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18 months in Shanghai: March 2012 - August 2013

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Old Saturday 3rd December 2011, 12:29   #1
McMadd
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18 months in Shanghai: March 2012 - August 2013

Hi all

As the thread title says, I shall be moving to Shanghai with work for 18 months next Spring.

I thought I'd start a thread now to say hello to all the birders on this part of the forum and to request any information on birding in the city and in the region more widely as things develop. I'll also try to use it to record my experiences of course :0)

Plans so far are just that - plans. I know I will be in Shanghai next Month from 14-19 Jan and that I'll move out there properly during mid to late February.

At this stage I'd be keen for a days birding on Sunday 15 Jan if anyone based in the city is free and willing to show a newbie around? Perhaps a PM is best way to follow that up.

Beyond that I've obviously kept a close eye on the threads here and am trying to put together some sort of plan for my whole stay...I may come to ask for advice as my plans advance...spooners, Chinese Crested Tern, Brown-eared Pheasant; Crested Ibis; Jankowski's Bunting; Japan for winter birds; Taiwan, etc, etc all feature in my "wants" although how much I do remains to be seen!

Don't expect too much to happen on here for the moment however as I'm deep in preparations for the move...I can see a quite heavy workload ahead of me but am looking forward to the end result and putting faces to names I see on here as well as getting to know a whole new culture :0)

Cheers everyone
Mark
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Old Sunday 4th December 2011, 13:45   #2
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Welcome to the China section Mark.

18 months is lots of time to gt in some of China's excellent birding. The real challenge will be to decide where you're going to go when you have time to leave Shanghai!

Cheers
Mike
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Old Monday 5th December 2011, 03:03   #3
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Hi Mark
If u'r interested in gulls,Paotaiwan Park is often the best in Shanghai city,where even a female Scoter was seen last winter.
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Old Monday 5th December 2011, 05:30   #4
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Thank you both.

Mike - I can already see that you are correct on the "where to go" front...seems my boss is expecting me to be in work at least some of the time!!

mcaribou - I'm not an out and out lover of gulls but I'll usually try to take the time to study 'em and improve my knowledge!

I should have mentioned that I have visited China once previously for spring migration at Baidaihe so am not a total novice with the region's birds...although it was 3 years ago...time flies!

Now for the work thing...first snow overnight so finally we can call it winter :0)

br
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Old Tuesday 6th December 2011, 14:00   #5
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Hullo Mark! I'd be down to be a birding pal when you arrive---I've got a lovely labmate too who is a great Chinese birder. I'm a bit of a wannabe/newbie to the whole East Asian/Palearctic/Subtropical game. best wishes for the holiday season!
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Old Friday 9th December 2011, 20:10   #6
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Hi Mark,
You'll have a great time. Others (Mcaribou etc) will have more knowledge about Shanghai but if you venture up to Beijing, let me know. I'd be delighted to show you around and take you to some of the good spots.
Cheers, Terry
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Old Thursday 15th December 2011, 21:32   #7
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Hi Terry

Thanks for the kind offer...I may well catch the fast train north to take you up on it at some point!

I do fancy those Brown-eared Pheasants west of you and this news on Blackthroat sees me adding another "I want that one" bird to my "to do" list...I so pity my boss who still thinks I'll be working whilst out east!!

Cheers for now to all who have responded...seasons greetings from the cold, dark northern lands!

br
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Old Saturday 14th January 2012, 11:27   #8
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Saturday 14 January sees me safely arrived in downtown Shanghai for a short recce trip over the next 4 days - aim being to sort out work matters in the main.

Flight from Helsinki with Finnair was uneventful once we finally got airborne...a combination of loading taking longer than expected and likewise the de-icing of the plane delaying departure. Touched down at Pudong an hour late to poor visibility - a combination of wet weather and smog/fog...

Customs cleared with no pain and my driver awaited me...itching to get onto the racetrack that was the ride to the hotel...I reckon he touched 150km/h at some points on the lane-dodging scramble of the 4-lane highway...

Safely delivered to Marriott close by Grand Gateway where our company office is, check-in was pleasant and efficient...by 1100 local I was in my room pondering why the bathroom has glass walls...innarestin'...

Sadly the journey and an on-going fight with the dreaded lurgi saw me opt for a "short power nap"...from which I'm not long emerged now at 1920...oops! I think the hotel restaurant can do for food and then some late-night football...

All being well tomorrow I can venture out early to sample the city...

Birds? Well...a "starling" spp as the plane taxi'd to the stand, a (Little I assume) Egret from the Indy500 run to town; a small sparrow flock, a dove and a pair of what looked like shrikes on overhead wires as we slowed down approaching the hotel...

