View Full Version : Help ! Birds from Sanya, Hainan. #1

Friday 16th March 2012, 05:52
Would be really grateful if anyone could help me identify these birds (don't find these in Shanghai) ! These were mostly just snaps taken walking around at tourist sites with my wife. Sorry about the quality of the photos - many of these were taken at distance and often at dusk and most are very heavy crops.

Bird #1 - is this the female of #2 below ? Golden Oriole or Grey Chinned Minivet ?

#2 - Male Golden Oriole or Grey Chinned Minivet ?


#4 - Bul Bul (but not sure which one)




#8 - Are these just domestic doves or a native species ?

#9 - This was a long way away - probably well over 800m - so is a very heavy crop but maybe someone can identify it from the silhouette and light coloured head and nape ?


#11 - female Drongo of #12 below ?

#12 - male Drongo of #11 above ?

#13 - some form of Treecreeper ?



#16 - Is this the same bird as #11 above ? Looks like a variation in colouring but I may be wrong !

One thing is for certain - I'll go back to Sanya for a dedicated birding trip as these have reawakened my interest in shooting photos of birds !

Many thanks for your assistance !

Friday 16th March 2012, 08:29
You may get more help on the id thread, but I'll start with a few thoughts...
#1 and 2 are definitely minivets, not orioles... I would not want to be dogmatic about which minivet, but the female looks more like the pic of Scarlet (in Brazil), whereas the other may be Grey-chinned, or I'm wrong...
#4 looks like a Chinese Bulbul (I'm not quite sure of your alternatives, but Chinese looks okay to me)

Friday 16th March 2012, 10:25
You may get more help on the id thread, but I'll start with a few thoughts...
#1 and 2 are definitely minivets, not orioles... I would not want to be dogmatic about which minivet, but the female looks more like the pic of Scarlet (in Brazil), whereas the other may be Grey-chinned, or I'm wrong...
#4 looks like a Chinese Bulbul (I'm not quite sure of your alternatives, but Chinese looks okay to me)

Thanks Gretchen - I had forgotten there was an ID forum here.

Friday 16th March 2012, 10:31
Some nice pix Kevin

No 1 is a female Scarlet Minivet - the yellow forecrown is a good feature
No 2 is an imm male Scarlet Minivet
no 3 is a female Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
no 4 is Hainan Bulbul (island endemic version of Chinese Bulbul)
no 5 is male Olive-backed Sunbird
no 6 is male Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
no 7 is White-bellied Herpornis
no 8 is plastic pigeons
no 9 is Black Kite
No 10 is Ferruginous Flycatcher
no 11 is female Oriental Magpie Robin
no 12 is male Oriental Magpie Robin
no 13 is female Olive-backed sunbird
no 14 is Yellow-browed Warbler
no 15 is Japanese White-eye
no 16 is a female Oriental Magpie Robin


Friday 16th March 2012, 10:50
That's fantastic Mike - brilliant ! Thank you very much (and LOL at #8).

BTW - are any of these rare(ish) or are they all quite common birds that can be found tropical areas of China (Asia) ?

Friday 16th March 2012, 11:30
Ferruginous Flycatcher is a decent record Kevin.

If you do go back to Sanya I suggest you try to get up to Jianfengling for a night or two - wonderful forest birds and not too far from Sanya.

below I've pasted a trip report from 2003, which covers Jianfengling, and Bawangling another top forest site that is a bit further away. I've left it in as between the two sites I saw a good variety of Hainan forest birds.

Recent exciting sightings from Jianfengling include Brown Wood Owl and Spotted Eagle Owl!


Forest Birding in Hainan
Jianfengling and Bawanling National Nature Reserves
5 – 8 January, 2003

Following the winter waterbird survey, Mike Kilburn and Jemi Holmes spent a morning birding at Jianfengling and two days at Bawangling, two lowland forest reserves in western Hainan Island. Hainan, which is China’s newest province (it was part of Guangdong until 1988), is the southernmost part of China, sticking out some 200km south into the South China Sea, like a giant teardrop. It is at roughly the same latitude as northern Thailand, and the avifauna has a strong resemblence to Thailand and Vietnam, with a sprinkling of endemics and unique subspecies, several of which appear excellent candidates for splitting.

