Birding Shanghai in March 2024

Birding Shanghai has its personal particular annoyances aside from birds not exhibiting up. One is the persevering with destruction of a lot of its atmosphere. Anywhere that was good for an fascinating species final yr is prone to have been become one other development web site this yr. The opposite is that an increasing number of locations are closed to the general public, jealously guarded by black-clad, Mussolini-inspired watchmen who with none trace of irony inform you {that a} particular place is privately owned even if non-public land possession doesn’t exist on this supposedly socialist nation. Lastly, there are particular restrictions for foreigners – I suppose we’d steal some important state secrets and techniques which have some sort of relationship with the native birds.

However anyway, Shanghai in March. A couple of adjustments occur in March – for instance, many European international locations and the USA change to sunlight financial savings time. On Chongming Island, some birds change their first names – specifically, the Northern Lapwings change their names to Gray-headed Lapwings.

Gray-headed Lapwings are listed as Least Concern, which is a bit puzzling because the species was labeled as Close to Threatened, and the HBW doesn’t sound too optimistic about their inhabitants dimension and growth: “Beforehand thought of Close to Threatened. Inhabitants, excluding Japan, numbers lower than 10,000–25,000 birds, and possibly reducing”.

Gray Herons flaunt their magnificence fairly brazenly (I’m nonetheless pondering of Gustav Klimt when seeing the patterns on the wings) …


… whereas different birds like Black-crowned Night time Herons present their magnificence a bit extra rigorously.

Tianmashan had two fascinating birds in March. One, a Ryukyu Minivet.

The scientific title tegimae honors Seiichi Tegima (1850-1918), a Japanese educationalist, bureaucrat, and museum director. I don’t assume many different hen species are named after Japanese residents.

Tegima was a key determine in establishing the Japanese pavilion on the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (supply). After his arrival in Chicago in preparation for the exhibition, he was featured in Arthur’s Residence Journal, Vol 62 (which to me doesn’t sound like essentially the most thrilling publication on this planet) and described as “a most courtly, elegant gentleman, who, besides on events of utmost ceremonial, appeared in European costume.  He was wined and dined on the Chicago golf equipment and in essentially the most unique properties.”

I sort of like birds named after nasty guys (makes for higher tales), however Tegima (additionally named Tejima, see right here) was not one in all them. He was a powerful promoter of technical schooling and one of many founders of a ladies’s college. Actually not a lot enjoyable to jot down about good guys.

Till just lately, the Ryukyu Minivet was thought of a subspecies of the Ashy Minivet, and certainly the variations from that species – as described within the HBW – appear comparatively refined. Additionally, there are fairly some variations inside every species – for particulars, see right here. The creator of that paper proudly states “This work, counting on a comparatively giant knowledge set, significantly improves our understanding of the geographic sample in morphometric variation in Pericrocotus spp. in northeast Asia.”

Whereas range-restricted, it’s apparently frequent on Ryukyu Island – however a uncommon sight right here in Shanghai.

The opposite fascinating species – additionally on Tianmashan – was a Verditer Flycatcher. As I didn’t discover any new and fascinating details about the species, I did what all people does as of late – I requested ChatGPT. It appears to be impressed by the species: “The Verditer Flycatcher (Eumyias thalassinus) is a strikingly lovely hen present in South Asia.” And concludes “Total, the Verditer Flycatcher is just not solely admired for its gorgeous look but additionally performs an essential ecological function as an insect predator in its native habitats.”

Bonus birds on Tianmashan: Gray-capped Greenfinch

… a species that – whereas described by eBird as gregarious – appears to want nesting in obscurity, with the three elements of environmental concealment, nest location concealment, and nest location inaccessibility listed as the principle nest location choice standards in a paper

… and Black-throated Bushtit. That is one in all my favorites amongst cute birds – however that’s simply my private opinion. So, once more I requested ChatGPT a query: “Is the Black-throated Bushtit a cute hen?”

