Beidaihe autumns conclusions
Autumn migration at Beidaihe 1986 to 1990 conclusions
HAZARDS FACING MIGRANT BIRDS AT BEIDAIHE
Martin D. Williams
Beecroft (in Williams 1986, pp. 114-120) describes hazards, such as hunting and trapping, which faced migrant birds at Beidaihe. Similar hazards were evident during autumn 1986, when observa-tions of the local people’s interactions with birds were again recorded.
Hunting for food and ‘sport’ As in spring 1985, there were a few occasions when men with guns were hunting birds, with waterfowl and shorebirds the main targets. On 21 September, one of two hunters at the Henghe Reservoir was carrying four dead Common Moorhens Gallinula chlo-ropus, and on 22nd a hunter at the Henghe Sandflats killed a Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica and maimed a Far-Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis. The only other date when hunting was noted at these localities was 23 August, when shorebirds were, apparently, the quarry. These, and the waterfowl, were presumably taken for food. However, it seems likely that a Blue Magpie Urocissa erythroryhncha which was found at the Lotus Hills on 13 October, and had evidently been shot at close range, had been killed for ‘sport’.
There were various attempts to strike birds with projectiles fired by catapults or simply thrown by hand. On 8 September two children with catapults were carrying a dead Eurasian Tree-Sparrow Passer montanus, and on 8 October a group of children were ‘hunting’ small passerines on the flanks of the Lotus Hills.
On 3 October, a girl was seen to throw stones at a Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata. A stone was thrown at a Yellow-legged Buttonquail Turnix tanki in one of the seafront gullies on 15 September, and rocks were thrown at a Far-Eastern Curlew at the Sandflats on 20 September: perhaps, in these instance, there was some hope of killing the birds for food. Catapults were em-ployed against Common Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus at fishponds near the Yanghe estuary on 7 October, possibly in an attempt to scare the birds away.
In contrast to the above, at the Sandflats on 23 October three children were found trying to help a Far-Eastern Curlew which was crippled in both legs. They said they had not injured the bird, and that it had not been shot at; they were attempting to feed it.
Songbird trappers operated much as in spring 1985. Songbird trapping was first noted on 8 September at Legation Gully, where two clap nets (see Beecroft op. cit.) were set out on the path. It appeared that Chinese Grosbeaks Eophona migratoria were the main quarry; two had been caught, along with two Brown Shrikes Lanius cristatus. At the same locality on 15 September, a Brown Shrike was found on the ground, with its wings twisted round behind it. This was presuma-bly a trapped bird; cruelty seems the only explanation for its treatment.
There was then a gap in our records of songbird trapping, lasting until 15 October, from which date trapping was frequently noted. This presumably results from the passage of the Chinese Gros-beak declining, and the migrations of other finch species of interest to the trappers not getting underway until around the middle of October. On 15th, two ‘sets’ of trappers were at the Lotus Hills, using Eurasian Siskins Carduelis spinus as decoys. The next day, caged Eurasian Siskins were being used as decoys by trappers working beside Eagle Rock Gully. On 18 October, two trappers at the Lotus Hills were using Chinese Grosbeaks as well as Eurasian Siskins as decoys. By 19th, there were perhaps four sets of trappers at the Lotus Hills. As in spring 1985, we believe the Japanese Grosbeak Eophona personata was the prime quarry (it fetches the most money in the bird markets); Hawfinches Coccothraustes coccothraustes and Eurasian Siskins were also caught.
For the most part, it seemed the trappers wanted live birds, which they could keep or sell if they were in good condition (at Qinhuangdao, or maybe even Beijing: Beecroft op. cit.), or use as de-coys, especially if they were in poor condition or were females. However, on 30 October a trapping area was found below the Lotus Hills watchpoint where numbers of birds had been killed. The trappers were operating two clap nets, with about eight cages of Eurasian Siskins, four male Haw-finches in individual cages and a female or immature Hawfinch tethered by the leg used as decoys. A small catching box (‘about the size of a seed tray’) held six Hawfinches, which had been caught during the day: they were not treated well, with the box turned upside-down regardless of the impact on the birds.
Several patches of Hawfinch breast feathers were seen; more remains of birds were then found in the immediate vicinity of the traps. The remains of at least 15 Hawfinches—mostly only heads or wing feathers, the bodies having been presumably taken away for eating—were discovered. There were also five dead female or immature Eurasian Siskins, and the remains of at least another five Eurasian Siskins. The piles of feathers suggested that a good many more birds had been killed, at least some of them with a bloodied stick.
The two trappers were packing up, having been trapping for most of the day (it was around 14h30). They allowed the observers who found the traps to take away a trapped male Hawfinch for release: this had a broken tip to one of its mandibles, but was otherwise undamaged. The trappers said Hawfinches might fetch 1-1.8 yuan and Eurasian Siskins 2-2.8 yuan in the bird markets.
The same trapping area was visited on 4 November. Two clap nets were in operation: one was us-ing two Hawfinches and a male Chinese Grosbeak as decoys; the other was using Eurasian Siskins. Three male Hawfinches had been trapped, and had their bills taped. A female or immature Hawfinch had been trapped and killed, and the head and two wings of a recently-killed Hawfinch and the breast of a recently-killed Eurasian Siskin were found.
