Wednesday, 18 April 2018

China - 27th March to 7th April

Sarah had always wanted to visit China and during this big Birthday year we had a number of trips planned including a two week long family holiday to see some of the 'big' sites of China. There was no real birding scheduled for the trip as I was soon to be back to the country for a birding trip. This is a brief summary of what we did with a few images of the sites we visited.

The trip was booked and organised by Audley Travel who were a little pricey but who did an excellent job of booking our internal travel arrangements, hotels and activities. The map below shows  the places visited, starting in Beijing then to the Great Wall, then Xi'an, then Yangshuo and onto Longsheng then Shanghai and finishing in Beijing.



27th March
After our international flight with British Airways to Beijing we had a short walk around the Temple of Heaven where we enjoyed the grounds, architecture and the activities of local people. A few birds were seen inlduing Azure-winged Magpie and Light-vented Bulbul.

Azure-winged Magpie - Temple of Heaven, Beijing

I think this is Chinese Checkers - Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Chinese Man - Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Card Player - Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Dragon Design - Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Magpie - Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Yo-yo'ing Man - Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Yo-yo'ing Man - Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Tobias has a go  - Temple of Heaven, Beijing

28th March
After a much needed sleep we spent much of the day on the Great Wall at Mutianyu. In the forest here we saw a few birds including Silver-breasted Tit, Daurian Redstart, Grey-faced WoodpeckerOriental Greenfinch, Vinous-throated Parrotbill and Black-throated Tit. This section of the wall was relatively uncrowded and we enjoyed a pleasant few hours here. In the evening we visited the Chaoyang Theatre for the Beijing Acrobatics show.

Cable car to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall

Mutianyu section of the Great Wall

Mutianyu section of the Great Wall

Daurian Redstart - Mutianyu section of the Great Wall

29th March
This was largely a travel day and we caught the high-speed train from Beijing to Xi'an. A journey of around five hours on part of the longest high-speed network on the planet. It was clean, slick and very comfortable. We arrived in Xi'an in the late afternoon and headed to our hotel for some relaxation and a swim.

30th March
After a short walk around the Muslin Quarter in Xi'an we spent the afternoon at the site of the Terracotta Army. Often regarded as the greatest archaeological discovery of the twentieth century, seeing the Terracotta Army first hand was an unforgettable experience. Built by the first emperor of a unified China, Qin Huangdi, over 2000 years ago, the army was designed to protect him in his afterlife. We then headed for the airport for our early evening flight to Guilin in the southern province of Guangxi. We arrived late in our hotel after a drive through the vibrant streets of Guilin.

Muslin Quarter Xi'an

Muslin Quarter Xi'an

Battered Crab and Squid - Muslin Quarter Xi'an

Muslin Quarter Xi'an

Terracotta Warriors - Xi'an

Terracotta Warriors - Xi'an

Terracotta Warriors - Xi'an

Terracotta Warriors - Xi'an

Terracotta Warriors - Xi'an

Chariot at the Terracotta Warriors - Xi'an

March 31st
We were up at 07:00 for a superb buffet breakfast which included just about every food imaginable. At 10:00 we boarded our boat travelling south along the Li River to Yangshuo. We spent the next five hours relaxing watching the spectacular limestone karst scenery pass us by. I even had two ticks, Collared Crow and Fork-tailed Sunbird as well as seeing species such as Peregrine, Red-billed Blue MagpieWhite-breasted Kingfisher, Plumbeous Water Redstart and Slaty-backed Forktail.


Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

Li River

1st April
I was up early and birding the road from the hotel in Yangshuo through the forest for around a mile. It was thick with fog for much of my couple of hours and I saw relatively little. Highlights were Masked Laughingthrush, Chinese Hwamei, Black-throated Tit, Verditer FlycatcherStreak-breasted Laughingthrush and Blue Whistling-thrush. Then the later part of the morning and the early afternoon was spent relaxing at the hotel, enjoying a superb lunch and swimming in the pool. In the evening we went into Yangshuo and soaked up the nightlife before watching a show performed on the river and directed by Liu Sanjie of Beijing Olympics opening ceremony fame.

