2016: visit Koko Nor, deserts, Roof of the World & SE Qinghai with OBC

Taxonomic enigma: Pink-tailed Bunting. (c) Richard Thomas

In 2016, there will be an exciting opportunity for OBC members to visit the Koko Nor, deserts, Roof of the World & SE Qinghai on an OBC on a trip led by Jesper Hornskov.

By Jesper Hornskov* ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 1st October 2014.

Situated in western China, rugged Qinghai province is the ideal place to see a mix of Central Asian specialities, Chinese / Tibetan endemics, and isolated populations of otherwise mostly Siberian species. In zoogeographic terms we will be visiting the Tibetan Plateau and the deep valleys of its eastern fringes, with the latter showing particularly strong affinities with the least accessible parts of neighbouring Sichuan, known for its avifaunally rich Panda reserves.

Unlike China’s ‘Tibet Autonomous Region’ (which could remain trapped in the current unrest- and-clampdown cycle for years to come, making both Lhasa & SE Tibet chronically uncertain destinations), Qinghai – with scenery fully on par with the very best in parts of ‘geographical Tibet’ now administered by neighbouring provinces – offers excellent, reliable & (with comparatively less developed tourism) affordable access to Tibet’s array of unique birds, mammals & flora.

Full itinerary and more details (PDF, 350 KB)

 

BirdingASIA 21: latest issue available

BA21coverOBC members should already have received BirdingASIA 21, the latest issue of the Club’s biannual publication, BirdingASIA.

As ever, the issue is packed with the latest information and ornithological sightings from the Oriental region. It includes articles on identification of raptors, Sillem’s Mountain Finch, Sakhalin’s Leaf-warbler,  Grey-breasted Babbler, Pale-capped Pigeon and more.

The full contents and sample articles from each issue are posted here on the OBC website, but it’s a publication you simply can’t afford to miss: so join OBC today and you will receive two issues of BirdingASIA every year, plus once a year, Forktail, the Club’s peer-reviewed journal publishing original ornithological research from the region.

Joint OBC meeting with BOC and NHM

Joint-meetingThe Club’s Annual General Meeting this year is being held jointly with the British Ornithologists’ Club & Natural History Museum on Saturday 22nd November 2014 at The Flett Theatre, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD.

A packed agenda includes talks by Dr Pamela Rasmussen on new species and rediscoveries, Dr Debbie Pain on saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Chris Gooddie on  Bukit Barisan Selatan, Dr Stuart Marsden on Asia’s large frugivorous birds, Dr Robert Prŷs-Jones on Allan Octavian Hume and Warblers and Dr Per Alstrom on warblers and larks.

The meeting is open to members and non-members of OBC and BOC. Admission is free to members, donations from non-members invited.

Full programme and details of how to reach the venue in the Joint Meeting Programme  (PDF, 150 KB).

Jewel Hunter available from OBC

THE_JEWEL_HUNTER_cover_LRThe Jewel Hunter, Chris Goodie’s gripping tale of his quest to see every species of true pitta inside a single calendar year is now available direct from Chris, with £4 from every sale going straight to the Oriental Bird Club.

To find out more about this exciting opportunity to read about one of the world’s great birding tales, please visit the OBC publications sales page.

Asian ibis on the Edge

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Giant Ibis (c) James Eaton / BirdtourAsia

An assessment by scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Yale University of bird species worldwide has helped produce a list of the top 100 most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (Edge) species.

Top of the list is the rare and striking Giant Ibis, which today can most easily be found in northern Cambodia. Approximately 230 pairs remain in the wild, many of them protected by local campaigns run through the Sam Veasna Centre and BirdLife Cambodia. Chief threats to the ibis are habitat loss, human disturbance and hunting.

New bird family from the eastern Himalayas

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The Spotted Elachura Elachura formosa, newly elevated to single-family status. (c) James Eaton / BirdtourASIA

DNA molecular analysis has revealed that the Spotted Wren-babbler is a unique species, unrelated to wren-babblers and is best placed in its own family, the Elachuridae.

Henceforth the species will be called the Spotted Elachura Elachura formosa.

