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Old Monday 17th April 2017, 12:07   #376
Owen Krout
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Another nice day for an outing yesterday led to about a 5km hike. Nothing unusual, but (6) Barn Swallow proved they have definitely returned. I did hear a Ring-necked Pheasant calling out of a strip of grass between plowed areas. I've been concerned about that as they lost a lot of habitat in the last two years in the immediate area. Another positive note in that (6) Little Grebe were beginning to congregate. Their numbers were very low last year and they were almost entirely absent from this immediate area. Rounded off with a pair of Red-flanked Bluetail, (2) Grey-headed Woodpecker behaving in a very territorial manner, the usual (20) or so Tree Sparrow and (4) Eurasian Magpie.

Unfortunately, had to end the outing because our little Russian Toy Terrier unexpectedly tried to leap out of my wife's hands and ended up doing a face plant into the pavement. Besides being pretty bruised up and sore, I am pretty sure she sustained a concussion as well. Quite worried until this afternoon as she was not able to walk straight and kept falling down. Managed to keep her in a darkened area and quiet today and she is at least walking much better now.
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Old Monday 17th April 2017, 12:11   #377
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Good to hear your dog has recovered Owen!

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Old Sunday 30th April 2017, 11:06   #378
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I have been lax about posting lately, mostly due to nothing special to report. The only new tic was a single Ashy Minivet perched at the top of a Willow tree and me without my camera. I took the tick as I did get a really good look with the bins, but it doesn't count fully to me until I get a good ID photo. Also we are over-run right now with Two-barred Greenish Warbler. Very difficult to ID as they are the definition of what the field guides like to call 'skulking'.

I had expected to have my 'brand representative' position established by now and was expecting my first foreign birder within the month. As it turned out both failed to materialize.

I had expected to be official by now, but we were told this morning that the current delay is because the Vice-Mayor who was sponsoring the idea was just promoted by the Party out of Dawa and the new VM wants to pursue the idea but being new hasn’t had the time to redo the paperwork. Typical China.

My foreign visitor decided that with the NK tensions he wasn't comfortable with visiting Dongbei right now and didn't want to cause me any problems. It wouldn’t cause me any problems that would concern me, but I discussed it with my Chinese wife this morning and she said he was making a smart decision. I noticed this afternoon in Panshan that she was back to telling people who inquired that I am Canadian. Being anywhere near the NK border might be a touchy issue, but personally, I don’t worry about it here locally. That being said, in the past I have had people assume I must be Buddhist due to my tendency to take life as it comes and not worry about things. I even stayed in China during the SARS scare despite the government offering free airfare back home and no early contract termination penalty. All the other foreign teachers took the offer and left. I rode out a few anti-American/Japanese spells in Shenyang by magically becoming Canadian and continuing about my normal routine. Even those who had known for years I was American happily played along with my sudden shift.

This has spurred some thinking about the matter and made me think of proposing to the government that they issue a pass/permit for foreign tourists to be worn like a convention ID card saying the person was an honored foreign guest tourist properly registered with the police and asking anyone to cooperate and help them. The very people who are the “What are you doing here?” type are the same ones who are most impressed with a document with a red seal affixed. Actually despite what one might expect there seems to be less of a problem in Dawa. We lived there on weekends and breaks while I was teaching in Shenyang and I would often hear what literally translates as, “The old fat American has come home!” More smiles and positive attention than I got when I went back to the US!

All that being said it is still hard to say at this point what things will be like in another month. Often in China that is long enough for it to be like nothing every happened, but if “The Little Boy” as locals here contemptuously refer to NK’s leader, could stir up worse trouble also.

No sooner had I digested all of that than one of the leaders from the wife's 'dancing aunties' group called this afternoon to announce that they hadn't known about the Heronry and after seeing some pictures on the wife's iPad, they want to go there with us for a day. So instead of one Brit, I guess I get 25-30 'dancing aunties'.
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Old Sunday 30th April 2017, 14:53   #379
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Looking forward to the pics of that outing!

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Old Tuesday 2nd May 2017, 11:14   #380
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKinHK View Post
Looking forward to the pics of that outing!

