Jankowski’s Bunting

A bird that is on the verge of extinction is seen in Beijng! Overseas birders were just as excited as the local birders. Busy with my work, i couldn’t find the time to visit firsthand but I finally got to see the small flock that has decided to winter in Beijing.

jankowski's bunting female

Jankowski’s Bunting

a bird that needs desperate help!

a bird that needs desperate help!

jankowski bunting

Jankowski’s bunting wintering in Beijing

jankowski bunting

Jankowski’s bunting

Its been quite sometime since I last visited Miyun! There were tractors cutting the grass, making rodents flee from their hideouts! Raptors definitely saw this opportunity and they were hovering around in search for their tasty food.

While people were busy taking photos of raptors, we’re on the other end trying to find the Jankowski’s buntings! It is a difficult task to I.D. them if not for the experts! But I wandered off alone to see more birds. Then i saw a group of buntings very close to me- my instinct was to photo first then I.D. later. And it paid off! 🙂

I hope people will make a contribution to save the bunting, especially for those who saw the bunting.. click here to donate! For more information about Jankowski’s bunting (also known as rufous-backed bunting), visit http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=8938

Asian Paradise Flycatcher (white morph) in Beijing

Prior to my trip to Anhui a few weeks ago, I had a lovely birding day around Beijing outskirts close to the GubeiKou area. We were told that we could see the scops owls and possibly breeding Asian Paradise Flycatcher (white Morph) along an off-trail! Shortly after we’ve parked the car, we could hear the male calling loud and clear! It was a brilliant to see couple after I had missed this elusive bird in South India. We spent the morning trying to get some nice videos and photos!

Nice to see the white morph in Beijing

Nice to see the white morph in Beijing

asian paradise flycatcher white morph

asian paradise flycatcher white morph

The trail itself offers quality birding apart from this amorous couple! Forest wagtail, Yellow-rumped flycatchers kept the forest lively, it was nice to see them..but what kept my heart pumping to the max., was I finally saw my lifer- Crested Kingfisher!! 🙂  After eluding me for 2 yrs, I can finally move on…hehe.

forest wagtail in beijing

forest wagtail in beijing

crested kingfisher in Beijing

crested kingfisher in Beijing

Beijing Long-eared Owls

Its widely known that a pair of Long-eared Owls could be found at the Temple of Heaven almost every winter! But to see them is another story- they are usually well above the pine trees and very much camouflaged. :-/

But a place further out of Beijing city, approx. 1hr 40mins transportation time takes us to Nanhaizi Park (南海子公园), which hosts not 1, not 2 but atleast 8 Long-eared Owls during their winter visit!

To get there- From Beijing metro, change to Yi Zhuang Light rail and alight at Rong Chang Dong Jie Station (荣昌东街) and then take the bus no. 453 (There is no bus stop sign! The bus stops under the bridge outside the station).

Take bus 453 to nanhaizi park from rongchangjie station

Take bus 453 to nanhaizi park from rongchangjie station

The bus will arrive at the South gate- in the park, walk towards the west where there is a path and some signs which included one that says “Hawk Roosting Platform”! I have not seen any hawks roosting there…but who knows! :-/ But the pine trees around that platform hosts several Long-Eared Owls in winter..!

At first we didn’t see any owls but Yellow-bellied Tits and Goldcrest, but we kept our hopes high.. Then the magic happened! While we munched on our packed lunch, 3 owls flew out from the trees!! We later saw some more and I was very thrilled to see them and also have a picture of it! A New year blessing for me.. 🙂

long-eared owl in Beijing

long-eared owl in Beijing

 

goldcrest at Nanhaizi park

goldcrest at Nanhaizi park

 

 

 

Foggy day at Lingshan 秋天灵山观鸟

Well, weather forecast said the day would be sunny and windy and so we decided to head to Lingshan, about 3.5 hours drive from the Capital! In summer, the area is pretty much alive with motels and restaurants opened for business and tour buses packed with tourists. But in winter, Lingshan is closed! The mountainous region is pretty much deserted or rather like a ghost town! But that’s probably best for birding!

