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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Birding Napo, Guangxi, China – half 1 – 10,000 Birds

Napo is a county within the West of Guangxi, bordering each Yunnan and Vietnam. It’s about 3 hours by automobile from Nanning airport, which in flip may be reached from Shanghai in a 2.5-hour flight.

Whereas Napos relative remoteness made it appear much less weak to covid, on the second day of our resort keep we have been knowledgeable that they may now not service the resort rooms as all of the resort service employees had contracted the virus. Which made the remainder of the journey a little bit of a ready interval for contracting covid …

Apparently, the Massive Niltava is Asia’s largest flycatcher. That comes at a worth – the HBW describes the species as “stocky and pretty sluggish” and – with a vital undertone – continues to state that the species is “typically much less agile in flight than are most flycatchers”. I wish to see the velocity at which a number of the HBW editors catch flies …

The male is kind of “in your face” whereas the feminine is a little more subdued. Fairly elegant, in reality.

In the event you purpose to attain some sort of immortality, you would possibly do worse than observe the instance of Oana Mirela Chachula, a biologist on the Nationwide Museum of Romanian Historical past, Romania. Apparently, she supported the analysis of a Romanian crew on ectoparasites of birds from Meghalaya (India) – and for her troubles, the crew thanked her by naming a species of feather mite newly found on Massive Niltava after her.


(Facet be aware: Ought to anybody concerned in discovering new species take pleasure in studying this weblog, please chorus from naming any newly found species after me – notably if these species are of the itchy or vaguely disgusting form. Finish of aspect be aware).

I solely noticed the feminine taking a shower – coincidence?


Even in China’s barely extra distant provinces, one is rarely far-off from species with treacherously pornographic names comparable to Japanese Tit. Why are individuals at all times desirous about intercourse?


The Gray-bellied Tesia is described by eBird by the seemingly Tolkien-inspired description “Lengthy-legged and short-tailed, this tiny hen strikes quickly and unseen by means of darkish, dense undergrowth like a pint-sized shadow”. The textual content nearly manages to not use the phrase “elf”.

Fortuitously, it’s truly not fairly as tough to {photograph} because the appallingly unhealthy picture of the eBird report suggests, although it certainly strikes rapidly.

Why the Latin species title is cyaniventer (which means having a darkish blue stomach) stays a thriller to me although.

The Bar-backed Partridge is a species of partridge present in southwestern China and Southeast Asia. It shouldn’t be confused with “Bareback Partridge”, a desultory time period used to explain sure sexual practices amongst pheasants generally.


The Bar-backed Partridge was additionally one among 4 focal species in an investigation into unlawful hen looking in Southwestern China. Sadly, that research discovered that perceived leisure and leisure worth are important motivators for unlawful looking quite than financial concerns: “Opposite to earlier findings highlighting subsistence and finance as main elements driving looking, crucial predictors of looking exercise on this panorama have been associated to attitudes concerning the enjoyment of looking”.

“Shoot us, it’s enjoyable!”

Sadly, this makes it a lot much less probably this looking will cease as soon as individuals get richer. Then once more, I assume this conclusion may simply have been drawn from the recognition of looking within the US …

Hopefully, in just a few hundred years, the sculptures of well-known individuals who of their lives loved looking will likely be destroyed just like the sculptures of slave merchants right this moment.

The Sooty-headed Bulbul was the topic of a comparable research – the authors checked whether or not the flight initiation distance of the hen is said to looking stress in a given space. Unsurprisingly, it’s. If I may give you some recommendation: Higher not be a hen in China.

The often pretty pleasant eBird reviewers give a quite harsh evaluation of the Scarlet-faced Liocichla as a “Garish medium-sized laughingthrush-like hen”. It’s exhausting in charge them given the colour mixture sported by the species, although it makes me surprise why the Silver-eared Mesia with a equally broad array of colours is described as a “lovely small babbler”.

“Me, garish?”

