Birding in Olympic Forest Park, Beijing

After a savvy lunch in Sanlitun, Beijing, we decided to head down to the Olympic Forest Park to do a bit of birding.. 🙂 It was a smoggy day with toxic air peaking at dangerous levels, but that didn’t deter us from our itinerary! >.<

The Olympic Forest Park is a huge, man-made nature park built for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games! We entered the park from the South gate where the subway line is and headed West! There were bikes for rental in the park, but we preferred to walk on foot!

Beijing Olympic forest park map

Beijing Olympic forest park map

We walked along the frozen lake, not expecting any ducks, goose or waders! But I was taken by surprise by a big, white-feathered bird standing in the open!! It stood close to the boardwalk, obviously enjoying the attention from the park goers! @_@” It’s a Bewick’s Swan, a split from the Tundra Swan (小天鹅) and definitely a lifer for me! 😛

Bewick's swan

Bewick’s swan

The swan had more than enough admirers, so we continued our way to the reeds area located on the West end of the park! As we walked along, the pecking and rustling sounds of reeds could be heard loud and clear! A huge flock of Vinous-throated Parrotbills (棕头鸦雀 ) were in that bed of reeds! They were known to be fast and furious birds- hard to photograph, but these cuties decided to hang a little while longer to have their photographs taken! 🙂

Vinous-throated Parrotbill in flocks!

Vinous-throated Parrotbill in flocks!

A pair of Bearded Tits (文须雀) were recently sighted, but there were no signs of the amorous couple! But we were soon entertained by Oriental Greenfiches, and a Black-faced Bunting who loved those reeds too.. Then out of the blue, I heard a hoarse outcry, ” Great Bittern!” How often do you get to see a Great Bittern (大麻鳽) in the open?? Quickly, we grabbed our cameras and snapped away! 😛

Great Bittern in the open!

Great Bittern in the open!

As we walked on, the male Bearded Tit popped out of nowhere and showed up nicely for us before it flew across to the opposite reed bed, and returned shortly after to pick up his partner! 🙂 It was very cool to see the couple frolicked away before they disappeared into the reeds…!! And last but not least, a Siberian ChiffChaff (叽喳柳莺) made a brief appearance! It brought a happy coda to our afternoon birding session!  

Bearded Tits- male and female!

Bearded Tits- male and female!

Male Bearded Tit

Male Bearded Tit

Jay Birding around Kansai- Osaka 大阪赏鸟

When munching was such a joy in Japan, one simply could not resist the temptation of savouring Japanese cuisine in Kansai.  It wasn’t meant to be a birding trip in Japan…since there were lots of other temptations, but nonetheless, I still brought along my bino and a short lens hoping to see some birds as I jay walked in the Kansai region. Having landed in Osaka, I couldn’t miss the chance of visiting Osaka Castle Park. 😛 The magnificent moats and the stone walls built from Edo period was a breathtaking sight! It’s a huge park, and as I only assigned a morning to walk there, I only went to a few areas in the map below circled in red for bird watching! 😛 😛

bird watching place at Kansai Castle Park

bird watching place at Kansai Castle Park

It was such a bliss to walk in the park in early morning, and to see locals feed the gulls was an amazing sight! They all told me to get ready when they toss the food in the air…but never have I thought the gulls would come so close for their morning meal….I had to stand so far back to get a decent shot! 😛 😛

There were plenty in winter!

Locals would throw bread to feed the gulls!

Other birds floating in the canals were the Tufted Duck, Spot Billed, Common Pochards, plenty of Black Headed Gulls and Eurasian Wigeons and Mallards of course!

common pochard and Eurasian wigeon

common pochard and Eurasian wigeon

tufted duck

tufted duck floating in canals

During winter, thrushes were never a shortage to see in Japan, a short stroll around the forest area and even open grounds, I could easily spot the Pale Thrush and the Dusky Thrush! 😛 😛 There were also the White Cheeked Starling, Black Crows (zzz), Brown Eared Bulbuls and Green Backed Tits…now where were those Varied Tits? :-/

White cheeked starling, dusky thrush, green backed tit, pale thrush

White cheeked starling, dusky thrush, green backed tit, pale thrush

Brown eared Bulbul is a resident in Japan

Brown eared Bulbul is a resident in Japan

As I was about to leave the park, I bumped into a few local birders… 😛 They gathered round an area, and while having their hot-pot (yummy!!); they raised their binos whenever a bird stopped for a little snack! I am pretty sure I’d do that when I have arthritis! OUCH!

chestnut flanked white eyeOne of my surprise visiting the Castle Park was to see a beaver! As I walked down the bridge, I saw this beaver along the edge of the canal begging for food! How cute is that? 😛

Beaver Begging for food!

Beaver Begging for food!

Apart from Osaka Castle Park, I also made a short visit to Nanko Bird Sanctuary. Here is the website. http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/search/detail/sightseeing_1235.html  I was a little disappointed as I did not see much birds at the main tower. The birds were far, so it was a better to bring a spotting scope instead! However, the walk along the trails next to the main tower hide was fruitful. Finally ticked a bird which is common to everyone but not me… @_@”. May I present to you the Oriental Greenfinch! 😛

Oriental Greenfinch

Oriental Greenfinch

Okay, here’s a photo of me munching… 😛 😛

That's me

That’s me