• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

A weekend in Hangzhou, China (1 Viewer)

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
I had a quick business trip to Shanghai and Wuhu (Anhui) and decided to tack on a couple days in Hangzhou, partially for sightseeing and partially for birding. I’ve been to China before as a birder, so I didn’t expect too much in this short trip, especially in these more urban settings. Happily, I picked up 47 species, 10 of which were lifers

Friday, December 4, 2010 – I took a mid-morning train from Wuhu to Hangzhou. It’s hard to do much birdwatching from a moving train, especially with windows as dirty as this one, but I did notice a few things. The best was a pair of Daurian jackdaws sitting on a power pole. I also had a few long-tailed shrikes, a couple of crested mynas, a Eurasian blackbird, and some little egrets. There were also a few ducks, but the train went by too quickly to ID them.

I arrived in Hangzhou around 2:30 and checked into my hotel, finding a flock of crested mynas on the roof of the building across the street. I quickly gathered my gear and headed out to West Lake for sightseeing. The trees in the northeast corner of the lake were teeming with light-vented bulbuls, but I couldn’t pick out anything else with them. At the lake shore, I found a female gadwall and where there were food stands, there were Eurasian Tree Sparrows. I wandered down the eastern shore of the lake, finding a spot-billed duck, some herring-type gulls (I believe Vega gulls) and a few white wagtails. As sunset came, the black-crowned night-herons began to fly around the lake.

I stayed at the lake until well after dark then headed back to my hotel for the night.

Saturday, December 4, 2010 – I started out bright and early for the Hangzhou Botanical Gardens, where the taxi dropped me off at the north gate. The first bird of the day was a common species, great tit, but after that my next two birds of the day were lifers, a speckled piculet and a couple of yellow-billed grosbeaks.

A little further down the road was a fairly large pond. At first glance, it looked empty, but I picked out a brown crake walking out in the open on the far shore. I also was able to find a common moorhen and a couple of little grebes. There were a few light-vented bulbuls flying around the trees in the pond.

I was about to leave when I noticed a man with a scope and another with a large camera. With my limited mandarin, I was able to make myself understood that I was a birdwatcher. The one man then gave me a nice little brochure of the birds of Hangzhou with birding locations produced by the Zhejiang Bird Club. The back of the brochure had a picture of a pair of mandarin ducks on it, which was a bird I really wanted to see. When I asked the man where I could find them, he replied “West Lake. There are many.” I tried to ask what part of West Lake (it’s a big place), but couldn’t make myself understood. I thanked the man again for the brochure and moved on.

I headed further into the gardens, and found a small flock of bulbuls. Most were light-vented, but I also found a couple of mountain bulbuls, although it took me quite a while and a few looks to figure it out. Further on I found an oriental turtle-dove and another mixed flock, this one of great tits, yellow-bellied tits, and black bulbuls (mostly of the white-headed form). I followed the paved path up the mountain a bit, and discovered a small undeveloped trail heading up into the woods.

I took that trail and instantly found myself in a huge flock of tits. Most were yellow-bellied, but there were quite a few rufous-breasted tits, and a few greats. I kept working that trail up the mountain until the flock petered out, and found myself on another paved trail that ran across the top of the ridge line. Some chattering in a bush at the top turned out to be a few red-billed leiothrix (leothrixes?) I walked that trail a bit until it started to head down the hill.

Eventually I met up again with the tit flock, so I stopped and sat for a while. When I did, I noticed some movement in a nearby clearing and was surprised to discover it was a red-billed blue-magpie. Then I saw a second. Gorgeous! Some pale thrushes flew in, and when they flew off I followed them down a side trail. Down that trail I got a good look at a male Tristram’s bunting. I heard a few more buntings calling in the brush, so I bushwacked a bit and found a few female Tristram’s. I also saw four olive-backed pipits working their way through the leaf litter (tails wagging all the way) and a female red-flanked bluetail. Back on the trail I found a couple chestnut bulbuls mixed in with another flock of black bulbuls and more pale thrushes.

By now it was close to noon, so it was time for some sightseeing. I made my way back down the hill and out of the gardens, picking up a Eurasian/Chinese blackbird and a small group of white-rumped munias on the way. From there I grabbed a cab to the northwest corner of West Lake.

I walked a little of the Su causeway stopping every so often to scan the lake for ducks, especially mandarins. I did see plenty of great cormorants flying around, but no ducks. I next took a boat ride to “Three Pools Reflecting the Moon” Island. No mandarins, but I did see a group of mallards. On the island, I was surprised to find a couple brownish-flanked bush warblers among all the crowds. I also saw a common magpie flying toward the shore. I took the boat back to the “mainland”, and then walked the length of the fairly birdless Bai Causeway. At about 4:30 I made it back to my hotel and collapsed.

Sunday, December 05, 2010 - I started the morning at the Leifeng Pagoda at the south end of West Lake. While waiting for the gates to open, I had a small flock of Japanese white-eyes and a few red-billed leiothrix among the more common species. There was also a woman feeding a pair a gadwall in one of the pools. Once inside the grounds, in the woods behind the pagoda, I had a both dusky thrush (ssp. eunomius) and gray-backed thrush along with a few great tits and Eurasian/Chinese blackbirds.

From there I walked to the south end of the Su causeway, seeing a flock of Eurasian magpies on the way. The causeway already had too many people, but I eventually made it to the south shore of West Inner Lake (Xili Hu), where I saw two distant water birds that looked like least grebes. I walked a bit closer and saw the grebes were joined by a pair of mandarin ducks! Further down the lakeshore I was able to get a confirming look, although they were still quite distant. When I moved through some woods to get even closer, they were gone, although I did refind the mallard flock from the day before plus a drake Eurasian teal.

