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Thursday, 1 September 2011

Out of Area: Shanghai Gloom

No, not the Kodak building... The view from my hotel room. The Jin Mao Tower & the 492m high 101 floor Shanghai World Financial Tower.

Not Hemel I know, but I spent last week working in Shanghai, China exhibiting at the Intertextile Shanghai trade show. Unfortunately I didn't get any time for birding (as with every business trip I've had to China so far), up earlyish to get to the exhibition centre before the crowds arrive & out after 6pm when it's starting to get dark. Shanghai New International Expo Centre is in Pudong Lujiazui Finance & Trade District which isn't really renowned for its diversity of wildlife or rich habitats to say the least, this coupled with the persistant smoggy haze that envelops the city rendered my chances of seeing much pretty low. Despite this I did still manage to see a CRESTED MYNA fly low over the main road on my taxi journey from the airport. TREE SPARROWS were by far the most numerous species about, with flocks of about 20 bursting up from central reservations, sitting on the Expo Centre perimeter wall & entering possible nesting holes in the airport's overhanging roof. One of my favourite birds that I see in China, & one that was a nice surprise to find on the Expo Centre perimeter only 10 or so metres from me, a very handsome LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (ssp. formosae) with its smart grey cap, black mask & russet tones, which I guess had chosen the area to feed due to the abundance grasshopper-type insects, which had leg spans larger than the palm of my hand! One evening on leaving the show I saw a small group of GREY HERONS flying over the Expo Centre to roost & on another evening a group of 3 larger-looking egrets heading over. I managed to get this very poor snap of the group from extreme distance in the gloom with my 200mm...

(Probable) 2 Intermediate Egrets with a migrant Great White Egret - Pudong, Shanghai, China - 30/08/11
After scrutinising the image I have come to the conclusion that this probably shows 2 INTERMEDIATE EGRETS (left & upper-right) & a migrant GREAT WHITE EGRET (lower-right) due to the larger yet more elegant overall structure, & longer, broader looking wings of the lower-right bird, aswell as the longer leg exstension from the tail & body, & length of the bill from where the neck tucks back under the throat.

The view over Shanghai from my hotel room at night.
A close-up of the view of the towers in Shanghai from my hotel room at night, with the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower just visible on the left.

To my delight I was upgraded for free to Upper Class (Virgin's 1st Class) on my return flight so I could catch up on some missed sleep in a bed of my own for the almost 13 hour flight. Then upon landing back at Heathrow today, I was pleasantly surprised to see what appeared to be an adult YELLOW-LEGGED GULL on the runway as we taxied into Terminal 3, at about 5.15pm.

One of these days I definitely need to find some time either side of a business trip to look for some Shanghai specialities such as the Hooded Crane, or even just explore the areas surrounding the beautiful Hangzhou which often tempt me when I'm visiting the area for work. Failing that I just need to remember some bins for the next time I visit the factories in Haining so I can ID the shrikes that sit on the factory roofs & the bitterns that fly over...

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