Latest Sound Recordings

A selection of sound recordings from Beijing and further afield will be published here.  For a more comprehensive set of sound recordings, please see the Birding Beijing page on Soundcloud.  I use a Zoom H5 digital recorder with a Røde shotgun microphone.  Recordings are processed (normalised and for noise reduction) using Audacity.


9 February 2019

A calling MEADOW BUNTING close to the car at Lingshan.  A Beijing Babbler and Willow Tit in the background.

25 July 2018

A visit to the Valley of the Cats on the Tibetan Plateau in July provided an opportunity to record a singing ORIENTAL SKYLARK whilst watching a pack of 7 Wolves!

20 July 2018

WHITE EARED-PHEASANT is common in the Valley of the Cats and their distinctive calls can be heard at some distance.  This group, including some very young birds, responded to another group on the opposite hillside.

19 July 2018

TIBETAN BABAX is a range-restricted endemic but fairly common in the Valley of the Cats.  It’s often hard to record them as they often frequent trees and shrubs close to noisy rivers.  However, on the morning of 19 July I was lucky when a group of four flew into a tree just 1-2m away and began to call incessantly.

18 June 2018

The visit to Wuerqihan in Inner Mongolia provided an opportunity to record a colony of PACIFIC SWIFTS that breed in the town.

17 June 2018

Northern Inner Mongolia was recently found to host breeding SWINHOE’S RAILS and, on the evening of 17 June, I was fortunate to be able to record one begin with its downward trill, followed by the “song”, first recorded in southeast Russia by the Amur Bird Project team in summer 2016.

3 June 2018

An evening visit to Yeyahu provided an opportunity to listen to the incredible cacophony of ORIENTAL REED WARBLERS.  And, of course, with the warblers being a favoured host species in Beijing, COMMON CUCKOOS were also in good numbers and active.  Finally, a DARK-SPOTTED FROG calling from the reedbed.

2 June 2018

An 0330 start at Lingshan was rewarded with some wonderful opportunities to listen to, and record, some of the mountain specialities, including HIMALAYAN CUCKOO, CHINESE THRUSH, SIBERIAN BLUE ROBIN, CLAUDIA’S LEAF WARBLER, EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER, SPOTTED NUTCRACKER and RUSSET SPARROW.

Himalayan Cuckoos are generally found at the higher elevations at Lingshan.  This one was calling incessantly at 1797m asl.

CHINESE THRUSHES were fairly widespread at the higher elevations.  This one was perhaps less than 10m away (but in cover) as it sang from a silver birch.

This SIBERIAN ROBIN was belting out his song early morning.


CLAUDIA’S LEAF WARBLERS are common at Lingshan and their distinctive calls and song are a feature of the wooded hillsides in summer.

An EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER, usually found at relatively lower elevations than CLAUDIA’S.

This SPOTTED NUTCRACKER landed just 5-10m away, called briefly, then flew over a nearby ridge.

And finally, this male RUSSET SPARROW was calling from a power line close to a brick building, presumably its breeding site.


31 May 2018

A singing CHINESE BUSH WARBLER in Shunyi District, Beijing.  A rare urban record of this skulker.

An INDIAN CUCKOO in Shunyi District, Beijing.  A familiar song to Beijingers, this species often sings at night, especially when it first arrives in the capital in the second half of May.

21 May 2018

LARGE HAWK CUCKOO singing in the rain at Lingshan, Beijing.

CHINESE LEAF WARBLER singing at Lingshan, Beijing.

3 May 2018

YELLOW-STREAKED WARBLER at Lingshan, Beijing (with LONG-TAILED MINIVET in background)

HUME’S LEAF WARBLER at Lingshan, Beijing

6 April 2018

A yak grunting while being milked on the Tibetan Plateau

5 April 2018

A pair of TIBETAN SNOWCOCKS calling at 4,800m elevation on the Tibetan Plateau.

29 March 2018

Still conditions on Qinghai Lake enabled me to record this PALLAS’S GULL ‘singing’ alongside several Brown-headed Gulls.

3 March 2018

Conditions were ideal again in the morning of 3 March with little wind.  This JAPANESE TIT was calling incessantly, possibly scolding me for my presence.

SILVER-THROATED TITS have traditionally been treated as the central and eastern China form of Long-tailed Tit and were only recently accepted as a separate species.  They behave, and sound, very similar to their European siblings.  This pair were very close to the road, calling rapidly.  A Eurasian Nuthatch calls in the background.

PALLAS’S ROSEFINCHES are beautiful birds of the Siberian mountains.  In winter they descend and move south.  A few reach Beijing each winter and Lingshan is THE most reliable site to see them.  In the winter of 2017/2018 several flocks totalling more than 100 birds have been regularly encountered on the higher slopes, often feeding on the ground in stands of birch.  On the morning of 3rd I was fortunate to be able to make a short recording of their distinctive calls.  A Beijing Babbler calls a couple of times in the background.

2 March 2018

On 2-3 March 2018 I visited Lingshan, Beijing’s highest mountain, around 100km to the west of the city centre.  It’s a wonderful site with alpine meadow habitat at the peak and some good quality birch and mixed forest on the slopes below.  Between the two villages on the road to the top is a good place to hear Chinese Tawny Owl in Spring.  On the evening of 2 March I was lucky – perfect conditions with almost no wind and no background noise – something of a rarity in Beijing.  Between 8pm and 9pm at least 4 CHINESE TAWNY OWLS were calling frequently.  Fortunately, one was very close to the road….

The taxonomy of this owl is not well understood.  Some authorities consider it a form of Himalayan Owl but the song is distinctly different and much closer to the European Tawny Owl.