It’s been a strange winter so far.. not so cold and no snow to speak of. It’s been the same up north in Liaoning Province. No Waxwings at all (contrasting strongly with last winter’s invasion of both Bohemian and Japanese Waxwings), very few Rosefinches (Long-tailed or Pallas’s) and a few so-called summer visitors have been lingering in the capital.
This week I have made short visits to both the Olympic Forest Park and the Summer Palace to see what was around.
I was surprised to see several Pallas’s Warblers, double figures of Red-flanked Bluetails, three Red-crested Pochard and singles of Black-faced Bunting and Ferruginous Duck (the duck were together on a tiny patch of open water at the summer palace). All of these birds should really be further south in the middle of winter but all seemed in good shape.
This Common Kingfisher looked much healthier than the last one I saw at Wild Duck Lake (which expired as we were watching it in late November).
Several Smew were accompanying the Ferruginous Duck and the Red-crested Pochard, adding a reassuring feel to the winter. I managed this image of one in flight.
A brisk 2 hours at Yuanmingyuan Park (the Old Summer Palace) this morning in beautiful but cold weather produced a single Dusky Thrush, 5 Naumann’s Thrushes, 1 intergrade Dusky/Naumann’s, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk, a single Common Kingfisher, one Grey-headed Woodpecker, 8 White-cheeked Starlings, 14 Willow Tits, 2 Great Tits, 18 Bramblings, 12 Goldcrests and, best of all, 4 late Pallas’s Warblers.
Edit: thanks to Spike Millington and Jesper Hornskov, it seems that my ‘Williow Tits’ were more likely Marsh Tits! Even in the UK, I have never been confident about separating these two in the field, given the variability and capacity to mimic each other. Forever learning!