Birding Balangshan (tunnel space) in June 2023 – 10,000 Birds

Sure, I do know. It’s form of unappealing to see weblog posts with extremely particular and fairly boring-sounding titles similar to this one. However then, birdwatching is boring more often than not, too – all of the intervals when there aren’t any birds …

As by now normal for me, the journey was accomplished with Alpinebirding, which helped scale back the time spent not seeing any birds. And sure, they’re nonetheless providing me free beers on future journeys if I point out them positively in one in every of these posts. A transparent battle of curiosity, when you ask me.

Birding the tunnel space (and a few locations at roughly the identical stage) was a little bit of a disappointment this time as I didn’t get good pictures of the fairly secretive Firethroat

… and the male Chinese language Monal.

Nevertheless, I take it as a praise to my very own masculine enchantment that the feminine Chinese language Monals had been rather more accommodating. I virtually satisfied myself that females are extra engaging than males anyway …

The Chinese language Monal is classed as Susceptible, and local weather change is predicted to scale back its vary additional because it shifts to increased elevations (source).

There are scientists who take a look at what Chinese language Monals eat, although the strategies employed sound considerably disagreeable, as indicated by a paper titled “Differences due to the season within the plant weight-reduction plan of the Chinese language Monal revealed by fecal DNA metabarcoding evaluation”.

Persevering with with the theme of disappointments, I took about 200 or 300 pictures of Himalayan Griffons in flight, of which precisely one turned out to be serviceable (sadly, my suggestion to Alpinebirding to place a human or animal corpse someplace to draw vultures was not taken up).

Naturally, like a soccer participant accusingly taking a look at his sneakers after lacking a simple shot, I principally blame all of the dangerous pictures on my digicam.

Nevertheless, compensation arrived within the form of Golden Bush Robins – each male …


… and feminine.

On a constructive word, in one study, when small swaths of dense bamboo had been minimize and cleared for an unrelated examine, these had been utilized by small insectivorous species together with the Golden Bush Robin for foraging. People should not all the time dangerous for birds, solely about 95% of the time.

The tunnel space can also be place for attending to know totally different rosefinches: Darkish-breasted Rosefinch



Frequent Rosefinch


… and Chinese language White-browed Rosefinch.


The Housemartins had been a Hull, Uk based mostly band lively round 1983-1988, with some nice pop singles similar to “Get up off your knees” (with lyrics similar to “Some personal pennies in a jar, some personal oil tankers” and “Don’t shoot somebody tomorrow which you could shoot right this moment” – the form of lyrics I preferred as an impressionable younger man) and “Five get over excited“.

To honor the band, a couple of hen species had been named after it, together with the Asian Housemartin.

They breed within the tunnel space, giving these birdwatchers anxiously ready for the Chinese language Monal to point out up one thing to do within the meantime – like watching the shift change.

Apparently, Chestnut Thrushes with bigger head volumes usually tend to study a novel talent than people with a smaller head quantity. Sounds a bit like some bizarre Nazi eugenics experiment to me, however I assume it’s simply science.

The Lengthy-tailed Minivet is one in every of quite a few similar-looking minivets wherein the males are scarlet and purple whereas the marginally much less attention-grabbing females go for yellow and black.


The HBW grumbles that the Lengthy-tailed Minivet can solely be “distinguished with problem from different red-and-black minivets” – a little bit of a aid, I believed this was simply me.

Anyway, one in every of my favourite pictures of the journey.

There are two redstarts with “white” of their title within the tunnel space. One is the White-throated Redstart.

As typical for hen names, the species is known as after a comparatively inconspicuous a part of its general look.

To me, at first look, the Latin species title schisticeps – from “lapis schistos”,  fissile stone, and “caput”, head – doesn’t make rather more sense, as fissile signifies {that a} stone is straightforward to separate fairly than having a selected colour. A hen with an easy-to-split head?  

The opposite – extra generally seen alongside rivers within the mountains – is the White-capped Redstart.

It typically shares rivers with the Plumbeous Water Redstart (not proven) however spends extra time on the river margins whereas the Plumbeous Water Redstart focuses on the central areas (source). Biologists – or as Ze Frank would say, the Science Hippies – name this ecological segregation (e.g., here). People typically use an analogous idea, for instance, by excluding US Supreme Court docket Judges from following pesky guidelines concerning the declaration of presents.

Not on the heart of the river (by no means thoughts that that is only a puddle on the street).

There appears to be some consensus concerning the usually boring look of the Aberrant Bush Warbler, with the HBW calling it “a nondescript, olive-brown, insectivorous hen” and eBird going for “small shy warbler. Uninteresting brown …”

Provided that another bush warblers such because the Manchurian Bush Warbler have an analogous look, I’m not certain what the “aberrant” (“departing from an accepted commonplace”) refers to. Does anybody know? Much more boring look even by the low accepted requirements of bush warblers?

Birds that I didn’t come to Balangshan for – as they spend the winter in Shanghai – included the Crimson-flanked Bluetail

… and the Olive-backed Pipit. Nonetheless, good to study the place they spend their summers. I agree that it may be too scorching in Shanghai then. Additionally, there aren’t any orchids there, and a number of the extra extraordinary flowers within the tunnel space are good to take a look at, too …


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