A few casual birding observations from a tourist visit to Beijing, China - 17th- 22nd February 2008

Published by Andy Adcock (andyadcock AT ntlworld.com)

Participants: Andy Adcock


During an extended backpacking trip to Asia I decided to make a visit to Beijing simply to do the tourist stuff but in doing so I knew I’d see a few new species. I couldn’t afford to use a professional guide so had to be satisfied with the species I saw as I trooped around the Great Wall etc. Below are sites visited and species seen, a total of 12 new species were seen with very little actual birding effort.

Great Wall

12km walk between Jinshanling and Simatai. Birds were heard but not many seen with many small passerines remaining unidentified as they flew over or past.

1.Chinese Spot-billed Duck – c8 seen in flight near the dam at the Simatai end of the walk.
2. Red-billed Blue Magpie – A couple on the walk in.
3. Azure-winged Magpie – Common on the walk leading to the wall.
4. Brown Dipper – One very vocal bird seen from the suspension bridge at Simatai.
5. Songar Tit. - Several seen during the walk.
6. Great Tit - Several seen during the walk.
7. White-browed Chinese Warbler – A seemingly very terrestrial species with a pair giving excellent prolonged views as they foraged on the ground below the wall
8. Pere David’s Laughingthrush – Two seen on the walk in.

Fragrant Hills

I found this site to be very disappointing with few birds in Pine woods shrouded in a damp early morning mist and the situation was further hampered by the large numbers of people and fireworks during what was the tail end of the Chinese New Year.

1. Great Spotted Woodpecker – Three seen.
2.Azure-winged Magpie – Common on the walk leading to the wall.
3. Black-billed Magpie – A few seen.
4. Chinese Nuthatch – One found when I traced the singing bird to a large Cedar tree.
5. Songar Tit. - Several seen.
6. Tree Sparrow - Very common in good sized flocks.
7. Brambling – Very common in good sized flocks.
8. Chinese (Yellow-billed) Grosbeak – Fairly common.

Summer Palace

The lake here was still frozen so for me was the disappointment of no Falcated Duck.

1.Azure-winged Magpie – A few.
2.Tree Sparrow - Common.
3.Grey-capped Greenfinch One flock of c30 birds
4.Chinese (Yellow-billed) Grosbeak – Fairly common.

Beijing Botanical Gardens

My favourite site and visited twice.

1.Great Spotted Woodpecker – A couple.
2.Grey-headed Woodpecker – Two seen
3.Azure-winged Magpie - Common
4.Black-billed Magpie – Several.
5.Eurasian Blackbird – One seen.
6.Dark-throated Thrush – Migrant birds seen in good sized flocks of up to c30 birds.
7.Dusky Thrush – Only one definite sighting of a superb bird that perched tree top in lovely sunlight for several minutes.
8.White-cheeked Starling – Two seen feeding on the grass with A-w Magpies. A pre
roost gathering of c60 birds was also noted at Biehar Park near my hotel.
9.Chinese Nuthatch – A pair found by following up a tapping sound which turned out to be them excavating a nest hole.
10.Songar Tit – Regular
11.Great Tit – Regular.
12.Light-vented Bulbul – several of the race sinensis were regular around a feeder near the entrance.
13.Collared Finchbill – Three seen together.
14.Tree Sparrow - Common in large flocks around feeders.
15.Brambling – Common in large flocks around feeders.
16.Bohemian Waxwing (possible escape) – One tailess bird sat treetop for a good length of time allowing a single re-emerging tail feather to establish ID, I had hoped for Japanese!
17.Grey-capped Greenfinch – One only.
18.Chinese Grosbeak – Fairly common.


Crested Mynah – A single singing outside my hotel room was the only one noted.