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 almost disyllabic call, like two 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, a perhaps annually recorded sp 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.





Pied fly Springfield park

I have been including a small section of Springfield park into my occasional morning walks over the marsh. Ive known that it gets birds but as its off the patch technically ive always over looked it, foolishly it seems now as after 4 visits i bumped into this Pied flycatcher, high in the large oak near the bandstand on the morning of the 30th


Its taken me over ten years to find a Pied fly locally, thats madness. at least one spot fly was also present too.


August Bank Holiday Weekend

For the past few years I have made sure Im free for the bank holiday in August, mainly to see common migrants in decent numbers with fingers crossed for something scarcer down at Beachy Head.


The bird of the trip was an Ortolan Bunting, found early on by Kris Gillam. We just about got onto it before it flew off east calling.

My personal Highlight however were 4 Honey Buzzards (three together on in the early part of the weekend and then another lone Male bird the following day) that Laurence and I picked up between us over the headland.





we’ve seen HBs before on these dates at Beachy Head but to get 4 in 24 hrs was great. An Osprey headed east along the coast on the Saturday about midday and a Hobby was seen once or twice probably attracted by the 1000s of Swallows that lingered around the headland and seemed to thin out towards sunday.


Common migrants were present in good numbers rough totals are as follows for the two days: 23 Wheatear, 15 Whinchat, 15 Redstart, 10 Pied Flycatcher, 6 Spotted Flycatcher, 10 Robin, c50 Willow Warbler, c65 Whitethroat, 10 Lesser Whitethroat, 25 Blackcap, 2 Grasshopper Warbler,  c70+ Yellow Wagtail, 35 Tree Pipit,




We spent saturday evening’s sunset on the headland hoping to glance a Nightjar in the gloam. LP picked one up from the car whilst driving home and we saw it a couple of times hunting around the lights of the pub.

Early Sunday morning and we heard of new of a Tawny pipit over west just a mile or two down the coast, abit of a blow as we were totally primed to find one, next time.


Sometimes looking at the size of the place I’m amazed that anything is found at all, there is so much cover and potential, I wish I could be there more.

Walthamstow 3rd – 16th August

From about the 3rd onwards Ive been doing the odd morning at Walthamstow before work. Its been quiet with very little in the way of waders beyond a handful of Common Sandpipers. Passerines fairly quiet too with again handfuls of Willow warblers (below), one or two Garden warblers but otherwise good numbers of Reed, Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff seen daily. Numbers (in the 100s) of Martins are using the site daily and still between 30-60 swifts


The Bomb crater field on the Marsh is well known for its propensity to attract Chats, particularly Whinchats (and Wheatear ) in August and later in the year Stone Chats. There are currently 2 Whinchat on in the field and Im sure this number will rise before the end of the month, They are really a highlight for me locally.



Im still waiting to see: Wheatear, Spotted flycatchers, yellow wagtails etc  this autumn, these can all be expected in my brief ‘mind clearing’ walks before work often accompanied by Walthamstow’s most vigorous and intrepid local David Bradshaw. He and I bumped into the 2 Garganey that were found the evening before on the Lockwood by RE on the 14th.


Strong SW winds are waylaying plans i had made to be looking for passerines on the south coast this weekend so it will be the London Gulls i’d imagine.

Juvenile Caspian Gulls from Erith.

This blog has been a little quiet of late. Fear not however! with last weeks arrival of a handful of juvenile Caspian Gulls (found by Rich Dante and Josh down Erith pier) I have snapped out of my june/july lack of inspiration and caught up with a couple of them over the weekend.


Above and below, a nice pale bird that was present on saturday to an audience of Rich, Richard, Josh and I. A striking bird that I really hope sticks around to see what it looks like in a month or so.


This next bird showed well for Rich and I on Sunday, a small, dark a delicate bird with a nice deep tail band.





Besides the Casp today there was a particular theme to some of the YLGs: White headed and pale underwinged, slightly gingery.  