The trees in the southwest corner of West Inner Lake were very active. There were lots of blackbirds, black bulbuls, rufous turtle doves, and great tits. As I took a rest on one of the benches a high-flying flock of ducks came at me. It was a flock of mandarins (mostly drakes). I counted about 15 of them, but they flew on past. I guess there really are “many” like the man said. From there I walked some of the trails through and around the ponds in the area, and found a female daurian redstart, an oriental magpie-robin, a few yellow-billed grosbeaks, and my first warblers of the trip, a group of 4 yellow-browed warblers (and a couple of barnyard ducks).

From there I did some quick sightseeing at YueFei Mausoleum before heading back to my hotel, gathering my things, and catching the high-speed train back to Shanghai (350 kph!). The rest of the day was spent in transit to my Hotel in Pudong.

Monday, December 06, 2010 – I’d contemplated making a run out to Binhai to look for Reed Parrotbill, but the morning was just too cold and windy to be productive. Therefore, I stayed close to my hotel and went for a short walk in Pudong Century Park.

The wind made for difficult birding. Goldcrest, yellow-browed warbler, little grebe, and pale thrush were all new species for me in the park. I also saw most of the common species such as azure-winged magpie, light-vented bulbul, black-crowned night-heron, common moorhen, spotted dove, rufous turtle dove, and blackbird. Surprisingly, I didn’t see any tree sparrows. I finished up with a long-tailed shrike and flock of vinous-throated parrotbills near the exit gate.
Last edited:

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
Species List and Locations (lifers in bold):

T: Wuhu to Hangzhou Train
B: Hangzhou Botanic Gardens
W: Hangzhou West Lake
S: Shanghai Pudong Century Park

Mandarin Duck - Aix galericulata - W
Gadwall - Anas strepera - W
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos - W
Eastern Spot-billed Duck - Anas poecilorhyncha - W
Eurasian Teal - Anas crecca -W
Speckled Piculet - Picumnus innominatus - B
Oriental Turtle Dove - Streptopelia orientalis –T, B, W, S
Spotted Dove - Streptopelia chinensis - S
Brown Crake - Amaurornis akool - B
Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus – B, S
Vega Gull - Larus vegae - W
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis – B, W, S
Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo - W
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta - T
Great Egret - Casmerodius albus - T
Black-crowned Night Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax – W, S
Long-tailed Shrike - Lanius schach – T, S
Red-billed Blue Magpie - Urocissa erythrorhyncha - B
Azure-winged Magpie - Cyanopica cyanus - S
Common Magpie - Pica pica - W
Daurian Jackdaw - Corvus dauuricus - T
Grey-backed Thrush - Turdus hortulorum - B
Common Blackbird - Turdus merula – T, B, W, S
Pale Thrush - Turdus pallidus – B, S
Dusky Thrush - Turdus eunomus -W
Red-flanked Bluetail - Tarsiger cyanurus - B
Oriental Magpie Robin - Copsychus saularis - W
Daurian Redstart - Phoenicurus auroreus - W
Crested Myna - Acridotheres cristatellus – T, W
Yellow-bellied Tit - Periparus venustulus – B, W
Great Tit - Parus major – B, W
Black-throated Tit - Aegithalos concinnus - B
Goldcrest - Regulus regulus - S
Chestnut Bulbul - Hemixos castanonotus - B
Mountain Bulbul - Ixos mcclellandii - B

Light-vented Bulbul - Pycnonotus sinensis –B, W, S
Japanese White-eye - Zosterops japonicus - W
Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler - Cettia fortipes - W
Yellow-browed Warbler - Phylloscopus inornatus – W, S
Red-billed Leiothrix - Leiothrix lutea – B, W
Vinous-throated Parrotbill - Paradoxornis webbianus - S
Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus – B, W
White Wagtail - Motacilla alba – W, S
Olive-backed Pipit - Anthus hodgsoni - B
White-rumped Munia - Lonchura striata - B
Yellow-billed Grosbeak - Eophona migratoria – B, W
Tristram’s Bunting - Emberiza tristrami - B


Well-known member
Jeff, thanks for sharing. It's encouraging to see how much you found on a weekend in a big city, and wow a piculet!

I agree about the red-beaked blue magpie! I was just admiring one on campus today, and an older Chinese lady came up to me and said "can you see it? it's a beautiful bird with a beautiful song" She proceeded to tell me a Chinese name for it I hadn't heard before "songque" (pine magpie?). It was fun to run into an "ordinary" person with interest in birds.


That report makes very interesting reading. My brother, who has some interest in birds, lives in Hangzhou so I will draw his attention to your report. He always maintains that he hardly sees any birds there.

I feel a lot more inclined to visit now.


Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Sounds like a pretty decent couple of days' birding Jeff - Speckled Piculet is a great bird, and Mandarins are so much better in China than on some ornamental pond.

Just to clarify - are the Rufous-breasted Tits in your text the same as Black-throated Tit in your species list?


Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
Sounds like a pretty decent couple of days' birding Jeff - Speckled Piculet is a great bird, and Mandarins are so much better in China than on some ornamental pond.

Just to clarify - are the Rufous-breasted Tits in your text the same as Black-throated Tit in your species list?


Yep, the little cuties with yellow eyes and a black mask. I screwed up in the narrative (but it won't let me edit it now).

And up until now the only mandarins I've seen were in a hotel fountain in Jeju, Korea, so these were nice to find. ;)
Warning! This thread is more than 12 years ago old.
It's likely that no further discussion is required, in which case we recommend starting a new thread. If however you feel your response is required you can still do so.

Users who are viewing this thread