It’s raining Pallas’s Warblers…

A walk around the garden this morning (my first for a few days) revealed a large fall of Pallas’s Warblers.  There were at least 50 with 10 in one relatively small bush!  The light was pretty poor but I was able to capture the image below, using ISO 1000.

Pallas's Warbler about to enjoy lunch

I was pretty pleased with myself and fancied myself as a bit of an Arthur Morris until I saw these.. simply stunning!


Chinese Hill Warbler

An early morning trip with Jesper to the Botanical Gardens and walk up to the ridge produced a few good birds, despite the mist and low cloud that enveloped the hills.  One of the best birds for me was Chinese Hill Warbler, often heard but a lot more difficult to see.  Jesper used his cunning Chinese Hill Warbler imitation call to lure this one out of dense cover for a few seconds as it came to investigate.

Chinese Hill Warbler, above Beijing Botanical Gardens

Other birds included Pere David’s Laughingthrush, at least 5 Pine Buntings,Eastern Rock BuntingTristram’s BuntingRustic Bunting (a pair feeding on the track), several Yellow-throated Buntings (stunning birds), many Little Buntings, some cracking Siberian Accentors, a single Water Pipit (flyover), Yellow-bellied, Great and Long-tailed TitsEurasian SiskinOriental GreenfinchChinese BlackbirdRed-flanked BluetailDaurian RedstartCommon Rosefinch,Common BuzzardEurasian Sparrowhawk, lots and lots of Pallas’s Warblersand several Naumann’s Thrushes.

Thrushes and buntings are certainly on the move now, with many small flocks of the former flying over which, unfortunately due to the poor visibility, remained unidentified (although Jesper picked out a Red-throated in one of the closer flocks).  It’s getting steadily colder with the first frost predicted for next week.  Will be interesting to see what is on the move after that…



A cold front passed Beijing today…  cold and rainy all day.  A quick 10-minute walk through the garden produced at least 5 Red-flanked Bluetails which, together with the 12 I saw in Ritan Park yesterday, almost (but not quite) equals the total number of Bluetails seen in the UK this autumn!  Alan Tilmouth posted an interesting piece about the increase in UK records this year – worth a read.

Red-flanked Bluetail, Central Park, Beijing, 19 October 2010


When I first arrived in Beijing, I was fooled a couple of times by high-flying kites (the manmade kind) that I thought might be raptors..  I was amazed at how high these kites were flying over the city centre and wondered who was flying them and from where..  Today, during a walk in Ritan Park, I found the answer when I spotted an unidentified swallow soaring above China’s capital city…..

Winter is coming…

It was noticeably colder this morning on my walk around Central Park in Beijing..  probably down to around 6 degrees C and I could have done with my gloves.  Good numbers of Pallas’s Warblers today (I counted 12 and there could have been more) plus a single Daurian Redstart. The forecast is for a cold front to pass through on Monday, followed by more settled weather for a few days..  the cold snap might prompt some more birds to fly south – I am hoping for Siberian Accentor and some Thrushes in the garden!

Yeyahu (Wild Duck Lake)

I made my second visit to Yeyahu (known as Wild Duck Lake) on Wednesday.  Fantastic day – almost no wind early morning and fantastic blue skies.  Highlights were undoubtedly the raptors – 2 Great Spotted Eagles that came from the east, circled a bit and then wet back east, clearly not liking what they saw…    also, 2 Short-toed Eagles, a Peregrine, at least 12 japonicus Common Buzzards, 3 Hen Harriers, 2 Japanese Sparrowhawks, 4 Eurasian Sparrowhawks, 3 Goshawks, 2 Hobby and a Kestrel.  Other sightings included c50 Bean Geese, a cracking adult male Yellow-throated Bunting, 100s of Little Buntings (I lost count when I reached 3 figures but there were clearly several hundred on site), c20 Buff-bellied Pipits, several Greater Short-toed Lark and a possible Asian Short-toed Lark (looked short-tailed and pale but not clinched).

Not too much wildfowl around – a few Spot-billed Duck, a couple of Ruddy Shelduck, some Common Teal, a few Gadwall, Mallard and Wigeon but no sign of any Baikal Teal.

Meanwhile, in the garden, one Red-flanked Bluetail remained with at least 6 Pallas’s Warblers, a single Daurian Redstart and half a dozen Yellow-bellied Tits.

Greater Spotted Eagle, Yeyahu, 13 October 2010
1 cal yr Common Buzzard ssp japonicus
Short-toed Eagle, Yeyahu, 13 October 2010
Short-toed Eagle, Yeyahu, 13 October 2010 - can you see the Great Wall in the background? Chinese birding at its best...

Red-flanked Bluetails

The garden keeps producing.  Today there were two Red-flanked Bluetails foraging low down in the shade of some small shrubs, right by a major walkway.  Stunning birds, often wagging their tails downwards as they eyed up their next insect meal.  One even began to eat a few of the berries, precariously balancing on the outer branches….  Only other birds of note were 4 Pallas’s Warblers and a single Brambling (new China bird for me) that called, perched briefly on top of one of the trees and then flew off south.

Red-flanked Bluetail, Central Park, 12 October 2010
Red-flanked Bluetail, Central Park, 12 October 2010