Alas the weather wasn’t what the forecast predicted! It was very windy on the mountain top and instead of blowing away the fog, the wind blew more in! :-/  The foggy weather however brought much joy to the common pheasants who roamed freely! This is probably the best picture I have taken for a common pheasant- taken in the car..! 🙂

Common pheasant roams freely on a foggy day at Lingshan

Common pheasant roams freely on a foggy day at Lingshan

Having driven so many hours to the foggy mountain, we decided to walk in the fog. We were lucky enough to see some birds which included-

Pallas’s Rosefinches 北朱雀

Guldenstadt’s Redstarts 红腹红尾鸲

Chinese Hill Warbler 山鹛

Silver-throated Tits 银喉长尾山雀

Chinese beautiful Rosefinches 红眉朱雀

But wind was just too strong, we had to retreat to the car. My legs were pretty stiff, luckily not frozen but I couldn’t pull myself together to walk anymore! In the end, my partner had had to bird on his own…sorry! :-/

Guldenstadt's Redstarts arrived in Lingshan in late Oct.

Guldenstadt’s Redstarts arrived in Lingshan in late Oct.

Pallas's rosefinch and Beijing Babbler (Chinese hill warbler) came out on a foggy day

Pallas’s rosefinch and Beijing Babbler (Chinese hill warbler) came out on a foggy day

I’m pretty sure Lingshan has much more to offer on a sunny day than a foggy day, nonetheless it was a fun day just hanging out…! Can’t wait to go there again..

Summer birding at Lingshan- Version with accomodation

Nothing is more enjoyable than birding on high altitude that exudes cooler weather in hot summer! We made visits over 2 weekends, but with a very different approach!

Version 1: The first weekend visit with accommodation

Having packed sausages and sandwiches for lunch ,we left in late morning. The drive from Beijing to Lingshan was approx. 2hrs, but as soon as we approached the outskirts of Beijing, the mountain drive towards Lingshan was breathtaking..!

My mind soon wondered what it’ll be like in winter with snow-capped mountains. 🙂

On the way to Lingshan, testing my GoPro camera!

On the way to Lingshan, testing my GoPro camera!

We saw some birds along the way, but the main highlight was the birds and wildlife at Lingshan! At the top, we saw Hill Pigeons, Common kestrel and Large Billed Crows! We  parked the car and took a walk along the trail near the horse-riding area. Already at the beginning of the trail, we were greeted by Silver-throated Tits, Songar tits, etc that pranced about in the bushes. Suddenly, I spotted something moving in the grass right in front of me! I held my breath and hoped for a clearer view. “A snake”? I thought to myself, sending shivers down my weak spine. Very quickly, it revealed itself- its a Weasel!! I almost squealed with joy when it stood up and looked at me, we were both in shock to see each other! Its my first ever Weasel and I couldn’t be happier!! 😛 😛

Our attention soon turned to a delightful bird’s call that was apparently never ending! Its the Manchurian Bush Warbler! Wow, another lifer for me!

manchurian bush warbler in Lingshan

manchurian bush warbler in Lingshan

We drove to the nearby village and checked ourselves into a 80 yuan room with no flush and blankets! But we comforted ourselves with a good meal and stargazing with scope! It was awesome to see Saturn with rings and tried to identify all other planets but we were no experts! The night was complimented with nightjar calls but it was too dark to see it! It was a fulfilled day and we couldn’t wait for dawn! 🙂

The early bird gets the worm! An early dawn walk downhill from the village was surrounded by early chirpees- Rock buntings, Claudia’s leaf warbler, chinese beautiful finches, russet sparrows, just to name a few!

As always we love to explore! Instead of taking the usual route back, we took an off trail route that lead us to Hebei region! On our way back, we saw a Northern Wheatear, apparently a gd find in summer! It was a gd weekend trip…almost as good as the next weekend trip to the same area but with no accommodation, which I will soon write! Stay tuned! 😛