‘Eastern’ Nightingales

A recent article on Birding Frontiers about ‘Eastern’ Nightingales by Oscar Campbell prompted me to examine the Nightingales (ssp golzii) I saw in northern Xinjiang Province, China.  In the small town where we stayed, about 250km north of Urumqi – in a former military area, called simply “130” – the Common Nightingale is probably the second most common bird (after Tree Sparrow) and uncharacteristically showy.  There were at least 4 singing males in the hotel garden.  Here is a video compilation, showing some of the tail movement referred to in the Birding Frontiers article.

To my eyes, these birds looked paler than the ones I used to see in the UK and with less rufous tails… but I must admit that I never saw the UK birds as well as these show-offs!

Black Woodpecker

I have just returned from a week with Marie Louise Ng in China’s largest province – Xinjiang – in the far north west.  Xinjiang is vast, covering an area greater than France, Spain and Portugal combined.  And with just a handful of birders.  It’s almost certainly THE place to visit to add new species to the China list and with an avifauna list resembling that of Europe, it’s a superb place to see some species that can be found nowhere else in China.  For a European like me, a visit to this stunningly beautiful province offers an opportunity to re-acquaint oneself with some familiar birds, such as Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Nightingale, House Sparrow and a whole lot more.  We recorded over 160 species.

A full report will appear here soon.

With very little hunting, many of the birds in Xinjiang are much more approachable than I have become accustomed to in eastern China.  As a taster, here is a video of BLACK WOODPECKER….  this male devoured ants just a few metres away, seemingly oblivious to our presence.