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Birding Shanghai in November 2022 – 10,000 Birds


    November in Shanghai means the large-scale return of buntings, such because the smallest of them, the appropriately named Little Bunting.


    Nevertheless, the most typical bunting at Nanhui in winter is the Pallas’s Reed Bunting. Curiously, eBird states that the “track is a sequence of moist buzzy ‘tsli’ notes”. What are moist notes?


    Since 2016, the Rustic Bunting has been listed as Susceptible, as knowledge prompt speedy inhabitants declines (HBW). led its itemizing as Susceptible. Certainly, some papers have fairly gloomy titles, comparable to “The subsequent frequent and widespread bunting to go? International inhabitants decline within the Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica“.


    The migration patterns of Yellow-throated Buntings have been analyzed by way of a fairly intelligent but considerably sophisticated technique, isotope-based geographic project. Given the complexity of the analysis, the end result appears like a little bit of a letdown – “northern populations begin migration sooner than southern populations, particularly in autumn”.



    The species title of the Chestnut-eared Bunting is fucata, from the Latin “fucare”, to color purple.

    I didn’t discover a lot about this chicken on-line aside from a paper with the thrilling title “A brand new quill mite Torotrogla emberizae sp. nov. (Acariformes: Syringophilidae) from the Chestnut-eared Bunting (Passeriformes: Emberizidae) in Japan (morphology and DNA barcode knowledge)”. Ah, to be a scientist.

    Hopefully, the winter time in Shanghai provides the Black-faced Buntings a while to chill out from the challenges of the breeding season. A problem for the males is getting cuckolded by members of the identical species – which required strenuous mate-guarding (supply). In distinction, the females want to verify to not get duped into elevating precise cuckoos – the buntings are a focused host species (supply). Thankfully for the buntings, they appear to detect most cuckoo eggs smuggled in (75% in a single examine).


    It appears that evidently the protection mechanisms towards parasitism by cuckoos might fluctuate inside a species, relying on the scale of the risk posed by cuckoos. A examine discovered that for Plain Prinia, egg traits in a mainland China location with many cuckoos make it a lot simpler to identify cuckoo eggs than in a Taiwan location with few cuckoos (supply). For individuals who assume evolution is a improper idea, these variations might nicely have been created by god.


    The Chestnut-crowned Warbler could be very uncommon at Nanhui – actually, it’s the first one I’ve seen right here in Shanghai. Elsewhere, it is not uncommon sufficient to even be parasitized by cuckoos – which has made them begin to reject eggs based mostly on dimension (supply).


    Provided that this chicken strikes very quick and thus results in chicken photographers spending a whole lot of time getting principally fully unusable pictures, I believe the parasitism is well-deserved. Perhaps there’s some justice on this world in spite of everything.


    Bramblings in Finland – although not really being parasitized by cuckoos – nonetheless rejected the overwhelming majority of non-matching eggs in a examine – they thus appear well-prepared for a possible future cuckoo invasion. Higher protected than sorry.


    I could have mentioned this earlier than, however thrushes at all times remind me a little bit of German housewives – sturdy and dependable, however not significantly sleek (there’s a purpose I reside in China and never in Germany). This actually applies to the comparatively featureless Pale Thrush, which mainly lives as much as its unpromising title fairly nicely.

    This thrush really is among the many prey objects of the very uncommon Iriomote Cat, a cat that lives solely on a small island. As it’s critically endangered (there are solely about 100 left), I believe it may be forgiven for killing the occasional Pale Thrush (which is listed as Least Concern).

    The White-browed Thrush is just not much more engaging. As a consequence, it solely performs a really small cameo position in a paper on the time required for species detection by way of digicam traps.

    And what are you able to anticipate of a species named Dusky Thrush? Truly, it appears a bit extra fascinating than the title suggests, I believe.

    Alternatively, it will get some factors deducted for wanting too much like Naumann’s Thrush. The chicken is called after Johann Andreas Naumann (1744-1826), a farmer and beginner naturalist who – regardless of being a German – apparently didn’t commit any noteworthy atrocities.