ChatGPT first replies in a barely evasive method however then will get virtually annoyingly optimistic:

“Opinions on whether or not the Black-throated Bushtit is cute might differ relying on private preferences and views. Nevertheless, many individuals discover this hen cute as a result of its small dimension, fluffy look, and energetic habits. With its distinctive markings and sociable nature, it usually captivates birdwatchers and nature fans alike.”

Personally, I’m a bit frightened that after completely everybody makes use of ChatGPT, sentences resembling “captivates birdwatchers and nature fans alike” will turn into much more frequent than they already are.

The variety of Hooded Cranes on Chongming is scaling down …

… and there additionally appear to be fewer Eurasian Spoonbills.


They nonetheless combine with Black-faced Spoonbills, which in any other case would presumably really feel reasonably lonely given their low world numbers.

I’m certain some individuals will hate this photograph of a Eurasian Hoopoe, framed as it’s by human artifacts. In fact, me being me, it is a good motive to indicate it.

As I’m certain I’ve talked about earlier than, a number of science work appears to purpose to show the apparent – although the researchers nonetheless phrase their outcomes very rigorously. For instance, here’s a assertion based mostly on analysis on the Goldcrest (supply): “These outcomes recommend that the flexibility to deposit fats within the face of an energetically demanding migration could also be affected by a person’s state of well being.” Or in my phrases: In case you are sick, it’s laborious to get fats (however please don’t take this as dietary recommendation).

One other paper – additionally marginally mentioning goldcrests – describes how totally different tit species keep away from one another, very like I attempt to keep away from different individuals when birdwatching, if attainable:

“Nice tits happen solely in forests close to homes, and the crested tit averted the foraging websites of the good tit in these forests. The willow tit averted timber utilized by the crested tit when each have been foraging collectively. In the perfect studied case, willow tits moved to outer and higher elements of spruce within the presence of nice tits, which forage in decrease and inside elements, however within the presence of crested tits, which want higher and outer elements of timber, willow tits moved to inside and decrease sections of spruce.”

Aren’t all of us a minimum of somewhat bit fascinated by psychology? So, when papers on the Eurasian Siskin, I used to be joyful to seek out one with the title “Antipredator behavioral compensation of proactive character trait in male Eurasian Siskins“.

Apparently, male siskins which have a bigger black bib are extra proactive, which makes them extra susceptible to predation. Nevertheless, they compensate by being extra vigilant when feeding, thus compensating for the elevated dangers. The authors (who presumably consider themselves as proactive as effectively) conclude that the proactive males are “not reckless”.

Considerably equally, male Eurasian Siskins – that are a lot brighter coloured than the females – additionally on the whole present better vigilance than the females, presumably as compensation for his or her increased visibility

Little Grebes are already changing into a bit extra enticing than in mid-winter …

… whereas Pied Avocets look excellent all yr spherical anyway.

A couple of pictures of species that I can’t consider writing something fascinating proper now …

Yellow-bellied Tit


Reed Parrotbill


Daurian Redstart


Silver-throated Bushtit

Yellow-throated Bunting

Little Bunting (considerably surprisingly not consuming seed regardless of the winter season)

Oriental Magpie (doubtlessly contributing to China’s actual property points by including one other nest)

Widespread Moorhen

Siberian Rubythroat ( admittedly not an ideal instance, however nonetheless)

… and an previous favourite of mine, White’s Thrush.

And to finish the submit, some raptors, by no means a quite common sight in Shanghai.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Primarily based on one paper, one may suggest this feminine to breed in a metropolis as apparently city nesters have increased breeding success (although admittedly, that paper checked out rural vs. city in Scotland, not China).

One thing related appears to use to the Northern Goshawk: “… goshawks seem to thrive in some city environments, most probably on account of excessive native availability of worthwhile pigeon prey. We conclude that the Northern Goshawk will be labeled as an city exploiter in elements of its distribution.” (supply).

Lastly, there’s the Jap Marsh Harrier. As there are not often any marshes in city areas, I suppose this species higher stays outdoors of the cities.

Due to Paul for the assistance with getting data on Mr. Tegima.

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