Eagles and more..

In the sweltering heat (it’s hit 39 degrees C this week), I visited Wild Duck Lake on Saturday.  I was hoping for some bitterns (There has been a Cinnamon Bittern in the Olympic Forest Park for the last week or so and Schrenck’s Bitterns have been seen along the Wenyu River in Beijing) and maybe some locustella warblers.  I saw very few of the former and none of the latter!  But I did see an unexpected variety of raptors with Short-toed and Great Spotted Eagles, Saker, Amur Falcons and spectacular views of Eastern Marsh Harriers.  A probable Blunt-winged Warbler was another highlight, singing frustratingly distantly from the boardwalk (dodgy photo below).

Short-toed Eagle, Yeyahu NR, 26 May 2012. This species has traditionally been considered a vagrant in north-eastern China but I have seen more than 10 individuals at Yeyahu and Miyun, almost all in April/May and September/October suggesting it is a regular passage migrant (and possibly a breeder nearby?)
Greater Spotted Eagle, Yeyahu NR, 26 May 2012. A regular passage migrant in Beijing.
Amur Falcon (1st summer male), Yeyahu NR. This beautiful falcon migrates through Beijing in large numbers in Spring and Autumn (part of an incredible journey from Manchuria to Africa and back each year) and a few breed in the Beijing area.
Amur Falcon (female), Yeyahu NR, 26 May 2012.
Eastern Marsh Harrier (adult male), Yeyahu NR, 26 May 2012. This guy is breeding in the extensive reedbeds inside the reserve.

As I was watching the spectacular Eastern Marsh Harriers, this Indian Cuckoo flew over my head calling incessantly…

Indian Cuckoo, Yeyahu NR, 26 May 2012.  Looks strikingly long-billed and long-tailed in this image.

And this is the ‘acro’ that was singing in the shrubby part of the reedbed..  Blunt-winged?  The supercilium ends very soon behind the eye…  but can I be sure from this image?  Unfortunately it was always distant.

Probable Blunt-winged Warbler, Yeyahu NR, 26 May 2012.

Finally, just for fun, here is a phylloscopus warbler in an unusual pose..  anyone want to have a go at identifying it?

A ‘pylloscopus’ warbler at Yeyahu NR. This image shows enough features for identification.. or does it? Any ideas? Answer later this week.

I also recorded a calling crake/rail that I think could be my first Ruddy-breasted Crake..  a little research needed on Xeno-Canto Asia!

Full species list to follow.

3 thoughts on “Eagles and more..”

  1. The raptors are a huge upset for me! During the past one year in china, i have seen very less raptors. The short-toed snake eagle will be hovering everywhere in South India.
    Is the warbler having a hook on its upper mandible tip or something wrong with my eyes? I will go with Long-billed leaf warbler.

  2. You post some fun quizzes Terry! I think this is ‘the warbler formerly known as Arctic’ – and am hoping you will enlighten us (if it is) which one! I’m assuming ‘borealis’.

  3. Thanks to Dev and Dave. I can exclusively reveal that the image is of phylloscopus borealis, so well done Dave! Dev – Large-billed Leaf Warbler is absent from Beijing but does breed just over the border in Wu Ling Shan, Hebei Province. There is a small (relict?) population here that is at least 1100 kilometres from the next nearest breeding site in the Qinling Mountains! Beijing is pretty good for raptors, especially in autumn.. On a good day in September or October, many different species (including Greater Spotted, Imperial and, occasionally, Steppe Eagle plus Grey-faced, Common (‘Eastern’) and Oriental Honey Buzzards, falcons and accipiters) can be seen as they skirt around Beijing’s northern and western mountains on their way south.

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