Tag Archives: China

Chinese Mystery Bird

Years ago in China, in a shallow valley below me, I saw this enormous blue pheasant with a long tail flying through the air like a feathered dragon, at some distance away. I never knew what it was and no one could tell me. flying-peacock-20Then Yang happened to show me these pictures and I realized what I’d seen. Wow!

 Click here to see more pictures

http://www.boredpanda.com/flying-peacocks-mid-flight/

Beijing Arboretum

One of my favorite places on our trip to China in November ’14 was the Beijing DSCN1267Arboretum next to Xiang Shan (Fragrant Hill, 香山).  We arrived there after a long, traffic-packed drive from the city and got a second dose of autumn colors.

There were plenty of paths to hike amongst the trees and plenty of critters and birds about, including the ever-present magpies and azure winged magpies.  There were also many Great Tits (like our Chickadees) and sparrows – is there ANY place that isn’t over-run with sparrows?  Unfortunately, they were all too quick to allow any Dscn1270picture taking.  However, here’s a picture of Yang, who as just as charming to behold as any of our feathered friends.

The trails wended through wonderful pine and willow forests and up slopes of jagged rocks, at times past pavilions and monuments to students who had camped out and trained here to prepare to fight the Japanese during WWII. Dscn1277 Yang and I weren’t quite so tough.  Here, I’m giving my knee a rest (gardening injury), well-pleased with the scenery and the hiking. Aren’t the seats made from old red wood trees interesting?

There was also some unexpected forms of “wild life” in the park.  We came acrossDscn1273 well-fed dogs and cats, just chilling in the forest, part of the families of people who worked and lived at the park.  Here is a cat with a surprising resemblance to Winston Churchill.  He even miaowed gruffly!  Dig that expression.  Could it be a reincarnation?

A young Chinese girl and I had a laugh over how unique he appeared, and how nonchalant, in a gruff way, he was with humans.  When she said in English to me, “It’s a cat!” I meant to say “Dui” In Chinese, but my default mode slipped and I concurred, “Oui!”  We both had a chuckle.  Dscn1275I actually managed to converse a little with her in Chinese, saying that I liked cats and we had two at home.  That was as far as I could go in Chinese at that point, so we switched to English.  She and her boyfriend were a cute couple, so we took a picture of them with their camera and they took a picture of us with ours!

 

 

Dscn1278 When we came down the hill, we enjoyed the beautiful fall colors around us.

 

 

 

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Surprisingly, though there was lots of traffic coming out here, most people were visiting the nearby Xiang Shan parks.

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This little guy is called a Little Grebe (if you click on the picture, you can see him much better).

 

 

 

Here’s one more neat shot of the wonderful fall colors.  I understand that when there hasn’t been a drought, the colors are really gorgeous.

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Finally, I have to insert a picture of a creature we saw which really knocked Yang and I for a loop.  Like dopes, we didn’t take the camera out until he had scampered away.  So, this creature climbed out of the tangle of a twisted pine.  At first, I thought I was seeing a big black crow.  Then he settled on the ground and sat up.  I was flabbergasted!  It took a moment to figure out we were seeing a squirrel.  He poked around, looking for food, then sat eating for a bit, and finally scampered away by the time I realized we had a camera.  When we got back to the hotel, we checked him out on line.  I knew I’d seen pictures of this critttree squirel1er before, and discovered he was a Eurasian Red Squirrel – except he’s black.  Go figure.  Interestingly enough, I read that the black variety of squirrel thrives in pine forests better than its red brethren.   There’s plenty of pine in this place! tree squirrel4 Also, in China, the name for this type of guy is “Satan’s Squirrel.”  He is rather demonic looking, isn’t he?  Apparently, they are also bred commercially and sold as pets.

Getting home was almost as much of an adventure as the hike, what with overpacked buses – when they finally came.  What the heck!  When you have great company and beautiful weather and everyone’s in the same boat, er, bus, who cares!Dscn1272

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No copyright infringement intended, noncommercial use of photosTree Squirrel Photo 1: http://cutterlight.com/tag/hiking-near-ulaanbaatar/
Tree Squirrel Photo 2  Squirrel, Photo © Tim Edelsten on http://www.birdskorea.org/Birds/Birdnews/BK-BN-birdnews-2009-02.shtml

 

Pacification via a Dosage of Feline Adorableness

Hi folks! Many people have been champing at the bit for more information on Bait and Switch. Since I don’t have anything for you yet, I thought I’d extend a calming hand with this post about a beautiful black kitten who became my buddy on my trip to China last November.

My husband’s sister-in-law and her husband took us out to a cafe for coffee and dessert. While they had me sitting alone, waiting for them to graciously bring over all our comestibles and beverages, I felt something soft settle in my lap. I looked down and this is what I found!Cat3a

Of all the people in the restaurant, this little black kitten had selected me for her buddy. Do yoCat2au think she knew I was missing my two feline pals at home and needed some catly comforting? Maybe my lap was more padded than the other customers’? Whatever, she settled in for me to do some petting that pleased us both, while she dozed and kneaded away. When the others joined us, she protested leaving my lap when my sister-in-law picked her up – sneaking back as soon as Cindy wasn’t paying any attention.

Needless to say, the kitten was quite happy to get a few bites from my cheesecake; but her visit wasn’t purely gustatory. She decided to snuggle with me long before any food showed up.Cat5

Happily, this little guy was no stray. She lived at the cafe with her mom and two siblings. You can see from her coat and girth that she was well-cared for.

TheCat6a owners told me that her name was Shao Bai, which means “Little Whitey.”  Sometimes irony is adorable.

Dusty from Bait and Switch would surely approve!  Dusty reduced1