Having arrived at Jianfengling in the dark, the new day gave us our first view of the reserve – a circle of well-forested hills centred around a small reservoir. At first light we entered the core area of the reserve and headed up a broad path through the jungle to the “Trembling Tower”, of which you will hear more later . . . .

The forest looked to be of good quality, although, as with most places in China, it was not truly primary forest. However it was full of birds and our “one-hour to the tower” walk turned into almost three as we kept stopping along the winding streamside trail to take in some wonderful birds.

For me the best of these were the endemic Hainan Leaf Warbler – a bright yellow bundle of stripes with a bright yellow bill, and several very confiding flocks of Silver-breasted Broadbills. Other quality birds included, two or three of the shy but beautiful Red-headed Trogon, several spectacularly yellow-crowned Sultan Tits, and hyperactive White-throated Fantails , a Large Woodshrike and Rufous-tailed Robin. As we neared the tower, I caught a fleeting glimpse of a male Silver Pheasant, which lived up to its name of “White Spirit” by swiftly and silently disappearing into the darkness of the forest.

More familiar birds included the top noisemakers – Puff-throated Bulbuls peered out of the foliage at us, shrieking, cackling and whistling like old ladies in a mahjong parlour. They were outdone only by a majestically bitchy Racquet-tailed Drongo, hurling itself at any bird that came near - a swooping, screaming drag-queen clad from top to toe in glittering black - its racquet tails streaming and bouncing like a pair of giant dangly earrings.

And then there was the tower. I had been assured me it was essential to climb the tower to see Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Barred Cuckoo Dove and other high canopy specialists. It was built back in the 1980s for spotting forest fires and, from the ground, looked strong enough – solid steel girders bolted together in a firm concrete foundation. The first few flights of the metal staircase that wound around the outside were OK, but as I came through the canopy at around 10 metres I felt the tower swaying under our weight and the gap between the top step and each landing seemed to yawn wider and wider. Increasingly nervous, I gripped the railing tighter and tighter and my confident first steps lapsed into jerkier and jerkier movements until I finally arrived on the observation platform some 42 metres from the forest floor – my heart pounding and my stomach churning like a Moulinex.

Once up there, the view was spectacular, big tropical trees stretching away in all directions, punctured by the odd mountain peak and ridgeline - it just took a big effort of will to enjoy it while we swayed gently to and fro in the light morning breeze!

The first birds we saw were a pair of Blue-bearded Bee-eaters, big, green and stocky as a barbet, with a bright splash of blue running down their fronts below their long, curved bills. We also saw several Mountain Imperial Pigeons, Grey Treepies and Scarlet and Grey-chinned Minivets and a distant Oriental Honey Buzzard. There was, naturellement, no sign of a @$^&$ Ratchet-tailed Treepie (excuse my French).

Perhaps the most interesting birds were the Black-browed Barbets. This species occurs across southern China (notably at Chebaling and Babao Shan in Guangdong) and in Taiwan. Here it showed an all-black cap – in contrast to the birds elsewhere (yellow fading to blue in Taiwan). The call also sounded a little softer than in Guangdong.

Climbing down the tower was definitely worse than the ascent, and the thought of doing that again left me wondering how badly I needed to see the Treepie! Mr Jiang the Jianfengling reserve manager was kind enough to give us a lift to Bawangling. We heard that in the old days there had been no staircase on the tower, and he had simply climbed the girders! I definitely don’t need to see it that badly!

Bawangling is about an hour north of Jianfengling. When we arrived at the town outside the reserve we discovered that the reserve vehicle had broken down to make matters worse it was 5:30 - just before dinner. However Mr Zhang, the deputy reserve manager, and his staff showed wonderful kindness and flexibility in agreeing to take us into the reserve on motorbikes. So after a quick sprint into the market for noodles we and our bags were driven the 20+ km to the Dong Er ranger station in the heart of the reserve on four motorbikes.