Now that its almost mid August I will be posting with more regularity. expect trips from the south coast for the next few weeks untill I go back to Shanghai for the first 9 days of September!

The first Juvenile Yellow-Legged gulls of 2019

The arrival of juvenile Yellow legged gulls in early July is a nice snap out of birdless june for me and something I look forward to immensely.  This year it was old Laurence P who struck gold on July the 1st with a juv down in east Sussex (the first uk record of a juv ylg in 2019) I went to visit him on the first weekend of July, as is out custom for the past few years and we notched up another different bird (below) in the same spot aswell as a flyover along the coast abit.


Since returning to London Ive been far too busy to check the river until this weekend where Thames Barrier park revealed my first London Juvenile YLG of the year in the form of a distant bird on the water edge. Generally there are more other aged birds around during this late summer period and a first summer (below) 2 second summers and an adult were also lined up among the local herrings and Lesser black backs.


I had more free time today and ventured down to Erith where I was greeted by a greedy juvenile Yellow leg almost instantly . It was very excited by the bread and dominated the melee as they often do.




As per there were a couple of other YLGs about aswell as 1 first summer and 1 juvenile (below) Mediterranean Gulls. 


Nice to properly kick off the summer gull season with a showy couple of birds, I will however really be keeping my eyes peeled for the first juvenile Caspian gulls to turn up in the Thames in the next few weeks.

Spring at Long Point, Ontario. Part 4- …and the rest

The time has come to wrap all this Long point business up.

No more living in the past.

That was then this is now.

A post for the remaining birds, with much missed off as usual but highlights etc. Please excuse the hair-brained jumping between taxa in no particular order but thats how things come and go and maybe this post can reflect that truth.

Swallows were an enigmatic presence with huge movements on some days and very little on others. Almost every local tree hole or garden nest box had a Tree Swallow within and Barn swallow flocks harboured the odd feeding Cliff Swallow particularly towards the end of the trip. Local Purple martins with their gaudy looking man made abodes were great to watch and listen to and both Bank swallow and Northern Roughwing were seen most days in smaller numbers.



Cliff Swallow


Tree Swallow


f Purple Martin

We’d hoped out daily topping up of bird feed at our garden feeder would attract a migrant Redheaded Woodpecker but alas the birds We saw were away from the house. Some on territory in a small patch of older trees aswell as one or two migrants. Our visits to Backus Woods and the Wilson tract were occasionlly soundtracked by the drumming and calls of Hairy and the mighty Pileated Woodpeckers.


Red-headed Woodpecker


Solitary Sandpiper

Our encounters with Wading birds were few and far between with no real number of birds but ones and twos of things like Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs. Kildeers were in every carpark puddle or gravel driveway and a couple of fly over semipalmated plovers. I ticked Hudsonian Godwit on our final morning with a flyover and a flock of 16 Shortbilled Dowitchers flew around a waterbody in the rain a few times before continuing on their journey. Woodcocks were heard every evening and a we visited a local bird on several occasions who would call and display as the light disappeared.


Lesser yellowlegs

Heres a few random Passerines;


Eastern Kingbird


Eastern Bluebird



Ruby-throated Humming birds were a daily occurrence at our feeders.


Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Herons, egrets and bitterns were well represented with American Bitterns supplying a daily soundtrack.


Green Heron


Least bittern


American Bittern

Raptors were a little quiet, lots of Turkey Vultures and a good few Ospreys and Bald Eagles, Broadwinged and Red –tailed Hawks, Sharp Shinned and Coopers hawks aswell as one or two Kestrels and a single Merlin. Northern Harriers were seen every so often.


Northern Harrier

Last but not least the gulls! Not my focus for the trip but a nice bonus. We saw small flocks of Bonapartes Gulls flying around aswell as a close up handful of them at a local pier. Accompanied by Ring Billed Gulls. I probably saw 2 American Herring Gulls per day but never very close.


Bonapartes Gulls


So thats that. an immense trip with so much new information and birds for me. I really loved it and will be visiting again .