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A Beijing masterclass on winter thrushes (1 Viewer)

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Yesterday I had a terrific thirty minute interlude in the western half Zhongshan Park which lies in the heart of Beijing around the southern edge of the Forbidden City. My wife Carrie and I were having a rest here after walking around Tiananmen Square. I first found a male Chinese Blackbird prowling watchfully across a newly-watered lawn and then a slim, long-tailed thrush with a greyish back that flew away showing a rufous tail, making it my first Red-throated Thrush since my only other one - at the Western Hills back in March 1991.

This was pretty good, but better was to come a few minutes later as it flew into a small tree on the island in the pond where we’d sat down and showed itself to be a superb male, with a well defined dark red chin, throat and breast that was neatly demarcated from otherwise white underparts. It also showed a broad pale super on an otherwise grey head, and amazingly was perfectly happy to let me approach to within ten feet, suggesting it had been in the park for a while and knew that people here posed no threat.

I snapped a few shots with the iPhone, and as I did I noticed a second thrush fly into another tree, and turn to face me - a nicely black-collared Dusky Thrush with a strong white super and rufous wing coverts. This bird too flew back and forth a couple of times and seemed determined to show well at wonderfully close range.

To my amazement a third thrush then dropped in. This one initially looked like the Dusky Thrush, but as it dropped to the water’s edge I realised it’s breast was mostly rufous (a bit paler and significantly more orange-toned than the Red-throated Thrush) and it showed a generous pattern of broad chevrons of the same colour on the flanks. This was still a far from straightforward bird as it had a very well-marked face, with a white super and pale throat, a strong black moustachial stripe extending upwards to the base of the bill from a broad base on the lower neck, a broad pale lower edge to the dark ear coverts, and white tinges on the greater coverts. It also showed a rufous tail as it flew away, which taken together with the broad flank streaking and lack of black on the breast band suggest female Naumann’s Thrush to me. Video here

Having drunk it’s fill it flew back across the pond but landed again in full view, so I walked back to see if I could get more detail. Once again it was quite happy for me to approach and enjoy perfectly lit views of the rufous-chevroned flanks in the late afternoon sunshine. Adding to the ridiculousness of these phenomenal views the Red-throated Thrush dropped into the same tree with a thin call and again posed beautifully a few feet above my head, showing itself to be a longer and more slender-looking bird than the rounder-bodied female Naumann’s Thrush.

When it’s your day it’s really your day. A third thrush also dropped in - this one a fabulous male Naumann’s Thrush with a much more densely rufous throat, breast, supercilium and flanks, making it the most beautiful of Any Naumann’s I’ve seen. My only frustrations were that I had not brought my camera to Beijing or, horror of horrors, my bins on that afternoon! Even so this was an absolutely wonderful session that will live long in the memory.

I’ll post some dubious pix of the Red-Throated Thrush and the female Naumann’s in due course.

Cheers
Mike
 
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Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
Nice one. Meanwhile, I saw a solitary Blackbird yesterday ...note to myself, don't do a masterclass on winter thrushes in this neck of the woods :)
 

McMadd

You should see the other bloke...
Meh...should've gone to Shangers Mike ;)

"Arrived at the “Rubbish Dump” site to find half of christendom had descended...more on that anon...so we feck'd orf to the Hidden Valley and started birding...more thrushes evident as we slowly made our way along the usual trails...deep breath before listing all the species we saw today...Pale, Japanese, Dusky, Red-throated, White's, Eye-browed, Blue Whistling, Grey-backed, Chinese Blackbird...the place was full of turd(u)s...more on them later..."

Thread: https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=217589&page=15
Post #364 onwards ;)

Nice day out in the Big Smog nonetheless!

cheers McM
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
That's a pretty good haul McM

I imagine Red-throated is far from common in Shanghai?

Cheers
Mike
 
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McMadd

You should see the other bloke...
Think that was the only time we saw it Mike...was 6 years ago so no idea of current status...over to ZL or MT on the I think!
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Nice one. Meanwhile, I saw a solitary Blackbird yesterday ...note to myself, don't do a masterclass on winter thrushes in this neck of the woods :)

A single Blackbird has just returned here too.

Now winter Thrushes at all this year due to absence of Rowan berries.

Twelve years since I was in Beijing, seems like yesterday.
 
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MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
For what its worth here's the star of the show, albeit in a shot that looks more like an impressionist painting than a photo from modern camera!

What I should add is that the park also held a couple of Oriental Greenfinches, a Brambling, Azure-winged and Oriental Magpies, Collared Dove, a heap of Large-billed Crows and Tree Spugs and a rather unexpected trio of 6 Chinese Bulbuls, a Silky Starling and a Crested Myna.

Cheers
Mike
 

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Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
Beautiful, Mike. Red-throated is one that's eluded me.

Where I live the American robins came back in force three weeks ago. One flock brought a varied thrush with them. Only the third one I've seen in PA.
 

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