Oh, boy am I tired. Over the past month I have been living and working in China, teaching at Nankai University. Now this was always going to be part of my new job, somewhere along the line, but changes in staff availability meant that I had the opportunity to get there this year. So I’ve been all kinds of outside my comfort zone, environmental ethics and behavioural change is not something I’ve taught before, I don’t speak any mandarin beyond “hello”, “thank you”, “sit down” and “cheers”, and I had never been to China before. Even the flight was a revelation. So long in the air… thankfully in cushy business class.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to explore with teaching 4 days a week, marking on top and a research workshop on the first weekend, that left me with just one free weekend to myself. In these spare moments, I split my time between exploring the huge local waterpark and the equally huge mall.
The water park was gorgeous. A welcome splash of green in what I was finding a disorienting and oppressive level of urbanisation. Each time I dropped by I spotted something new, white-cheeked starlings and crested myna on the first day, light-vented bulbul the next. Spotted doves, azure-winged magpies, night heron, red-throated flycatcher, a few fast and unidentifiable warblers in the canopy, as well as a very vocal oriental reed warbler who was happy to pose for pictures. At the university, hoopoe, tree sparrows and white-cheeked starling were nesting in the university buildings.
Aside from that, I ate amazingly well, wrote lots and got some quality sleep. On my last weekend, I shut myself away in a hotel near Beijing airport and worked on finishing yet another manuscript draft whilst watching HBO and Nat Geo Wild, making plans to “do it properly” next time; arrive a week early and do some proper birding, explore the wetlands. Until then, here are my favourite urban birds of Tianjin...
|Oriental Reed Warbler|
|Light vented bulbul|
|Black crowned night heron|