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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

China 2010 (1 Viewer)

Jianfengling, Hainan

Thursday, 28th January 2010, 7.15am to 6.15pm

In all my years of birding in various leech-infested areas of China, I had never had a single one attach itself to me. That was until yesterday when I had three of the grubs from hell eat their way through my socks to feast on my blood. And then, despite my best efforts to protect what blood remained, I had two more today back at the feeding trough. (BTW If you get bitten by a leech don't google "leech infection"... there are 1.5 million listings).

At least I saw some quality birds to make up for my blood loss. It's a shame though that the photos I took today don't do justice to what was actually a very enjoyable day's birding. The problem with Jianfengling is also its advantage - the forest in particularly old and dense, with many generations of trees (some as old as 2,000 years) vying to get their canopies into the sunlight. Not that there was much of that today anyhow. Low light and big lenses don't go together - particularly not when, like me, you prefer not to carry a tripod around all day.

So not many okay shots, but at least I managed to get photos of both Lesser and Greater Yellownape, which were in the same small flock of birds that comprised several Sultan Tits, 2 Greater Racket-tailed Drongos and probably the same Ratchet-tailed Treepie as yesterday.

Also on the plus side, the Spot-necked Babbler actually sat out for all of two seconds (there are many at Jianfengling, but they usually remain in the middle of very thick bushes).

The Hainan-endemic Rusty-cheeked Laughingthrush showed itself at last (but only for a few seconds, in a particularly dark section of the forest), while the flock of 20 or so broadbills were in view for about 10 minutes but were infuriatingly difficult to photograph.

Miss of the day was the Dusky Fulvetta, which I had in my viewfinder at three yards distance, but I had neglected to turn the flash on (handheld at 1/2 second just itsn't good enough - even for my website ;-)
*Crested Goshawk, 1
*Greater-necklaced Laughingthrush, endemic ssp semitorquatus, 10
Spot-necked Babbler (photo), endemic ssp swinhoei, c15
*Rufous-capped Babbler (photo), endemic ssp goodsoni, few
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (photo), endemic ssp johni, 4
*Hainan Barbet (Clements = Black-browed Barbet, oorti faber), 2
*Dusky Fulvetta, endemic ssp arguta, sev
Mountain Bulbul , few
Hainan Leaf Warbler (2 photos), endemic species, few
Sultan Tit, 8
Lesser Yellownape (photo), endemic ssp longipennis, 1
Ratchet-tailed Treepie (2 photos), 1
*Greater Yellownape (2 photos), 1
*Asian Palm Swift (photo), c20
Chinese Bulbul, sev
Crested Serpent Eagle, endemic ssp rutherfordi, 2
White-browed Fantail, few
*Silver-breasted Broadbill (photo), endemic ssp polionotus, c20
*Red-flanked Bluetail, ssp cyanurus, 1
*Large Woodshrike, ssp hainanus (also Indochina), 1
Grey Wagtail, few
White Wagtail, few
*Rufous-faced Warbler, 1
*Rufous-cheeked Laughingthrush, endemic species castanotis, few
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, endemic ssp rufescentor, c30
White-bellied Yuhina, 2
Puff-throated Bulbul, endemic nominate ssp pallidus, c20
Scarlet Minivet, endemic ssp fraterculus, few
Black-throated Laughingthrush, endemic ssp monachus, few
Little Grebe, 2
*Indicates first time seen on this trip
12 photos published today of 9 species
(7 species not photographed before in 2010)
can be seen at:


2010 = 53 species photographed
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Jianfengling, Hainan

Friday, 29th January 2010, 7.10am to 5.50pm

A brighter day than yesterday, but where to go? I toyed with the idea of spending the morning in an area where Hainan Partridge has been seen in previous years. But the idea of creeping around in the dark forest just wasn't appealing (limited photo-opportunities + numerous leeches). Decided, instead, to walk the same mountain road as I had walked last year (in February), when I had managed to get some poor shots of a small flock of the Hainan-endemic Whitehead's Magpies (I use White-winged Magpie for xanthomelana, which can be found on the mainland).

