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

Sichuan Birding (1 Viewer)

Huge thanks to Sid and Meggie for a great visit!

It was fantastic to see the Pandas on two consecutive days and a host of good birds without being anywhere near hardcore about getting them.

I will post my write-up over the next few days in the vacational reports section.

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Merry Christmas and a happy 2012 to everybody!

On Christmas day - actually the only day with a little bit of sun since the last weeks - I took a walk along the Jinma River which is the main branch of the Minjiang River after its split at Dujiangyan.
The river bed is quite wide and there is growing a lot of reed along the muddy banks. Despite a lot of factories and gravel digging it is a nice spot for a walk and for some winter birds:

I found a nice Christmas present: A flock of Long-billed Plovers. One of them was tame enough to let me approach for a couple of meters.


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Hello China bird friends!
I was at lake Namtsho/ Damshung/ Tibet in early Nov. and I found lots of electrocuted buzzards. Some birds had their feet/ legs burned away.

The nomads there got electricity to their winter houses recently and they do not live in villages but quite isolated and scattered.
So there is plenty of new electricity cables everywhere.
It seems that the photographed electricity pole marks a bend and that there is an additional grounding cable ... can this be the problem?

I know these things happen also in the West ... but it was really many and Namtsho is a Natural Reserve (they charge 120 Yuan entry!!!)
Should this happen here?
Is this common in China?
Can there something be done?


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Hello David,

Welcome to the forum, despite your first post being with such disturbing news! I have heard of this happening in Eastern Europe before but certainly haven't heard or seen it on visits to China.
I am going to repost on the bird of prey section here - http://www.birdforum.net/forumdisplay.php?f=117, so that you may get more answers

How many?

Hopefully the rest of the China team can enlighten further...
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Hi David - here in Sichuan we've found that there are 2 main ways of tackling problems like this -

1- go to your nearest forestry bureau (their main office must be in Lhasa). The forestry dept and forestry Police are the official organ who are dutied with upholding Chinese wildlife protection laws. Under current (rather archaic) wildlife protection laws - nearly every species of bird of prey is afforded special protection - the Upland Buzzards you have there are classified under class II - and as such those who put up the deadly a power-line have actually committed an offense by killing these birds!!!! Although I don't expect any arrests - at least informing the forestry dept. that protected birds are being killed "may" give them a little extra push!!!!
Both us and Roland have had help from the forestry dept - but don't expect an instant reaction.

2 - the media as in local TV and the newspaper. Here in Chengdu, the media loves to pick up stories - unjust happenings it can freely write about - on wildlife persecution, and go after the wrong-doers. Maybe the same is true in Lhasa??? Anyway its worth following up - give them the story of a wildlife reserve where protected birds are being electrocuted - and show them that foreigners are already
writing about it on the net!!!!!!

There is of course a third option - going to a monastery and talk to a Lama. On the Kham (Sichuan Tibet) we've seen monks rescuing thousands caterpillars that were crossing a grassland road (picking them up and carrying them across) - if they'll do that for insects, then they could be motivated to do something to save Buzzards

If you're the same David as I think you are - who's been living in Lhasa for several years - then I think these tasks will be possible for you to try. Also getting a solution about how to stop the electrocutions - which will will hopefully come from Rockfowl's thread - will be a key piece of information to give to anyone who's willing to try and help.

Best of luck
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Hi Mike - at the moment I'm out in NE Sichuan with my surveys - but today finished early so can take a look at the pics.
The last two Treecreeper shots are easy - they're both Bar-tailed - you can easily make out the bars in the pic. Sometimes its easier to make out those bars from a photo than on a fast moving bird in bad light.

As to the other Treecreeper with the super long bill and the corvid - whats with that camera - does it have stretch mode?

Well the explanation to the first is easy - it's two birds - look at the blow up and my arrows (hope they don't mind me putting the pic on this post). Two crows - so you now argue whether they're Carrion or Large-billed - looks more Carrion to me.

The Treecreeper - although there a smack of buffish belly and contrasting white chin area (Sichuan Treecreeper characteristics) - that long bill surely makes it either Eurasian or Hodgson's - and for that separation it would be nice to hear calls.
A description of Hodgsons can be found here -
An interesting article on Sichuan Treecreeper which also includes an ID description can be found here (this bird insn't included in MacK's China guide)- http://www.orientalbirdclub.org/publications/forktail/20pdfs/Rheindt-Treecreeper.pdf
Looking through OBC - Shi Jin's and John and Jemmi's pics of Hodgson's - that pure white look is just like the birds we see - http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?keyword=hodgson%27s+treecreeper
The Eurasian Treecreeper illustrated at OBC seem to have heftier bills like that of the subject bird - http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?keyword=eurasian+treecreeper
Interesting if anybody has any ringing records for Hodgson's so we could find out how their bills measure up with that of Eurasian - and if there is a noticeable difference


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Third foot???

Here I got a real third-foot bird!
found in a Nature reserve in Laos.
Was a trophy in one of the villager's houses. They said that this bird sometimes shows up alive...
So, it's not a halloween gag???


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Little Creepy! In India, the food is served on a plantain leaf. Is this creature ended as a part of meal?

I always wonder how you and Sid dig out the interesting things down there.
Well, the banana leaf was just for the contrast for the photograph.
but I can't guarantee that other birds don't end up as a dish.

