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Old Tuesday 27th April 2010, 15:44   #251
china guy
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Quote:
The young forktail is sooo cute (excuse me, please).
Actually we took the pic at the local hotpot - those young birds are very tender - and if you give them a little more time in that nice bubbling oil, they come out very crispy
Nawwwwwwwwwwwwwww - only kidding!!!!!

But here's a couple of hard-core dishes I enjoy - tripe and pigs trotters.
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Old Friday 14th May 2010, 11:00   #252
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Hello. Has any one experience of visiting the Phag Mo Gling monastery? Ive seen its included in some tour itineries and just wondered if its worth visiting, independently. Cheers, John.
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Old Wednesday 19th May 2010, 14:44   #253
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John,

Sorry for the late reply, I just came back from a trip.

Phag Mo Gling - in Chinese Pamu Ling is the No. 1 site of birding areas recommended by Chengdu Bird Watching Society. Main reason is that gamebirds are very tame at this site... and hungry - they get food by the locals.

Buff-throated PArtridge, Blood Pheasant, White-eared Pheasant are (not the only) birds for this place.
From Xinduqiao you can reach it in 2h by car, relatively good road and on the Gao'er Si Pass there is much more to see: Tib. partridge, Sib. Rubythroat, etc.

But of course, birds to see depend on season and wheather. These days (May), it would be difficult to see any buff throated partridge as they hide very carefully in order to protect their chicks (particularly this bird)

Good Luck
Roland
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Old Friday 21st May 2010, 15:40   #254
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we were at Pamu Ling just over a week ago -but a disappointing visit only gave us Blood Pheasant and a single Buff-throated Partridge, which quickly scuttled into the nearest cover. To visit this site we stayed at Yajiang - and in the area our best birds were on the high pass between Yajiang and Xinduqiao - which included White-eared Pheasant, Tibetan Partridge, Himalayan Rubythroat and White-browed Tit warbler.
Pic is of an unusually visible Tit Warbler near to top of the pass and a Tufted Deer we got coming down in the direction on Xinduqiao.
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Old Sunday 23rd May 2010, 04:27   #255
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Thanks for the info. I guess to visit there we would need to sort out a taxi from either Xinduqiao or Yajiang. Would you know which is closer to Pamu Ling and which route goes over Gao'er pass? I also noticed the township of Bajiaolou being closer, but I guess access/accommodation may be difficult?
Sorry for all the questions! Any thoughts very gratefully received.

Just spent three days on Emei Shan, which was beautiful once the weather final cleared up. Vinaceous Rosefinch captured our hearts in terms of bird beauty. I couldn't find any pheasants though, although may have heard Lady Amherst's up from Wannian.

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Old Sunday 23rd May 2010, 14:34   #256
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May be Xinduqiao is the best place to stay - here there are many Hotels that cater for tourists and you may be able to find someone who will arrange a van or car to transport you to Pamu Ling. The route from Xinduqiao takes you over the pass - at the top make sure to look out for Tibetan Partridge.
Since the birding at Pamu Ling is best in the early morning it could also be an idea to overnight there - but accommodation will be primitive at best - and you have to watch out for the affects of altitude since you'll be sleeping around the 4000m mark.
Here are a couple more pics we took from the pass on the 13th of this month - a Horned Lark and a couple of White-eared Pheasant. which were seen from the road, just above the tree-line on the Yajiang side of the pass.

On another note - today we're at Wanglang reserve in N Sichuan - but I'm afraid for all intents and purposes this birding site is closed until at least October - since some mastermind has decided to literally rip up all the tracks and start on a road building project. The mess is pretty nasty - we could just about drive to the accommodation area - but had to rent park transport to take us further into the reserve (only the right hand branch road is drivable by 4WD).
But at least Wanglang is still giving birds - here's a Blue-eared Pheasant - from a frosty this morning.
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Old Tuesday 25th May 2010, 02:24   #257
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Thanks china guy. Im looking forward to the trip through western Sichuan, down to Yunnan, and hopefully can catch up with a few of the specialities despite the limitations of public transport.

