2012 was my second full year living in China’s capital. Thanks to Libby, my understanding wife, I have been fortunate enough to make regular visits to some of the capital’s most productive birding sites and to see some stunning birds. It is a joy to spend time in the outdoors observing familiar, and some not so familiar, species whilst at the same time adding a little to the knowledge, and status, of Beijing’s avifauna. Through the growing network of Beijing-based birders, both Chinese and ex-pats, and my expanding contacts among Chinese birdwatchers, many of whom I now consider good friends, I have learned a great deal over the last 12 months.
The end of the year is traditionally a time to take stock and look forward to the opportunities ahead. As in most parts of the world, it would be easy to feel depressed about the state of wild birds in China. Jankowski’s Bunting is in desperate trouble. The prospects are also grim for Baer’s Pochard. More well-known is the Chinese Crested Tern, which is in a precarious situation but hanging on, and of course Spoon-billed Sandpiper. In total there are 9 species classified as “Critically Endangered” in China. And, although only officially classified as “Vulnerable”, there is another species that I am very concerned about, a species whose song has never been recorded. Hands up if you have seen a Streaked Reed Warbler anywhere in the world in the last few years. The status of these species, almost certainly all moving in the wrong direction primarily due to habitat destruction, together with the ongoing battle against illegal poaching and bird-trapping, make it easy to paint a grim picture.
However, as we welcome 2013 and despite the growing pressures faced by the natural world, I am more optimistic about the future of China’s birds. Why? Who had expected the inspirational efforts by birders, volunteers and local authorities to take down over 2km of illegal mist nets and, later, save the poisoned Oriental Storks at Beidagang? Or the brave journalist, Li Feng, who secretly recorded and exposed the illegal shooting of migratory birds in Hunan Province? These events and many others like them, publicised through social media, sparked a huge response from ordinary Chinese people, demonstrating that there is a deep and widespread concern for the welfare of wild birds in China. This, in turn, has resulted in a new government initiative to strengthen the enforcement of laws relating to illegal poaching. On 29th November, shortly after the crackdown was announced, it was reported that in October and November the local authorities in Guangdong had seized 51,622 wild animals and 9,497 bird nets, following investigations spanning 584 markets and 1,320 restaurants. According to the report, 102 people have been sentenced as a result of the crackdown.
As one Chinese friend told me, the events in Hunan and at Beidagang could mark a turning point in the future of wild birds in China.
So, as we enter a new year with optimism and a renewed belief that, collectively, we can make a difference, it is an appropriate time to say a big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to comment and contribute through this blog, via the associated Birding Beijing Facebook page, the Twitter feed or directly to me via email. Birding Beijing would be a shadow of itself, and less fun to write, without all of you joining in!
And I am sure that I speak for all readers as I pay tribute to the hundreds of volunteers across China who have bravely taken a stand to protect their wild birds. I wish them every success in 2013 as they seek to consign to history wild bird persecution.
I wish everyone a happy, healthy and bird-filled 2013.
12 thoughts on “2013: Let’s Make It A Good One!”
It does seem like it may be good news for Chinese birds this year, based on the “bad news” as it were. Thanks for taking all the time you take Terry to write up your experiences and share birds in Beijing with lots of people. Happy New Year!
Thank you, Gretchen, for taking the time to comment so frequently. It is much appreciated. Happy New Year!
Thank you for sharing this with us. It’s always nice to read information about birding in and around Beijing. I read them with a lot of interest. All the best for 2013!
Thanks for the comment, Axel..! Best wishes for 2013.
Happy New Year to Terry, Libby, and all the others concerned with China’s birds and wildlife!
Let’s make a better new year! I have good hopes!
Thanks Emily! It was great to meet you in Tianjin. Best wishes to you and your family for 2013 and keep in touch!
Thanks very much for your always beautiful writing and sharing, Terry. And thanks all your concern, efforts and encouragements to our Chinese birders! May you & Libby a very best 2013!
Thanks Robbi! It was great to meet you in 2012 and I look forward to more birding together in 2013!
I’ve so enjoyed reading you articles through 2012. It’s always exciting when I get an email alerting me to a new post. I’ve been especially interested in China’s (and East Asia’s) birds since visiting in 2010 to see Spoon-billed Sandpipers. Your writing helps to fuel that and keep me informed and I am pretty sure that this is the case for a lot of people outside China: we can’t stay on top of all the environmental news from everywhere around the globe without becoming swamped with information. Your blog provides a useful filter, an occasional digest of some of the most important environmental news coming out of China. In addition, I love birding vicariously through you!
It takes a lot of commitment to keep a blog going and I am very grateful for your efforts. I look forward to following your writing throughout 2013 and wish you, your family and China’s birds and conservationists a healthy and successful New Year.
Thank you very much for your comment, Ken. And thank you also for your continued support for the blog. It is much appreciated. Let’s hope 2013 continues where 2012 left off – with more good news for China’s birds! Best wishes to you for 2013..
That was a nice collage for 2012, Terry. I never looked birding as a potential birding spot before i started following “birdingbeijing”. I wish you a streaked reed warbler in 2013 ;-). You are doing a very good job up there Terry.
Thanks Dev! Wishing you and your friends ‘down south’ some good birds for 2013…