It was well worth staying overnight to be in the forest for dawn. And that evening we heard a curious call which, by elimination, we believe must have been Oriental Bay Owl. The call corresponded closely with the “oo hli hoo” description in Robson’s “Field Guide to the Birds of South East Asia”. It made this call every 45 seconds or so. We would welcome hearing from anyone who may be able to help us confirm the identification. We also heard two different Collared Owlets.

Next morning, accompanied by reserve warden Mr Chen we quickly failed to see one of our key target species – the endemic Hainan Hill Partridge. A pair flushed several times from a gully above the road, but was far too smart to let us get close enough for a reasonable view– I am sure there is a silent “aarrgh!” of frustration in Arborophila (as in A(aarrgh!)borophila) – the genus to which all these difficult hill partridges belong! We flushed a couple more during our stay but never had anything like a tickable view. Other good birds we missed included Blue-rumped Pitta and Large Scimitar Babbler.

The other endemic game bird, the recently split Hainan Peacock Pheasant (formerly Grey Peacock Pheasant) also eluded us despite being within a few feet of one on two separate occasions! However Mike and Zhang Yu, a research student from Beijing Normal University studying the Hainan Hill Partridge had good views of a fine male Silver Pheasant, and brief views of a genuinely wild female Red Junglefowl – the mother of all chickens!

Despite this we did see a number of good birds inside the forest. These included Lesser Yellownape, a couple of Eye-browed Wren-Babblers, no bigger than the leaves they were rooting through, two different Japanese Robins, including a glorious, very confiding male, and a Black-browed Barbet which we found by the noise of the fruit it dropped from the canopy to the forest floor!

Typical birds which we saw more easily along the road included White-crowned Forktail, Rufous-capped Babbler, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, White-bellied Yuhina, Blue-winged Minla, Rufous-faced Warbler, Hainan Leaf Warbler, Grey Treepie and the huge Mountain Imperial Pigeon.

More specialist birds included Yellow-billed Nuthatch – a close relative of the Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, and the Hainan race of Rufous-cheeked Laughingthrush. Although the birds in Hainan share the same prominent orange cheek patch, birds in the field show no sign of any white border at the rear edge – another full species perhaps?

On our second morning we hit a very good bird wave near the entrance to the core area. This included Grey-capped Woodpecker, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Chestnut-fronted Shrike-Babbler, White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Black-winged Cuckoo Shrike and Bronzed Drongo. However the most striking of all was a Greater Yellownape being molested by “Mr Bad Attitude” – none other than a Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo! We had previously found Spot-necked Babbler and heard a Lesser Shortwing and an Emerald Dove in the same area.

Our final birding in the reserve was the car ride back down to the town in the dark. Jemi performed her usual nightbird magic in conjuring up an impressive 4 Collared Scops Owls and 2 Barred Owlets in roadside trees. The next day we drove straight to the airport and the final bird of our trip was an adult White-bellied Sea Eagle that flew over the highway between Shenzhen Airport and the border crossing back into Hong Kong.

In closing we would like to thank the many staff of both Bawangling and Jianfengling Nature Reserves who made sure we were well taken care of and went to great lengths to allow us to enjoy the best possible birding.

Friday 16th March 2012, 12:23
Thanks Gretchen - I had forgotten there was an ID forum here.

I was going to try for a few more, but dinner interrupted :-O I see Mike has solved all your questions in the meantime. There are some nice pics here! Though maybe not too many rare-ish birds, it seems you've seen a lot of nice ones.

Saturday 17th March 2012, 04:41
Thanks Gretchen !

Excellent read Mike. We had hired a car for the week and drove up to Wuzhishan ... and then another hour past it up into the mountains (so in total about 3 hours drive from Sanya) ! However my wife was not that keen for a 2-3 hour hike on the mapped route so we drove back towards Sanya. Next time we'll take her friends along so I can get away by myself and make it out to Jianfengling (which I had marked on my map but ....) !

Saturday 17th March 2012, 11:37

John in the ID forum suggested that the Ferruginous Flycatcher might in fact be a Hainan Blue Cyornis Flycatcher. So I've added the only other shot I have that might help you or John make a positive ID. Thanks again !