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Old Saturday 9th January 2010, 02:06   #126
Shi Jin
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Seems that you had a great time in Yunnan.

Any hornbills near Nabang?

...I'm thinking of going back there in a few weeks to look for Great (having seen Wreathed and Oriental Pied there last year).

Also, where did you see the Scaly Laugher and B-b B-eater? (Two birds that have elduded me in several visits to the area.)

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Old Saturday 9th January 2010, 05:08   #127
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Afraid we didn't get to set eyes on any Hornbills - but heard stuff we thought to be possible Hornbills in both Nabang and the new Botanic Garden area at Ruili.

Blue-bearded Bee-eater turned up at Nabang - and we only got eyes on that because a flock of Grey-headed Parakeet were feeding in the same trees. Greater Flameback was also hanging about - so it was case of which way to watch now!!!!
Still got a stiff neck from all that canopy watching!!!!
Smaller (more conventional) Bee-eaters are far easier - that Green Bee-eater was just 2 minutes down the track from its huge Blue-bearded cousin.

The Scaly Laugher turned up in Gaoligong - Meggie got one in a flock of Red-tailed Laughers and I got a solitary single bird - but I'm afraid no pics of this species!!!!!

And a Happy New year to you Marmot - Yunnan wasn't all sunshine - early mornings still bought a bit a frost in the higher areas - that picture of Grey-headed Lapwings and tropical Yunnan Ice is at Tenchong - but the days soon warmed up to shirt-sleeve temperatures.
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Old Saturday 9th January 2010, 14:38   #128
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Thanks China Guy. What a great trip.
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Old Sunday 10th January 2010, 07:32   #129
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Checking out more pics today - our list jumped by one.
I knew we had Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler - we got it briefly at Nabang - when it was part of a mixed flock that crossed a driving track. Meggie managed a pic through the windscreen. We also thought we got the same species at Ruili Botanical gardens - but closer inspection today makes it Red-billed Scimitar Babbler - big differences being the lack of black over the white eye-stripe - and longer, more slender bill.

We're also thinking of going back soon - blue skies of Yunnan against our present Sichuan grey - being one of the big draws. And we missed out on a lot of birds - another Scimitar Babbler eluded us - Slender-billed - that's a Gaoligong bird.
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Old Sunday 10th January 2010, 08:10   #130
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I can see why you'd want to go back to Yunnan - looks like you're having a great time there!

Good work on the two scimitar babblers, they are close, ("red" "coral" - hmmm) - but it looks like you've found important differentiating features. Looks like the slender billed will be more distinctive. Anyway, fun to find a bird in retrospect like that!

Thanks for sharing all the pics and stories.

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Old Sunday 10th January 2010, 09:25   #131
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Retrospective ID from photos

This has recently and famously enabled several 'firsts' for Britain.

I've done this a few times (with raptors, cuckoos and parrotbill, to name some families)- usually because the LCD monitor on my camera is too small. When edited and on the PC monitor, things become much easier.

As long as you saw the bird in the first place (!) and attempted some kind of ID, I think this kind of retrospective 'tick' is OK.

I'm now prepared to be shot down.
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Old Sunday 10th January 2010, 10:06   #132
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Without Digibirding we'd have never got this famous photo at Gaoligong - I know this species intimately, but never picked up that faintest of hint yellow brow until I was playing with the PC - it gave me quite a retrospective shock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old Sunday 10th January 2010, 12:06   #133
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Without Digibirding we'd have never got this ... picked up that faintest of hint yellow brow until I was playing with the PC


I looked around at the OBC set and yours is one of the "clearest" brows
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Old Sunday 10th January 2010, 15:40   #134
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great to see pix giving a direct comparison of the two Scimitar Babblers and your reports just increase my own desire to get back there asap. - keep em coming!

Cheers
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Old Tuesday 12th January 2010, 01:41   #135
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fyi the species list for all four days of my recent Emei Shan trip (and links to photos) are at:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=160518
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Old Tuesday 12th January 2010, 13:31   #136
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Hi Mike - when I get time I'll write something about the practicalities of our Yunnan birding. We had particular good fortune at Gaoligong - we lucked into a wonderful farmhouse hotel which was in an eco-village just a few Km bellow the reserve entrance. It was very Cheap - just 30RMB/night and 15RMB a meal/person - and they had good guanxi with the 'entrance-fee' people in the reserve.

