In mid-June, during a period of easing of Covid-related travel restrictions, I was able to visit Lingshan, Beijing’s highest mountain. June is always a brilliant month to visit with breeding birds in full song and a vast array of insects, including some special butterflies.
The recording below is of the dawn chorus on the morning of 17 June 2022. It begins with the song of the White-bellied Redstart and includes Chinese Leaf, Claudia’s Leaf and Hume’s Warblers, Siberian Blue Robin, Chinese Thrush and many more. At a little over 17 minutes in total, it’s perfect for a tranquility break – put on your headphones, sit back and relax!
Early June is a fabulous time to listen to the dawn chorus. The vast majority of summer migrants have arrived and there’s no time to waste as males set up and defend a territory, attempt to attract a mate and raise a family in the short summer season.
This morning I was out at 0400 at my local lake, just 20 minutes walk from my apartment, to record the dawn chorus before the thunder of traffic became too much of an irritating soundtrack. On arrival, the air was already full of the loud, churring sounds of the Oriental Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus orientalis 东方大苇莺 Dōngfāng dà wěi yīng) and in the treetops surrounding the lake, the calls of Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus 大杜鹃 Dà dùjuān) and Indian Cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus 四声杜鹃 Sì shēng dùjuān) carried far and wide. The recently arrived Yellow Bitterns (Ixobrychus sinensis 黄苇鳽 Huáng wěi jiān) patrolled the airspace above the reedbeds with their floaty, almost owl-like, display flights and occasionally stopped to call from the reeds.
There are a few other species in this 15-minute recording, too. Can you name any? Headphones recommended!
The Dawn Chorus at Luoma Lake, Shunyi District, Beijing.
For some time I have been wanting to record the dawn chorus at Lingshan, a fantastic wooded mountain on the western boundary of Beijing. In late Spring, when the breeding birds have arrived, the woodland comes alive and it’s a cacophony of birdsong.
On the morning of 31 May I set out to record at a series of elevations and stitch them together to provide a 30-minute compilation. The recording begins with the haunting whistle of a White’s Thrush at 0200am before moving to the dawn chorus proper at 0415am at an elevation of 1100m. From there, the recordings move up the mountain, some of which were recorded during light rain, until the final cut at 1550m. Each location provides a different mix of species and includes some of the signature birds of Beijing’s mountains such as Green-backed Flycatcher, Grey-sided Thrush, Himalayan Cuckoo, Large Hawk Cuckoo and many many more. At some point I will make a list of all the species involved but, in the meantime, I hope you enjoy listening!