Any recent experience of Jiuzhaigou nature reserve? We head that way tomorrow.
John
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Old Tuesday 25th May 2010, 06:00   #258
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Love the Blue-eared Pheasant! - I can't imagine better views than those in your pic.

White-eared Pheasants somehow look more like livestock than wild birds -can't explain why - but I had the same feeling when I saw them a few years ago.

PS very sad to hear about Wanglang - is this to open the reserve to mass tourism?

Cheers
Mike
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Old Thursday 27th May 2010, 06:23   #259
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Sid,
Blue-eared Pheasant - nice shot !
Like Mike K., sorry to hear about the road building. There is an artificial waterfall a few kilometres outside the reserve entrance... I hope they're not going to build any more inside the reserve as "attractions".
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Old Sunday 30th May 2010, 10:28   #260
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Hi again - I'm afraid road building has been an extreme problem this year in many parts of Sichuan!!!!!!! Today we had a call from a couple of Belgian birders who have found that the road from Maerkang to Hongyuan has suddenly been closed to small cars (the route to Ruo Er Gai - we could travel this road just a couple of weeks back)!!!!
As for the road building in wanglang - well that's due to be finished for the mass tourism horror of the October holiday - and its being built to a size that will allow two big busses to pass side by side!!!!!!!!!!!
Saying that, i dont think no normal tourist groups are interested in Wanglang - even with that joke of a false waterfall at the gates - so I suspect the same old story of a project a day helps pad out the old wallet
On a more cheerful note - some pics from Balang - Red-faced Rosefinch and Blue sheep
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Old Sunday 30th May 2010, 15:57   #261
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Sorry John - I missed your post asking for JZ info - and although you've already traveled through, here's a few words on that park.
The first thing is that unless you're really interested in Rufous-headed Robin then it can be challenging and testing destination for any birder.
The first problem is the recent price hike that means tickets are now only sold on a one day entry basis (before you bought the ticket for 2 days) - this almost doubles the entry price to the park ( they're selling a day ticket for 220RMB + 90RMB for the park bus - a whacking 310RMB/day).
The second is the time restriction on being able to bird the park - you can get on a park bus earliest at 7.30 - meaning birding will start after 8.00 - the latest you can be in the park is around 5.00 - and security are already bussing people out of the the end of road destinations like primeval forest by 16.00!!!!
The increase in security - these guys are dressed in ties and black nylon suites, making them look like a parody of the mafia - makes overnighting in the park extremely difficult.
Rh Robin is to be found on at least a couple of "banned to the public" off the official boardwalk tracks - but too many birders getting caught stumbling along these routes will probably result in fences or some other preventative measures!!!!! Our one day visit during rain gave us A female Rh Robin - loads of Indian Blue Robin, Spectacled Parrotbill, Chinese Nuthatch, Three-banded Rosefinch and remeber the Spectacled Fulvetta that can be found in the scrub on hillsides outside the park area.
For those who enjoy a quiet unspoiled type of nature - the crowds at JZ can be frightening - 30,000/day in the peak season (at the new prices that's 9 million RMB/day). However most of the visitors stick to the famous sites and there are still areas where you can avoid them.
JZ is of a quality that makes a visit a interesting if expensive experience - but if you'd ever want to make a return trip is a whole other matter!!!!!!

I'm afraid we didn't take any good pics on our wet JZ day - but a pic of rainy Chestnut Thrush from another damp destination just about sums up our birding that day!!!!!!!
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Old Tuesday 1st June 2010, 14:42   #262
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I'm currently guiding a tour round Sichuan - all the usual suspects appeared at Jiuzhaigou, on the plateau and at Mengbi Shan though a couple of interesting notes:

Buses at Jiuzhaigou - at the moment then actually begin to run at 0700 and end at 1830 (both days we were there). Amazed how much Zechawa has transformed from the tiny little Tibetan village to a huge shopping frenzy, it certainly has lost its appeal. However, Jiuzhaigou was still as magical as ever and the Rufous-headed Robins seemed to be doing ok (min. 4 territories at one spot).