Whitehead's Magpie was first described by Ogilvie-Grant in 1899. He named it whiteheadia, in honour of John Whitehead, the English explorer and naturalist, who had discovered the species. Alas, after contracting malaria, the 38 year-old Whitehead died on Hainan, near Haikou, the island's capital, in June 1899.

Interestingly, the IBC's verdict is: "Races well differentiated, possibly worthy of separate species". But split or no split, it would be wonderful if Whitehead's contribution to Hainan ornithology were honoured by a name-change (by more than one person). And, if you're in the mood, there's also Whitehead's Silver Pheasant that's endemic to Hainan.

This time, though, no Whitehead's or anyone else's magpies or pheasants, and not much else to be honest during the four-hour walk – other than a view of the head of a Red-headed Trogon, arguably the most impressive of the island's endemic subspecies. Feast and famine birding is most certainly a feature of Jianfengling. But just as you are thinking that the day is disappearing without much to show for it, the place throws out something that, all of a sudden, makes you stop in your tracks...

...On reaching Yulingu, and deciding to walk the circular river-edge walk, a kingfisher flew up and perched on the fence that skirts the track. Blyth's! I screamed to myself, more in hope than anything else. I chose to pick up the camera before the binoculars, which was perhaps not the best idea as I had some difficulty finding the bird in the viewfinder. I eventually managed to get the bird in the frame and could see that it was a "common" kingfisher. But rather than being disappointed, I was actually quite thrilled to get an okay shot of it (a bird this beautiful doesn't deserve to be called "common").

But hold on a moment, are my eyes deceiving me, or does this bird have a peculiarly long and thin bill? A previously-undescribed Hainan endemic perhaps? Intriguingly, Ernst Hartert in his fascinating paper The Birds of Hainan, published in the 1910 Journal of Zoology (pp 189-254) remarks that, "All these ["common" Kingfisher] specimens have comparatively long bills". Then again, he went on to say that he found them "equally long in many Indian examples". Oh, well, dream on...

Talking of Hainan endemics (real ones this time), I managed to find another Red-headed Trogon (ssp hainanus), which sat out in the open, in good light, long enough for me to get a couple of shots of it.

I have to fly back to Beijing tomorrow, and I will only be able to bird for two hours before I have to leave for the airport. So, let's hope for a bright start in more ways than one.


*Grey-chinned Minivet (photos of m&f), 2
Hainan Barbet (photo), aka Black-browed Barbet, oorti faber, 8
*Fork-tailed Sunbird (photo), nominate endemic subspecies christinae, 2
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta (photo), endemic ssp rufescentor, c50
White-bellied Yuhina (photo), c30
*Long-tailed Shrike, ssp schach, 1
Spot-necked Babbler, endemic ssp swinhoei, c10
Rufous-capped Babbler (photo), endemic ssp goodsoni, few
White-browed Fantail, few
Mountain Bulbul, few
Hainan Leaf Warbler, endemic species, sev
Scarlet Minivet, endemic ssp fraterculus, 2
*White-capped Forktail (photo), 2
Chinese Bulbul, hainanus ssp, 2
Asian Palm Swift, c30
Grey Wagtail, few
White Wagtail, few
Puff-throated Bulbul (photo), endemic nominate ssp pallidus, c30
Scarlet Minivet, endemic ssp fraterculus, few
Little Grebe, 2
*Black-naped Monarch (photo), ssp styani (also on mainland)
*Common Kingfisher (photo), ssp bengalensis?
*Red-headed Trogon (photo), endemic ssp hainanus, 1
*Indicates first time seen on this trip
13 photos published today of 11 species
(9 species not photographed before in 2010)
Can be seen at: http://www.chinesecurrents.com/2010birds8.html
2010 = 62 species photographed
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Jianfengling, Hainan

Saturday, 30th January 2010, 7.10am to 9.30pm

After two hours of constant bird-activity – the best early-morning birding of the trip – I reluctantly got into the car that would drive me to Sanya airport.

Remarkably, within 50 yards of my accommodation, I had found two of the sub-species endemics that had eluded me for three days: Yellow-billed Nuthatch (Hainan is the only place in China this species can be found) and the Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker. In fact, I saw all of the birds listed below (except the last three) within 100 yards of my chalet.