I didn't get any photos during my birding session due to the fog but here are a few sound recordings:



Yangshuo

Yangshuo

Yangshuo

2nd April
Today we drove to the Longsheng rice terraces and after checking into the hotel walked for around 5km through the spectacular terraces. Naturally, I spent some time birding and saw a few species such as Little Bunting, Olive-backed Pipit, Russet Sparrow, White-crowned ForktailGrey Bushchat, Vineous-breasted Parrotbill, Rufous-crowned Babbler, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Rufous-faced Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Pallas's Warbler, Hill Prinia, Long-tailed Shrike and Red-rumped Swallow.

Lady at Longsheng

Chillies at Longsheng

Streets at Longsheng

Longsheng houses

Longsheng rice terraces

Longsheng rice terraces

Longsheng rice terraces

Longsheng rice terraces

Longsheng rice terraces

Longsheng rice terraces

Longsheng roof

Longji chilli sauce

3rd April
Today we left Longsheng and headed for our flight from Guilin to Shanghai. On arrival in Shanghai, we caught the fastest train in the world, the Maglev into the city and were transferred to our hotel overlooking the Bund in the centre of the city. After a dip in the pool we relaxed and enjoyed the city-scape.

View of the Shanghai bund from our hotel room

4th April
Today was Tobias's 5th birthday and we spent much of the morning in the magnificent Shanghai Aquarium where for me the highlights were the Sawfish and the jellyfish tanks. After lunch we headed back to the hotel for another swim and, after a short walk on the bund we enjoyed Tobias's birthday dinner where he was spoiled by the hotel staff. The only birds I saw were Black-crowned Night-heron and Mongolian Gull over the river.

Shanghai city-scape

5th April
Today we transferred to the train station and caught the high-speed train back to Beijing, this took five hours or so but once again was extremely clean and efficient. On arrival back in Beijing it was freezing cold, we had been used to temperatures of around 25c and so to arrive to 2c was a shock to the system.

6th April
Today we spent the day in Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City but the very low temperatures meant that the walk was a little unpleasant and we were glad to get to the hotel for a swim and to warm up! 

Tiananmen Square

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Dragon Forbidden City

7th April
Today we transferred to Beijing Airport and to our British Airways flight back to the UK.

List of Birds Recorded
I recorded 75, fairly uninspiring species, on the trip two of which were ticks for me (shown in bold).

Chinese Spot-billed Duck
Mallard
Great Crested Grebe
Rock Dove
Oriental Turtle-dove
Eurasian Collared-dove
Eastern Spotted Dove
Pacific Swift
Common Swift
Greater Coucal
Black-crowned Night-heron
Cattle Egret
Great White Egret
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Caspian Gull
Oriental Scops-owl
Black-winged Kite
Crested Serpent-eagle
Besra
Eurasian Buzzard
Common Kingfisher
White-breasted Kingfisher
Grey-faced Woodpecker
Peregrine Falcon
Long-tailed Shrike
Red-billed Blue Magpie
Asian Azure-winged Magpie
Eurasian Magpie
Collared Crow
Large-billed Crow
Willow Tit
Great Tit
Hill Prinia
Common Tailorbird
Red-rumped Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black Bulbul
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Light-vented Bulbul
Red-vented Bulbul
Yellow-browed Warbler
Pallas's Leaf-warbler
Eastern Crowned Warbler
Rufous-faced Warbler
Black-throated Tit
Silver-throated Tit
Vinous-throated Parrotbill
Japanese White-eye
Streak-breasted Scimitar-babbler
Rufous-capped Babbler
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta
Chinese Hwamei
Masked Laughingthrush
Common Starling
Crested Myna
Eurasian Blackbird
Oriental Magpie-robin
Verditer Flycatcher
Slaty-backed Forktail
White-crowned Forktail
Blue Whistling-thrush
Plumbeous Water-redstart
Black Redstart
Grey Bushchat
Fork-tailed Sunbird
White-rumped Munia
Russet Sparrow
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Olive-backed Pipit
Grey Wagtail
White Wagtail
Oriental Greenfinch
Eastern Goldfinch
Little Bunting