Big surprise was seeing a drake Falcated Duck at Flower Lake, north of Ruoergai mixed in with other wildfowl - anyone else seen this species in Sichuan recently? I have no idea on its current status. Also pleasing to see was good numbers of Saker about - minimum of 8 in one day.
Also good to see was a Chinese Grey Shrike nesting in the same bush as on my previous visit 3 years back, this time with 2 large chicks.

Today at Mengbi Shan a party of Sichuan Jay's eventually showed themselves along with a good run of galliforms and Crested Tit Warblers.

Wolong tomorrow!

Cheers,

James
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Old Tuesday 1st June 2010, 15:56   #263
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Hi James - we also got that Falcated drake on Flower Lake together with a female. During winter this species is not that difficult to find in Sichuan - but this was also the first time for us to find it at Ruo Er Gai. The sighting made on the 19th May was also the latest we've seen it during spring.
The water level on the lake was low and there were many waders - including flocks of Pacific Golden Plovers (with a couple of Grey Plovers also present), Temminck's stint, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank - all giving good evidence of a rich Wader migration over Sichuan. Another Duck species that we don't usually see was Garganey - we got a couple of these.

As for that bus at JZ - sounds like you struck lucky - they were already making us head towards the areas closer to the park gates at 16.00!!!!! I think a tactic in JZ is to stay out of sight - we were on the boardwalks at primeval forest and the security guys were making a sweep of all the visitors in that area to ask them to move down into the lower regions of the park. We'll be at JZ again in a couple of weeks or so - lets hope our bus will start at 7.00 this time!!!!

The pics are of one of our Ruo Er Gai Sakers - still bloodied around the bill, our Chinese Grey Shrike, which conveniently showed up at the very start of the first proper day's birding in this area and one of those nice black backed Citrine Wagtails that are a feature around the lake.
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Old Sunday 6th June 2010, 14:22   #264
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Nice photos again!

Forgot to mention the Gull-billed Tern at Hongyuan - no idea on the status of this in Sichuan, any ideas?

We just finished the Wolong area. First time I've been back since the earthquake and it was hard to take in the scene having been so familiar with it previously. Landslides were terrible - prevented us reaching the Wood Snipes for dawn and also stopped us from heading to Wawu Shan via Chengdu - we have had to go via Baoxing (wherever that is!).
Balang Shan was typically magnificent though - managed to hit all our targets in one day despite the poor early morning weather, even jamming in on a monal in the late afternoon at my second locality having dipped at the usual spot due to fog.
Wuyipeng was great - Firethroats were far more showy than I'm used to and 10 tragopans in 24 hours was a nice surprise!

Looking forward to a wet Wawu tomorrow....

James
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Old Sunday 6th June 2010, 16:15   #265
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I 've never seen that Gull-billed Tern (neither in Hongyuan nor elsewhere). Could be on passage?

Really horrible wet weather! Never experienced 48h (and still counting) of non-stop-rain during 12years in Chengdu. I had to skip my birding weekend on a mountain between Ya'an and Wawu. Went to my mother in law on the country side instead and had a lot of cockoo calls there from the terrace:
Asian Coel
Eurasian cockoo
Large Hawk cockoo
Indian cockoo
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Old Monday 7th June 2010, 09:25   #266
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Hi Sid,
Just want to pass on our sincere thanks to you and Meggie on a fantastic 28 day trip that you hosted for us. We all thoroughly enjoyed the trip and had a great experience seeing some epic birds.

I personally had 170 lifers from a trip list of well over 300 species.

I would definitely be interested in another trip, Yunnan maybe, some time in the future.

Regards Si
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Old Saturday 12th June 2010, 05:14   #267
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Hi James,
Hope you had a good time at Wawu Shan ! Baoxing used to be known as Mupin, and you may have seen a couple of posters on the way through calling that route the "Pere David Road"... it is where the first specimen of Giant Panda was brought to Pere David in , I think, 1869. We visited Fengtongzhai Nature Reserve nearby in 2006, but found the hills were too steep for easy birding.
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Old Wednesday 16th June 2010, 08:30   #268
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Hey John and Jemi,

Yes, it was great driving through that fabulous gorge, especially knowing about Pere Armand David collecting in that area, the scenery was some of the most stunning I have come across in Sichuan.
Those hillsides are way way too steep to do anything, thankfully Lady A is far easier at Wawu Shan!

Wawu Shan was excellent, I managed a lifer thanks to Sid funnily enough, Red Panda! Stunning views and seeing both pandas in 30 days fulfilled a childhood dream.

Currently in Lhasa having had wonderful views of 40 Lord Derby's Parakeets feeding in roadside trees between Bomi and Lulang. This morning Tibetan Eared Pheasants feeding on scraps around a nearby village and plenty of other interesting species.

Cheers,

James
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Old Sunday 20th June 2010, 13:11   #269
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Thanks for the info china guy. We enjoyed the beauty of Jiuzhaigou but the price tag is crazy and the anti non-tour group attitude verging on the offensive. The path on the west side (to long lake) is permanently closed. There are guards everywhere, one of whom followed us perhaps due to the individualistic glint in our eyes. And some of the tour groups do get away from the bus stops. We got the first 7am bus to the forest, but the next bus to arrive, 5 mins later, packed a full tour group of screaming women, who literally wailed like crazed banshies all the way round the forest track. When one of them saw a squirrel they went wild, and one started throwing sticks at it.

Still i did see Rufous headed Robin, and the scenery is stunning. But its attractiveness as a birding destination is severely damaged by all the things you mentioned. I would not choose to go back there - but im glad i went once.

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Old Tuesday 22nd June 2010, 09:24   #270
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James you timed your Sichuan visit pretty well - just after you guys left the the heavens really opened and we got the wettest June period for 12+ years. These deluges caused a mass of landslides - and during our second trip visit to Wolong, every morning we had to wait until after 8am before the landslides were cleared - with visibility and conditions almost always pretty grim when we got to the prime birding spots on the high pass. No matter, although we lost out on Monal we still were able to get target birds like Red-faced Rosefinch, Chestnut-throated Partridge, Brandt's Mountain Finch and White-browed Tit Warbler - and were able to catch up with other species such as White-eared Pheasant and (male) Grandala at other locations (Mengbi and Zhedou Shan).
Those landslides caused a bizarre piece of birding luck - sinking in oozing landslide mud on the Old Erlang Road, while I was trying to find a path forward - two Gold-fronted Fulvetta flew past my nose - and the others in the group were able to get this rare tick.
We've just done JZ and got our Rufous-headed Robin - luckily the type of habitat where these secretive birds are founds attracts very few visitors - which makes for a peace and quite that is of course usually a rarity in the more popular parts of the park.
We've got plenty of pics from this present trip which include a Red Panda (Meggie's Panda which was seen independently, on the same day, of the Panda our's and James' group were observing) - and an animal lifer for us - a Wolf - seen on the Ruo Er Gai Grasslands. But those photos will have to wait another few days before we get them online.
Pics on this post are - White-throated Redstart - displaying how small that white throat actually is. Black-necked Crane - as ever easy to see at Ruo Er Gai. Tibetan Snowcock - from our first trip (missed due to weather on the second) - from the high pass on the road that leads from Baxi to JZ (also showing how any low cloud obviously makes birding very difficult at these 4000+m heights).
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Old Tuesday 22nd June 2010, 15:04   #271
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Glad to hear that the mudslide brought you one (two) nice birds, but sounds like it's been a little challenging. Meggie's got great pics as usual! Love the "white throat" and the crane is quite handsome. Nice view of the snowcock - I think I wouldn't have seen it