    Admittedly, the male Japanese Thrush doesn’t fairly match into the thrush sample as it’s fairly engaging. One Japanese examine discovered that it arrives at its breeding grounds sooner than previously, most probably as a consequence of elevated spring temperatures. Why these have occurred, no person is aware of – it can’t be as a consequence of world warming as Donald Trump in 2012 has made clear that local weather change was “created by and for the Chinese language so as to make US manufacturing non-competitive” (supply).



    The feminine is just not fairly as engaging however nonetheless simply beats most German housewives.


    Given the experience of Mr. Trump, the Chinese language should even be chargeable for the sooner laying date of Northern Lapwings, as described right here.

    Surprisingly, the Latin title of the Hair-crested Drongo is Dicrurus hottentottus – Hottentot is a reputation beforehand given to the Khoikhoi, a nomad pastoral individuals of Namibia and South Africa, distant from the place this drongo lives. The title Hottentot is best not used as a consequence of its destructive connotations: “The primary Dutch to come across the San and Khoikhoi peoples referred to them as ‘Hottentots,’ or stutterers, as a result of their Khoisan language employs clicks to indicate consonants, a characteristic of speech unsympathetic to European ears.  Thus, the disparaging time period “Hottentot” grew to become a typical identifier of the inhabitants of southwest Africa” (supply). Thus, the poor drongo is contributing to the perpetuation of racism …

    Do the male Hair-crested Drongos search to have intercourse with females apart from their mounted associate (they’re socially monogamous)? Sure, however provided that there are sufficient females round, finds a examine. Hm.

    As with many different chicken species, the Latin title of the Hen Harrier, cyaneus (“darkish blue”), is just not an excellent description of the feminine.

    Sadly, Hen Harriers die disproportionally close to British Grouse moors – most probably killed illegally by individuals searching grouse for sports activities (supply). I assumed the British see themselves as particularly reasonable sportspeople – that is undoubtedly not a superb instance. I want there was a method to give some weapons to Hen Harriers in order that they might shoot again.

    In line with this paper, “Feeding by Black-faced Spoonbills usually seemed chaotic as a result of they normally stroll all around the feeding web site at a variable pace”. You possibly can see for your self right here.


    And sure, they’re blended with Eurasian Spoonbills. In case you are a frog and wish to learn a horror story, you might wish to take a look at this paper. During which a largish marsh frog – resisting being swallowed by a Eurasian Spoonbill by spreading its limbs – will get them damaged one after the other till resistance is futile and the frog will get swallowed after 10 minutes. Guantanamo for frogs. Although to be traditionally correct, the breaking wheel could be a greater comparability. Then once more, what the spoonbill does additionally has its waterboarding part: “[The bird] shook the marsh frog underneath the water to interrupt the limbs one after the other”.


    Amongst philosophically-minded Dunlins, the dichotomy between being a person …

    … and being half of a big society is broadly mentioned.

    In an evaluation of birds offered at Indonesian chicken markets, the Scaly-breasted Munia was discovered to be by far essentially the most quite a few species, accounting for greater than half of all people. Weirdly, this chicken can also be described as a standard pest in Indonesia, chargeable for substantial losses of rice. Alternatively, within the West, mice, and rats are additionally saved as pets, possibly with the identical logic.

    The Pallas’s Leaf Warbler shares its title with at the least 6 different chicken species together with the bunting proven above – a little bit of an overkill when you ask me. Alternatively, he obtained his Ph.D. when he was 19 whereas it took me 10 years extra. No surprise no species are named after me.


    It appears that evidently Black-tailed Godwits are a bit extra individualistic than many different species. A examine discovered that they arrive at their breeding grounds throughout a span of greater than 5 weeks – considerably bigger than for many different birds. Presumably, the late arrivals then mate with different late arrivals, additional saying the variations and finally main to 2 subspecies, Black-tailed Godwit rapidus and Black-tailed Godwit tardus (sure, I studied Latin in highschool and am pleased to point out off about this).

    I do not need something fascinating to say concerning the Pink-flanked Bluetail proper now, however the male is a really stunning chicken.


    A examine on the breeding success of the Gray Heron had one very predictable end result (“chick mortality considerably decreased with rising numbers of feeding visits per nest”) and one barely horrifying one (“siblicide was additionally an important purpose of chick mortality in these colonies – 54% and 32% chicks died in nests the place sibling aggression was noticed”). So assuming that these outcomes are transferable to people, dad and mom ought to feed their offspring repeatedly (first discovering) however prohibit themselves to at least one baby (second discovering).


