hi Spike,

      I am rarely 100 per cent sure separating Willow and Marsh, even if they call, knowing the variability and unreliability of some of the oft-cited visual identification features (bull-neck, white tip on bill etc). However, the majority of the birds I saw yesterday I was reasonably sure about – they were relatively pale overall, had a hint of a pale wing panel, relatively large bibs and the call was very unlike the typical ‘pitchoo’ of Marsh Tit with which I am familiar from the UK and Denmark. The most frequent call I heard yesterday was a harsh “char char char”. I know that Marsh uses a variety of calls and that they have even been known to mimic Willow, and someone will probably now come on here and say that “Ah.. but Marsh’s in China don’t make the ‘pitchoo’ call..” in which case I will be less sure… but on the balance of evidence, I was comfortable calling yesterday’s birds Willows. The birds were clustered around small pine stands, which I tend to associate more with Willow than Marsh – not a defining feature but it was another nudge for me in the direction of Willow. T

  1. Hi Terry,

    I’m really surprised about the Pallas’ – didn’t think they would be around here so late, and especially since it is so cold!!! Seems like a nice sighting – don’t know if others think it’s unusual or not.

  2. Hi Gretchen,

    I think it is not unheard of that the odd Pallas’s Warbler winters in the Beijing area but it is certainly not a common winter bird. I will check with China experts about how common it is at this time of year.. They were certainly a joy to see and seemed slightly lethargic in the cold – certainly not bombing around at 100mph as they usually do.


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