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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Birding Shanghai in April 2023 – 10,000 Birds

If I needed to outline spring from a Shanghai birder’s perspective, I must say that for me, it begins on the day I see my first colourful flycatcher – like this male Narcissus Flycatcher. So, for me, spring started on April 16.



I solely noticed the Yellow-rumped Flycatcher two days later, so it didn’t fairly make it into the “First colourful flycatcher of the spring” honor function.

The one that named this chicken apparently cleverly selected the title Yellow-rumped Flycatcher to differentiate the chicken from the Narcissus Flycatcher, which can also be yellow-rumped. In Chinese language, this chicken known as White-browed Flycatcher, which introduces some (presumably undesirable) logic into the world of chicken names.

The third within the Nanhui assortment of gloriously coloured flycatchers is the Blue-and-white Flycatcher.



Okay, the phrase “wonderful” doesn’t fairly apply to the feminine, I’m afraid.

One other Nanhui journey additionally introduced a Northern Boobook, which eBird properly describes as a “slender brown owl with comically expressive golden eyes”.


Whereas one would suppose that such a fierce-looking chicken primarily lives off bigger prey, this isn’t the case. In a single examine cited within the HBW, 99% of prey gadgets had been bugs, and the remaining 1% was nearly completely birds.

Not stunning then {that a} pair of Gentle-vented Bulbuls (picture close to the tip of this submit), when seeing the owl at Nanhui, couldn’t cease complaining about it. It didn’t appear to trouble the owl a lot although.

You can too see the owl not transferring a lot in a quick video. Oh, the thrill. The clacking sound within the background is just not a digital camera however the sound of the irritated bulbuls. Although the sound of the automotive is just not the sound of a bulbul imitating a automotive however an precise automotive.

The Siberian Blue Robin is one other indicator of spring for me.

To be trustworthy, each the robin and the flycatchers proven above remind me of the easter eggs I hunted for as a toddler – the identical robust colours in entrance of a inexperienced background, identical time of the 12 months (be happy to insert your personal Proust Madeleine reference right here) …

Bluethroats apparently are good at imitating different birds. In Alaska, they had been discovered to imitate 30 completely different species (supply). To my information, no Bluethroats have participated within the Eurovision Music Contest thus far although, possibly as a result of in that contest the imitation of different folks’s work must be obscured a bit.

Whereas this singing displays their extra romantic aspect (sure, I’m anthropomorphizing now, and in a nasty approach, however I have to make a hyperlink to the subsequent factoid that’s completely different from my ordinary “and now for one thing utterly completely different”), they will also be cold-hearted calculators of their very own (or higher, their genes) pursuits.

When meals for feeding their chicks is brief, they give attention to the biggest chicks – it’s certainly the mother and father making the selection to give attention to the big chicks relatively than the chicks combating amongst themselves, as reported in a examine. The technical time period right here is “parental provisioning guidelines” – what ornithologists say once they need to describe which chicks get fed.

In one other paper on Bluethroats with the considerably offputting title “Ecological constraints on extra-pair paternity within the bluethroat”, the authors anthropomorphize as effectively – by utilizing the time period “unattractive males” to explain a subgroup of male bluethroats (a subgroup that’s, as you’ll be able to guess, characterised by being of a barely lower than stellar look) – although they solely use the time period in inverted commas.

The Eurasian Hoopoe doesn’t solely look cool but additionally feeds on the pine processionary moth, a forest insect pest (supply). Win-win, apart from the moth.

Some hoopoe people should like chicks so much, even resorting to double brooding. Who’re these weirdoes?

Apparently, the 2 predominant elements influencing double brooding are the person high quality of the breeder and the timing of the primary clutch.

Crimson-flanked Bluetails make shorter stopovers throughout spring migration (common 1.7 days) than in autumn common 3.4 days). Whereas the conclusion appears pretty established now, the paper nonetheless places it within the ordinary wordy and cautious assertion: “The shorter minimal stopover length of each species in spring might point out a quicker migration than in autumn, suggesting a time-minimizing technique in spring to achieve the breeding grounds as quick as doable.” Additional down within the paper, it is usually said that “the solar might have risen this morning, which can consequence within the atmosphere turning into brighter throughout daytime”.

When not migrating, some Crimson-flanked Bluetails spend their spare time being eaten by Japanese Sparrowhawks, as described right here.

Not the worst strategy to die, to be eaten by such a lovely chicken as a Japanese Sparrowhawk


The Handbook of the Birds of the World and its on-line model nonetheless haven’t managed to organize a species account for the Amur Stonechat – there’s a separate web page for the species, however all the data on there’s for the Widespread Stonechat. Perhaps they’ve determined to boycott species with Russian-sounding names as a strategy to protest towards Putin’s insurance policies.

Anyway, the male is sort of beautiful with its black head, whereas it’s usually stated of the feminine that it has a fantastic soul.

Male Bramblings additionally look very enticing at the moment of the 12 months. Their souls are much less enticing, although – in keeping with a paper, in wintering bramblings, when women and men forage collectively, males are inclined to forage within the middle of the roost and dominate females of their entry to meals.


Conveniently, the authors of that paper captured the bramblings they measured at their college campus – a great way to cut back journey bills (hashtag #frugalornithologicalresearch), but additionally a warning to bramblings in every single place to higher keep away from such locations.