The discovery, by Professor Per Alström and co-workers, is published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Molecular analysis of passerine families identified 10 separate evolutionary branches, one of which was unique to the Spotted Elachura, the only living representative of one of the earliest off-shoots within the passeriformes

The Spotted Elachura is extremely secretive and difficult to observe, usually staying hidden within dense tangled undergrowth in subtropical mountain forests.

The male’s high-pitched song doesn’t resemble any other continental Asian bird song. The close resemblance in appearance to wren-babbler species is thought due either to pure chance or convergent evolution.

BirdingASIA 20: a publication you can’t afford to miss

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Cover photo: Spangled Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus, Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, West Bengal, January 2013 by Arabinda Debnath

OBC members should already have received BirdingASIA 20, the latest issue of the Club’s biannual publication, BirdingASIA.

As ever, the issue is packed with the latest information and ornithological sightings from the Oriental region. It includes articles on identifcation of ‘Black-eared’ and ‘Pariah’ Kites, right, and ringing sparrowhawks on migration,a whole suite of taxonomic changes to the region’s avifauna, right through to some stunning photo essays and an artilcle about the poorly-known Wood Snipe in Bhutan.

The full contents and sample articles from each issue are posted here on the OBC website, but it’s a publication you simply can’t afford to miss: so join OBC today and you will receive two issues of BirdingASIA every year, plus once a year, Forktail, the Club’s peer-reviewed journal publishing original ornithological research from the region.

Birding NE Tibet with Oriental Bird Club

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We aim to find spectacular birds like this Henderson’s Ground-jay. Photo (c) Richard Thomas

In 2014, there will be an exciting opportunity for OBC members to visit the Koko Nor, deserts, Roof of the World & SE Qinghai, 27 July – 17 Aug 2014.

[This draft 30 June 2013] By Jesper Hornskov * ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Situated in western China, rugged Qinghai province is the ideal place to see a mix of Central Asian specialities, Chinese / Tibetan endemics, and isolated populations of otherwise mostly Siberian species. In zoogeographic terms we will be visiting the Tibetan Plateau and the deep valleys of its eastern fringes, with the latter showing particularly strong affinities with the least accessible parts of neighbouring Sichuan, known for its avifaunally rich Panda reserves.

Unlike China’s ‘Tibet Autonomous Region’ (which could remain trapped in the current unrest- and-clampdown cycle for years to come), Qinghai – with scenery fully on par with the very best in parts of ‘geographical Tibet’ now administered by neighbouring provinces – offers excellent, reliable & (with comparatively less developed tourism) affordable access to Tibet’s array of unique birds, mammals & flora.

Drawing on unequalled birding experience in Qinghai (>45 comprehensive tours during 1995- 2013 in addition to six years’ residence in the province) the following itinerary incorporates several sites pioneered by your leader Jesper Hornskov as recently as in summer 2013. The present itinerary has been carefully planned and updated to take in as wide a range of habitats as possible, thus maximizing our chances of connecting with all target species. Improved infrastructure – mainly better roads, but also more frequent domestic flights – now allows us to incorporate into a three week tour the very best this part of Asia has to offer without compromising on the field hours: we have sufficient time to ensure that all specialities can be properly searched for, at a realistic pace. We shall be expecting to see around 220 species in Qinghai, with additional ones possible as we pass through Beijing.

Further details: OBC Qinghai itinerary 2014 (PDF, 350 KB)

Latest issue of BirdingASIA published

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Cover photo: the stunning Ludlow’s Fulvetta Alcippe ludlowi, East Arunachal, India, March 2012 by Chewang Bonpo

OBC members will soon receive or have already got their latest issue of the Club’s biannual publication, BirdingASIA.

As ever, the issue is packed with the latest information and ornithological sightings from the Oriental region. It includes articles on the exciting rediscovery of Sillem’s Mountain Finch in China (see news item below), all the latest taxonomic changes and updates proposed for Asian birds plus updates on conservation breeding efforts to conserve the Spoon-billed Sandpiper right through to notes about the nesting of the rarely seen Hoogerwerf’s Pheasant in Sumatra.

The full contents and sample articles from each issue are posted here on the OBC website, but it’s a publication you simply can’t afford to miss: so join OBC today and you will receive two issues of BirdingASIA every year, plus once a year, Forktail, the Club’s peer-reviewed journal publishing original ornithological research from the region.