Birding with the BBC

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!

2016-04-30 BBC and ABC with Beijing 飞羽, Wenyu
The BBC/ABC team interviewed each birder against a backdrop of singing Chinese Bulbul, Yellow-browed and Pallas’s Warblers. Here with Wang Yan.
2016-04-30 BBC and ABC with Xing Chao, Wenyu
Xing Chao describes finding the first record of JANKOWSKI’S BUNTING in Beijing for 75 years!  A talented birder, he also found Beijing’s first JAPANESE THRUSH and has only been birding for 3 years!
2016-04-30 BBC and ABC with Beijing 飞羽, Wenyu2
Zhang Runchao explains how he developed an interest in birding..
2016-04-30 BBC and ABC with Beijing 飞羽, Wenyu3
Yan Xiaoyu described how her passion for birds will stay with her “forever”.
2016-04-30 BBC and ABC with Beijing 飞羽, Wenyu4
Zhang Guoming is studying Traditional Chinese Medicine and says his parents fear that birding will distract him from his studies!
2016-04-30 BBC and ABC with Beijing 飞羽, Wenyu5
Wang Yan is optimistic about China’s birds, citing the “explosion” of interest in birding as evidence of a growing awareness about nature amongst the Chinese public.

Update:

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.

 

 

8 thoughts on “Birding with the BBC”

  1. Is it possilble to add bird song to the website? I hear many interesting birds over here in Yunnan, only some of which I can identify.

    1. Hi Jane. There are a few websites dedicated to sound recordings of birds in China and elsewhere. Probably the best is http://www.xeno-canto.org I occasionally add sound recordings to blog posts but no plans to systematically add a dedicated page of calls and songs given the resources available on other sites. Hope that helps a little! Terry

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