The drive from Jianfengling to the airport is always good for a Black-shouldered Kite or two; and sure enough I was able to spot one flying parallel with the fast expressway. The driver kindly pulled over to the hard-shoulder and I was able to get out to get an okay shot.

I arrived at the airport at 11.30, two hours after leaving Jianfengling. My flight back to Beijing was not until 1.10pm, so I decided that I could spend half and hour looking for Olive-backed Sunbirds, one of Hainan's specialities (I haven't seen it anywhere else in China). I headed towards the flowering trees, just opposite the air terminal – the same type of tree that I had seen the sunbird feeding on during my last visit to Hainan. Sure enough, as I approached them, I could hear the distinctive call of the o-b sunbird. The shots (one of which captures the bird in mid song-flight) show a male in full breeding plumage (looking far better than the blotchy males I photographed five weeks ago). As I was watching the sunbirds, a Two-barred Greenish Warbler popped into view. A nice end to a very pleasant trip to the wonderful island of Hainan.
Fork-tailed Sunbird, nominate endemic subspecies christinae, 2
*Chestnut Bulbul (photo), ssp castanonotus (same as n. Vietnam), 2
*Yellow-billed Nuthatch (photo), endemic ssp chienfengensis, 2
*Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker (photo), endemic ssp swinhoei
Grey-chinned Minivet, 2
Hainan Barbet, aka Black-browed Barbet, oorti faber, c15
White-bellied Yuhina, c30
Mountain Bulbul (photo), few
Hainan Leaf Warbler (photo), endemic species, sev
Puff-throated Bulbul, endemic nominate ssp pallidus, c30
Scarlet Minivet, endemic ssp fraterculus, few
*Black-shouldered Kite (photo), ssp vociferus, 1
*Olive-backed Sunbird (2 photos), ssp rhizophorae (s. China), 4 (2m, 2f)
*Two-barred Greenish Warbler (photo), 1
*Indicates first time seen on this trip
9 photos published today of 8 species
(5 species not photographed before in 2010)
Can be seen here:
2010 = 67 species photographed
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Beidaihe, Hebei

Sunday, 7th February 2010, 11am to 3pm

I took the 7.50am train this morning from Beijing to Beidaihe. It was cold (much colder than Beijing), snowing and quite foggy when I arrived (at 11am).

I resisted the temptation to go and sit in front of the fire and, instead, took a taxi from the station to the Yang He bridge. The river was frozen except for a small area of open water on the east side (c10 Little Grebe and 2 Goldeneye).

20 minutes drive to the west, I noticed a large raptor sitting at the top of a tree - an Upland Buzzard no less.

I went as far as the Da Pu bridge, but that river was also frozen. It's the first time I've been there and never seen a single bird (I've been there every winter for the past 12 years).

On the way back I stopped at the Dai He bridge and noticed that there was a stretch of open water with 4 ducks on it (1 pair large, one small). I picked up my bins and was surprised to see a male and female Smew (and a pair of spot-bills). Smew is quite an uncommon winter visitor here. Also, an Eastern Great Tit was calling loudly near here.

The fog was closing in, it was snowing more heavily, and it was getting darker; but just past the south side of the smaller Dai River bridge I heard something that brightened up the day. I had no idea what was singing, but I did know that it was bound to be interesting.

I immediately located the bird and was delighted to discover that it was a Siberian Accentor (I guess if you are from Siberia, today must seem quite spring-like)!

I managed to get some reasonable photos of this stunning bird(there were actually two birds in the same area). And then, just as the two accentors flew further away, a Great Spotted Woodpecker landed within 10 yards of me, followed closely by an eye-level Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker.

I was delighted, as well as surprised I'd actually found anything at all on such a seemingly miserable day, but things actually got better...

I stopped off at the stone park, which is always worth a look in winter, particularly the berry bushes that are on the side of the stream that runs down to the (completely frozen) sea.

