We are in Guangzhou, China meeting with collaborators at the South China Institute for Endangered Animals. Everyone here has been really kind to us and it looks like there are many areas where we can collaborate together to learn more about the evolution of the birds of East Asia.
Guangzhou is an enormous city of about 12 million people just north of the manufacturing center of Shenzen and the Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong (see photo left of the view of Guangzhou from BaiYu Shan Park). We saw perfect habitat for birds along the way but few if any birds. In Taiwan around large cities like Taipei there would be thousands of egrets and other waders in the flooded fields, canals and rivers but here we saw none. The Cantonese apparently have a taste for egret nestlings and probably over centuries have been collecting them from egret rookeries. This continues to this day with legal harvesting at designated colonies. The rules are if a nest has 4 nestlings you can take 2, if it has 3 you can take 2 and if it has 2 you can take 1.
However a few birds remain, but not nearly as many as one would see around Taipei or even Hong Kong. We did manage to see some species including Chinese Bulbuls, Japanese White-eyes, Red-whiskered Bulbul, and Common Tailorbird. Also, we were lucky enough to catch this Collared Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena) roosting in the bamboo in a park on the campus of Sun Yat Sen University. We venture out into the more rural parts of Guangdong Province this weekend and hopefully add some more species to our trip list!
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