OBC trip to Yunnan

After a busy work period I am now looking forward to almost two weeks in Yunnan Province, beginning on Thursday this week.  I’ll be participating in the Oriental Bird Club fundraiser trip led by Jesper Hornskov.  Promises to be a veritable feast of birding in this remote and beautiful part of China.  Watch this space….

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Great Wall

On Sunday, Libby and I visited the Great Wall at Jinshanling.  The stretch between there and Simatai is walkable and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside as well as a real sense of history.  The Wall, including all its branches, covers an astonishing 8,800 km and consists of sections built between the 5th Century BC and the 16th Century.  Originally erected to keep out the nomadic tribes of Mongolia, nowadays it is probably China’s greatest tourist attraction.

On Sunday’s visit, birds were few and far between.  The calls of Chinese Hill Warbler and Pere David’s Laughingthrush were frequently heard and the occasional Red-billed Blue Magpie seen.  A Kestrel made a brief appearance but the star of the show went to a new species for me in China – Alpine Accentor – one of which alighted on the wall as we were enjoying our picnic lunch.

View from one of the Watch Towers, Great Wall, Jinshanling
Great Wall, Jinshanling

Wild Duck Lake (part 3)

On Saturday I paid my third visit to Wild Duck Lake in the company of Jesper Hornskov, his wife Aiqin, and a visiting Danish bio-chemist, Max.  It was a glorious but coolish day, about the fourth consecutive day of good weather.  We arrive in good time, at about 0715 and were immediately greeted with good numbers of Asian Short-toed Larks, several hundred Bean Geese, a few flyover Lapland Buntings and a smaller flock of geese that included 2 Bar-headed Geese (my first) and some Swan Geese.  A juvenile mongolicus Herring Gull was loafing at the edge of the lake and, on the water, were 120+ Ruddy Shelducks, a single drake Pintail, good numbers of Smew and a few Goosander.  On a small island, several juvenile heinei Common Gulls congregated, along with a couple of Spotted Redshank and 2 Grey Plover.

The very pleasant walk around produced 2 Short-eared Owls, 80+ Common Cranes (most of which arrived in the afternoon, clearly fresh in), several Buff-bellied Pipits, a single Water Pipit, 3 Chinese Grey Shrikes, 2 (possibly 3) Upland Buzzards, a single Peregrine (probably of the form peregrinator), a handful of Black-headed Gulls, double figures of Chinese Spot-billed Duck, 6 Common Pochard, good numbers of Little and Great Crested Grebe, one or two Reed Buntings and 20+ Pallas’s Reed Buntings.

Ruddy Shelduck against a mountain backdrop, Wild Duck Lake, north-west of Beijing, 30 October 2010
Chinese Grey Shrike, one of three seen at Wild Duck Lake, 30 October 2010

Common Pheasant (a real one!)