A few weeks ago, I spent a few days at Jixi, Anhui, a relatively rural place about 2.5 hours away from Shanghai by high-speed train. There, breeding Amur Paradise Flycatchers have become an attraction for Chinese bird photographers, and the source of some tourism income for the locals.
Amur Paradise Flycatcher (female)
Conveniently, one pair is breeding just about 100 meters away from a place renting out rooms and also providing meals. Most Chinese bird photographers are retirees – with enough money to buy premium lenses and cameras, but also quite happy to stay in relatively basic rooms costing only 10 to 20 USD per night.
So there are maybe 20 or 30 photographers just spending the whole day sitting next to a little stream, waiting and trying to get the signature photo of Jixi – a male Amur Paradise Flycatcher flying very close to the surface of the water (see https://www.flickr.com/photos/unclek/28346027635 for an example). These photo sessions turn out to be social events, with people chatting and smoking, and somewhat limited bird knowledge (most of them referred to the male and female Amur Paradise Flycatcher as the red and the white bird). In a word, a bit too social for me. So I just took some photos of the Amur Paradise Flycatcher resting in a tree, and walked around in the forests and fields nearby.
Amur Paradise Flycatcher (male)
That was worth doing. My best find was a Collared Scops Owl pretending to be a part of a tree, with a chick nearby.
Further upstream, a White-crowned Forktail was demonstrating that you do not have to be a cartoon bird to look like one.
A Grey-headed Lapwing was very noisy in a field nearby, and occasionally lifting off and flying around a bit. I suspect the bird was looking for conspecifics, as the other times I encountered the species they always seemed to show up in slightly larger groups.
A village about 1.5 km away turned out to be the residency of another pair of Amur Paradise Flycatchers, this time the rufous morph.
And then there were of course the usual birds of this part of China – not uncommon but still quite attractive birds rarely seen in Shanghai, such as Red-billed Blue Magpie, Collared Finchbill, Ashy Drongo, Red-billed Starling, Black-throated Bushtit and Mountain Bulbul.
Red-billed Blue Magpie