Nocturnal Migration in Beijing – Autumn 2022

Autumn 2022 Summary

Recording period: 18 July to 10 November 2022

Recording time: sunset to sunrise

Recording location: roof of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

  • 34,460 calls recorded, of which 940 (2.7%) remain unidentified.
  • Of those identified to species, the most common calls were Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 树鹨 Shù liù (12,689), Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 金腰燕 Jīn yāo yàn (4,451) and Muscicapidae sp. 鹟科 (2,280).
  • Interesting recordings included:
    • a big push of >1,000 calls of geese (mostly Bean Geese 豆雁 Dòu yàn) combined with our first recording of Bewick’s Swan (Cygnus columbianus 小天鹅 Xiǎo tiān’é)
      on the night of 2-3 November (all between 2330-0430hrs)
    • Our first identifiable Phylloscopus warbler in the form of a Two-barred Warbler (Phylloscopus plumbeitarsus 双斑绿柳莺 Shuāng bān lǜ liǔ yīng)
      on 16th August at 0006hrs

The graph below shows the volume of bird calls per night over the recording period.

Below is the species list for autumn 2022 by volume

Autumn 2022 species list by volume PDF

Species Accounts

Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 树鹨 Shù liù

Total calls: 12,689 in 2022 (24,811 in 2021)

Date range: 17 August to 24 October (28 August to 1 November in 2021)

Peak: 13 September 2022 (1,173 calls);  10 September (1,906 calls) in 2021


Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica 金腰燕 Jīn yāo yàn

Total calls: 4,451 in 2022 (252 in 2021)

Date range: 18 July to 1 September 2022 (28 August to 27 September 2021)

Peak: 21 July 2022 (599 calls); 27 September 2021 (178 calls)


BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON Nycticorax nycticorax 夜鹭 Yè lù

Total calls: 2,152 in 2022 (5,358 in 2021)

Date range: 18 July to 10 November 2022 (25 August to 1 November 2021)

Peak: 2 October 2022 (474 calls); 30 September 2021 (791 calls)


COMMON ROSEFINCH Carpodacus erythrinus 普通朱雀 Pǔtōng zhūquè

Total calls: 2,137 (2,124 in 2021)

Date range: 10 August to 29 October 2022 (26 August to 26 October 2021)

Peak: 28 August 2022 (454 calls); 14 September 2021 (790 calls)


EURASIAN SKYLARK Alauda arvensis 云雀 Yúnquè


Total calls: 1,354 in 2022 (2,606 in 2021)

Date range: 24 September to 29 October (22 September to 30 October 2021)

Peak: 14 October 2022 (434 calls); 15 October 2021 (1,388 calls)


LITTLE BUNTING Emberiza pusilla 小鹀 Xiǎo wú

Total calls: 1,204 in 2022 (no comparison for 2021 given most Emberiza sp. calls were lumped together)

Date range: 12 September to 30 October 2022

Peak: 1 October 2022 (226 calls)


BRAMBLING Fringilla montifringilla 燕雀 Yànquè

Total calls: 1,069 in 2022 (329 in 2021)

Date range: 14 October to 8 November 2022 (20 October to 2 November 2021)

Peak: 26 October 2022 (235 calls); 30 October (78 calls)


More species accounts will appear here soon.



Given the recording period for autumn 2022 (18 July to 10 November) was significantly longer than in autumn 2021 (28 August to 2 November), one might have expected the total calls in 2022 to be significantly higher.  However, the two totals were remarkably similar (34,460 in autumn 2022 versus 34,713 in autumn 2021).  One explanation for this is that it appears AIIB has installed a new air conditioning system that kicks in at 0500 every morning (until 11pm).  The air conditioning system produces a ‘hissing’ that drowns out all but the loudest calls, meaning that we have almost certainly missed many calls in the period from 0500hrs to sunrise.  Given that the hour before sunrise is traditionally a busy time, we suspect we may have missed several thousand calls in total.  For 2023 we will explore alternative locations on the roof to try to minimise the impact of this anthropogenic noise source.

Running totals

At the end of our third season of recording nocturnal migration from the roof of AIIB, we have recorded a total of 73,581 calls involving at least 99 species. The running totals, broken down by season, can be seen below.

NocMig Species Totals Ongoing



The Beijing Nocturnal Migration project would not be possible without the wonderful team at AIIB, including Sir Danny Alexander, Alberto Ninio, Li Zeyu and Tian Hua and the team at Peking University, led by Assistant Professor Hua Fangyuan, and including 张棽 (Zhāng Shēn), 任晓彤 (Rèn Xiǎotóng), 刘双祺 (Liú Shuāngqí) and 杨晓彤 (Yáng Xiǎotóng).  Andrew Farnsworth and Benjamin Van Doren at Cornell Lab have provided valuable advice and encouragement and we look forward to ongoing collaboration.  A number of people have helped with the identifications, including Jonas Buddemeier, Geoff Carey, David Darrell-Lambert, James Eaton, Paul Holt, James Lidster, Magnus Robb, Seán Ronayne, Joost van Bruggen and Stanislas Wroza, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.

Title image: the spectogram of calls from a Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella 棕眉山岩鹨 Zōng méishān shí liù on 13 October 2022 at 0442hrs