Songbird trappers were seen with mist nets at the Lotus Hills on 3rd and 4 November.
Notes of songbird trapping decreased during November, though on 17th several recently-abandoned sites were found in Eagle Rock Gully.
Hawk-trapping Hawk-trapping was not noted in spring 1985. Hemmingsen (1951) described methods used for trapping hawks, especially in autumn at the Lotus Hills, where he indicates that several hawk trappers operated (even offering to trap a Black Kite Milvus migrans for him, ‘using a dead dog as bait’, though sparrowhawks and Northern Goshawks were their more usual quarry).
One hawk-trap was operated at the Lotus Hills during autumn 1986; it was of the type described by Hemmingsen (1951).
Preparations for the trap began in September, when a small grass hut was built at a grassy clearing on the western flank of the highest of the Lotus Hills. On 13 September, one of the two trappers who were to operate here was apparently setting up at 13h00, but had gone by 13h40 (both the hawk-trappers were old men; songbird trappers tended to be young). The trap was operated irregu-larly from this date, and the hut was falling down on 3 October.
A trapper returned on 13 October, from which date the trap was manned on most days to around the middle of November. The trapper usually arrived in the morning, and might stay only a short time if few—or no—birds of prey were passing.
An adult male Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis was caught on 3 November (we saw this bird being caught, from the watchpoint on the rocky knoll). This was of little use to the trapper, who was after juvenile birds as they could be trained, and we were given the bird for release.
We watched as a juvenile Northern Goshawk was caught on 8 November; with Jin Longrong, I went to see this bird, and was surprised when the trapper produced a second juvenile he had caught—we had not seen this bird arriving or being trapped.
There were two traps used by the hawk-trappers, each with a pigeon as bait (Hemmingsen also re-corded Amur Falcons Falco amurensis used as bait). Each pigeon was on a small, raised patch of bare ground; both were perhaps five to eight metres from the hut—one to the north, the other to the west. The pigeons were tethered to short sticks they used as perches.
The hut had small holes from which the occupant could watch the traps. There was also a large opening facing towards the north, which could be blocked by a large pad of grass. The trapper might sit inside the hut whilst waiting for birds to pass, or sit at the entrance, moving inside and blocking the entrance when a promising raptor appeared. When the quarry passed over, the trapper pulled on a length of string, which was tied to one of the pigeons and caused the bird to flutter its wings, attracting attention. A clap net operated by another length of string could be rapidly pulled over the pigeon and goshawk should the goshawk then try to catch the bait. I was surprised that on both occasions I visited the trapping area after seeing a bird being caught the pigeons which had been stooped at appeared unscathed, if unsettled, though the trapper said a goshawk which had stooped and escaped had killed one of his pigeons.
On 3 November, with Jin Longrong as interpreter, I interviewed one of the trappers. He said he had been trapping for 50 years; the other trapper for around 60 years. Juvenile Northern Goshawks were the quarry—especially females, which are larger and more powerful than the males. These would be trained for catching hares, as Hemmingsen reported (he notes that ‘Links in the training are semi-starvation following its own initial hunger strike, enforced prevention of sleep, later feeding of indigestible pellets, and finally the use of dead rats or hares as a quarry, the bird being tied to a strong cord the length of which is gradually increased until it can be eventually dispensed with.’: Hemmingsen 1951). One goshawk could catch 100 hares during a winter; the birds are released in the spring.
The trapper would normally catch about ten birds each year, though the adult goshawk we had seen caught—and released—on the day of the interview was the first of the season. The main trap-ping season was from late October to early November; he considered that the birds were late this year.
The trapper told us that he made some money from catching goshawks. Though no figure was given, it seems little money is to be made this way—both trappers appeared to be poor, and it seemed theirs was a dying ‘art’, with the younger men concentrating on songbird trapping, which is certainly more rewarding in terms of numbers caught, and perhaps in terms of money to be made. The trapper said that there used to be seven or eight trappers at the Lotus Hills. He knew of a trap-per working on one of the hills on the plain west of Beidaihe.
He also said there were trappers near Shanhaiguan, but their quarry was eagles (the eagle trappers may operate at Bei Shan, = North Mountain, Hsu Weishu verbally). Jin told me that the main spe-cies which would be caught were the White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla, the Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca and the Golden Eagle A. chrysaetos. Though catching these birds is illegal, the stuffed birds or their tail feathers and wings may be sold—e.g. to the Peking Opera, or overseas markets. Tao Yu later told me he had read that this trade had been made illegal, though Hsu Weishu (verbally) believed it continued, with one government department banning eagle trapping whilst an-other effectively encouraged it by trading in the stuffed birds, wings and tail feathers.
The trapper considered that northwest winds were best for the goshawks (in agreement with our observations, as is Hemmingsen’s note that trappers said no or very few pass during southerly or southwesterly winds).
Whilst talking with the trapper, it was interesting to see that he took no great interest in occasional passing buzzards, but became alert as soon as he saw a goshawk, even at a fair distance.
On 1 November, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus was seen to have string trailing from it: it was presumably an escaped falconer’s bird.
The hawk traps were not seen in autumn 1987 or 1988.