Ill post up the telephone number to this place - but at the moment were out in NE Sichuan - doing our bird survey work - so it'll have to wait a week or so.

The place we're at isn't in the same class as Emei - it looks like Shi Jin had a great trip out there - but it still has some nice birds.

Here's some of Meggies photos from today

Asian Barred Owlet - those eyes are rather piercing to say the least

Slaty Bunting - first time, in this location, we've seen this great bird.

Red Billed Leothrix - a species which could be a contender for the title of 'world's cleanest bird.' This one was part of a flock that was taking a communal wash in a small stream. This isn't the first time we've seen Leothrix having a mass bath - but today was very impressive, since the weather was pretty nippy!!!!
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Old Tuesday 12th January 2010, 13:59   #137
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Wow that Leiothrix is a beauty no wonder they want to keep themselves spruced up.
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Old Thursday 14th January 2010, 13:26   #138
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Hi marmot - yes our Leiothrix (glad you put me right on my spelling) - are pretty smart. They're also very sociable - and will preen each other.

The last couple of days have also been pretty good out at this site - we caught Bonelli's Eagle here again - this time a pair of birds.
Today we got a very brief female Golden pheasant.
And a new Sichuan tick for us - Scaly Thrush

Also some nice bird pics -
Chinese Thrush - this bird is set off very nicely in that berry bush

Chinese Bamboo Partridge - we caught a flock of 7 feeding on the driving track. at first we tried to take pics through the windscreen - however they stayed put when we opened a window but it was touch and go - those electric windows are darn noisy - our chickens didn't like the noise.

Moustached Laugher - hard to get this pic - we got the bird to come in closer by playing some Laughingthrush Chatter on the MP4. Within 2 minutes we had been joined by 20 Greater-necklaced Laughers - whoes recording we were playing.

Black-chinned Yuhina - this guy just asked for his pic to be taken!!!!!!
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Old Friday 15th January 2010, 03:02   #139
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Wow that Leiothrix is a beauty no wonder they want to keep themselves spruced up.
I had meant to make a comment on this one too, but forgot - this is really a great picture of a great bird (guess that's why he's your avatar?).

Love your Chinese thrush picture too - excellent spots and berries - these are really "spotty" birds (and one I've actually seen in person ). Nice work on the other birds as well.... wish we had yuhinas up here - very attractive birds too.
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Old Friday 15th January 2010, 06:55   #140
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Leiothrix and Partridge- an unlikely combination

Yes, Gretchen, the Leiothrix is a truly lovely looker- although surprisingly (?) common in places for such a beauty. Here's one I took on my trip with Sid and Meggie last April.

I'm impressively gobsmacked by the CBPartridge pix. I've heard them dozens of times, in various places, but only seen them once- in flight. To get such fantastic shots is amazing.
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Old Monday 18th January 2010, 10:24   #141
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We were lucky with those Bamboo Partridge pics - the usual contact is through its very distinctive 'beeper-ray' call - but occasionally they will show!!!!

Today was a bad day that turned good. Still out in NE Sichuan - our destination was totally clouded out - to such an extent that the small, winding mountain road was getting a tad dangerous. So it was a turn-around and back down the valley for a bit of river watching.

It turned out to be a brilliant move - with a female Baikal Teal as our reward. We found her in a pretty grotty stretch of water - together with 5 Common Teal- where earth movers and front-end loaders were dredging the river for stone and sand. A lot of the rivers in China are having their natural banks totally trashed in this manner - but in the long run it sometimes seems to create some good habitat for Waders and Duck - even if it does destroy landscapes and the natural river ecology.
Our pix show well the facial spot that ID's the Baikal - the flight shot shows how they differ from female Teal.

