#410 Mandarin Duck

Peking Duck is everywhere in this town, but live ducks are much harder to find. Beijing sadly does not have a large semi-native park like San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, or Manhattan’s Central Park. Instead they have a number of smaller palaces and temples surrounded by carefully planned and manicured gardens. This just doesn’t make for very good habitat, or even migratory stopover points.

After leaving Sicha Hai on Friday, I stumbled into Behai Park. It looked pleasant so I paid the 10 yuan admission and entered. Unfortunately from a birding perspective this proved to be another collection of old temples and other buildings. There were few birds except for the ubiquitous Eurasian Tree Sparrow. Some of the temples were quite impressive, but the only real garden area was closed.

After exploring the temples on the east side of the lake, I bought a ticket to cross to the west side and the Jade Islet. At this point I had pretty much given up on finding any more birds today, and had capped my binoculars. However, while I was standing in line waiting for the boat, two small ducks flew by heading South very quickly. I tried to get my bins uncapped fast, but only got a very quick look at them. My general impression was “Wood Duck”.

Wood Ducks are a North American species that doesn’t live here in China, but they do have a close relative over here: the Mandarin Duck. Unfortunately I couldn’t really be sure from such a quick look at flying birds. I almost got out of line to see if maybe they’d landed somewhere south of us, but by this point I’s already waited fifteen minutes and the boat was finally coming. Sine I hadn’t seen them land, I decided to just go on across the lake.

On the Jade Islet, I climbed up to the White Dagoba, and back down through some caves. I’m not sure I was supposed to exit the caves where I did, but no one stopped me. (I really didn’t feel like climbing all the way back up.) I walked over to the bridge connecting the Islet to the mainland, and there I spotted the first ducks I’d seen swimming anywhere in the central lakes. This time I had my binoculars ready, and put them on the birds almost immediately. There they were: unmistakable Mandarin Ducks.

Male and female Mandarin Duck

I eventually spotted another pair, for four total.

The day list wasn’t very impressive. Just six species:

  • Common Swift
  • Eurasian Tree Sparrow
  • Black-billed Magpie
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Mandarin Duck
  • Crow sp.

However it did include two life birds, and lots of interesting non-avian activity so that counts as a good day.

2 Responses to “#410 Mandarin Duck”

  1. Anrew Says:

    Those birds are beautiful wish I was there

  2. colette hickey Says:

    I have discovered one of those beautiful duck in my local park he is magnificent.

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