Birds as toys/ornaments On 3 September, a young boy was seen with a nearly dead male Sibe-rian Rubythroat Erithacus calliope which had cotton tied round its leg. Beecroft (op. cit.) records a Stonechat Saxicola torquata and a Siberian Blue Robin Erithacus cyane being similarly used as children’s toys in spring 1985.
We also saw a child with a Eurasian Tree Sparrow hung round his neck as a pendant.
Other hazards At the Yanghe estuary on 30 September, seven dead Common Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus were hung from vertical poles—three on one pole, two on each of two others. The reason for this was not at all clear.
A badly-oiled Common Black-headed Gull was at the Sandflats on 16 October, and a first-winter Relict Gull Larus relictus at the same locality from 19-31 October had a blue-black stain on its breast.
On 1 November, a Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena with fishing line twisted round it was at the Sandflats; attempts to catch and free it failed.
The observations in 1986-1990 further demonstrate that Beidaihe is an excellent migration watch-point. Around 345 species were recorded; for several of these, the numbers are higher than recorded anywhere else—notably the total of 2729 Oriental White Storks in 1986, more than double the pre-vious estimate of 900-1000 birds (Archibald and Luthin 1985) for the known world population.
A notable difference between spring and autumn at Beidaihe is that visible migration is considera-bly heavier in autumn than in spring: 262,970 passing migrants were recorded from the Lotus Hills watchpoint during the 1986 survey (see Appendix A); cf. 33,335 during spring 1985. Shorebird numbers are also substantially higher in autumn, and for many species the autumn is generally similar to, or better than, spring; dabbling ducks are notable exceptions, being generally commoner in spring.
Population declines outnumber increases
One of our main aims in conducting the surveys was to provide data to help show population changes, initially by comparisons with observations made earlier this century. Such comparisons are not always easily made: difficulties include differences in localities (La Touche studied birds at nearby Qinhuangdao, Beidaihe has changed considerably Hemmingsen’s time); in numbers of ob-servers and survey techniques; lack of data—e.g. for scarcer species, and for passerines, which Hemmingsen gives few numbers for (cf. his counts of Bean Geese and cranes). Also, La Touche seems rather generous in describing birds as ‘common’ or ‘abundant’, and writing of ‘great’ or ‘enormous’ flocks, or ‘streams’ of birds; if he was conservative in his use of these words, it would seem that the migration today is but a shadow of the past.
Yet even without guessing whether La Touche would differ from us in describing abundances, it is clear that there have been some marked declines during this century. Just from the drop in Rook numbers, the autumn migration we have recorded is poorer by tens, even hundreds, of thousands of migrants than the migration Hemmingsen knew. (The conclusion to the spring 1985 survey—‘it is heartening that the results indicate that the populations of most of the species recorded seem to have changed little’: Williams et al. 1986, Williams 1986—now seems too rosy, though stemmed from initial fears that the situation could be far worse than was found.)
Comparison of recent and past records suggests the following 34 species have declined.
Oriental White Stork, Bean Goose, Falcated Teal, Baikal Teal, Common Teal, Northern Pintail, Baer’s Pochard, Black-eared Kite, White-tailed Eagle, Common Buzzard, Amur Falcon, Japanese Quail, Common Crane, Baillon’s Crake, Common Coot, Great Bustard, Little Whimbrel, Sander-ling, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Long-eared Owl, Sand Martin, Chinese Grey Shrike, Yellow Wagtail, Black Drongo, Rook, Siberian Blue Robin, Siberian Rubythroat, Japanese Marsh-Warbler, Pallas’s Grasshopper-Warbler, Lanceolated Warbler, Manchurian Paddyfield Warbler, Two-barred Green-ish Warbler, Common Redpoll and Lapland Bunting.
The following five species are residents in the area and may have increased because of mild win-ters, perhaps resulting from the greenhouse effect: Chinese Bulbul, Blue Magpie, Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Chinese Hill-Warbler, Long-tailed Tit and, perhaps, Yellow-bellied Tit (though it may be that at least some of the latter which occur at Beidaihe are migrants, which move south for winter). Professor Tu Qipu, vice president of the Nanjing Institute of Meteorology, quoted in Anon. (1991), pointed out that, ‘In the last 100 years, there have been ten years with abnormally high temperatures [in China]—four of them between 1981 and 1990—and the year 1990 was the warmest.’
It may be that the milder winters are responsible for recent downward trends in the numbers of some late autumn migrants such as the Common Goldeneye, the White-tailed Eagle, the Hen Har-rier and the Great Bustard, and could be the reason for the relative scarcity of the Lapland Bunting; maybe these birds are lingering, and even wintering, further north than normal.)
The Great Egret may have recovered a little from plume-hunting late last century, but is still far from its past numbers. Recent records, especially in spring, suggest a similar increases in the population of the Little Egret, though again it is not common.
This leaves four species that have shown substantial increases in numbers which are neither possi-ble by-products of the Greenhouse Effect nor recoveries from slaughter: Chinese Pond-Heron, Red-breasted Merganser, Grey-tailed Tattler and Eurasian Penduline Tit.