Current plans see me return for "good" (my 18 months at least) mid-February when the birding can hopefully start properly...

Now...food!

ATB
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Old Sunday 15th January 2012, 09:25   #9
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Day two (in a crap Geordie accent...) sees the battle of McMadd vs Jetlag well and truly won by...jetlag...oh the joys of lying awake at 0400 watching Mallorca go one-up over Real Madrid...

...consequently it was afternoon before I ventured out to sample the delights of downtown birding...first a quick recce on the building housing our offices...in an attempt to minimise the surprises tomorrow when I'd like to arrive on time...first impressions, etc :0)

Thence a short walk from Grand Gateway to suss out whether Xujiahui Park had any potential...answer...having given it a quick once over from the entrance and nailed what I'm going to claim as my first lifer (subject to wiser council from more knowledgable locals :0)...sans bins...Long-tailed Shrike...was yes! A quick scoot back to the hotel and then a couple of hours wandering the park in the rain produced a few nice bits 'n' pieces...Chinese Bulbul of which there was a flock of 30+ in the park; Blackbird of the mandarinus sub-spp also numerous; a couple of Eye-browed Thrush; one Red-flanked Bluetail...cute as ever; one Pallas's Warbler hovering as it gleaned for insects; ubiquitous Tree Sparrow; and a White Wagtail that I'll not attempt to do to sub-spp. this time!

Also spotted very briefly high in the canopy was a Grosbeak either Japanese or Chinese but it was too short a view to do anything with other than think "looks familiar" (we had both spp. in Beidaihe in '08 with Mr Rockfowl) before it hopped out of sight...this followed by the usual attempt to move oneself to get a view and then recall where the bloody bird had been in relatíon to where you both may have now moved to! I blame the jetlag!

Overall a nice way to spend a rainy January afternoon in downtown Shanghai...

That's probably it for this trip...3 office days and then back to Finland on Thursday and straight on to the UK for Friday-Sunday...should be fun!

Now for the food thing again I think...

More anon and all ID corrections / suggestions welcome!

Cheers
Mark
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Old Sunday 15th January 2012, 14:24   #10
MKinHK
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Eye-browed Thrush is a good winter bird.

The Grosbeak is more likely to be Chinese than Japanese, but both are possible.

As someone who's been based in Europe what are your impressions of Chinese Blackbirds?

Cheers
Mike
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Old Monday 16th January 2012, 10:43   #11
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Hi Mike

Thanks for the comments...keepin' it real for me...birdin' and typin' after long flights can lead to carelessness!

All about work today so bar a flock of somethings...feral pigeons from the 22nd floor window nowt new to report...!

Cheers again
Mark


Quote:
Originally Posted by MKinHK View Post
Eye-browed Thrush is a good winter bird.
Good as in "too good"? I really should've given them a better grilling...drat the phyllosc that arrived in the tree with 'em and diverted my attention to it...the Pallas's Warbler. In fact...studying Brazil...scratch the Eye out (!)...Grey-backed is more likely what they were...I blame the jetlag...

The Grosbeak is more likely to be Chinese than Japanese, but both are possible.
Just wish the sucker had played ball...I like grozzers :0)

As someone who's been based in Europe what are your impressions of Chinese Blackbirds?
I'm a bit confused as the one thing I recall from the 2008 trip was the bill length was somewhat remarkable on those we saw then. Once I realised I had Blackbirds to play with yesterday, I looked for that specifically and seemed to get a mixture of lengths; some "normal" to my eyes, some "More like '08". I must admit I've not read up on the current thinking but a quick perusal of Brazil (again...I should get commission!) and I would agee less musicallity in the limited vocals I got and a somewhat clumsier flight...eye-ring? In that light?!

and how could I not mention the Spotted Doves...doh!

Cheers
Mike
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Old Monday 16th January 2012, 21:27   #12
Larry Sweetland
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Hope you get enough time for some productive jaunts Mark, looking forward to reading about it.
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Old Tuesday 17th January 2012, 01:57   #13
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Hi Mark,

Congrats on the eye-browed thrush. They are quiet rare one's in the city parks. Dusky, Pale and Grey sided are common ones in the park.
I found very few Scaly thrushes last weekend.
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Old Tuesday 17th January 2012, 15:02   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thirudevaram View Post
Hi Mark,

Congrats on the eye-browed thrush. They are quiet rare one's in the city parks. Dusky, Pale and Grey sided are common ones in the park.
I found very few Scaly thrushes last weekend.
Hi there

Following MK's gentle query, I'd say we can ignore my Eye-browed in favour of Grey-backed! As I said, too much jetlag plus a Pallas's Warbler competing for binocular space made me a lazy birder...on reflection and checking the field guide (so why was it in the hotel room if it's a field guide I wonder?!) I'd say I goofed on Eye-browed!

