Beijing new year 2020

Yet another exhausting work trip, this time Beijing and working right in the middle of the forbidden city. With no planned free/rest days I was hoping to just see a Naumann’s thrush at best in the freezing cold hour of light before the start of work each morning. Truth be told Naumann’s thrushes were common and could be seen and heard anywhere with large trees and I saw many in the grounds of the Forbidden city itself.

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After the first couple of days I narrowed down my birding spots and figured out where to make the most of the predictably flighty thrushes. Once I was seeing larger numbers I started noticing a good few Dusky Thrushes amoung them.

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I also noted several obvious Dusky x Naumann’s Hybrids like the one below.  the mix of red and black in the Harlequin pattern on the breast sides an flanks is cool.

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Both Dusky and Naumann’s  regular call sounded very similar to me however a few times I heard a higher pitched squeakier sounding thrush and picked out both Red throated (on several occasioions) and Back throated thrushes (just twice during the trip) Poor pics below – photo was taken at first light.

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Other birds seen around the grounds were the ubiquitous Eurasian Tree sparrows, Azure Winged Magpies, Chinese Blackbirds, Oriental Greenfinches, Large billed crows, Great spotted Woodpeckers, one or two Bohemian waxwings,  parties of Yellow-billed Grosbeaks and the odd Oriental Turtle dove.

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We were ahead of Schedule with work in the end and I was able to get one free day out of the City, so a commercial tourist trip to see the Great Wall of China seemed like a decent way to see what ever I could.

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On the drive to the wall we had many pit stops and whilst the other people in our party looked at The Ming tombs, a ceremonial tea house and had lunch I snuck off to look at a bit of scrub or check out a stand of trees.  The below Bluetail was nice, although quite a dull individual, a couple were seen along with more thrushes and things like Bramblings and one or two Elegant Buntings.

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The Wall itself and surrounding landscape were remarkable, freezing cold and surprisingly devoid of tourists. I saw a small party of Silver throated tits, along with Marsh tits, Chinese Nuthatch, Grey-capped Woodpecker and many Godlewski’s Buntings and my other Target for the trip; Siberian Accentor.

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They looked so great in the typical scrubby areas I saw them in, the eyestripe and throat looking golden against the foliage.

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