No sooner had I got there, I saw something that stopped me in my tracks: A Brown-eared Bulbul no less (an at-best scarce and probably rare visitor to Beidaihe). So scarce, in fact, it's a "new" bird for my Beidaihe list - not that I take this seriously, but I did know it was my 280th!

The battery in my camera was on the way out, but held on for me to get some okay shots (there were actually a pair of them there). They were in the same berry bush as 4 Chinese Bulbuls (showing just how large Brown-eared really is). And, playing the part of the icing on the cake, a Naumann's Thrush popped into the same frame.

At 3pm I tried to get into the south side of the Lotus Hills, but they've locked the gate for the winter it seems, and I didn't fancy trekking down from the north gate; and so, with the weather worsening, I decided to quit while I was ahead.

11 photos published today of 7 species
(5 species not photographed before in 2010)
Are here at: http://www.chinesecurrents.com/2010birds10.html
2010 = 72 species photographed
Just reading your latest dispatch made me feel chilly, Shi Jin.

You deserve to get those 365 images...

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Enterprising indeed to go in the hope of a Harlequin in that degree of freeze!

Beidaihe is the only place I've heard of Brown-eared Bulbul being seen on the mainland - and the second pic is wonderfully atmospheric. When I was therein 1990-91 Chinese Bulbul was nothing more that a scarce migrant.

Smew are always terrific - another dip into the memory banks recalls quite a few at the northwest corner of the Summer Palace, where the canal flows into the park and the turbulence kept a small area open that was filled with Goosander and Smew.

I covered many miles of coastline today - from Qinhuangdao over to Beidaihe. The good news is that most of the sea (towards Qinhuangdao) is ice free. The bad news is that I didn't see Harlequin (at least I don't think so... I do have a shot of something a long way out and in the mist that has potential... after a few pints).

I'll post the report of what I did see, later.

I'll check tomorrow to see if the Brown-eared Bulbuls are still there. I have only seen that species once before, in the Beijing Botanical Gardens, a few winters ago.
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Beidaihe, Hebei

Monday, 8th February

Misty and very cold all day, with a little bit of brightness from 3pm to 4pm.

Stopped off at the Sandflats' reedbeds, which are always good for a bird or two - even on a cold winter's day.

Sure enough, there were around 50 Pallas's Reed Buntings, in various stages of moult, and perhaps even two races.

As I walked across the reedbed on the thick ice, a flock of a dozen Brambling dropped in, including one male I photographed that was in just about full summer plumage (wishful thinking on his part). Also, 2 Red-billed Blue Magpies and a single Water Pipit and Wren (photo) there. I didn't see Eastern Water Rail (I saw one in the same place last winter), but there were lots of tracks in the snow that I believe were its.

On to have a look at Qinhuangdao beach (near to the site of the planned Shangri-La hotel... yes, indeed, this port city is really on the up).

The sea there was ice-free and even had a few gulls: mostly Black-headed (photo) and Vega (photo of adult), but there was at least one bird showing characteristics (if my understanding of the literature is correct) of Mongolian. In the interests of science and heated debated no doubt I am publishing 2 photos of this interesting specimen.

There was also an adult Kamchatka Gull (photo) and an interesting gull that, again according to the literature (Mark Brazil), showed characterists of second-winter heinei Common Gull. Again, I thought it would be fun to open this particular can of worms by publishing a couple of photos.

Enjoy and do please feel free to join what promises to be an interesting and educational (for me) debate ;-)

9 photos published today of 7? species
(5? species not photographed before in 2010)

2010 = 75-77 species photographed! (Let's call it 76 for now)

Photos published at:

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Beidaihe, Hebei

Tuesday, 9th February, 7am - 1.30pm

A balmy high of 0 degrees today. But the force 3 to 4 easterly wind made it feel even colder than the previous two days.

At least the wind, which had sprung up during the night, had cleared the lingering mist. It had also moved the sea around to the extent that most of the ice in the Beidaihe bay (west of Lighthouse Point) had melted.

I left home at 7am, and headed to Lotus Hills, where three hours of effort yielded a few things of interest: a flock of c20 Long-tailed Tits, c40 Eastern Great Tits, a hungry-looking Rufous Turtle Dove, a Coal Tit, and two Grey-capped Pygmies (woodpeckers that is).

