Well, a somewhat obvious title for a blog post from China these days, particularly from somebody who pretends to have at least a basic grasp of world literature (and who has recently watched “Looking for Alaska” with its frequent allusions to another one of Marquez` works).

Though Shanghai is not the center of the virus outbreak (that would be Wuhan, about 800 km from here), the impact of the disease is strong. Streets are much emptier than usual, the holidays have been extended, and many international flights have been canceled. Being a bird would have some real advantages during these days, even though I am among the people who – if given a choice – would rather be invisible than being capable of flying (I guess that means I prefer being a bird watcher to being a bird).

Also, the number of Shanghai eBird lists has dropped dramatically, partly because many birding hotspots such as public parks are closed, but partly also because people try to stay indoors as much as possible.

Still, I ventured out to Nanhui. The hotel at the seaside that used to be popular with birders has been turned into a quarantine center for people from Wuhan. Police and sanitary workers patrol the area and warn ignorant people like me of the virus. The birds do not seem to mind much – maybe they are happy about the reduced number of people …

A slightly bizarre thing happened on my way back home. Coming from the seaside, I wanted to drive through a village that is on the route between the seaside and the highway to central Shanghai. There, a not-very-competent-looking team of three elderly people acted as a vigilante committee, asking me where I wanted to go and eventually asking me to turn around, which would have added about 30 km to my trip. Of course, this did not make any sense from a medical point of view – a car driving through a village is very unlikely to spread any disease. So, I just drove on – my Chinese was just not good enough to understand them …

I do not have any specific bird photos that are related to the virus. Instead, here are just some photos of fairly ordinary birds, all taken at Nanhui in the last few weeks.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-throated Bushtit

Brown-eared Bulbul

Chinese Grosbeak

Chinese Penduline Tit

Common Kestrel

Crested Myna

Daurian Redstart

Dusky Thrush

Eurasian Hoopoe

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Green Sandpiper

Grey Heron

Grey-capped Greenfinch

Light-vented Bubul

Little Egret

Long-tailed Shrike

Oriental Magpie

Oriental Magpie-Robin

Pallas Bunting

Plain Prinia

Rustic Bunting

Vinous-throated Parrotbill

White-cheeked Starling

White`s Thrush

Yellow-throated Bunting

A more detailed (and frankly, better) report on birding in China during these times was written by my friend Steven Bonta. It can be found on shanghaibirding.com


Written by Kai Pflug
Kai Pflug has been living in Shanghai for 20 years. He only became interested in birds in China – so he is much more familiar with birds in China than with those in Germany. While he will only ever be an average birder, he aims to be a good bird photographer and has created a website with bird photos as proof. He hopes not too many clients of his consulting company read this blog, as they will doubt his dedication to providing consulting services related to China`s chemical industry. Whenever he wants to shock other birders, he tells them his (indoor) cats can distinguish several warblers by taste.