    Probably a survivor of siblicide (which might make it a killer, proper?)

    In a paper on the Oriental Turtle Dove, Toshio Okazaki and Shinichiro make the daring declare that the “examine represents the primary demonstration of protoporphyrin IX in dove plumage”.


    It appears Black-winged Stilts have a desire for utilizing one or the opposite eye relying on the exercise (“behavioral lateralization”, to sound like an actual scientist). They’re extra profitable catching meals when wanting with their proper eye however the males want to take a look at the females with their left eye. If that isn’t proof of an almighty creator god, then what’s?


    eBird calls the Black-winged Stilt a “hanging massive black-and-white wader with a skinny, straight invoice and brilliant pink legs” – a mistake, as my photograph exhibits the chicken clearly solely has one leg.

    My guess is that (much like some actors who didn’t efficiently make the transition from silent films to talkies), Pied Kingfishers have been extra fashionable with chicken photographers earlier than coloration images grew to become broadly used. It’s the solely kingfisher with none coloration apart from black and white (the male Crested Kingfisher has some rufous bits on its breast).


    As this video signifies, these birds spend a whole lot of time not doing a lot – or in scientific phrases, “resting/perching”. This was present in a examine – do you wish to guess the place this examine was achieved? A slight trace – the title of the examine is “Exercise patterns of pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) and stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) on the Chittagong college campus, Bangladesh” …

    Chinese language Penduline Tits apparently bury their eggs inside their nests to forestall them from falling out of the nests on windy days. The apparent different answer – constructing sturdier nests made out of concrete bolstered with metal, as any respectable human would suggest – doesn’t appear to cross their minds.


    Black-crowned Night time Herons (at the least the adults) appear to benefit from the autumn colours, as they properly complement their very own look.


    The juveniles look depressing as common.


    The sphere identification part of the HBW entry for the Chinese language Gray Shrike has a a lot nicer photograph than this one, taken by me 5 years in the past. Nicely, I suppose I used to be a greater photographer then.

    Eurasian Woodcocks are normally significantly better hidden than proven in my latest submit. A typical daytime encounter might appear like this:

    And I’m certain that if this submit had been written by Dave Barry, he would comment that Eurasian Woodcocks could be an amazing title for a punk band.

    The HBW entry for the Mallard has a 300-word part on priorities for future analysis solely – form of puzzling on condition that that is actually a well-researched species. However then, possibly not – it appears to be the character of science that the extra you already know, the extra you wish to know. A lot for this submit’s pseudo-philosophical thought.

    The courtship of the Larger Scaup sounds a bit horrifying to me: “Throughout courtship, males collect in teams of as much as 17 and encompass a single feminine whereas calling” (supply). Alternatively, possibly some feminine readers of this weblog assume that this sounds fairly thrilling. Amongst newly printed books (the titles of which I generally scan), fairly just a few are titles within the “reverse harem” style – goodreads even has its personal web page on the style.


    There may be (or was?) a journal with the considerably improbable-sounding title of “Journal of Thermal Biology”. I’m not certain what precisely thermal biology is, however the journal printed a paper on the thermal properties of nests of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow. Which finds that the “insulating worth of nests principally relied on their completeness and the proportion of feathers within the lining”.

    The species title of the Narcissus Flycatcher was most likely not chosen with the feminine in thoughts (proven right here) – in response to the HBW, “Narcissus was a fantastic youth who grew to become enamored of his personal reflection in a pool and wasted away”. This was later taken up by Oscar Wilde within the story “The Disciple” (“Keats and Yeates are in your facet whereas Wilde is on mine”, The Smiths, “Cemetery Gates”).


    Vinous-throated Parrotbills are parasitized by the Widespread Cuckoo, the Vladimir Putin of the chicken world – in response to the HBW, “cuckoos’ eggs are at all times of a blue kind however bigger than these of host, and host rejected greater than 60% of cuckoo eggs when laid in blue-egg clutches and 100% when laid in white-egg clutches.”