Birding Tianmashan, Shanghai in January 2023 – 10,000 Birds

Birding Tianmashan, Shanghai in January 2023 – 10,000 Birds


In Salinger’s “Catcher within the Rye”, there’s a point out of a fictional story titled “The Secret Goldfish”. Principally, it’s a few boy who doesn’t let anyone take a look at his goldfish as a result of he purchased it along with his personal cash. Typically I really feel a bit like this about winter birding on Shanghai’s Tianmashan hill. In my case, my secret is paid for with a bit little bit of birdseed (purchased with my very own cash).

Shanghaibirding describes the Brown-headed Thrush as “a scarce passage migrant by means of northern and central coastal China, together with Shanghai” – on condition that I solely noticed it as soon as on Tianmashan, that’s most likely right, although the date (January 09) appears relatively late for a migrant.

Sadly, when on the lookout for “Brown-headed Thrush Analysis” on Google, a minimum of the primary ten entries all confer with the Brown-headed Cowbird (which I used to be probably not on the lookout for) – an excellent illustration of the relatively uneven protection of various chicken species relying on their proximity to nations offering grants for ornithological analysis.

Three Chestnut Bulbuls appear to winter on Tianmashan this 12 months – considerably shocking on condition that the HBW calls the species a year-round resident in an space a minimum of a number of hundred kilometers south of Shanghai. Me, I might not thoughts such a variety extension as this bulbul is kind of engaging.

The decision of this bulbul appears fairly just like that of the Collared Finchbill to me, although on condition that I grew up listening to various and impartial music relatively than to chicken music, this isn’t a really significant remark.

The Rufous-tailed Robin seen at Tianmashan is one other species that one wouldn’t essentially anticipate right here in January. Whereas it’s a pretty frequent autumn migrant in Shanghai, eBird signifies that the migration must be accomplished by the top of November.

In fact, given the generally complicated covid journey restrictions in China, it’s attainable that the chicken in query merely didn’t dare to journey any additional south for worry of ending up in quarantine someplace.

A serious attraction of Tianmashan – a minimum of for me – is the by now pretty common winter presence of Frequent Rosefinch.

Just a few of the rosefinches present male plumage – not shocking as first-year birds by no means do. As well as, most of the males appear to be yearlings relatively than older males – the ratio between these can truly be utilized to estimate the life expectancy and survival charges, as described right here. Survival charges are fairly low at round 44%.

Whereas Chinese language wish to sing in Karaoke bars, male Frequent Rosefinches produce other preferences. Based on one examine, they most popular bushes, rivers, and reed beds, however averted open agricultural panorama and anthropogenic areas (which presumably contains karaoke bars).

The Speckled Piculet has the species title of innominatus, or “not named” – do I spot a contradiction right here?

Anyway, it’s a very cute little woodpecker that eBird calls “distinctive, tiny”.

Its drum sound could be surprisingly loud for a chicken this dimension.

The chicken in these pictures must be a feminine on condition that it lacks the rufous brow of the male.

Completely different from most locations in Shanghai, Tianmashan has fairly a little bit of bamboo – apparently, the piculet is commonly related to this plant and can also construct its gap in bamboo.

If I ever get round to getting ready the final word photographic “Information to the lovable chicken species of China”, it won’t solely cowl the piculet but additionally definitely have a number of pages on the Black-throated Bushtit

… in addition to the Silver-throated Bushtit.

Each bushtit species sometimes are supported by helpers when breeding (supply). Completely different from the Black-throated Bushtit males, the Silver-throated males appear to be jerks as they don’t take part in incubation. What do the males do whereas their companions are incubating? One potential clue comes from the truth that extra-pair paternity is far larger within the Silver-throated Bushtit than within the Black-throated one (although to be honest, this presumably additionally requires cooperation from the females of the species).

Kudos to eBird for describing the chicken as an “energetic little chicken with a tennis ball physique and a protracted tail”.

One other particular entry into this information would be the Rufous-faced Warbler. To cite Paris Hilton: “The one rule is don’t be boring and gown cute wherever you go. Life is simply too quick to mix in.” One thing that this warbler takes to coronary heart. (In actual fact, it’s a lot cuter than Paris Hilton).

This 12 months, Tianmashan additionally has some Yellow-browed Buntings wintering a tiny bit north of the wintering vary indicated by the HBW.

The HBW recommends not utilizing Yellow-browed Buntings as inside designers, stating that their nests are “messy-looking, with dry straw generally protruding of sides of essential part of cup”. However, most likely extra attention-grabbing than simply getting IKEA furnishings.

In distinction, Tristram’s Bunting appears to be a bit extra discerning in constructing its nest – the HBW factors out that it typically makes use of horsehair for lining the nest, and that an necessary issue for its nest-site choice is the presence of herbs.

If you’re bored with watching motion films, check out one minute of non-action by a feminine Purple-flanked Bluetail.

As I continuously point out, science is kind of great. For instance, this paper factors out that migrating Bramblings want to feed in a habitat by which they’re much less more likely to get killed.

If seeing the picture under of a Japanese Tit you anticipate one other sleazy joke from me, you can be dissatisfied this time. You pervert.

After not a single reader made any constructive feedback on my video of a White’s Thrush ingesting, after all, my response is to simply submit a hyperlink to one other such video.

When you see a resident Eurasian Siskin that’s fairly fats, it most likely signifies that there aren’t any predators round. A paper illustrating the tradeoff between ravenous and being killed in contrast the burden of resident siskins with or and not using a sparrowhawk close by. Provided that the sparrowhawk is absent the siskins can afford to get fats.

Opposite to my typical behavior, I can’t attempt to switch this discovering into the human world as I’m too afraid of being accused of fat-shaming.

The Eyebrowed Thrush has the Latin title obscurus, which means “darkish, dusty”. Whereas the HBW lists the species as “Least concern”, BirdingAsia has a paper with the worrying title “Ongoing slaughter of Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus in Sumatra: one other species heading for oblivion?”

eBird is impressed by the species: “An extended, barely curving white eyebrow provides this species a chic, refined look”. It even appears to be like form of elegant when ingesting.

Given its shade and look, the Pale Thrush might simply have the identical Latin title. As an alternative, it’s pallidus, “pale”. The HBW states that it is not uncommon in Shanghai in winter, and certainly my impression is that it’s by far the most typical thrush at Tianmashan.

If the Gray-backed Thrush was a bit extra inquisitive about fame and fortune, it might instantly hearth its advertising and marketing division and rebrand itself. How about “Hearth-flanked Thrush”?

“I do know what you’re considering” will not be solely a quote from a most likely these days relatively uncool US TV sequence (Magnum P.I.) but additionally my private assertion concerning your response to seeing one more picture of White’s Thrush. “AGAIN?” Sure, certainly. It nonetheless is a cool chicken wanting a bit like a reptile.

And as typical, the submit ends not with a bang however with a whimper – or relatively, some extra pictures of species that I don’t actually have something attention-grabbing to say about in the mean time, such because the

Gray-capped Greenfinch

Pallas’ Leaf Warbler

Swinhoe’s White-eye

Vinous-throated Parrotbill

… and the White-rumped Munia.



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