The thriller deepens when studying the species description within the HBW: “Pretty small babbler, principally plain brown however with ­scarlet face and scarlet in wings and tail”. That doesn’t actually sound garish, proper? Alternatively, to me, a size of 21-23 cm doesn’t sound like a “pretty small babbler” on condition that babblers are “small to medium birds” (Wikipedia). Complicated.

Unusually, eBird provides the Pink-tailed Laughingthrush a a lot better evaluate as an “exquisitely- and distinctively-colored laughingthrush”.

The species will get its Latin title milnei from Alphonse Milne-Edwards (1835-1900), a French mammalogist, ornithologist, and carcinologist (it appears multitasking was simpler then). From the truth that I shouldn’t have something thrilling to jot down about him, you may deduce that I didn’t make him up (my imaginary ornithologists are typically a bit extra fascinating, having no less than dedicated some atrocities or fathered a variety of illegitimate youngsters). The one vaguely particular factor I can say about him from his picture in his Wikipedia entry is that he had already misplaced a considerable a part of his hair at age 48. Possibly doing ornithological analysis was simply his approach of compensation.

In the event you ever take into account opening a haunted home, you would possibly wish to get a few of these birds – in accordance with the HBW, their sound contains phrases comparable to “uuu-weeoo”, “eeoo-wee” or shorter “uuuwi” or “uuuu-hiu-hiu” and “uuuu-hiu-hiu-hiu”.

eBird can also be again to its traditional optimistic self in describing the Black-headed Greenfinch as a “good-looking yellowish finch”.

The poor Widespread Tailorbird is a bunch to the Plaintive Cuckoo. Researchers examined the interplay between the host and the cuckoo chicks and located that it is kind of the identical because the one identified from Widespread Cuckoos. That doesn’t maintain them from making the quite pompous declare that the “developmental information on Plaintive Cuckoo nestlings and their tailorbird host builds an necessary basis for future work on the co-evolutionary interactions on this parasite–host system.” Nearly 30 years in the past, I’ll have made equally grandiose claims within the introduction to my Ph.D. thesis. I used to be younger then.


One other, considerably extra fascinating research means that nest sanitation (ornithologists converse for cleansing up your room) helps Widespread Tailorbirds to acknowledge and eject parasitic eggs. Whereas I don’t discover the rationale totally convincing, I must agree that it’s simpler to miss one thing in a room filled with trash. This additionally permits me to present you, my pricey reader, some sensible recommendation to your life from ornithological search outcomes – maintain your room clear! You might name me Marie Kondo if you would like.

Unusually, there may be not a lot analysis on the Blue Whistling Thrush. It tends to dwell close to hilly streams, not shocking on condition that it appears to feed primarily on snails (although one paper describes it as consuming a snake). Those in China have a black invoice – additional west (the place apparently traditionally there was no ban on the usage of the colour yellow, which in China is historically reserved for the emperor), the invoice is yellow.


Black-throated Bushtits can be seen in Shanghai, however they’re cute and engaging birds, a truth that’s even indicated at by their Latin species title of concinnus, “elegant, neat, pleasing” (HBW).


The Rufescent Prinia – if that’s certainly what it’s – doesn’t appear to thoughts very a lot being confused with the Gray-breasted Prinia. At the least to not the extent of sporting title tags.


The Gray Bushchat has a species title that’s derived from chemistry: “ferreus”, or iron-colored (I at all times guessed my chemistry research would come in useful eventually). As traditional, this refers back to the silvery-grey colour of the male quite than the brown colour of the feminine.


The final hen proven on this put up is a Pallas’s Leaf Warbler – however is it actually? eBird warns that it “overlaps significantly with different comparable leaf warblers all through the non-breeding vary, so identification warrants warning” – which feels like an ID problem approach above my pay grade as a birder. At the least the fundamental description of the species in eBird appears to suit: “Tiny, chunky, sprightly warbler with a brief tail and an enormous head”.

However then once more, chunky? Actually?

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