Environmental damage in China (see, e.g. Smil 1983 and 1993, Vermeer 1984, Burton 1991) will have significantly contributed to the downward trend in numbers of migrants. More specific rea-sons for declines include:
Wetland damage and destruction. Evidently a serious problem; 14 of the species we suggest are scarcer are wetland birds (and the Sand Martin is closely associated with freshwater). So also are three notable ‘absentees’ from the autumn surveys: Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus, Bewick’s Swan (Tundra Swan) Cygnus columbianus bewickii and Streaked Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus sorghophilus. The Dalmatian Pelican was ‘formerly common around Beijing’, but had become rare by the 1930s (Shaw 1936; Hemmingsen and Guildal 1968 report ‘30 years ago breeding in Peking according to old residents’). The only Beidaihe records are one (specimen?) and two to three re-ports by friends (Wilder and Hubbard, cited in Hemmingsen and Guildal 1968). Hemmingsen (Hemmingsen and Guildal 1968) recorded 2-13 Bewick’s Swans on eight autumn dates. La Touche (1920) found the Streaked Reed-Warbler was common from about 22 August to 7 September 1912 and 1913. Spring records also suggest declines in the latter two species (Wil-liams 1986, Williams and Dorner 1991).
Wetland drainage along the Yangtze valley, an important wintering area for many waterfowl (e.g. Styan 1891) could have contributed to several declines. But for the Baikal Teal, which has appar-ently suffered a population crash throughout east Asia (Anon unpubl.), the main problem may be on the breeding grounds in the USSR (C. Poole in litt. July 1990). Similarly, for the Streaked Reed-Warbler, the main reason for the apparent decline may lie outside China—in this case in its winter haunts in the Philippines.
Destruction of tropical and sub-tropical forests in their Central and South American wintering ar-eas has been blamed for declines in several North American songbirds (Terborgh 1989). A similar situation may be expected in Asia, where there is also a large landmass in the north, and relatively little land with already depleted tropical forests in the south. Perhaps this is the reason for the re-ductions in the Siberian Blue Robin—suggested by spring studies (Williams 1986, Williams and Dorner 1991)—and in the Two-barred Greenish Warbler.
The Black-eared Kite and the Rook, which are usually very tolerant of man, may have suffered from pesticides, which may be used with little care in China. Other birds of prey, perhaps including the White-tailed Eagle and the Common Buzzard, will probably have also been affected by pesti-cides.
Hunting and trapping will also contribute to declines. Hunting may be a serious threat to the Great Bustard, which probably faces severe problems just from shrinking habitat.
Plans for future work; visitors welcome
With the survey results showing that the migration in Beidaihe is much reduced, if still impressive, we are shifting the focus of our attentions from study to conservation work.
In autumn 1988, Hsu Weishu and MDW helped found the Beidaihe Bird Conservation Society. Through the society’s efforts, the western part of the Lotus Hills has been declared a reserve, and one of China’s first reserves for migrating birds has been established beside the Henghe reservoir. Plans for transforming this reserve into a lagoon overlooked by a visitor centre were drawn up (Ounsted unpubl.); however, funds for the work were not forthcoming, and in spring 1995 a road was under construction through the ‘reserve’—the local government did, however, remain interested in developing a wetland reserve. The society has organised talks to local schoolchildren, and a tele-vised competition on conservation, and in early 1999 was renamed the Beidaihe International Birdwatching Society.
Visits by birdwatchers have helped stimulate work at the town—Beidaihe is probably the most visited (though not the best) of China’s destinations for eco-tourism. Visiting birdwatchers are wel-come; copies of any reports would be appreciated.
Dr George Archibald and Jeffery Boswall have continued to encourage the work at Beidaihe.
The support of Earthwatch enabled surveys in late autumns 1988, 1989 and 1990, funded by vol-unteers whose participation helped ensure good coverage from the Lotus Hills.
The efforts of all other observers who have contributed to the autumn surveys are greatly appreci-ated:
1986: Ron Appleby, Dave Bakewell, Steve Holloway, Simon Stirrup and Simon Thompson.
1987: Pete Akers, Dave Allen, Jesper Hornskov, Stig Jensen, Paul Noakes, Alan Parker, Ken Simmons, Dave Suddaby, Tao Yu, Rob Tolk and Dennis Weir.
1988: Jesper Hornskov, Tao Yu and Zheng Jimin.
1989: Simon Aspinall, Nick Dymond, Keith Fairclough, Michael Fink Jørgensen, Eric Meek, Adrienne Stratford, Reg Thorpe and Colin Wells.
1990: Jan Hjort Christensen, Jesper Hornskov and Mike Kilburn.
Several observers also helped with collating data: Simon Thompson worked assiduously on the Lotus Hills log in 1986, and was helped in this by wife Pam as the task continued after the survey; John Palfery summarised the 1987 log; Stig Jensen and Jesper Hornskov co-ordinated data collec-tion in 1987, and Hornskov produced a report on 1988 observations; Michael Fink Jørgensen summarised his autumn 1989 observations; and Jan Hjort Christensen summarised 1990 observa-tions prior to the Earthwatch survey in that autumn. Jeanette Dorner helped with proofreading the annotated species list, and comparing past and recent records to show apparent population changes.
