After a tip-off from Colm Moore (via Jesper) about a Collared Crow and a Pied Wheatear, Libby and I went for a ‘picnic’ at the Shisanling Reservoir near the Ming Tombs on Sunday.. The dried up river bed to the north-west of the reservoir is a large area and looks just perfect for wheatears.. However, after searching the area for an hour and a half, I had to concede defeat with the wheatear but consoled myself with over 20 Richard’s Pipits, 30 Little Buntings, a few ‘ocularis‘ White Wagtails, 2 Amur Falcons (my first of the year) and a single Wryneck. After our lunch we walked up to the edge of the reservoir and enjoyed stunning views of a couple of Great Egrets, including one with scarlet legs, turquoise lores and a dark bill… of the East Asian subspecies modesta. I didn’t have my camera with me but a similar individual can be seen here.
Then, just as we were about to head back, a corvid took off from the edge of the reedbed and headed to the southern edge of the reservoir – COLLARED CROW! This species is now rare in Beijing and is considered “Near Threatened” by Birdlife International due to the declining population in its core range in southern China, thought to be caused by the intensification of agriculture and the increased use of pesticides. An unexpected addition to the list of species I have seen in Beijing.
By the way, I recently added up my Beijing list and Collared Crow is species number 253 for me in Beijing Municipality.