Catch you out and about once I get back here in mid-February

cheers
Mark
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Old Tuesday 17th January 2012, 15:07   #15
McMadd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chchang View Post
Hullo Mark! I'd be down to be a birding pal when you arrive---I've got a lovely labmate too who is a great Chinese birder. I'm a bit of a wannabe/newbie to the whole East Asian/Palearctic/Subtropical game. best wishes for the holiday season!
Hi Charlotte

I just noticed that while I meant to reply and say thanks for the welcome..I didn't...my apologies!

I'm certainly up for getting out and about as much as possible...what better way to learn about the non-tourists Shanghai than to go out with fellow birders...you can usually be certain we'll find all the weird places...I liked your cemetary story :0)

I'd certainly be interested to learn about the logistics of the Sibe Crane trip you did too...likewise on my must see list!

cheers for now
Mark
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Old Friday 10th February 2012, 22:15   #16
McMadd
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Last office day in Finland today...better think about the packing thing over the weekend I suppose! Travel Tue/Wed and partial office days Thur & Fri...but...in situ and ready to start the birding next week...bring it on!
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Old Tuesday 14th February 2012, 08:02   #17
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Welcome back Mark,

The weather looks good on the coming weekend. I will be heading to Binjiang forest park in search of the Goldcrest, if you dont have any other plans, you can join me.
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Old Thursday 16th February 2012, 14:10   #18
McMadd
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Originally Posted by thirudevaram View Post
Welcome back Mark,

The weather looks good on the coming weekend. I will be heading to Binjiang forest park in search of the Goldcrest, if you dont have any other plans, you can join me.
Hi there thirudevaram

I suspect I'll be busy fighting the jet lag still and getting the basics for the flat sorted...

More likely to have itchy feet by next weekend...

cheers for now
McM
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Old Thursday 16th February 2012, 17:38   #19
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This is an interesting thread, looking forward to see how it all goes.
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Old Sunday 19th February 2012, 12:25   #20
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Sunday 19th February - Local Patching

So...here we are...Sunday 19th February. I've been in Shanghai since Wednesday after a delayed flight (auxillary power unit failure compounded by Helsinki Vantaa being reduced to 1 runway for both in and outbound flights) that was rescued by the best stewardess I've had the fun to fly with in ages...

As I said earlier, I'll be treating this thread as my own little blog so be prepared to put up with non-birding divertissements as we go...Thursday and Friday were all about settling in and taking advantage of the stars being aligned for once...the majority of my “internal customers” being in town was too good an opportunity to miss so Thursday afternoon was spent with our local HR sorting some more paperwork out followed by a buffet dinner, that seemed to consist mainly of excellent seafood dishes, with the aforesaid customers.

Friday morning and early afternoon was all about meeting the “clients” in a more formal working setting which included a delivered lunch...salmon and pasta with a “booster” smoothie saw me fit to leave around 1700 and walk down from our office building at Grand Gateway (on top of Xujiahui subway station...which is handy as I live 3 stops east on line 9 :0) to the IKEA store on Caoxi Road for essentials like a kettle and other kitchen stuff...

No birds seen these two days barring the ubiquitous Tree Sparrows (aww...cute) and the ever-present Chinese / Light-vented Bulbuls...or Blubblubs as I've been wont to call them (but I'll try to be good going forward...I am however gonna decide for wholly un-taxonomic reasons but for wholly 2-finger typing reasons to call 'em Chinese Blubs from here-on-in..!

Saturday started late as the jet lag carried on the battle with my sleeping habits and was devoted to more exploration of the local area and led to the discovery that I can be man who shops at Carrefour (25 minutes walk west on Xietu Rd); Century Mart (5 minutes east) or Tesco (5 mins north)...it's Tesco Jim but not as we know it...although I can see 'em stocking chicken feet and fresh (still swimming!) carp before long back in the 3rd world nation I call “home” ;D

So...Sunday and I'm up reasonably early and wondering what to do? Managed to “Lose” a few hours doing computer stuff but then at 1300 I stride purposefully out and head towards what I think will be my local patch...Xujiahui Park...an urban space about 500m from the office building (or 20-25 minutes walk from home) so a prime site for spring and autumn lunch times given what I've already seen there...see the January recce visit post...and it's proximity to the office...

