The New Garden: Full Of Eastern Promise

By Terry

OK so it’s not, strictly speaking, my “garden”.. but I am claiming the area of scrub next to my new apartment block in suburban Beijing as my new patch.   And in just 10 days since I moved in, and only three visits, I have racked up a list of species that would do Fair Isle proud.  
Shunyi patch5

The new local patch.

Shunyi patch3

My new apartment block viewed from the patch

Shunyi patch2

This area of poplars has already produced Taiga Flycatcher and Little Bunting.

At the beginning of May I moved apartments to a suburb in northeast Beijing.  It’s close to the metro, a new shopping centre, a good mix of Chinese and western restaurants and, importantly, it provides easy access to some of Beijing’s best birding spots such as Miyun Reservoir and Wild Duck Lake.  A bonus was discovering a relatively wild area of scrub close by and, in just three short visits, it has produced some quality birds.  Yet more evidence that the migration through China’s capital is on a scale that is hard to beat.  At this time of year, almost any green patch will attract birds.  Birding in Beijing continues to surprise and delight.

My first visit to the new local patch was when I was simply walking to the closest metro station, without binoculars.  I stumbled across an Oriental Scops Owl roosting close to the path.  Astonishingly I managed to photograph it using only my iPhone.

Taken using only an iPhone, this ORIENTAL SCOPS OWL was the first species I recorded on the new local patch!

Taken using only an iPhone, this ORIENTAL SCOPS OWL was the first species I recorded on the new local patch!

Not surprisingly, this chance occurrence prompted a more dedicated birding visit and so, during an early morning hour before breakfast the following day, I logged Oriental Turtle Dove, Dusky Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Pallas’s Warbler, Eye-browed Thrush, Stejneger’s Stonechat, Taiga Flycatcher, Red-flanked Bluetail, Siberian Rubythroat, Olive-backed Pipit and Little and Yellow-throated Buntings.  Not bad!

2015-05-05 Olive-backed Pipit, Wenyu He

Olive-backed Pipits have so far been a common migrant at the local patch with up to 10 present at any one time.


2015-05-07 Taiga Flycatcher, Shunyi2

Taiga Flycatcher is a common migrant through Beijing in spring and autumn. Their ‘rattle’ is a frequent accompaniment to a walk through any green space in early May.


A second dedicated visit produced singing Two-barred Greenish Warbler, more Olive-backed Pipits, Richard’s Pipit, Common Rosefinch and a flyover Oriental Honey Buzzard.

2015-05-05 Richard's Pipit, Wenyu He

A flight call is usually the first sign that a Richard’s Pipit is on the patch.


And on my way to the metro station this morning I encountered a stunning Radde’s Warbler, singing its heart out next to the path.

So far I have recorded 38 species and I am certain I am only scratching the surface.  My target for the end of May is 50 species…  and my (ambitious?) target for the end of the year is 75. Will I make it? Watch this space!


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About Terry Townshend

I am a British birder living and birding in Beijing from August 2010 until 2015. Through this blog I hope I can convey a sense of what it is like to live in this thriving, confident and contrasting city and the birdlife that can be found in its environs. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it! Terry Townshend, Beijing September 2010

3 thoughts on “The New Garden: Full Of Eastern Promise

  1. Terry Townshend Post author

    I wrote this post a day early. The next morning I visited again and I now have 52 species! New today were Japanese Quail, ‘Swintail’ Snipe, Grey Nightjar, Brown Shrike, Chinese Penduline Tit, Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Siberian Blue Robin, Bluethroat, Wryneck, White-throated Rock Thrush, Blyth’s Pipit (incredibly 5 together!) and Tristram’s Bunting. Need to adjust my targets!


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