The so called indigenous mountain tribes eat everything they can find: Birds, birds, and fish. In the heart of the Namha Nature Reserve (in northern Laos) I even found long (>1km) fences which sophisticated traps at every 10-15m. Those are mostly for another dish: Bamboo rats.

But for that three legged bird: I looked at it carefully and the third leg (if it is not a strange deformed kind of a tail) wasn't attached with glue or a string in order to impress tourists. Our guide just mentioned it by-the-way, so I am convinced that it's not a gag.


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Gulls in Kunming

On the way back from Laos to Chengdu we had a stopover in Kunming - the capital of Yunnan Province - and visitied the Cuihu Lake which is a tiny park lake in the middle of downtown.

Interestingly, Kunming people started to feed gulls on that little water pond a few years ago. Some say since 1999, other say for about 5 years.
By now, the number of gulls migrating to this pond - and only to this pond - is still increasing and must be about a few ten thousands.

It is incredible how many people also make business out of this: Lots of stands where you can buy bread (baguette!) and special bird food (whatever this may be). Photographers encourage you to shoot an individual picture of you with a gull eating bread out of your hand...

Apparently, Kunming people are quite proud of their Gull colonies invading the downtown year by year. It even gained an importance so that people started to use their migration to make metereological statements about climate and season changes.

Most were Black-headed Gulls, however a few Brown-headed were amongst them as well.


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Advice on Nest Boxes needed

A friend of mine wants to put up some nest boxes in her garden near Chengdu.

Any experience with nest boxes in China/Sichuan?
What birds are easy to attract?
And how big should the hole be to particularly not attract tree sparrows (already enough tree sparrows here)?

Thxs in advance
Thinking outside the box


The RSPB (http://shopping.rspb.org.uk/c/Nestboxes.htm) says 32mm FOR Tree Sparrows and 25mm for tits- and any other smaller birds than the sparrow.

Another site (http://www.bto.org/nnbw/make.htm) states 28mm and larger FOR Tree Sparrows.

Here’s another: http://www.garden-birds.co.uk/information/stdboxplan.htm

and: http://www.green-witch.com/acatalog/Nest_boxes.html

and: http://www.beautifulbritain.co.uk/htm/wildlife_gardening/bird_box.htm

and, from the US, all impressively detailed:



http://birds.audubon.org/sites/default/files/documents/nest_box_chart_0.pdf (and search the main site)

I’ve put a few, so you can see a good selection of designs and in case you’ll want someone to make them to your specifications.

You’ll obviously need to look at the various sized holes, etc. and use them to your benefit, to attract your local species. This could be the start of a major industry there.

Good luck and let us know the results.
Jiujiu, I'm interested to see your question. I've noted what look like a few bird houses on our campus, but I have no idea who put them up (way up -3 meters or so), and I've never actually seen birds (or any other animal) associated with them. It's a mystery I still haven't solved.
Thanks for the advice so far. The links also offer some good ideas on what kinds of animals can be attracted in general (bats, raptors etc)

I've also been looking around and was thinking of Oriental Magpie Robin for instance.
This bird seems to breed fairly well in nestboxes in Hong Kong. However, I coulnd't find any data about the hole size. Can I conclude it from the size of the body?
Tree sparrow body size: 14cm --> hole size 2.8cm
Magpie Robin body size: 20cm --> hole size 4cm ????

I've also noticed some nestboxes in a park near Chengdu (can't remember when and where). I think that the idea of putting up nestboxes is not new in China: When a new park opens up (e.g. in one of the new land territories), the park administration seeks advice how to attract birds to their park. And they come up with the boxes.

However, most people here are not so eager to do anything without a material reward in the end, especially if it comes to maintenance...
That's why these boxes probably are bound to hang there with no more attention to birds or men.
Ducks in Guanghan

The continuously cold weather in Sichuan encouraged me to look after 'our' duck population and whether they have left their winter quarters already. Today I went to Guanghan (the town with the famous archaeological site "Sanxingdui", and where the Red-breasted Goose showed up last winter, see page 17 on this thread).

At first I was looking for that goose again, this time without success. However, the best finding today probably was a male and three females Falcated Ducks. The male looks really spectacular with its iridescent head colours from a dark green to a bright copper-brown. Unfortunately it was the only small group of this species. Falcated Ducks usually don't come in huge numbers to the western part of China. Most winter guests migrate to China's East, such as Dongting Hu in Hunan Province.

Today the most common ducks were Gadwall, Mallard, Ruddy and Common Shelduck. Common Teal and Northern Pintail also were not rare. Eurasian Wigeon, Spott-billed Duck, and Common Merganser complete today's duck list.

Though staying there for a couple of hours I couldn't make out any Pochards and Shovelers. Usually you can find them easily on the waters of Sichuan in winter. Could they have left already? Also Goldeneye belongs to the yearly visitors, but not for me for today.

Nevertheless, a single Greenshank and a Peregrine Falcon were the two other remarkable birds of today. The Peregrine was hobbling on the ground between a big flock of Ruddies and looking for probably rotten river-left-overs.

Another positive discovery was a set of signs along the whole road to promote the protection of wildlife, and an official car with the characters for "Wetland Patrol" on it.
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