Sunday, December 15, 2013

Abroad in China: Shanghai - People's Park

A Birding Visit to Shanghai's People's Park Just as the name implies, People’s Park is a crowded and bustling place. The throngs choking the wooded paths, many of them attending to large personal-advertisement boards, were probably even greater than usual on my visit (a Sunday). As the very first place in China that I visited in the daytime (having arrived in Shanghai the previous night), I could see as we disembarked from the Metro station that People's Park really was far more full of people than birds.

Common birds were around, though. Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) were everywhere from the Metro station to the pond in the park’s center. As we headed south along one of the paths, I found Light-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus sinensis) and Spotted Doves (Streptopelia chinensis) in the bushes. Eventually I would find that these three species – sparrow, bulbul, and dove – would be the only wild birds common to every Chinese city I visited.

Eurasian Blackbirds (Turdus merula) were also noisy and conspicuous in the trees nearer the pond, if difficult to photograph.

Other than feral “Rock” Pigeons overhead, the final species I found in People’s Park was a flock of about 5 Vinous-throated Parrotbills (Sinusthorus webbianus), small chattering brown birds with exceedingly stubby bills. They were too active to photograph well and quickly moved off, though I was able to see them well due to their close approach. I would only see parrotbills again in Xi’an, and again briefly.

Although People’s Park was a good way to start with birding in China for a first-timer like me, I would probably only revisit it (given the chance) during spring migration, or at least during a weekday. The crowds made maneuvering to find birds difficult, and Vinous-throated Parrotbills were the only highlight among 6 species on the morning.

In the center of People's Park, situated right on the pond, there's a Western-style restaurant, the "Barbarossa". Food is pricey for China in general, and plates are small and quite Westernized. Convenient and well-done but perhaps not the best option in the area.

List - 10/20/13

Rock Pigeon – x (flyovers)
Spotted Dove – 2 (on top of utility box in bushes)
Light-vented Bulbul – x (innumerable in treetops)
Vinous-throated Parrotbill – 5 (single flock)
Eurasian Blackbird – 6 (noisy squabbling group)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow – x