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Birding Nonggang, Guangxi, China – half 2 – 10,000 Birds


    That is the second a part of a put up displaying some birds seen at Nonggang in December 2022, together with the standard (principally irrelevant) feedback.

    In China, wherever there’s one actual vacationer attraction (just like the Nice Wall), the native technique appears to be so as to add some pretend points of interest – replicas of palaces or tombs, amusement parks, procuring facilities – with the intention to maximize the revenue from vacationers. However the place to begin must be an actual attraction, not a pretend one. At Nonggang, presumably the opposite important attraction apart from the Nonggang Babbler is the Blue-rumped Pitta (leaf warblers solely qualify as pretend points of interest).

    Even the Latin species title soror (“sister”) signifies the similarity to a different pitta species (blue-naped).

    In keeping with the HBW, the speedy opening of the tail feathers of fantails resembling this White-throated Fantail reveals white tail-spots which are thought to startle bugs into transferring, revealing themselves and being captured by the birds. 


    The eBird description of the Small Niltava begins with the surprisingly uninteresting assertion that “dimension distinguishes this species from different niltavas”. Who would have thought.

    The poor chicken’s Latin species title is macgrigoriae, apparently (HBW) named after Jane Grant McGrigor, the daughter of Maj.-Gen. Sir James McGrigor (1771-1858) Director Gen. of Military Medical Division 1815-1851. As you possibly can simply choose from the dullness of this data, it isn’t one thing I made up however slightly an appalling instance of nepotism within the naming of birds.


    When you’ve got at all times questioned what the minimal anesthetic focus for isoflurane and sevoflurane for the Crested Serpent-eagle is, science has a solution.



    Whereas serpent means massive snake, the Crested Serpent-eagle additionally eats frogs, as this video exhibits. Be happy to insert your personal French joke right here (although after all within the US, eating places now serve Freedom Frogs slightly than French Frogs).

    In case you are afraid of snakes and should not have a Crested Serpent-Eagle close by, possibly you need to keep near a White-rumped Shama. A feminine shama attacked a number of Cantor’s Kukri snakes approaching its nest (supply). Courageous.



    The breeding ecology of the Yellow-bellied Warbler was truly studied precisely right here at Nonggang in 2019 by 3 Chinese language researchers. This included recording a complete of 77,760 minutes of video. Glad I didn’t have to look at these.

    Apparently, some chicken photographers assume that any human artifacts proven on a chicken photograph instantly spoil the entire photograph. In fact, listening to about this instantly makes me assume I’ve to point out the photograph of a Yellow-eyed Babbler beneath.

    Present how issues are, not how they need to be …

    eBird characterizes the Yellow-eyed Babbler as an “odd-looking babbler which appears to be like and behaves like a prinia on steroids” – not a foul description, I feel.

    And naturally, on a slightly uncommon event for this weblog, an virtually good hyperlink to the following chicken (my favourite transition remains to be the Monty Python one: “And now for one thing utterly completely different”). That is the Yellow-bellied Prinia, a chicken that additionally will get some certified reward from eBird: “Brightly-colored for a prinia”. Even the HBW sounds optimistic: “A beautiful, pretty distinctive prinia”.

    There doesn’t appear to be a single analysis paper specializing in the White-bellied Erpornis – a pity for such a cute chicken.

    Sadly, the species title zantholeuca (which means pale yellow) will not be very attention-grabbing both. So that you simply have to have a look at the photographs for as soon as.

    Some Thai researchers regarded on the breeding ecology of the Buff-breasted Babbler and printed their findings within the considerably unsuitable-sounding journal “Agriculture and Pure Sources”. Then once more, they take care to introduce the presumably slightly uninformed viewers of this journal to some ornithological primary information resembling “A chicken nest is the spot, the place a chicken lays and incubates its eggs and raises its younger” (the unorthodox comma in there may give them an honorable point out in a future version of “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”, ought to this be forthcoming). In offering this data, they quote extensively from an ornithology guide that was printed 3 years earlier than I used to be born (and I’m not a younger man).

    The precise findings are usually not that attention-grabbing – boy babbler meets lady babbler, they fall in love and breed – and every part is over in lower than one month. Bonus factors for quick implementation.

