Birding Shanghai in December 2023

If – like me – sooner or later in your life you could have determined that washing white and colourful garments will not be actually definitely worth the effort, you’ll find yourself with white T-shirts which can be solely white by the low requirements of the White-rumped Munia.


Would you prefer to be referred to as a Plain Jane? I assumed not. The Plain Prinia has had the identical feeling for a very long time now. Its present – barely devious but in addition intelligent – plan is to create a faux Wikipedia entry for George Plain (1784-1843), reportedly a gifted naturalist but in addition a serious participant within the transatlantic slave commerce. The prinia will then declare that its present identify – celebrating a morally very questionable particular person – is not acceptable within the fashionable world. Personally, I want the species one of the best of luck on this endeavor.

(In fact, there needs to be a photograph of a Plain Prinia right here now, however someway I didn’t get one this month).

Frequent Starlings are nonetheless very uncommon in Shanghai. I used to be considering of inventing a background story a few Chinese language poet mentioning starlings (and different chook species) in one in all his poems, and a wealthy Chinese language fan of those poems pursuing the ambition of introducing all chook species talked about therein to China, explaining the occasional incidence of the starling in Shanghai. However then, after all, my conscience took over and the reality gained, because it ought to. I must also level out that opposite to in style perception, the Frequent Starling will not be named after Edward Frequent (1858-1892), the English botanist.

Then once more, why would anybody identify a chook after a botanist, not to mention one I solely simply made up proper now?

In the proper mild, the male Frequent Pheasant can look ridiculously engaging. Nonetheless, the truth that there are 30 subspecies appears to point that the species has a barely overblown estimation of its personal significance.



Happily, Black-crowned Night time Herons are fairly frequent in Shanghai, although apparently endangered in Illinois (supply).

In the identical article, Henry Adams, wildlife administration coordinator for Lincoln Park Zoo’s City Wildlife Institute, describes the night time heron as having “grumpy previous geezer vitality.”

Not so troublesome to see a Black-winged Kite on Chongming Island – and the pink eyes all the time make for respectable photographs.

It appears to me that Azure-winged Magpies have turn into an increasing number of frequent in Shanghai parks. Clearly, there is no such thing as a cause to complain about this.

This species has a comparatively giant variety of calls – 12, to be particular, in comparison with the typical of seven.6 for a pattern of greater than 800 species (supply). Azure-winged Magpies are cooperative breeders, and it appears that there’s a connection between having a bigger repertoire of calls and being a social species (me, not being very social, I normally get by with simply three totally different grunting sounds).

And guess the place the research cited above was executed? Sure, in that almost all typical birding surroundings, the college campus (on this case, of Nanjing College).

In the beginning of every month, I excitedly rush to my native newsagent to select up a replica of the most recent version of the Journal “Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology”. The September 2023 version featured a prolonged paper on the “State-of-the-art, gaps and future views on Frequent Kestrel ecotoxicology”.

The authors discovered that “most research have been carried out in Europe and within the area, underlining an absence of in vitro research”. That’s what I’ve been saying all alongside – we’d like extra in vitro research as in vivo research are typically too affected by real-life elements.

Not an in-vitro photograph.

However not in Europe both.

I’ve in all probability written this earlier than, however my feeling is that when you may take a look at Daurian Redstarts with out getting considerably excited irrespective of how frequent they’re, you’re in all probability nearing the top of your helpful life as a birder or chook photographer.

Not less than so far as the male is worried.

For Daurian Redstarts, college campuses will also be crime scenes – one latest paper studies on a Daurian Redstart fledgling being attacked and killed by a magpie on the grounds of Hebei Regular College regardless of makes an attempt by the feminine father or mother to defend the chick.

December introduced a minimum of two exotics to Shanghai: Yellow-cheeked Tit

(hey, tit, shouldn’t you be someplace additional South?)

… and White-capped Redstart. In all probability each utilizing the identical faulty GPS system.


The Upland Buzzard is the most important buzzard on the earth, as the web site helpfully remarks.

The web site then hastens so as to add that “Sadly, there isn’t a lot scientific analysis on the poop of the upland buzzard”. I wager some ornithology college students don’t discover this significantly unlucky.

The Gray Treepie is definitely pretty uncommon in Shanghai and it’s the first time I’ve seen it on Chongming Island, however the distribution map within the HBW exhibits it to be an everyday in Shanghai, so each the chook and I have to be improper.

Most probably, you will notice photographs of Gray-capped Greenfinches in each Shanghai submit within the subsequent few months, as they’re each engaging and comparatively straightforward to {photograph}. Because the previous saying goes, when life arms you yellow birds, make photographs of yellow birds. (Urgh. I hope you may ignore this joke).


Often, Gray Herons fly away within the second between me seeing them and me directing my digicam at them. This one didn’t, so I think it’s in all probability a plastic mannequin of a heron put in by the Chinese language authorities to fake that the character in Shanghai is totally intact.

In accordance with a 2023 paper, the presence of Hooded Cranes on farmland close to the Chongming Dongtan nature reserve may very well be a results of the reducing tideland space occupied by sea bulrush, apparently the foremost meals supply of cranes in tideland, as this plant is partly changed by invasive seagrass.

Or because the paper places it, “Foraging in farmland with human disturbance within the latest decade could be associated to inadequate meals on tideland”.

