Miyun Reservoir Birdwatching Overnight

Head out to Miyun for an overnight stay and two days of birdwatching near the big reservoir.

Level 1
3 hours’ easy walking on day one; 5–6 hours on day two (Can I do it?)

This hike is not currently scheduled

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Mandarin Ducks
A procession of Mandarin Ducks.

On this overnighter we’ll visit two quiet areas near the Miyun Reservoir in search of the many species of birds that winter over in this area, as well as those that live there year round.

Miyun Reservoir, constructed in 1960, is located about 88 km north of Beijing city. It is Beijing’s primary source of reserve water, and covers about 9.6 million km squared, and ranges to a depth of 131 meters. Two rivers, the White River and Chao River, are the primary feeder rivers to this spectacular body of water which offers winter refuge to many birds coming from the north, particularly waterfowl. 

At this time of year sightings of cranes, swans, storks, geese species, and various duck species are common, and we may also find species of hawks hunting the large expanses of grass that surround the reservoir.  Other smaller birds frequent the tall grass areas as well, lending this area to a well rounded birding experience.  Some of the water fowl species this time of year number between the hundreds and thousands—it is quite spectacular to see such expansive flocks of birds gathering on the lake, or suddenly taking flight. 

On this trip we’ll do four sessions of birdwatching: an evening to sunset session on the first day, and three sessions from dawn to afternoon on the second day, accompanied by Terry from Birding Beijing.

We will head out on Saturday afternoon, arriving in time for a little late afternoon birding before dinner.  The next morning we will rise early to see the early morning birds as they get their day going, some are even singing about it.  We will have an option to catch a quick breakfast before going out early, or some may choose to return to the guest house for a mid-morning breakfast and rest, and rejoin the group after that. 

We’ll wrap up with a country lunch, and maybe squeeze in one last hour of birding on the other side of the reservoir before returning to the city. 


Our accommodations are basic but comfortable in a village guest house close to one of our birding sites. Betsy and Jun found this place on a scouting trip where they enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by the owners—very friendly people! 

We will sleep two hikers to a room. Bedding will be provided, and there are taps and bowls to wash with.

There are several shared toilets and bathrooms at the guesthouse; it’s not the type of set up where each room has its own.

We’ll check in when we arrive, and leave our luggage in the rooms while we’re out and about.


Day One
11:30 Departure from Lido Hotel
14:00 Arrive at the guest house in Miyun
14:30 Short drive to the birding area, walking and birdwatching until sunset
17:30 Finish birding, head back the to guest house
18:00 Back to the guest house
19:00 Dinner, free time

Day Two
06:30 Coffee and light breakfast before an early morning birdwatching session
07:00: Drive to the birdwatching area
09:30: Finish first session
10:00: Start second session of birdwatching
11:00: Check out from guest house
12:00: Drive to the west side of the Miyun reservoir, lunch in a small town
13:00: Walk through the village to Miyun reservoir for the third birdwatching session. (Or rest at the guesthouse.)
15:00: Start the drive back to Beijing
17:00: Arrive at the Lido Hotel
All times approximate!

What to bring

Comfortable, warm clothes
Hat and gloves, for chilly mornings and evenings
Waterproof clothing, just in case
Wash bag, toothbrush, towel
Binoculars, if you have them
Torch or headlamp
Your bird guide book (We’ll bring ours)
Thermos or hot water flask

Air-activated chemical handwarmers might also be good to bring, if you can find some!

What to not bring

Don’t wear bright coloured clothing, and avoid ‘noisy’ clothing, too. Nylon and some of the synthetic jackets can make a loud swishing sound that can startle birds close by and scare them away.

Other notes

Birdwatching requires patience and silence, which might mean that this trip is not so suitable for young children.

We’ll need ten people signed up to be able to run this trip

COVID-19 and participation precautions

The brief version:

  • Please DO NOT participate if you are sick or showing symptoms of fever and/or have an elevated temperature, or have been in close contact with someone who was/is.
  • You MUST agree to the mitigation and prevention measures outlined here and that Beijing Hikers will not be held responsible if any participants become sick.

Please read in full here: Operating hikes under COVID-19 precautions

Related content

Photos and trip reports: Miyun Reservoir Birdwatching Overnight

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