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[Header=Appendix A: Totals of passing migrants recorded from the Lotus Hills in autumn 1986]
Appendix A: Totals of passing migrants recorded from the Lotus Hills in autumn 1986
Simon R.B. Thompson and Pamela Thompson
‘N’ denotes birds passing north, ‘E’ birds passing east; otherwise, figures are for birds passing south/southwest
Great Crested Grebe 37N
Temminck’s Cormorant 1
Temminck’s Cormorant/Great Cormorant 46; 1N
Pelagic Cormorant 1
Great Bittern 16; 1N
Little Green Heron 1
Chinese Pond-Heron 7
Great Egret 5
Grey Heron 660;13N
Purple Heron 378
Grey Heron/Purple Heron 351; 4N
Oriental White Stork 2734
Unidentified white storks 1
Black Stork 165
Unidentified storks 9
Whooper Swan 1
Swan Goose 1N
Greylag Goose 1
Greater White-fronted Goose 3
Bean Goose 1844; 59N
Unidentified geese 727; 30N
Geese or cormorants 50
Ruddy Shelduck 277; 51N
Common Shelduck 22
Spot-billed Duck 273; 47N
Common Teal 1
Falcated Teal 1
Unidentified teal 55; 11N
Northern Pintail 18
Garganey 26; 8N
Northern Shoveler 10
Red-breasted Merganser 4
Unidentified ducks 387; 66N
Crested Honey-Buzzard 450
Black-eared Kite 67
White-tailed Eagle 14
Eastern Marsh-Harrier 531
Pied Harrier 13,752
Hen Harrier 287
Unidentified harriers 220
Northern Goshawk 352
Chinese Goshawk 8
Japanese Sparrowhawk 711
Northern Sparrowhawk 410
Unidentified sparrowhawks 581
Accipiter spp. 274
Common Buzzard 1050
Rough-legged Buzzard 41
Upland Buzzard 411
Unidentified buzzards 58
Steppe Eagle 3
Greater Spotted Eagle 15
Golden Eagle 5; 1N
Imperial Eagle 10
Aquila spp. 3
Lesser Kestrel 104
Eurasian Kestrel 208
Unidentified kestrels 51
Amur Falcon 436
Northern Hobby 143
Amur Falcon/Northern Hobby 885
Saker Falcon 14
Peregrine Falcon 2; 1N
Unidentified falcons 57
Unidentified medium/large raptors 147
Common Crane 4311; 38N
Red-crowned Crane 499
Hooded Crane 525; 2N
White-naped Crane 139; 13N
Siberian Crane 179
Demoiselle Crane 14
Common Crane/Hooded Crane 478
Common Crane/White-naped Crane 253
Common x Hooded Crane 1
Demoiselle Crane/Common Crane 7
Unidentified cranes 816; 4N
Great Bustard 414
Northern Lapwing 822
Grey-headed Lapwing 4716
Unidentified lapwings 666
Pacific Golden Plover 63
Grey Plover 1
Little Ringed Plover 5
Marsh Sandpiper 17
Common Greenshank 17
Green Sandpiper 18; 1N
Wood Sandpiper 17; 1N
Green Sandpiper/Wood Sandpiper 6
Terek Sandpiper 1
Bar-tailed Godwit 1
Eurasian Curlew 8
Far-Eastern Curlew 2
Numenius spp. 1
Common Snipe 2
Pintail Snipe/Swinhoe’s Snipe 50
Unidentified snipe 236; 3N
Black-winged Stilt 306
Oriental Pratincole 3838; 56N
Unidentified shorebirds 383
Common Black-headed Gull 100; 17N
Common Gull 2; 8E
Vega Gull 26; 1N
White-winged Tern 386; 7N
Whiskered Tern 31
Unidentified marsh terns 82
Gull-billed Tern 3
Caspian Tern 2
Rock Dove 41
Feral Pigeon 65
Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon 20
Rufous Turtle-Dove 673
Collared Dove 27
Red Turtle-Dove 7
Oriental Cuckoo/Common Cuckoo 37
Lesser Cuckoo 1
Short-eared Owl 3
Short-eared Owl/Long-eared Owl 5
White-throated Needletail 1386
Common Swift 5
Pacific Swift 8384
Unidentified swifts 3
Asian Short-toed Lark 278
Crested Lark 3; 1N
Eurasian Skylark 54
Unidentified larks 8892
Sand Martin 703
Common House-Martin 32
Barn Swallow 13,188; 221N
Red-rumped Swallow 6079; 1N
Unidentified martins or swallows 44,455; 107N
Forest Wagtail 12
Yellow Wagtail 3647
Grey Wagtail 63
White Wagtail 1470
Unidentified wagtails or pipits 28
Richard’s Pipit 4796; 4N
Olive-backed Pipit 1841; 1N
Red-throated Pipit 254
Pechora Pipit 1
Buff-bellied Pipit or Water Pipit 1016
Unidentified pipits 23
Brown Shrike 2
Ashy Minivet 281
Bohemian Waxwing 2
Japanese Waxwing 4
Bohemian Waxwing/Japanese Waxwing 8
Alpine Accentor 74
Siberian Accentor 515
Blue Rockthrush 9
Eye-browed Thrush 6
Dusky Thrush 12
Naumann’s Thrush 35
Dusky Thrush/Naumann’s Thrush 363; 17N
Unidentified thrushes 349
Yellow-browed Warbler 1
Unidentified Phylloscopus warblers 2
Chinese Penduline-Tit 1026
Yellow-bellied Tit 7
Chestnut-flanked White-eye 5855
Pine Bunting 72; 2N
Godlewski’s Rock-Bunting 6
Meadow Bunting 20
Little Bunting 36
Yellow-throated Bunting 1
Yellow-breasted Bunting 59
Pallas’s Reed-Bunting 19
Lapland Bunting 41
Unidentified buntings 4607; 29N
Oriental Greenfinch 307; 5N
Eurasian Siskin 228
Common Redpoll 17
Asian Rosy Finch 2
Common Rosefinch 539
Pallas’s Rosefinch 43
Unidentified finches 15
Red Crossbill 62; 1N
Japanese Grosbeak 31
Chinese Grosbeak 496
Eurasian Tree Sparrow 4; 1N
Grey Starling 645
Unidentified starlings 110