I often don’t write about nationalists, mammals, Donald Trump, and leaf warblers (effectively, I assume I typically do) – however I’ll make an exception for the Yellow-Browed Warbler

… and the Dusky Warbler.

It appears to me that the Crimson-billed Starling is getting an increasing number of widespread in Shanghai (and apparently additionally in South Korea, see right here) – not unhealthy on condition that it’s fairly a lovely chicken. Although many pictures – similar to this one out there commercially for under USD 25 for private use – don’t present how enticing this chicken actually is. Higher have a look at the one in my submit – it’s higher, and it’s free …

The HBW and eBird appear to disagree on the scale of the Crimson-billed Starling: whereas eBird describes it as a “medium-sized starling”, the HBW talks of a “giant and social starling”. Perhaps the HBW researchers are smaller than the eBird ones and thus understand the scale of the chicken otherwise.

Each eBird and the HBW agree that the Black-collared Starling is a big starling although.


It isn’t that tough to see the critically endangered Yellow-breasted Bunting in Shanghai in autumn. Nevertheless, it doesn’t look practically as enticing then because it does in spring – after I noticed it for the primary time this April.


Evil folks in Southern China catch the chicken and eat it.

The picture of a relative of the Gray-capped Greenfinch is featured in an article on how being round birds is linked to lasting psychological well being advantages. If you’re affected by melancholy, you simply have discovered another excuse to go birding.

For the Manchurian Bush Warbler, eBird reveals wonderful style by choosing considered one of my pictures as the principle illustration.

Additionally as video

eBird doesn’t appear to be very excited in regards to the Buff-bellied Pipit, calling it a “drab songbird of open nation”. I heard that the pipit tried to get a extra favorable evaluate from eBird by inviting them to an all-expenses-paid luxurious journey to Indonesia, however eBird refused. Apparently, the requirements of eBird are a bit increased than these of Clarence Thomas.

However in fact, Clarence Thomas had an incredible excuse that may undoubtedly have helped different rulebreakers in lots of courtroom circumstances (and definitely would have satisfied Thomas himself, had a defendant made such a declare): “I didn’t know the principles”.

There may be additionally a boring video of the chicken right here.

The Crimson-breasted Flycatcher proven within the picture beneath clearly lacks a purple breast and thus additionally has to in the end be categorized as boring.

What retains the endangered Chinese language Yew awake at night time? (That’s the form of phrasing you utilize when you may have been a administration marketing consultant for too lengthy) Nicely, in fact, it’s the dispersal effectivity of various chicken species consuming your fruit. Thus, the Crimson-billed Blue Magpie is a favourite amongst these small timber as it’s a good seed disperser (supply).

It is usually disperser for causonis japonica, a vine plant. A paper taking a look at dispersal of this plant factors out that seed dispersal distance elevated with chicken physique and tail lengths – which certainly ought to make the magpie a favourite.

It additionally seems to be cool.

Crimson-billed Blue Magpies are often eaten by snub-nosed monkeys. The gory particulars are outlined in a paper describing that the monkeys eat the top of the chicken first however reject the wings. That is the form of paper proven to naughty magpie chicks by their mother and father:

“A sub-adult male [snub-nosed monkey] instantly drove away one other chicken [a Red-billed Blue Magpie ] that was close to him. The chicken escaped into tangled vines … and couldn’t rise quickly from the bottom. One grownup male and one sub-adult male ran over to catch this chicken. The chicken ran erratically among the many thorns. … One sub-adult male caught the chicken when it bumped into him, and at the moment, the opposite searching males stopped their chase. The captor monkey killed the chicken … by biting off its head”.

Eurasian Woodcocks are more likely to be killed by people than by snub-nosed monkeys. Actually, web sites similar to this one appear to supply bundle excursions simply to kill woodcocks. Generally what must be restricted to the darkish internet may be very a lot out within the open.


Based on one supply, one canine used for searching woodcocks is even named after the species – the (in any other case relatively cute) cocker spaniel (with the “cocker” coming from the woodcock).


On the constructive aspect, two associates of mine independently commented on the video of a woodcock (taken at Nanhui) “A dancing chicken!” and “Actually like its rhythmic dance”.

Apparently, Eurasian Woodcocks have advanced their brilliant white feather patches (which as widespread for this weblog submit usually are not truly proven) for visible communication in conditions with low gentle – in actual fact, a examine discovered that woodcocks have the brightest white feathers ever measured.

A couple of extra birds with out factoids, simply because I just like the pictures: A Gentle-vented Bulbul

Swinhoe’s White-eye

Chinese language Grosbeak

Black-faced Bunting

Widespread Kingfisher

… and Black-winged Kite.

Nanhui additionally has some waders and is now the primary vacation spot for individuals who like to observe each plastic trash and Whimbrels on the identical location. E book your trip now.



On the identical location, you might also get a glimpse of the near-threatened but additionally relatively boring-looking Gray-tailed Tattler (which apparently has quick ft, as indicated by the species title of brevipes) …

… and the much less threatened however extra creatively designed Ruddy Turnstone.

Lastly, in my very own compound, just some meters away from my house, Chinese language Blackbirds are breeding – although with out a lockdown, I’m spending much less time on them this 12 months than final 12 months.



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