Looking forward to when you get more pics sorted out (including wolf?!?)
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Old Tuesday 22nd June 2010, 20:20   #272
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Wawu Shan logistics

Hi, I'm looking for a little advice on Wawu Shan (or maybe Emei Shan or both).
I'll have about a week extra time after a birding buddy departs for home, in early August, and am thinking that Wawu Shan would be a good destination.

Since its just me, its probably a little expensive to hire a car to get me there, but I found one site that claimed to be a bus schedule Chengdu - Wawu Shan, two departures a day, 4 hour trip. Does this sound right? (There's no dates on this site, I don't know how recent it is.)

Would I be able to get from Wawu - Emei by bus? Is this worth doing? I read a couple reports of Emei Shan in August that claimed it was too crowded to be enjoyable, long lines for cable car at 5AM, etc.

Thanks,

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Old Wednesday 23rd June 2010, 15:05   #273
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Hi Bob - there seems to be more visitors going to Wawu - so I suppose that bus route direct from Chengdu is shipping groups of tourists into the park. 4 hours for this route seems correct - and this bus maybe takes you directly into the park. As far as normal public transport is concerned you would need to get a bus, from Chengdu, to the largest town close to Wawu - Hongya - and then transfer from there to a bus that would take you to village at the Wawu gate. To get up to the middle area, where you find the cable-car station and the hotel/restaurant, you then hitch a lift with some form of park transport. In these areas there is usually some form of minibus transport that will take you to a destination (just flag down any minibus that seems to drive in the direction you want to go) - sometimes as part of a route with fixed fare - or sometimes as hired transport where you bargain a price with the driver.
In Chengdu there are various bus stations - but those buses that serve tourist destinations often leave from the city center bus station next door to the Traffic Hotel. This hotel, or Sam's or Sim's hostels all have travel agency folk who speak English and may be able to help with ticketing etc.
As for getting to Emei from Wawu - that should also be quite possible - either by minibus or regular bus route - just practice your pronunciation of Emei Shan - and use a little body language and you'll have no problem. 3 hours should get you to Emei. There are various parts of Emei that will get you away from the tourist throng - a lot of the good birding is in the middle and lower areas.
We're actually at Emei right now - we wanted to get back to Wolong but the road conditions in that area are too dicey at the moment for us to try that option.
As for pics - well today I've got the spectacles from Jiuzhaigou - Spectacled Parrotbill and Spectacled Fulvetta - both of which we found outside the park area.
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Old Wednesday 23rd June 2010, 16:03   #274
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I've put some sound recordings from my recent Sichuan trip on xeno-canto, including Snowy-cheeked Laughingthrush (we saw three without the need for playback though).

The hillsides outside Jiuzhaigou brought us nothing: highly frustrating to see those spectacled jobbies! Probably too early for Rufous-headed Robin... we didn't see any guards below the Upper Seasonal Lake where we could get off the bus (but had a close shave elsewhere).

Could only reach Long Lake "early" by going up with the workers: this gave us an hour of peace (would have been longer if one of them hadn't overslept!) Still too late for Blue-eared Pheasant, but saw that at Wanglang (after a long discussion at the entrance). Sichuan Takin at Long Lake (found by one of those guards) was excellent.

Last edited by Xenospiza : Wednesday 23rd June 2010 at 19:52.
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Old Thursday 24th June 2010, 16:05   #275
shytorque
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: norfolk
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Hi Sid,
Greetings from sunny Norfolk
Was that a male Rufous headed Robin you saw at JZ this time.?
Also nice to see the Snowcock pic again, that was such a jammy tick for us all.

All the Best Si (and the Homo Vulgaris)
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