Black-naped Oriole 219
Black Drongo 455
Black-billed Magpie 136; 35N
Eurasian Nutcracker 1
Daurian Jackdaw 11,330; 27N
Carrion Crow 280
Rook/Carrion Crow 31,913; 15N
Large-billed Crow 2
Northern Raven 7
Unidentified crows 2770
Unidentified passerines 48,201; 140N
[Header=Appendix B: Histograms showing occurrences of migrants in autumn 1987]
Appendix B: Histograms showing occurrences of migrants in autumn 1987
Histograms produced by Daniel G. Duff, based on an analysis by John Palfery of a migration log kept by Jesper Hornskov
Histograms are plots of bird-day totals (summed over five-day periods) against time (date) in five-day periods. The date for each species have been separated on the histograms to distinguish be-tween birds visibly migrating (dense hatching) from those birds recorded as present in the area (sparse hatching).
To be included among the migration histograms, a species must have occurred for more than ten bird-days, and the observations must fall within more than one five-day period.
The histograms are split into two sections. The first and main section treats birds specifically identified. Here the birds are listed in order of date of median occurrence, although this is an ap-proximation as the five-day bird-day totals are used in this calculation. Also, the median occurrence date calculated over the period 18 August to 30 November will be somewhat arbitrary for birds with a significant presence at Beidaihe outside this period, in particular for several early migrants.
The second section deals with birds not specifically identified, and here the histograms are in spe-cies order.
The letters beneath the histogram numbers in the first section refer to the histograms in the second section (incompletely identified birds) which might contain records of the species concerned.
[header=Appendix C: Visits to other localities]
Appendix C: Visits to other localities
Martin D. Williams
Autumn observations at five other localities visited during Beidaihe surveys are worth noting, par-ticularly as two of them—the Luanhe and Daqinghe—are evidently of international importance for wetland birds.
Shanhaiguan Shanhaiguan is a walled town ca. 30 km north of Beidaihe; it lies on the eastern end of the Great Wall. A little west of town is a steep hillside—the eastern flank of the mountains (the coastal plain is narrower here than at Beidaihe). Jiao Shan (Corner Hill, 516 m), the highest acces-sible peak, affords an excellent vantage for observing visible migration (but, even with the help of a recently-built chairlift leading half-way up, takes some effort to reach). A valley leading from the southeastern slopes of the peak has scrub and maturing woodland.
Resident birds include Common Pheasant, Red-billed Chough, Large-billed Crow, Vinous-throated Parrotbill (erratic?; highest numbers, so far, in autumn), Chinese Hill-Warbler, Eurasian Rock-Bunting and Meadow Bunting. A Hazel Grouse Tetrastes bonasia was seen on 21 October 1989, a Northern Crag-Martin Hirundo rupestris on 27 October 1990 (La Touche reported this species breeding in the mountains), and there were two Père David’s Laughingthrushes on 21 October 1989 (judging by spring visits, this species breeds here).
All visits have produced at least some passing migrants; especially raptors, which apparently pass here in greater numbers than Beidaihe (though, as yet, there have not been observations on a ‘wave day’).
The following days were noteworthy for visible migration as observations were also made at the Lotus Hills (2 October 1986 and 27 October 1990; LH numbers for species seen at Shanhaiguan are given in square brackets).
2 October 1986. One Black Kite , one Pied Harrier , three Eastern Marsh-Harriers [two], three Japanese Sparrowhawks , three Eurasian Sparrowhawks , ten North-ern Goshawks , 33 Common Buzzards  and four Amur Falcons ; additionally, at Beidaihe, three Lesser Kes-trels, and one Lesser Kestrel or Eurasian Kestrel were recorded. The weather was anticyclonic, the wind light, variable.
7 October 1991 (eight hours). 286 raptors of 14 species, including 153 Common Buzzards, one Greater Spotted and one Golden Eagle, and 58 Amur Falcons (Clark 1991). The raptor numbers were similar to those at Beidaihe on 6th (177) and 8 (251) October; most of the raptors on this date and 17 October (when Clark recorded 25 raptors of nine species, including one Eurasian Black Vulture, passing Shanhaiguan) ‘struck out south across the plains. I had no feeling for any move-ment along the mountains’ (William S. Clark in litt. to MDW).
