As a Brit, I feel a sense of pride when foreigners tell me how much they admire the BBC and, especially, the documentaries produced by the Natural History Unit. The influence of Sir David and the Bristol-based team is often cited by young birders in China when we speak about what sparked their interest in birds and nature. And so, when the BBC contacted me about arranging interviews with young Chinese birders for a forthcoming World Service Radio series about the East Asian Australasian Flyway, it was an easy job to recruit willing volunteers.
The series of 4 programmes, a joint production with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, is following the migration of shorebirds from the southern tip of the flyway in Tasmania to their breeding grounds in Siberia, and the reporters are stopping off in China along the way, just as the birds do.
We arranged to meet the BBC/ABC team on Saturday morning at the Wenyu River, a birding site on the northeast of the city between the 5th and 6th ring roads and convenient for the airport (the team was due to fly to Dandong that afternoon).
Members of two local groups participated – the Beijing-based China Birdwatching Society and the Swarovski Optik-sposored 北京飞羽 (“Beijing Feathers”). The latter is a group of university students who volunteer to introduce birding to members of the public in Beijing with activities at the Beijing Zoo and the Olympic Forest Park.
They excelled – with impressive English-language skills – at answering questions about why they are interested in birding, why Beijing is so good for birds, how birding is expanding in China and their hopes for the future…
I can’t wait to hear them on the radio in June!
The ABC/BBC World Service radio series about the East Asian Australasian Flyway are now online.
For the ABC versions, click here.
For the BBC versions, click here.
There is also this article on Birding in China by Ann Jones on the ABC website and related articles on a hunter turned gamekeeper in China and how North Korea could be an unlikely saviour of East Asia’s migratory birds.