So..? Well, the park was somewhat busier (!) today than my mid-week lunchtime visit last month but arriving at the SE corner the first bird I put my bins on was a very smart Long-tailed Shrike that posed for a few shots then scooted off through the shrubbery. That gives me more confidence in last months “sans-bins” sighting! Slowly making my way into the eastern end of the park it becomes apparent that bulbuls and Spotted Doves are about in spite of the full basketball courts and paths...

I worked my way north and then east through the park and the next significant sighting was a smart Pale Thrush that flushed from the grass up into a nearby tree where it allowed me 1 decent picture. No sign of last months Grey-backed Thrushes however so no way to finally nail that coffin shut (to save you looking I lazily mis'id'd two G-b thrushes as Eye-browed while being distracted by a phyllosc (Pallas's) and jetlag...)

Onward and a nice distraction was provided by happening on a photography club's shoot...I include the images below in a shallow attempt to get more page views...

Back with the bird-hunting and them pesky Blackbirds are about and I have no further insights to offer beyond last month's thoughts that bill length seemed variable and song/contact chuckles were less melodic/simpler than those I'm used to back in Europe...record shot for you to enjoy none-the-less!

Moving along the southern edge of the park a movement in some fir/pine trees catches my eye and closer investigation reveals two Pallas's Warblers foraging in the sunlit branches...my snapping away here gains me wizened old lady who, once she spots what I'm trying to photograph, is all eyes, ears and mouth pointing their progress out for me...much appreciated of course. The same group of trees turned up the shrike again soon after and the oddness of the urban shrike struck me...not used to seeing them like this!

Further circuits produce repeat sightings of all of the above except the Pale Thrush and the pleasant surprise of there being two shrikes present not one...

All worn out by 1700 I walked back home stopping off in Tesco for summat for supper...how was I to know it was malt loaf not loaf...loaf?! Oh well...an added flavour to the cheese, tomato and salami sarnies...

More anon...now football...Go Crawley (Crawley vs Stoke is showing on Star Sports right now...I would not claim to support either team...Wrexham and the Red Devils of Mancunia are my teams...)

No close parenthesis in para 4...thank you Lowell...
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Old Sunday 19th February 2012, 12:27   #21
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and some more pics...
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Old Sunday 19th February 2012, 13:00   #22
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Nice to read about your settling in. Think your urban park sounds like its doing okay for a Feb. Sunday! Two shrikes, a thrush and warblers as well at the others. Nice pics of all the birds, but I know those Pallas's are pretty tricky, so kudos!
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Old Monday 20th February 2012, 08:22   #23
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Will be looking forward to following this thread. Until I looked more carefully and saw the model, had thought the photographers were snapping the blue door, perhaps for some kind of effects shot.

In addition to the birds, envy you the (non-Tesco) food.

Good luck with IDing more Blub species !
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Old Friday 24th February 2012, 13:04   #24
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Non-birdy post

Cheers for kind words all.

Forgot to mention I did get a "tick" last weekend but I think the "Bird Police" (how far does "George Michael's" remit extend anyway..?) will be down on me like a ton of bricks if I add "City Hwamei" to the totals...

Not much feathered interest to report since then...it's been all about the work thing...settling in (small desks and chairs...can't see my Finnish ergonomicists being happy with me when I get back...!)...getting to know the new team..etc...

Add to that the red tape game...40 minutes of taxi travel for a 2 minute "interview" in which I don't think I said anything and exchanged my autograph on a white form for a temporary residence pink form half the size...gotta keep on moving though...only when I get all the papers in order can we release my small air freight parcel which include me bird books and more scruffy, dull, green-ish field clothes!

Add to that an on-going battle with "airplane "flu"" and it doesn't amount to much in the way of natural history.

One ray of sunshine is that it looks like I'll have the 3rd week of April (Mon 16th) off so I think the plan has to be to concentrate on a certain set of mudflats about 3 hours N of here with a view to getting views of a certain cute, cute, cute wader...I'll be contacting the local connections separately to discuss a plan of attack on that one (but feel free to comment here for the greater good if you wish :0)

So...nowt planned for the weekend...happy to hook up with any locals if you're a) doing something birdy and b) are prepared to give idiots guide directions on where I have to go, etc...

Not bad for a short post...and there I was telling the team yesterday to tell me to shut up if I go on a bit...

Mark
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Old Monday 27th February 2012, 03:26   #25
MKinHK
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A terrific pic of the Long-tailed Shrike Mark.

Learning the bus routes will dramatically shorten your travelling times and, most importantly, allow more time for birding.

Hwamei in downtown Shanghai is definitely a plastic - sorry.

Cheers
Mike
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