21 October 1989. 31 Black Storks; 147 raptors of 11 species, including 20 Northern Goshawks, 94 Common Buzzards, one Greater Spotted, one Steppe and two Imperial Eagles. The weather was anticyclonic, much as on slack days for visible migration at Beidaihe (where 18 passing raptors were noted on 20th, and 24 on 22nd). Most of the passing birds were following the hillside; some—notably several Northern Goshawks—arrived from over the plain, and headed through a small pass north of the ‘watchpoint peak’, before continuing on a roughly southwestwards course.
27 October 1990. Five Hen Harriers , six Eurasian Sparrowhawks , nine Common Buzzards , three Upland Buzzards , one Rough-legged Buzzard , one Merlin ; a Saker Falcon was recorded passing Beidaihe.
Late November 1988 (Hornskov 1989). Two White-tailed Eagles and 16 Eurasian Black Vultures were of note (two of the vultures were lingering, the others passed south?).
Luanhe Kou (Mouth of the Luan River) The Luanhe forms a large delta/estuarine area as it enters the sea ca. 45 km south of Beidaihe; site 41 in Scott (1989) and Lu (1990). The main river channel is sandy, there are mudflats along the coast; north of the channel is an area of dunes and poor fields (similar to the ‘Grassy Sands’ Hemmingsen described?), fish/shrimp ponds extend southwards from the southern shore (and bound the northern extent of the area). A narrow planta-tion of young trees separates the Luanhe Kou area from rice fields inland.
This is an excellent area, especially for water birds, including species which now rarely land at Beidaihe (e.g. cranes and geese, which frequent the dunes and fields north of the river channel). Substantial numbers of migrant songbirds have been seen on two visits.
Visits made, and selected records of interest, are:
16 October 1988. 24 Black Storks, 73 ducks of four species, 11 Common Cranes, one Great Bustard, 54 shorebirds of eight species, an adult Glaucous Gull, two Chinese Grey Shrikes, 11 Red-flanked Bluetails and two Grey-backed Thrushes (among an apparent arrival of songbirds).
18 October 1989. Six Black Storks, 25 Bean Geese, at least 200 of both Ruddy and Common Shelducks (highest estimate for each was 2000), 238 other ducks of eight species, at least five Hen Harriers, three Merlin, 30 Japanese Quail, 47 Common, 95 White-naped and 20 Siberian Cranes (latter were only seen flying over, very low, heading south), 897 shorebirds of eight species, in-cluding five Common Oystercatchers, 400 Kentish Plover, 100 Eurasian Curlew and 150 Pied Avocets, 15 Caspian Terns, 50 Black-tailed and two immature Saunders’s Gulls, 1000 Asian Short-toed, 200 Eurasian and 120 Mongolian Larks, three Chinese Grey Shrikes and 15 Japanese Reed-Buntings.
28 October 1990. One Black Stork, six Ruddy and 32 Common Shelducks, six Common Gold-eneye, 18 Red-breasted Mergansers, (no other ducks), one Great Bustard, 239 shorebirds of eight species, 40 Black-tailed Gulls, a first-winter Relict Gull, 17 Saunders’s Gulls and one Chinese Grey Shrike.
6 November 1986 (the day after a large crane ‘wave’ was recorded at Beidaihe). 184 Bean Geese, 400 Ruddy and 200 Common Shelducks, 90 Spot-billed Duck, at least 100 Common Cranes pre-sent (also 314 passed south; from overnight roost a little to the north?), two Red-crowned Cranes, 11 Great Bustards.
12 November 1989. One Red-necked Grebe, 600 Ruddy and 300 Common Shelduck, 991 other ducks of eight species, including 600 Spot-billed Ducks, 48 Common Cranes, only one shorebird (a Grey Plover), one Northern Eagle-Owl, two Chinese Grey Shrikes.
12 November 1990 (two days after a large crane ‘wave’ was recorded at Beidaihe). At least 200 Bean Geese, 500 Ruddy (only 13 Common) Shelduck, 171 other ducks of seven species, five Up-land Buzzards (mostly resting on the ground), at least 200 Common, three Hooded and six Red-crowned Cranes, two Great Bustards and 35 shorebirds of five species.
Daqinghe The Daqinghe is a small river which reaches the sea ca. 80 km south-southwest of Beidaihe. There are extensive sand and mud flats off the (south-facing) coast; these are bounded to the east by a long sandbar/spit (nearly linked to the land). East of the Daqinghe, there are large fish/shrimp ponds along the coast, with rice paddies inland of them; immediately east of the sand bar/spit, work is underway on a new port. There are saltponds west of the river. A small island, Kuaile Dao—Happy Island, off the mouth of the river has some marsh, scrub, trees, and mudflats along its east shore: it was visited on 28 October 1990; observations were otherwise made from the coast, including east of the Daqinghe.
The area is included in, or just east of, site 42 in Scott (1989) and Lu (1990).
