Trip Report: China, April 23 - May 16, 1998

Richard D. Palmer, 370 S. Avenida De Las Sabinas, Green Valley, Arizona 85614-4701, USA;

My personal thanks to Desmond Allen, Mike Collins, Barney Gardner, Urs Geiser, Houlem [Mike Houle], John Lobel, Gail Mackierman, Karl Ng, Pierre van der Wielen, Jeff R. Wilson, and Bill Wiser who all helped in preparation for the trip in one form or another.


Perhaps some of you may have wondered what it would be like to go to China on a non-birding sightseeing trip. What kind of birds might one see when you could steal a few moments to do some birding?

My wife and I and 36 other non-birding participants recently completed just such a trip with Grand Circle Tours of Boston, Massachusetts. The trip was extremely well run, and we now have many wonderful memories of the country and its people.

The birding on this tour, however, was not good compared to most other tours of this type to other countries. The tour spent most of the time in the large cities of China and visited sites where most tourists would go, and thus we were surrounded most of the time with a lot more people than birds. We did, however, spend a lot of time where there should have been birds, and there were not. If you eliminate the Rock Doves, Hill Pigeons and the Eurasian Tree Sparrows, an average of only 37 birds per day were seen. If you count Rock Dove, Hill Pigeon and Eurasian Tree Sparrows, an average of only 8 species per day were recorded.

Areas visited:

Logistics required for the trip:

Eight different hotels were required. Nine air plane flights, four river cruises, four train rides, four taxi rides, and several bus rides were also required. All of them left on time which still amazes me; in fact one flight left 1/2 hour early. When the plane had all the seats full they closed it up and departed.

Birds seen:

Quantity: Common name:               Scientific name:

20        Great Cormorant            Phalacrocorax carbo
3         Mallard                    Anas platyrhynchos
8         Little Egret               Egretta garzetta
5         Gray Heron                 Ardea cinerea
2         Great Egret                Ardea alba
5         Cattle Egret               Bubulcus ibis
13      * Chinese Pond-Heron         Ardeola bacchus
1         Striated Heron             Butorides striatus
25        Black-crowned Night-Heron  Nycticorax nycticorax
18        Black Kite                 Milvus migrans
2       * Oriental Hobby             Falco severus
6         Common Sandpiper           Tringa hypoleucos
6         Common Tern                Sterna hirundo
4         Little Tern                Sterna albifrons
470       Rock Dove                  Columba livia
602     * Hill Pigeon                Columba rupestris
39        Spotted Dove               Streptopelia chinensis
7       * Asian Koel                 Eudynamys scolopacea
72        Common Swift               Apus apus
17      * Fork-tailed Swift          Apus pacificus
6       * House Swift                Apus nipalensis
6       * Common Kingfisher          Alcedo atthis
1         Great Spotted Woodpecker   Dendrocopos major
2       * Blue Magpie                Urocissa erythrorhyncha
33      * Azure-winged Magpie        Cyanopica cyana
46        Black-billed Magpie        Pica pica
3       * Large-billed Crow          Corvus macrorhynchos
2       * Collared Crow              Corvus torquatus
16        Common Raven               Corvus corax
2       * Gray-chinned Minivet       Pericrocotus solaris
3       * Scarlet Minivet            Pericrocotus flammeus
1       * Golden-fronted Leafbird    Chloropsis aurifrons
1       * Long-tailed Shrike         Lanius schach
2         Eurasian Blackbird         Turdus merula
3       * Black-collared Starling    Sturnus nigricollis
22        Crested Myna               Acridotheres cristatellus
20      * Oriental Magpie-Robin      Copsychus saularis
1       * White-capped Redstart      Chaimarrornis leucocephalus
12      * Plumbeous Redstart         Rhyacornis fuliginosus
1         Northern Wheatear          Oenanthe oenanthe
5       * Velvet-fronted Nuthatch    Sitta frontalis
44        Bank Swallow (Sand Martin) Riparia riparia
76        Barn Swallow               Hirundo rustica
31        Red-rumped Swallow         Hirundo daurica
72        Red-whiskered Bulbul       Pycnonotus jocosus
94      * Light-vented Bulbul        Pycnonotus sinensis
1       * Chestnut Bulbul            Hemixos castanonotus
8         Japanese White-eye         Zosterops japonicus
3       * Yellow-bellied Prinia      Prinia flaviventris
1         Tawny-flanked Prinia       Prinia subflava
1       * Japanese Bush-Warbler      Cettia diphone
1       * Russet Bush-Warbler        Bradypterus seebohmi
5       * Inornate Warbler           Phylloscopus inornatus
3       * Masked Laughingthrush      Garrulax perspicillatus
1         Hwamei                     Garrulax canorus
1         Great Tit                  Parus major
1       * Yellow-cheeked Tit         Parus spilonotus
482       Eurasian Tree Sparrow      Passer montanus
48      * White-rumped Munia         Lonchura striata
14        White Wagtail              Motacilla alba
1       * Richard's Pipit            Anthus richardi

2401 BIRDS, 61 SPECIES, 30 LIFERS (*):

Additional information provided upon request.

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This page served with permission of the author by Urs Geiser;; May 29, 1998