Shanghai, September ’19

My second work trip to Shanghai this year. The first, back in March was excellent birding – basically a wintering, therefore almost captive bunch of target species for me to look at. This time its early September and the focus was on migrant passerines in urban Century park.


Eastern Crowned Warbler

Upon arrival the city was shrouded in low cloud and bouts of prolonged heavy rain made it pretty much unbirdable. Having said that I was keen as mustard so braved the rain and got out to century park. Numbers of warblers were probably the highest at this point of the week and after 20 mins looking I stumbled across a spot with seemingly native trees and warblers;  Yellow Browed, Pallas’, Arctic, Eastern Crowned and later a couple of Pale legged/Sakahlin leaf warblers. The following mornings were spent birding before work from 6.30 -09.30 every day.  Numbers of migrants went up and down but generally a downward progression through the week as the wet weather gave way to occasional dry periods over night . Wednesday was a brilliant morning for migrant flycatchers, the crown of many large trees held perhaps one or two flycatchers, namely Grey streaked, yellow rumped and Asian brown


Asian Brown and Yellow Rumped Flycatchers


Phylloscopus warblers were really my focus. I was perhaps falsely under the impression that the commonest warbler would be Yellow Browed, however this wast the case during my stay, I saw one or two at the beginning of the week along with a single Pallas‘ but infact the most commonly seen birds were Arctic Warblers.


Arctic Warbler

Often vocal and mostly in the higher foliage I saw and heard many. Aware of other ‘Arctic Types’ being a possibility I was cautious to hear birds call before ID’ing them which most did to be honest. Kamchatka leaf warblers is the most likely other Arctic type and of this sp Im sure I had at least one individual. Based on call which was heard on my final day out in Binjang forest park – a bird high in the canopy appearing as an artic warbler in all respects (perhaps a longer more pointed bill) giving a loud disyllabic call, almost like a red breasted flycatcher rattle or  like 2 Arctic Warbler calls in very quick succession, something like ‘d-dzit’ 


Arctic Type

I’d been salivating over the idea of seeing Eastern crowned warbler and luckily they were fairly common and certainly the most enjoyable bird to watch, slightly sluggish movements punctuated by the occasional flycatch that seemed to crash through patches of foliage quite unlike smaller phylloscs. It struck me that they were perhaps the phyllosc version of a Red eyed Vireo and wasn’t too surprised to read someone else’s agreement with that in a Bird guides finders report for a bird in Cleveland in 2014.


Eastern crowned warblers




one of the more stand out features is the concolourous lower mandible, quite bizarre if you catch it at the right angle.


I saw perhaps 7 or 8 Pale legged/ Sakhalin Leaf Warblers during the trip, I found them to be quite grubby little birds, dark about the face and crown, pale pink bill base and cutting edge, some quite short billed, pale pink legs were obvious and often feeding low down in the dark foliage .


Birds were dipping their tails as if writing a letter U it seemed. The call sounded closest to PLLW to me but its probably abit beyond human hearing to separate the two. 


Pale legged/Sakahlin leaf Warblers


Other migrants were things like Brown Shrikes, many Eastern Yellow Wagtails, both Red-rumped and Barn Swallows. Also a special moment when a female Siberian Thrush flew across an open area in front of me at Binjang Forest park, with the light on the other side of the bird to me its underwing pattarn was lit up, I got onto it for 3/4 seconds but that was enough to make it the highlight of the day. 


Brown Shrike


Eastern Yellow Wagtail – Motacilla tschutschensis

A decent find in the form of a Himalayan Swiflet over Binjang Forest park in the mouth of the Yangtze River, only annually recorded species for Shanghai.


Himalayan Swiftlet

2 completley Urban Richard’s Pipits were seen on the deck early one morning in Century park.


Richard’s Pipit

Hoopoe is a common bird throughout the year in Century park as far as I can tell.



So thats early Autumn in Shanghai for me, I probably could have been luckier with the weather and number of migrants but it was pretty good. My next trip will probably be February next year and I must try and get to the coast!

Again thanks to , a really excellent resource for birding the area.

Author: Jamie Partridge

Birding South East Kent: Langdon Hole to South Foreland

2 thoughts on “Shanghai, September ’19”

  1. Great work, Jamie, but you left ticks on the table. The human ear generally can’t discern the difference between the calls of Pale-legged and Sakhalin Leaf Warbler and the difference those of Arctic Warbler and Kamchatka Leaf Warbler. But recording devices can, including your smartphone. Get a recording of the call rather than stand there trying to judge the frequency yourself. Then upload the recording to any number of websites that will create an audio spectrogram for you, one of them being ebird. The spectrogram will show clearly the frequency of the call and thereby you’ll be able to determine which species you heard. I describe the process here for Pale-legged-Sakhalin:

    and here for Arctic-Kamchatka:

    Congratulations on your analogy of Red-eyed Vireo and Eastern Crowned Warbler. It’s brilliant to see likenesses in unrelated species.

    Liked by 1 person

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