Visits made, and selected records of interest, are:
22 October 1989. 250 Grey Herons (on mudflats), six Black Storks, 1500 Common Shelduck, 20 Spot-billed Ducks, eight Common Goldeneye, 45 Red-breasted Mergansers, also 1000 unidentified ducks, two adult and two juvenile White-naped Cranes, 1208 shorebirds of 15 species, including three Common Oystercatchers, 300 Eurasian and ten Far-Eastern Curlew, 200 unidentified curlew, two Terek Sandpipers and 150 Pied Avocets, ten Caspian Terns, four adult Saunders’s Gulls and one Chinese Grey Shrike. Observations were limited to the coast, chiefly east of the Daqinghe mouth.
28 October 1990. 30 Common Shelduck, three White-winged Scoter, one Common Goldeneye, three Red-breasted Mergansers (no other ducks), five Grey and 50 Kentish Plover, 40 Eurasian Curlew (no other shorebirds) and two Saunders’s Gulls. Observations were limited to Happy Is-land (not thorough), and the crossing to reach and leave it.
13 November 1990. 25 Oriental White Storks, 60 Bean Geese, 500 Common Shelduck, 127 other ducks of eight species, including 32 Common Goldeneye and 25 Red-breasted Mergansers, 46 Common and 24 Red-crowned Cranes, 70 unidentified cranes, one Great Bustard, 438 shorebirds of eight species, including 300 Eurasian and six Far-Eastern Curlew, 12 adult Relict Gulls, three adult and one first-winter Saunders’s Gulls, a first-winter Black-legged Kittiwake and one Chinese Grey Shrike. Covered the coast, chiefly east of the Daqinghe mouth.
[Header=Appendix D: Corrections to the Report on Cambridge Ornithological Expedition to China 1985 (Williams 1986)]
Appendix D: Corrections to the Report on Cambridge Ornithological Expedition to China 1985 (Williams 1986)
Martin D. Williams
Slavonian Grebe (Horned Grebe) Podiceps auritus The flock of 55 on 21 March was distant, and the birds were identified by silhouette. Other records to date suggest this species is scarce at Beidaihe, while the similar Black-necked Grebe P. nigricollis may occur in large flocks in late March/early April. This record may, therefore, be suspect.
Cotton Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus Views of the four birds identified as this spe-cies were poor; the record is likely suspect.
Osprey Pandion haliaeetus The statement that Hemmingsen had no spring records of this species is incorrect; he had spring records on at least six dates.
Japanese Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis It is possible that at least several ‘Northern Sparrow-hawks’ A. nisus were this species, especially in May.
Mountain Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus nipalensis The ‘Mountain Hawk-Eagles’ recorded in spring 1985 were misidentified Crested Honey-Buzzards Pernis ptilorhynchus—these can be up to 50 percent larger than Eurasian Honey-Buzzards P. apivorus. (Perhaps a larger form of the Crested Honey-Buzzard passes Beidaihe later in spring; most of the 85 ‘Mountain Hawk-Eagles’ passed after 49 Crested Honey-Buzzards were recorded.) This species should be deleted from the list of Beidaihe birds.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus At least one of the ‘Peregrine Falcons’ seen in spring 1985 was remarkably brown. It was considered to be an immature Peregrine, but may have been a Saker Falcon F. cherrug, a species not recorded in spring 1985 but subsequently found to be regular at Beidaihe, especially in autumn.
Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura Partly on the basis of previous records, we assumed all the Pin-tail Snipe or very similar Swinhoe’s Snipe G. megala seen were this species; a few may have been the latter.
Collared Scops-Owl Otus bakkamoena The only bird seen, on 9 May, was identified on the basis of orange eye colour; an owl seen at the same locality the next day, by a different observer, was identified as an Oriental Scops-Owl O. lempiji (O. scops in Williams 1986), on the basis of yellow eye colour. There are, as yet, no certain records of Collared Scops-Owl at Beidaihe.
Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi The records of ‘Richard’s Pipits’ may include a few of the similar Blyth’s Pipit A. godlewski, which have since been recorded at Beidaihe in spring but usually in lower numbers than Richard’s Pipits.
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta The two forms of ‘Water Pipits’ which occur at Beidaihe are now regarded as separate species - the (Siberian) Water Pipit A. spinoletta blakistoni and the Buff-bellied Pipit A. rubescens. Most of the records of ‘Water Pipits’ probably refer to the Buff-bellied Pipit, which is apparently the commoner of the two, and tends to occur rather later in spring.
Yellow-streaked Warbler Phylloscopus armandii The observer now believes that the bird seen on 14 May which showed characters of this species was a Radde’s Warbler P. schwarzi.
Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis Five or more of the ‘Arctic Warblers’ were misidentified Pale-legged Leaf-Warblers P. tenellipes; some Arctic Warblers were, in turn, misidentified as Two-barred Greenish Warblers P. trochiloides plumbeitarsus (Greenish Warblers, in Williams 1986).
Raven Corvus corax It is possible that the one to three ‘Ravens’ seen during the spring were Large-billed Crows C. macrorhynchus. We misidentified Large-billed Crows as this species at the Great Wall near Shanhaiguan; they can appear surprisingly similar to Ravens (Large-billed Crows in north China tend to be larger than those in the south; there is an even more pronounced increase in size from south to north in Japan: Peter Kennerley, verbally).