Nocturnal Migration in Beijing, Spring 2022

Spring 2022 results

Recording period: 15 March to 8 June 2022

Recording time: one hour after dusk until one hour before dawn

Recording location: roof of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank


  • 4, 405 calls recorded, of which 25% (1,103) remain unidentified to species
  • Of those identified to species, the most common calls were Common Rosefinch (486), Indian Cuckoo (428) and Black-crowned Night Heron (425) 
  • Three nights recorded over 200 calls (in order of volume`)
    • 21/22 May (389 calls)
    • 30 April/1 May (223 calls)
    • 19/20 May (206 calls)

Interesting recordings include a possible (singing) Yellow-breasted Bunting, singing White’s Thrush (possibly singing from the nearby Olympic Forest Park) and a single call of Relict Gull.

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

The table below lists the species (or group of species) by volume of calls.

The total volume of calls in spring 2022 (4,405) was well down on the number recorded in autumn 2021 (34,713).  A small part of this difference was due to an adjustment in the recording times. In autumn 2021 we recorded from sunset to sunrise but in spring 2022 we recorded from one hour after sunset until one hour before sunrise (true nocturnal).  If we ignore the calls in the hour after sunset and the hour before sunrise for the autumn results, we still record 23,368 calls.  So there are clearly other factors at play.  We’d be interested to know whether other recordists have found similar results and, if so, suggestions as to the reasons for the differences in volume between spring and autumn.

Detailed species accounts will be posted below as and when analysed.

Interesting records:

Possible Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola Huáng xiōng wú song element, 5 May 2022 @ 0059 hrs.

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White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea 虎斑地鸫 Hǔbān de dōng (song), 20 April 2022 @ 0328 hrs

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Relict Gull Ichthyaetus relictus  遗鸥  Yí ōu, 2 June 2022 @ 2312 hrs

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The Beijing Nocturnal Migration project would not have been possible without the wonderful team at AIIB, including Sir Danny Alexander, Alberto Ninio, Li Zeyu and Tian Hua. 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), has been a joy to work with and I look forward to continuing cooperation in 2022 and beyond.  Andrew Farnsworth at Cornell Lab has provided valuable advice and encouragement and we look forward to working together with him and his team, especially Benjamin Van Doren, as this project expands.  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 and Seán Ronayne, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.

Title image: the spectogram of calls from a Black-capped Kingfisher, recorded 22 May 2022 @ 0320 hrs