Cheers
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Outing is coming up, but here is a pic of the group. They are the registered and dues paying participants of my wife's main group. Another 25-50 people show up unofficially according to the weather. My wife actually has two dancing aunties groups and a singing group, with crossover between the groups. In addition she has a select group drawn from those that make up a variety show group that do special shows for businesses, shopping centers, etc. She had a TV variety show back before she retired from teaching at the Chaoyang Cultural Institute. She used to specialize in recruiting and training the people needed for the massive government sponsored extravaganzas with masses of people doing coordinated dance and marching for May Day, National Day celebrations. This is the main reason we are in China. She missed the activity (and being the center of attention )
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Old Tuesday 2nd May 2017, 12:17   #381
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May 2, 2017

I located another great birding spot which is actually easier to access than much of what I have had up to now. The Panjin Wetland Park is due north of us along the Shuangtaizi River. (For reasons that I don't understand, locally people all refer to it as the Liao River, which is actually to the East of the city.) The park is actually along both banks of the river for several kilometers and while busy early in the morning, it is not overwhelmed with people like many such areas in China. The part we were in today was a large lake immediately adjacent to the river and on the south side, within walking distance to the Panjin Railway Station. The good part is that it is only 22 RMB by taxi from our front gate or, with a kilometer walk to the bus, only 2 RMB. All according to whether your time or saving money is more important.

I arrived at 06:30 this morning and spent a couple of hours exploring while my wife wandered about with the dog. The place was thick with Yellow-Browed Warbler and I managed to get not only some of the best pics that I have of such, but also a decent audio file of their calls. Black-headed Gull are numerous and I managed to pick-up a new tic with a few Common Tern that were hanging around the edges of the gull.

I foolishly waited until walking into the park to go through the ritual of uncapping the lens, dusting it off, installing the glare shield, and turning the camera on and as a result managed to miss another new tic as I missed an ID pic of a brief look at a couple of what I think may have been Sooty Tern as they soared out of sight on up the lake. Very dark colored backs and upper wings.

Also briefly seen, but not good enough to verify was what I think was an Oriental Reed Warbler. It broke out of a patch of reeds, briefly stopping in a nearby tree before quickly leaving the area. I did get a quick look at a pair of Chinese Penduline Tit in a brushy area.

The lake is large enough that I expect to find a lot of migrants come the next season.

Panjin Wetland Park, Liaoning, CN
May 2, 2017 6:30 AM - 8:30 AM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 kilometer(s)
10 species

Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 25
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) 6
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica) 1
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 5
Chinese Penduline-Tit (Remiz consobrinus) 2
Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis) 2
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) 20
Vinous-throated Parrotbill (Sinosuthora webbiana) 2
Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni) 4
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) 5

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36475654

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)
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Old Monday 8th May 2017, 04:58   #382
Owen Krout
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DingXiang Tourist Rookery

Procrastination won out this last week it seems. It took me five days to get around to posting this one.

My wife wanted to make a trip to check out the DingXiang Tourist Rookery site for next months planned outing with her performance group. Always a neat place to visit with no real surprises but a nice day out anyway. The biggest plus was that this year has an abundance of Black-Crowned Night Heron. Most of the species have shifted around and nesting in slightly locations than last year and at first glance it appeared that the BCNH were very thinly represented. However the director Mr. Lu showed up and took me back into a closed off area where he has several blinds for his own use. On walking up to one of the blinds we found ourselves surrounded by a sky full of BCNH. The entire area was filled with nests for BCNH with a few Grey Heron mixed in.

Moving on from there we found another area nearby equally packed with Little Egret of which I was able to get some excellent closeups. (See next post for pictures)

A few Purple Heron, Chinese Pond Heron & Intermediate Egret made up the rest of what is present now. The Great Egret seemed absent, but he expected them to show up within the next few weeks.

A nice pair of Eastern Spot-Billed Duck offered up some excellent closeup photos. A frustrating pair of what I think may have been Mugimaki Flycatcher refused to come out of cover giving only quick glimpses of an eye or tail. Being a new tic I didn't feel confident enough to count them.