Then on to the Stone Garden to look for the pair of Brown-eared Bulbuls, which I had found on the 7th. No sign of them when I arrived, but i did find 3 Chinese Grosbeaks (1 male). As I was photographing one, I was distracted by the sound of a feeding flock of Yellow-bellied tits that had flown in to the conifer tree I was standing under. I counted about 20 of these wonderful birds and watched them for 30 minutes or so as they moved from tree to tree, at about 5 minute intervals.

Then I heard a shriek, followed by various raucous sounds from a bird with an attitude problem. I quickly found the bird responsible - a Brown-eared Bulbul. I followed it around the small park for the next 20 minutes as it flew from tree to tree, scaring off anything in its path. It was particularly rough with the Chinese Bulbuls, non of which stopped to argue with their giant cousin from the "east side".

My next stop was Lighthouse Point, where I managed to get photos of all 3 of Beidaihe's woodpecker species, including a memorable shot of 2 pygmies hammering at opposite sides of the same tree trunk (the first time I have seen two of them so close together). Remarkably, a pair of Great-spotted Woodpeckers were feeding very close together on the next tree.

The ice in the bay had melted, much to the relief no doubt of the 200 or so Goldeneyes that were bobbing about. A sign of spring was to be seen in the form of a pair displaying to each other.

A further sign of spring was the first migrant wader of the year (at least it was the first I had seen in three days there) - a Eurasian Curlew.

I'm looking forward to seeing the other 50 or so species of wader that will follow on behind when the weather warms up a bit. Let's pray that Spoon-billed Sandpiper is one of the returnees - photograph or no photograph.

12 photos of 12 species
6 species "new" for 2010
Published at:http://www.chinesecurrents.com/2010birds12.html

Red-billed Blue Magpie, 6
*Rufous Turtle Dove, 3
*Chinese Grosbeak, 3
Yellow-bellied Tit, c20
Brown-eared Bulbul, 1
*Chinese Bulbul, 19
Oriental Greenfinch, 2
Great-spotted Woodpecker, 3
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, 4
*Grey-headed Woodpecker, 1
*Eurasian Curlew, 1
*Common Goldeneye, c200

Other birds seen:

Collared Dove, 1
Coal Tit, 1
Marsh Tit, 1
Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 1 male
Long-tailed Tit, c20
Eastern Great Tit, c50
Red-breasted Merganser, 2 females
Magpie, c30
Vega Gull, 3
Black-headed Gull, c40
Kamchatka Gull, sev

2010 = 82 species photographed
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I'm off to Shanghai tomorrow (Thursday) and on Friday will fly to Yunnan, where I plan to spend 5 days in the Gaoligongshan followed by 5 days on the "right-side" of the border with Burma.

If I can find an Internet connection (you never know your luck), I'll post, if not then you'll know why I haven't.

Until the next time, happy birding; and to my Chinese friends, a very Happy New Year (of the Tiger!).


(or, "bye for now"!).
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Looks like you have a nice photo of a Common Rosefinch, but don't mention it in your list.

Is this one more?

I've linked your site to the HKBWS website - we have some gull nuts who will have better insight than me on your gulls. However it is interesting to see a summer plumage Kamchatka Gull - all ours are first winter.

Just back from a Chinese New Year trip to the dark side of the moon... aka western Yunnan.

Amazing experience in many ways...

If you want to find out whether my search for Ward's Trogon, Mrs Hume's Pheasant, Robert's Wedge-bill and three species of hornbill was successful, then watch this space ;-)
Chengdu, Sichuan

Friday, 12th February, 9.30am to 12.30pm

Who'd have thought it?

China Eastern Airlines actually fly to Tengchong (which is on the edge of Yunnan's Gaoligongshan range), from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan.

What's more, if you want to reach Tengchong on the same day from either Beijing or Shanghai on a Friday at least, you can only do so via Chengdu (as the flights from Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan, all leave before you would get there).

There's an extra bonus - if you are a birder that is - in that Chengdu airport is within a 10 minutes walk of some reasonable habitat.

So, with three hours' free time, I headed for the bushes.

