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Peter Bazire's nature diary ...

"Weihsien Nature Diary"

(February to November 1944)

by Peter Bazire (aged 13 until Nov 1944)

"I kept a Nature diary from Feb to Nov 1944. This diary was largely observations of birds in and near Weihsien camp. For reasons I don't know, there are no entries from June to August. Too busy playing baseball? No, that would not have taken up so much time!

"We were very fortunate that Mr Hugh Hubbard, a renowned ornithologist, was in camp. He was the co-author of a book on Birds of North China. (I don't know the exact title.) He was very experienced in this field and often took us out bird watching, commenting on their behaviour etc.

"I cannot remember if I was aiming for a Scout Naturalist badge. I still have my Chefoo/Weihsien scout shirt, but I think the badges on a sleeve are for other activities.

"I kept a rather untidy notebook which you will see below. I did make a neat copy at the time, but with no drawings. It is the rough copy which appears here, though a few entries are from the neat copy.

"I am surprised to see no mention of golden orioles in the diary. I do mention seeing them in Scout '1st Class Journey' (on the website), but this was done in June, one of the months missing from the Nature Diary."

I by mistake wrote 'April 16th, 17th & 18th' instead of 'May 16th, 17th & 18th'.
Please note the bird names & their Capital letters on the front heading page.
Hoopoe is spelt incorrectly "hoopoo" throught the diary.

- by Peter Bazire,
August 27, 2009.

The Nature Diary:

1944. Diary Weihsien

Feb 15
Saw woodpecker in the churchyard. It flew in between the bakery and block 6. Also saw march (sic) tits.

Feb 18
Saw spark (sic) headed W. and stalked it. Also saw grey headed W. not very clear.

Feb 20
Saw pied W. It looked like a ded (sic) leaf in a tree but after a few minutes it flew away. Saw grey headed W. Came close & pecked in a big hole near the top of a trunk of a tree. It pecked about twice and then stuck his head out and so on. ...

all pictures from GOOGLE-images

... Saw it and a rook & a magpie all fly on after another from the same place. M. R. W.

Feb 21st
March 5th
Saw grey heron.

March 15th
I didn't see much but just the usual birds. Sometimes I would see woodpeckers.

Around March 10th
Hoyte 3 & I put up tins for sparrows to nest in. (Eaves of box-room.)

March 10th
saw grey heron East of...

March 12th
I saw a seagull West of 24 over the wall about 30 YDS. It was flying south because of a storm at sea probably. I also saw a hoopoo but not very close. ...

... I also saw a rook with its right leg bust. It dangled in the wind. Saw red footed falcon.

March 18th
Saw hare amongst the graves. We also saw some birds that we did not know what they were. Saw grey-headed woodpecker & spark (sic) (We had a really good time looking at them.)

March 19th
Heard grey headed woodpecker for the first time to recognise it.

March 20th
Heard grey headed woodpecker.

March 21st

March 22nd
Dandelion out. Saw red tailed thrush near cowsheds. Saw grey headed W. I saw a hoopoo. Stalked within eight yards. It opened its crest when it picked up a worm. Again saw red tailed thrush, thirty of them. Up Cow Lane, beyond poplar.

March 23rd
Saw male & female pied W. in poplar. Noticed ...

... the red very well on rump. Noticed red on head of male. Saw a W. in hole in poplar near the top. In the early morning about 20 mins to seven the crows begin cawing. Last two weeks the R.s have been making nests. One rook bags a twig from another nest. One nest was ruined by a man sawing down a branch. I stalked a spark(sic) head in children's playground. It isn't so pretty as the pied but I noticed it wasn't so scared as a pied. I also noticed the buds coming out. The catcins (sic) are nearly finished. When there is no ...

...wind they droop down. I think I saw a yellow throated bunting. I saw 2 hares chasing each other & men hunting them. Once they came within about twenty yds of the wall.

March 24th
Again heard the rooks cawing. The grey headed W. was making its whoots quite often in the early morning. I saw about 7 starlings in a flock at ten o'clock near cow lane, passed the cowsheds. I saw a spotted dove near block 20. Mrs Hubbard went with us up cow lane, passed cowsheds. Saw a bird which we did not know at first but Mr Hubbard said that it was a red throated thrush. There is a clear distintion (sic) between the white and red.