DingXiang Tourist Area Rookery, Liaoning, CN
May 3, 2017 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 kilometer(s)
16 species

Eastern Spot-billed Duck (Anas zonorhyncha) 3
Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea) 6
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) 15
Intermediate Egret (Mesophoyx intermedia) 50
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) 30
Cattle Egret (Eastern) (Bubulcus ibis coromandus) 4
Chinese Pond-Heron (Ardeola bacchus) 6
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) 200
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) 1
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica) 10
Japanese Tit (Parus minor) 1
Chinese Penduline-Tit (Remiz consobrinus) 2
Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis) 1
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) 2
Vinous-throated Parrotbill (Sinosuthora webbiana) 2
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) 10

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36506347

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)
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Old Monday 8th May 2017, 05:01   #383
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DingXiang Tourist Rookery cont'd

more pics
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Old Monday 8th May 2017, 05:33   #384
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Visiting Liaoning right now

The issue of whether it is a good idea to be poking around Liaoning right now has been asked of me. I have to admit that I have mixed opinions. At this time I wouldn't advise poking around the immediate North Korean border area with binoculars, an SLR with a big telephoto lens and with you taking notes. Hence the old sport of going to Dandong to take a picture of some birds on the NK side of the river so you can get NK tics for a conversation piece would not be recommended. However, even here in Panjin it is presently more common than it was to be followed around and even stopped and questioned by stern faced 'lost generation' era people. Not really a problem if you are used to China and just ignore the frowning old man standing right on top of you and closely watching every move. There will be many more friendly people who want to talk just to practice their English or who will even shoo away your tail. Could it change as the situation changes? Of course.

The "Catch a Foreign Spy" campaign from a couple of weeks ago seems to have already died out on its own and if the police know about your visit and purpose I don't see any real problems arising. I'll be glad to help you with that part and finding a hotel that can take foreigners if you are interested in doing some birding in the area. By next migration I expect everything will be back to normal.

Director Lu, of the Rookery, was disappointed to hear that someone had cancelled a visit due to concerns about the North Korean situation and he wanted me to pass on his assurance that while visiting the Rookery one would be a guest of the police and hence there was no need to worry. (The Rookery is on a large tract of land directly administered by the police. Seems odd to any Westerner, but hey, it's China) A good point, so for anyone interested, from the Panjin Railway Station it should be about 250 RMB ($30-$40 USD) for a taxi to take you to the Rookery, wait for three or four hours and then return you. Maybe another 100 RMB for a guide with passable English for half a day. Also the Panjin Wetland Park along the Shuangtaizi River is about 15 minutes from the station by bus and is a large area with varied habitat. One could also take the same bus to Dawa (1.5-2 hours) and then get a taxi for about the same price to Honghaitan (Red Beach). The same city bus does actually go all the way to the division line between Panjin and Yingkou were a short bus ride takes you over the bridge to the Yingkou Wetland Park which is excellent for waders, duks and gulls. (Another 1-1.5 hour bus ride)

Included are some pics of the Rookery and the wetlands along the river.
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Old Monday 8th May 2017, 05:46   #385
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Drought in DongBei

The drought here in Liaoning is getting to be something of concern now. Some visits to well known areas produced a lot of places where previously reliable wetland, ponds and streams have dried up. The main lake in this park is about 1.5 meters lower than normal and since it was a shallow lake to start with, has now separated into two small ponds. This was after the previous two days being a steady soaking rain. It hasn't helped that the unusually cold winter has given way a warmer and drier than usual spring. The hydrology of this area would, I think, make for an interesting study as it is actually a very dry climate anyway but the natural state was extensive wetlands. The pictures of the wetland area in my previous post actually give a good idea of what the entire Panjin area was 40 years ago. My wife was recruited to come teach in the new city of Panjin which was just getting started in the late '80's and she says she refused to come live in a swamp.