And what a wonderful three hours it was. A close-up small flock of Black-throated Tits was a treat, as was the Tickell's Leaf Warbler that couldn't decide whether to look for insects on the grass or in the trees (NB... The very similar Buff-throated Warbler should be in the south of China this time of year, but other than this, I guess the combination of thin, evenish width super which is about the same width as the prominent dark eye stripe; and the slender, slightly kinked bill clinches it. But I could be wrong ;-)

Surprise of the day was a House Sparrow! This is only the second time I've seen this species in China. Looking at Clements, the range of ssp parkini extends to south-west Tibet, so on that basis I've tentatively labelled it as that.

6 species "new" for the China 2010 photo challenge:

Long-tailed Shrike (nom. ssp schach)
Black-throated Tit (nom ssp. concinnus)
Tickell's Leaf Warbler (monotypic)
House Sparrow (ssp parkini?)
White-browed Laughingthrush (ssp oblectans)
Olive-backed Pipit (nom. ssp hodgsoni)

Photos of which can be seen at: www.ChineseCurrents.com/2010birds13.html

Other birds seen:

White Wagtail, few
Little Bunting, few
Chinese Blackbird, 1
Red-flanked Bluetail, 1
Oriental Magpie Robin, 1
Rufous Turtle Dove, sev

2010 = 88 species photographed
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The Gaoligongshan is one of my favourite places in China (when it's not raining that is... don't go in April as I did three years ago).

It's the place to see many amazing species that are on the edge of their ranges (and don't occur elsewhere in China).

The focus of this trip was one of my dream birds - Ward's Trogon. A friend had found a female less than two weeks before and so, with the exact coordinates in hand, how could I resist?

The area it had been seen was, alas, quite cool, dark and birdless, and so after one hour of seeing very little (and knowing that I had three more days here), I headed down to lower altitudes and wave after wave of birds.

Some of which I actually managed to get photos of ;-)

14 species photographed today, all "new" for 2010 are posted at:


Franklin's Barbet (nom. ssp franklinii), sev
Rusty-fronted Barwing (ssp ripponi), c40
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta (ssp yunnanensis), c100
Black Bulbul (ssp ??), c150
Stripe-throated Yuhina (ssp gularis), 2
Nepal Sunbird (ssp koelzi), 2
Black-faced Laughingthrush (ssp oustaleti), few
Spotted Forktail (ssp guttatus), 1
White-throated Laughingthrush (ssp eous), c60
Oriental White-eye (mon. ssp palpebrosus), c20
Rufous-vented Yuhina (ssp obscurior), c50
Buff-barred Warbler (nom. ssp pulcher), sev
Mrs Gould's Sunbird (ssp dabryii), 2
Maroon-backed Accentor (monotypic), 3

btw I'm reverting to the "old" name of Nepal Sunbird, because the name that's now in vogue, "Green-tailed" makes no sense whatsoever. Either that, or I'm colour blind.
And I prefer Franklin's to Golden-throated (Barbet).

Other birds seen:

Hill Partridge, 6
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, 1
Red-billed Blue Magpie, 2
Grey-chinned Minivet, 2 fem
Bronzed Drongo, few
Ashy Drongo, few
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, 1 fem
Beautiful Sibia, c20
White-collared Yuhina, 1
Whiskered Yuhina, sev
White-bellied Yuhina, c20
Black-throated Parrotbill, c10
Grey-hooded Parroybill, c40
White Wagtail, 1
Rufous-capped Babbler, 1
Large Cuckooshrike, 1
Grey Bushchat, few
Daurian Redstart, 1
Blue-fronted Redstart, few
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, 1
White-tailed Nuthatch, 1
Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, 1
"Great" Tit (ssp subtibetanus), c10
Yellow-cheeked Tit, c10
Mountain Bulbul, 3
Brown-breasted Bulbul, c10
Ashy-throated Warbler, few
Black-faced Warbler, 2
"Golden Spectacled" Warbler sp, 1
Red-tailed Laughingthrush, sev
Red-faced Liocichla, few
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, 3

102 species photographed in 2010
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Thanks Andrew. The sunbirds seem to be the only birds in that region that are not camera shy. I suppose when you look that good, you aren't afraid of big lenses ;-)
Sunday, 14th February

Gaoligongshan, Yunnan

In a bid to get the Year of the Tiger off to a flying start, I made a determined effort to see Ward’s Trogon. I started the serious climb up the mountain before first light and, after one hour of continuous slog I arrived at the bird’s preferred altitude (or at least it was when my friend saw a female there two weeks before). Again, there was very little bird activity at this height and, after two hours of walking slowly backwards and forwards along the forest trail, I gave up and headed back down the mountain.