Rooks cawing ... 1min-34"

... Hollyhock leaves came out about 1 month ago. Grass came up about a week ago and is coming up now. Lilac is nearly out. Buds are coming the whole time. Rose & Promise of Spring are out. We saw a hoopoo. A magpie came very close to us. Saw hare as usual. Ears very red.

March 25th
Saw three ducks flying out of the river. Most catcins (sic) are falling. Rooks nests nearly finished. I saw a bird with a long tail which turned out to be an Indian red tailed shriek. Mr H. said it was rather early for one. ...

... woodpecker sound ... 1min 17"

... I saw a bird within about three yds. We noticed the holes in the ground which it was pecking at worms etc. (By the way, I see chickadees & marsh tits nearly every day.) I saw a yellow bird fly from a Jap house to a tree (probably an escaped canary). Somebody else saw a yellow bird the same day. Saw a cabage (sic) white. Lilac out. Apricot blossoming. Wisteria blossoming.

March 26th
Saw greyhead W. out of 23 window near 35. M. making it's usual toots. Saw an orangish coloured butterfly. Flies are out. Saw the place where hoopoos go (maybe nest).

March 27th
Saw two spotted doves sitting near cowshed. Saw grey headed W. on it's usual tree. Saw cocks (sic) sparrow showing off to it's (sic) mate . Saw pied W. north of 23 making its noise.

Saw marsh tits & chickadees. Saw chickadees 2 of them ragging around the trees. A dog came and it went around the trunk. Fields greener after the rain. Swallows were seen near the church. Dandelions coming on.

March 28th
Saw pied W. in hole. Saw greyhead W. ...

...Saw a few swallows. Saw what Mr Hubbard thought was a wagtail.

March 29th
Saw chickadees, grey starling & I saw a male Siberan (sic) blue start.

March 30th
Saw female SBT (sic). Got within about 2 yards of it. Saw hoopoo (hasn't been seen for a few days. See the usual doves every day. Saw a cabbage white. Pigeons fly around singally (sic). Near a Jap Shack saw nest. Saw Pied W. before breakfast. After breakfast. Male. Outside Hoyte 3's window on poplar. Saw Spark W. near K 1. Some rook nests bust down.

March 31st
Two sparrows near Sadlers (sic) window. Near tin. ...

... Snowed. Bad Weather. In afternoon just began to clear up.

April Fool (1st)
Saw hoopoo near Iyi (sic). Saw chickadee occupying the tin in IVY. Oh Boy!!! Put Bread there. Noticed a tree by it with lots of chickadees' holes. Saw 2 yellow-throated buntings. Saw Spark (sic) W. A rook came within 3 yds of us near the wall + it saw us & it flew away & came back a few yards away & flew over the wall. Saw a hoopoo & its mate fly just over us (2 or 3 yds). They landed near a haystack and stared at each other for a few seconds & opened their crests and began pecking at worms. Saw thrushes making their call.


...Clear first of all, then cloudy in afternoon.

April 2nd
Saw black jackdaw. Saw rabbits in fields. Saw 2 male and female yellow throated buntings around the haystacks. Saw mouse under log and it ran to a stack. Saw 2 chickadees. Saw a bird with white spots near its wings. Saw grey head W. Leaves coming out. Willow have been out for quite a time. Caught a small field mouse. Five caught all together. Rooks nests being sawn down.

April 3rd
Saw a pied and grey headed W. Grey head pecked at wood tet-tet-tet-tet-tet-tet etc.

Looked for more mice.

April 4th - 6th
Only usual birds. Saw Darien Red start. It flicks it's tail which is orange.

April 7th
Saw lots of chickadees and marsh tits and a hoopoo.

April 8th
Usual birds.

April 9th
Bustards. Chinese locust leaves. Silver P. leaves and catcis (sic).

April 10th

April 11th-23rd
Lilac blossoming.

April 24th
Saw wryneck, woodcock, hoopoo. West China blue and white fly catcher.

April 25th
Saw Swinehoes thrush and a bird with a long white tail. Saw greyheaded blackfaced bunting and WCB & WF. Wisteria blooming. Red foots fighting magpies.

