Chinese Hill Babbler

The Chinese Hill Babbler (Rhopophilus pekinensis), also known as the Chinese Hill Warbler or White-browed Chinese Warbler, is usually on the list of “most wanted” birds for visiting birders.  It has a limited distribution but is quite common in the hills around Beijing.  It’s a bird that has a lovely repertoire of vocalisations and is often heard before it is seen.

On my most recent visit to Wild Duck Lake, I came across 4 of these delightful birds, possibly a family party.  Although usually a bird of elevation, they descend in winter and are regularly seen at Wild Duck Lake from October to March (an altitude of around 500 metres above sea level).  They are occasionally seen at this site in summer, too, and I suspect they bred there this year.

Most field guides call this bird “Chinese Hill Warbler” but it is clearly not a warbler and much more like a babbler, hence the name most local birders prefer to use – Chinese Hill Babbler.  They are inquisitive birds and, with a bit of ‘pishing’, they often come quite close to investigate…

Chinese Hill Babbler (Rhopophilus pekinensis), Yeyahu NR, Beijing, 29 October 2012
Chinese Hill Babbler, Yeyahu NR, 29 October 2012. Absolutely NOT a warbler!

And here is a recording of one of the birds from Yeyahu NR…  a great sound!

Chinese Hill Babbler