    As for the esthetic deserves of the species, eBird offers it the equal of at the least a B+: “Relatively graceful-looking brown babbler with a protracted tail and lengthy legs”. Sadly, the HBW disagrees, going for “featureless smallish babbler” (which then incongruously is adopted by a 155-word description of the options of the featureless babbler).

    One would assume {that a} chicken trying as distinct because the Fujian Niltava can be unmistakable. Alas, one can be fallacious – I instantly combined it up with the slightly similar-looking Rufous-bellied Niltava (not proven right here). Nevertheless, as I discovered some attention-grabbing data on the latter, I’ll share it right here anyway.

    Some poor Rufous-bellied Niltavas are being parasitized by Whistling Hawk-Cuckoos. Apparently, the cuckoo chicks not solely require provisioning by displaying their host dad and mom a vividly coloured gape, however in addition they present shiny yellow wing patches to their host dad and mom – leading to host dad and mom making an attempt to put meals onto the wing patch of the nestlings (supply).

    Alternatively, on the extent of particular person birds at the least, nature sometimes gives compensation. One other paper describes how a Snowy-browed Flycatcher labored as a helper at a Rufous-bellied Niltava nest in Yunnan for at the least two days. Altruism, thankfully not of the Sam Bankman-Fried selection, although in all probability not very efficient both.

    The Indochinese Inexperienced Magpie is one in all 4 species of inexperienced magpie (it was once solely three, however one of many subspecies collected sufficient frequent flier miles to get an improve to full species).


    As a chemist by schooling, I’m proud to level out that the colour of the birds is principally decided by the lutein contained of their meals (lutein is a part of the crops on which the bugs feed on earlier than in flip being eaten by the magpies). Apparently, if uncovered to daylight, the inexperienced of the magpie plumage might flip blue.


    One other member of the magpie household, the White-winged Magpie, makes do with far fewer colours.

    The species title whiteheadi clearly will not be derived from the chicken itself (you possibly can see that the top is black) however slightly from one other short-lived British explorer that I’m not making up, John Whitehead (1860-1899). Apparently, he was the primary documented individual to achieve the height of Mount Kinabalu.

    After I was about 20, you would have performed me one attention-grabbing music by an unknown band, and I’d nonetheless bear in mind the band title 10 years later. Right this moment, I’ve difficulties memorizing the slightly apparent variations between Rufous-faced Warbler, Rufous-capped Babbler, Pin-striped Tit-babbler and Chestnut-crowned Warbler. As my late father as soon as suggested me: “Boy, higher don’t get outdated” (although after all, the choice will not be too interesting both).

    Rufous-faced Warbler

    Rufous-capped Babbler

    Pin-striped Tit-babbler

    Chestnut-crowned Warbler

    Puff-throated Bulbuls are cooperative breeders, however considerably surprisingly, the variety of helpers does not likely have an effect on the survival probabilities of the chicks (supply). Then once more, no one would count on children whose dad and mom rent babysitters rather a lot to have a greater life both.

    Nonetheless, total, the possibility to outlive the primary 8 weeks is surprisingly excessive at 61% – and virtually all of that threat is within the first week.

    The title follows the standard ornithological precept of by no means naming a chicken for an apparent characteristic – eBird considerably sheepishly admits that the “’Puff’ of the white throat is slight and never an apparent characteristic”. The species title of “Alophoixus pallidus”, indicating a pale shade, makes a bit extra sense however is hardly one thing that solely applies to this species. The genus title “Alophoixus” is especially weird on condition that it means “with out a crest”, which each my photographs and the eBird characterization of the chicken as a “massive crested bulbul” appear to disprove. Nicely. Perhaps it had simply shaved its crest when it received its title.

    Considerably predictably, the journey ended with me contracting covid and preferring to fly house a number of days earlier than my deliberate date (the an infection turned out to not be too unhealthy and gave me time to edit my photographs). I assume it was a becoming finish of a 12 months marked by covid, as indicated by only a few birding journeys outdoors of Shanghai and a 78-day lockdown as a substitute.