Just because I had room and thought it was neat I included a pic of a nifty spider with her babies riding on her back.
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Old Tuesday 16th May 2017, 06:51   #386
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Just as a follow-up to the last - Things are getting seriously dry here very quickly. Enough so that the government has announced that they are undertaking cloud seeding in an attempt to alleviate the situation. So far it has only resulted in on rain which was only enough to stabilize things for a few days. Today's outing had me checking the reed beds for Reed Warblers of any particular variety and finding the pools that were very low now dried up and no Reed Warblers to be found. In fact numbers have dropped dramatically for all birds.
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Old Tuesday 16th May 2017, 07:00   #387
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Donghu Garden 'improvements'

What had been possibly the best public park that I have seen in China and a particularly good birding location was an unpleasant surprise for me yesterday. The DongHu Garden in Dawa has been a productive birding location which was easy to access and actually quite beautiful and relaxing to stroll about. Unfortunately, the Dawa government decided to 'improve' it. It now looks like it was the target of a bombing campaign and of course most of the bird life has vacated for elsewhere. I only managed one good picture of a butterfly wondering where all the flowers went and a one of a few flowers in a little island of green.
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Old Tuesday 16th May 2017, 07:09   #388
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May 16, 2017

The dry conditions led to a new tic as six Asian Short-toed Lark made an appearance the last couple of days on an area that two years ago was reed beds and now has been drained and with the drought more closely resembles the dry grassland where you would expect to find them. Probably migrants moving through.

I did see the first two Brown Shrike of the season as well as two Grey-Streaked Flycatcher.

No photos of the AST Lark turned out, but got a good visual on them with bins. Likewise the B Shrike photos were good enough to verify my field ID but no one good enough to share. The GS Flycatcher turned out well however, giving me my first decent photo ID of them.
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Old Tuesday 16th May 2017, 08:57   #389
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Hi Owen,

Agree with the dry conditions prevailing over your area. Unfortunately, the rainfall has been decreased over the years. Back in 2011/2012, most of my weekends are washout during the migration time and in the recent years, i have been out all weekends and it wasn't no where close to a shower. Shanghai govt is doing extensive flood water repairing as more rain is predicted starting from June. Let's see how it goes.

All those public parks everywhere in China is targeted towards public, so landscaping is necessary to keep the public in flow. At some point, i stopped going to my local patch of park due to the constant landscaping and new brood of oldsters showcasing their Hwamei's.

Your butterfly is Indian Red Admiral(Vanessa indica). It and its close relative (Painted Lady) they prefer mud, rocks to harvest minerals rather than flowers for nectar.

Also, the photos of your Grey-streaked, they look good for Dark-sided. In Grey-streaked, the streaks will be much more obvious and distinct while in Dark-sided, some individual will not be super dark but the streaking will look like diffused/smudged like the one in the photo.
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Old Wednesday 17th May 2017, 01:30   #390
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Hi Dev,

The bad part is that the landscaping in this park was already very well done and did an excellent job of regulating the flow of foot traffic. Ah well, back to the philosophy of "This is China, not America" and in the end they can do things the way they please.

I pondered over the Grey-Streaked vs Dark-Sided and my choice basically came down to Brazil's ID description of "...Under tail coverts white. ...Clear narrow dark streaking on white lower breast/upper belly distinguishes it from similar Dark Sided and Spotted." However I have no problem with submitting it to the ID Forum and seeing what they come up with. Last year I had the same issue only the other way around, so a Dark Sided would be a new tic!
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Old Wednesday 17th May 2017, 11:06   #391
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Hi Owen

I agree with Dev re the Flycatcher. grey streaked has paler flanks with more distinct streaks, while Dark-sided is much more variable and can indeed show braid blotchy streaks like these.

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Old Thursday 18th May 2017, 05:06   #392
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Seems that the common opinion is indeed Dark-sided. Fine with me, another tic. Thanks for the help Dev and Mike and Andy.

Just to throw in one of interest, a Ground Squirrel from the Panjin Wetland Park outing. An area apparently not trammeled upon much. I would be surprised if there were not also some weasel to be found given prey for them.
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Old Friday 19th May 2017, 02:53   #393
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That's a very nice one, Owen. Not something we get to see often. If i'm right, this could be a potential candidate for the Daurian Ground Squirrel.
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Old Friday 19th May 2017, 04:11   #394
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That was my thought, Dev, but I can't say for sure. Looks just like a smaller version of the American Prairie Dog. Also living in a colony, but without the built-up area around the entrances to the burrows. In fact the entrances are well hidden in the grass and look too small for the squirrels. However I actually watched one disappear down a small hole, so I know they work.
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Old Friday 19th May 2017, 07:28   #395
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I was thinking it looked like a prairie dog, too, Owen.
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Old Wednesday 24th May 2017, 03:32   #396
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May 23 - Panjin Wetland Park

Monday was a rain day, which is a good thing for here and muddied everything down enough to limit things to only a brief walk in the park with the dog Tuesday. Yesterday, Wednesday, was perfect though with clear blue skies and a mild northerly breeze, so I decided to try the Panjin Wetland Park again.