After 30 minutes or so I hit on a rich seam of birds that kept me occupied for an hour or so. A flock of 18 Speckled Wood Pigeons graced this area, as did a dozen or so Beautiful Sibias, which can look less than beautiful unless they are seen in good light. A flock of Grey-cheeked Fulvetta cruised through and, following on close behind, was a bird I had only seen once before… A Walden’s Barwing, which obligingly sat out for a few seconds, soaking up the bright sunlight that had just begun to break through. As you will see from the photograph, the generally accepted name of Streak-throated Barwing is just plain daft (at least for this race), not least because it’s more streaked than Streaked Barwing, and so I have taken the liberty to re-christen it.

Really, the people responsible for putting the modern names to birds in this part of the world need to get out more. My "favourite" name change is Indian to Grey Nightjar. How many nightjars are not grey I wonder. And while I’m on this particular soap box, whose idea was it to change the wonderful name of Pere David’s Laughingthrush to Plain Laughingthrush??

Which brings me on to the subject of the bird I saw a few yard’s from the Walden’s Barwing: I had never seen one before, although I had seen reports of several being seen in the area over the years. As soon as I put my binoculars on it, I had one of those moments that makes birding so sweet – seeing something incredible, not just incredible in the sense that you have not seen something before, but in the sense that you have never seen anything like it before. I am referring to the binocular-filling view of Hume’s Wren Babbler (Sphenocichla humei). In this part of the world, the sub-species is roberti which is, I understand, even more impressive than the nominate humei which occurs from Sikkim to northern Assam (north of the Brahmaputra, according to Clements).

So, it’s not hard to work out what I would call it the event of a split. Anyhow, after so many boring brown jobs named after him (not forgetting that Mrs Hume got an amazing pheasant), Mr Hume deserves something a bit special. And Hume’s Wren Babbler is that and a lot more. So special, in fact, I actually forgot to put my binoculars down and pick up my camera! But no regrets ;-)

10 species photographed today (all “new” for 2010) are posted on my website. Here’s the link:


Yellow-cheeked Tit (nom. ssp spilonotus), few
Speckled Wood Pigeon (monotypic), 18
Beautiful Sibia (monotypic), c60
Walden's Barwing (ssp saturatior), 1
Naga Nuthatch (nom. ssp nagaensis), 1
Yellow-bellied Fantail (monotypic), few
Rufous-throated Partridge (ssp intermedia), sev
Black-headed Sibia (monotypic), 1
Brown-throated Treecreeper (ssp shanensis), 1
Rusty-capped Fulvetta (ssp ?), 8

And also a Black Giant Squirrel!

Other birds seen:

Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, 1
Franklin’s Barbet, 4
Black Eagle, 1
Long-tailed Shrike, 1
Red-billed Blue Magpie, 2
Grey-chinned Minivet, 2
Ashy Drongo, sev
White-throated Fantail, 1
Long-tailed Thrush, 3
Bluetail sp., 1
Blue-fronted Redstart, 1
Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, 1
Green-backed Tit, 1
Oriental White-eye, sev
Brown-breasted Bulbul, 2
Striated Bulbul, 2
Mountain Bulbul, few
Black Bulbul, c200
Buff-barred Warbler, sev
Ashy-throated Warbler, few
Robert's Wren Babbler, 1 (now split as per note below)
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, few
Rusty-fronted Barwing, c20
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, c50
Stripe-throated Yuhina, few
Rufous-vented Yuhina, c200
Nepal Sunbird, 1
Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, 4

2010 = 112 species photographed.
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