April 26th
Saw baby hares and mother.

April 28th & April 29th
Redfoots fighting magpies. April 30th
Redfoots flying around. Dusky thrushes. Saw single goshawk and about 30 dusky thrushes.

1st May
Saw ground thrushes ? ...

May 1st
Saw ground thrushes? And saw great egret? Saw golden rumped swallows. Saw a grey bird with a forked tail. Saw M, and P, redfoot in Italian quarters up poplar by nest.

Noticed red legs.

May 3rd
Rainy. Mamosa (sic) leaves coming out. Saw about 6 minivets. They sound like high police whistles. Saw ground thrushes? Went up hospital tower and a yellow-browed warbler came within about 6 ft of us. Also saw it on a bush about 4 feet away. Noticed yellow wing bars. Baby rook getting on. Sparrows building nests quite a lot.

May 4th

May 5th
Saw whooper swan flying south over the camp. Huge white wings.

May 6th
Saw a new bird.

May 7th
Locust common flowering.

May 9th
A Scops Owl (7") flew into a ladies' dorm. We kept it in 23/10. We let it go in the evening. I was the last to touch it. It flew into an acatia (sic) and stayed there dead tired. Saw Burmese Red Turtle Dove.

May 10th
People saw Siberian ruby throat and I saw Pallas blue robin & Philippine (sic) red tailed shrike & black drongo & a common Indian Kingfisher.

May 11th
Saw finch. Pretty tail. Also saw black drongo.

May 12th
Saw White's thrush, blue robin, and 8 black drongos and a common Indian kingfisher.

May 13th
Saw crossbill and also blue Pallas Robin. I think I heard it first at the Brats playground.

May 14th
Birds are going on with the hole we made (block 57). Saw a red bellied rockthrush.

May 15th
Saw a brownish bird about pied W. size. Also a bird with a dark blue ...

...head, whitish neck, blueish wings, and redish (sic) rump. Also saw shrieks (sic) and Pallas Robin.

May 17th
Saw a bird with a white stripe under the wing, blue mantel (sic). Brown wings and white eyebrows. Pied W. size. Probably thrush family. 9".

Also saw a bird about 2 1/2 " smaller.

The same without the white line.

Also saw a female bluestart.

May 18th
Got a baby magpie, and saw lots of large white-rumped swifts and noticed white throat.

September 1st
Lots of cabbage whites and yellows.

September 2nd
Saw grey headed. Saw a skipper with blue spots on each wing.

September 27th
Saw Baikal Teal fly past. Saw about 4 geese? 1 baby.

September 28th
Saw Baikal Teal and geese? Hundreds of them. Also kite, goshawk.

September 29th
Saw geese not good formation & kite. And Goshawk sparkhead, chickadee.

October 15th
Saw pied W. In evening heard a few shrill whistles very clear.

October 2nd
Saw magpie with frayed tail.

October 4th

October 12th
Saw greyhead.

October 14th
Saw greyhead wagtail.

October 15th
Saw sparkhead and kites.

October 16th
Geese as usual.

October 22nd
Saw a huge bird of prey ...

... & kites. Saw a flock of about 200 Siberian White Cranes.

Saw about 800 in the afternoon.

Acacia getting very yellow. Also mulberry. Geese.

October 23rd
Saw cranes. Cast oil pods getting dry and ready. Persimmon leaves nearly off. No moths or very few.

October 24th-28th
Geese and some flocks of buntings? And kite.

November 5th
Bustards (thirty) and geese.

November 6th
Saw about 50 or 60 Manchurian cranes. Noticed the pink. Some dark ones amongst them. Kestrel. Geese.

November 7th
Geese heard then squeaking. Still a few Bermese (sic) doves and occasional rufus.

November 8th
Chickadee. 14 geese. 19 bustards seen.

November 9th
Saw about 44 geese and a kite. The kite's ...

... breast looked yellow.

November 11th
Lots of geese. A striped harrier & 2 woodpeckers (grey and one pied). Chesnut bunting

November 12th
Saw 14 geese go over.

Noticed their colours body white and dark wings.

A kestrel.

November 13th
- 30 Geese.

20 waxwings. 30 harriers.

[End of Diary] ...