Due to the nearly two kilometer walk to the bus stop and street repairs along the way and another kilometer walk from the bus to the park, it took a good two hours to arrive late in the morning. It was a perfect day for a walk in the park though.

Upon arriving I was immediately greeted with Black-Headed Gull, Common Tern & Black-Crowned Night Heron squabbling over what was apparently a prime fishing patch of the river. The patch of willows nearby produced a few Yellow-Browed Warbler as well as what might have been a wren singing mightily but which disappeared before I could get a visual.

Attracted by drumming, I picked up two Great Spotted Woodpecker. Just as I was snapping some pics, what looked to be a similar but at least half again as large female woodpecker chased off the GSWP I was photographing. As I am gawking, thinking "That looks like a White-Backed!", it quickly moved to a less advantageous position. While maneuvering to get a new clear line of sight for a photo I was vaguely aware people behind me calling out but I was tightly focused on my task. A tic I had been watching for during the last couple of years. Just as I obtained a line of sight I was startled as a young lady put her hand on my arm from behind. "Hello! Will you take picture with my friends?" I jumped, my target that had been eyeing me warily, decided, enough is enough, and fled the scene. As I just looked at her, speechless and gathering my thoughts and managing to avoid the "What the Hell!" that would have been appropriate in America, she decided I must be Russian and tried switching to Chinese. After assuring her that I was indeed an American, I spent the next 10 minutes posing for photos. Just one of the perks of birding in China. At my age that is the only time I get to have my arm around a beautiful young (at least young to me) woman, so not so bad after all.

Moving on, Brown Shrike have arrived in great abundance and I spotted a few White Wagtail.

Barn Swallow were abundant and as I moved westward into areas of the park with very few people around many more Red-Rumped Swallow became evident. In this more remote area I found my first three Oriental Reed Warbler. They were not in the reeds yet, but adjacent in some willows calling.

At that point it occurred to me that I was probably a little over four kilometers west of where I started and either had to go another couple and get a taxi back or walk back to where I started for the bus. I have to admit that I made the wrong choice in deciding to go back as by the end of four and a half hours hiking my arthritis was emphatically complaining. Worth it though as a little side trip across the river over the foot bridge on the way back gave me some great pics of a Vinous-Throated Parrotbill who was furiously scolding me, apparently for being too near it's nest and my first Zitting Cistola of the season.

Panjin Wetland Park, Liaoning, CN
May 23, 2017 11:00 AM - 3:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
10.0 kilometer(s)
17 species

Ring-necked Pheasant (Ring-necked) (Phasianus colchicus [colchicus Group]) 3
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) 12
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 15
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida) 6
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) 4
Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus optatus) 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) 2
Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) 18
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica) 2
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 50
Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica) 29
Light-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis) 11
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) 4
Oriental Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus orientalis) 3
Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis) 1
White Wagtail (Chinese) (Motacilla alba leucopsis) 4
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) 60

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S37104487
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Old Wednesday 24th May 2017, 03:37   #397
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Vinous-Throated Parrotbill shots

The shots of the Vinous-Throated Parrotbill
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Old Wednesday 24th May 2017, 11:46   #398
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Nice pic of the black-billed race of Common Tern.

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Old Friday 26th May 2017, 07:32   #399
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May 26, 2017

This afternoon on a short outing I came across a pair of Eurasian Kestrel soaring and wheeling together. As their 'dance' continued the male lead the female into a dive that looked like they would crash into an apartment building. At the last instant they soared straight up the ten stories of the building and landed together on a small ledge just under the roof eves. They then took turns dropping off the edge and diving almost to the ground to soar up suddenly and turn back to end up on the ledge. By the time I got close enough to get decent pictures they were alternating perching on the roof while the other occupied the ledge. It makes for a good location, sheltered from the rain and sun and with plenty of pigeons around for feeding any young.
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Old Friday 26th May 2017, 08:56   #400
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What a sighting ... and watch that space!

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