On the identical time, the variety of wintering Hooded Cranes on this space has been roughly steady between 2000 and 2021 at round 100 birds (normally within the typical Chinese language household dimension – two dad and mom and one juvenile).

Some ornithological analysis is surprisingly easy. For instance, researchers fenced in a part of the nesting space of Northern Lapwings, thus excluding floor predators from some nests. The outcomes: Decrease mortality of the chicks thus protected against foxes, and a paper titled “Exclusion of floor predators improves Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus chick survival”.



Tianmashan provides the standard winter choice of thrushes: Pale Thrush

White’s Thrush (one other chook that I’ll by no means get bored with seeing) …



Gray-backed Thrush


… and Naumann’s Thrush.

This thrush is called after Johann Andreas Naumann (1744-1826), a naturalist who regardless of being a German appears to not have dedicated any main atrocities in his life.

He revealed a ebook with the (for these occasions) somewhat concise title “Naturgeschichte der Voegel Deutschlands, nach eigenen Erfahrungen entworfen” (“Pure historical past of the birds of Germany, designed based mostly on personal experiences”), although the subtitle is a bit longer (“Durchaus Umgearbeitet, Systematisch Geordnet, Sehr Vermehrt, Vervollständigt, und mit Getreu nach der Natur Eigenhändig Gezeichneten und Gestochenen Abbildungen Aller Deutschen Vögel, Nebst Ihren Hauptverschiedenheiten”, or “Completely reworked, systematically organized, very multiplied, accomplished, and with hand-drawn and engraved illustrations of all German birds, together with their most important variations, true to nature”).

The preface to the ebook reads like he would these days be considered a lumper, not a splitter:

“Man hat es mir von verschiedenen Seiten her zum Vorwurf machen wollen, dass ich bei der systematischen Einteilung meiner Voegel im vorliegenden Werke nicht den neueren Naturphilosophen gefolgt sei. Allein ich kann versichern, das auch ebensoviele Maenner, deren tiefgreifende Kenntnisse in den Naturwissenschaften der Welt ruehmlich bekannt, und welche keineswegs Feinde von vernuenftigen Neuerungen sind, gerade den Weg, welchen ich eingeschlagen, für recht zweckmaessig halten. – Die Vervielfaeltigung der Gattungen, in den gar zu kuenstlichen Systemen der ersteren, kann unmoeglich das Studium der Wissenschaft erleichtern; sie wird den Neuling vielmehr abschrecken oder ihm die Sache verleiden.”
For the few readers not fluent in German, here’s a translation: “I’ve been criticized from numerous quarters for not following the more moderen pure philosophers within the systematic classification of my birds on this work. However I can guarantee you that simply as many males, whose profound data of the pure sciences is thought to the world and who’re on no account enemies of smart improvements, additionally think about the trail I’ve taken to be fairly expedient. – The multiplication of genera, within the techniques of the previous which can be too synthetic, can’t probably facilitate the research of science; Slightly, it’ll scare the newcomer away or make issues worse for him.”

An illustration from the ebook

… and the chook itself (White Wagtail) as seen in Shanghai this month.

The ebook itself principally consists of longish chapters on particular person species – the Frequent Starling (see photographs earlier on this submit) deserves 18 pages. Considered one of these pages is devoted to the hurt and profit the species has for people, whereas a full web page is devoted to directions on hunt the chook:

The interpretation of the primary sentence signifies the final tone: “They don’t seem to be very shy, and straightforward to shoot.” That is adopted by prolonged directions on catch them by numerous means. For that cause, some Frequent Starlings now advocate for renaming Naumann’s Thrush.

A Pallas’s Leaf Warbler strongly emphasised that it’s not a thrush, as a result of “I don’t appear to be a middle-aged German housewife in any respect”. Hm. Simply since you are small and look vaguely cute doesn’t imply you must look down on different species, significantly given the very fact that you’re a leaf warbler.

Purple-throated Pipits -when photographed – after all ought to prominently show their pink throat – in any other case what’s using this aggressive branding of their most attribute function? This particular person first didn’t totally comply.

However a fast grievance to the native tourism workplace did the trick.

When Reed Parrotbills go on household outings, they normally simply climb up reeds. That is what they do most days anyway, so many parrotbills now really feel that these household outings are mainly very pointless.

I assume this Purple-flanked Bluetail is a male however because the blue shade will not be very intensive but, so possibly it has some issues figuring out itself with its male identification. Fortunately, it doesn’t dwell in Florida, the place such an perspective is strongly discouraged by a would-be Trump named Ron DeSantis.

As most Rufous-faced Warblers will not be good swimmers, they primarily keep within the non-swimmer part of the native swimming pools.

Generally my impression is that they go there much less to get clear and extra to socialize.

Cleverly, Swinhoe’s White-eyes are likely to drink a bit upstream from these warblers.

You by no means know in regards to the ranges of hygiene of various species.

Close to the top of the submit, a couple of extra photographs of frequent however nice-looking species: Black-faced Bunting

… and Brambling

(some photographs appropriate to be used as Christmas playing cards subsequent 12 months, I believe).



To my very own shock, this submit doesn’t finish with one more dangerous Trump joke however with too many photographs of Japanese Waxwings.









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