We also watched the Ducks face a natural danger - as a Peregrine did a long lazy fly-by. But the ducks sat tight on the water - and the Falcon flew on.
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Old Monday 18th January 2010, 13:06   #142
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Sid and Meggie,
Great to see all your Yunnan photos.
Your description of avoiding fast-moving lorries while distracted by great birds brought back Gaoligongshan (Pianma Road) memories for us.
VERY jealous of the Rufous-necked Laugher - we still need this one.
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Old Monday 18th January 2010, 13:57   #143
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Our pix show well the facial spot that ID's the Baikal - the flight shot shows how they differ from female Teal.
More nice reporting, and useful pics -thanks for the field mark - useful to me at least
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Old Monday 18th January 2010, 14:34   #144
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Excellent flight shot. Thanks.
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Old Monday 18th January 2010, 15:47   #145
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Female Baikals don't get to look more clear cut than than - nice one - and great to run into it in such a random place. I agree with Shi Jin about the flight shot - never seen such a good comparison.

Ps John is being coy about his own Baikal Teal - also found on a river nowhere near a proper wetland - one of the coolest patch birds ever in HK in my opinion!

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Old Thursday 21st January 2010, 14:03   #146
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I am often amazed on how many different faces the activity of bird watching can have - apart getting the ID of certain species or subspecies there is so much fun in just watching the birds: Yesterday and today I went to Qinglong Lake in the eastern outskirts of Chengdu, as this could be the only place left where our ducks usually spent their winter. They disappeared from all the other lakes and riversides around Chengdu this year.
And I first was rewarded with a Common Coot that was hunting (!) two Little Grebes. Everytime it was close by they dived off and the Coot apparently was puzzled. When they came up again, the hunt started from the beginning. The Coot also dived a few times... without success, as both the Coot and the Grebes emerged from two different spots again. They really featured a twenty minutes circus show.
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Old Thursday 21st January 2010, 14:59   #147
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However, this wasn't the only reward during these two days.
For me the biggest rewards was - no - not the high number of ducks (I'd guess between 1000 and 1500) and that we finally found them, but a bird I have been looking for up in Aba Prefecture/Amdo and where else it is supposed to show up according to reports but without success yet:
Chinese Grey Shrike
It was just hanging there in the air, heading down to get some food, coming up again, standing still in the air again ... great!
Unfortunately we just arrived at the lake five minutes ago and didn't prepare the camera in time. So, no image of this rare bird.
So were the other ducks: they were too far for giving a clear picture. Only the Coots, Grebes and Mallards stayed closer to the waterside.
Nevertheless, there were so many ducks in the middle of the lake and their existance gave me a good feeling (nobody knows what will happen to them in the next year).:
Common Golden Eye, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Spot-billed Duck, Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Garganey, Common Pochard, Feruginous Pochard, Common Merganser, Great Crested Grebe etc, and probably much more.
Most of them were far in the middle of the lake and asleep. I am sure that there must be Bear's Pochard and Baikal Teal amongst them as well.


Here's another picture of a bird I took a few days before Christmas:
Robin Accentor
That was on a trekking tour at the west side of Minya Konka (=Gongga Shan). These birds (a loose flock of about 20 birds) gathered around a five-houses-village at about 4100m(asl). And they were everything else than shy. The missing eyebrow and a clear line between the orange and the grey at the breast makes the difference to all the other accentors.
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Old Friday 22nd January 2010, 01:37   #148
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Hi Sichuan Jiujiu

Really liked your account of the coots and little grebe. It's so much fun watching things like that.

Very well done on finding the shrike. Was it one of the Tibetan (sub)species - ie the one you find up in Aba - which apparently come off the plateau in winter and get all the way over to east China?

Warm regards from a very cold Beijing!

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Old Friday 22nd January 2010, 01:48   #149
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Yes, Jiujiu, an interesting story about the coot - I have never seen anything like it, so it's quite interesting. I'm not familiar with the Robin Accentor either - very nice pic! Thanks for sharing your finds.
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Old Friday 22nd January 2010, 04:58   #150
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Hi Shi Jin! I guess the shrike was coming from the high plateau. However, I always failed to see it there. So I just can guess.


Regarding accentors: This area is really great for accentors: YulongXi, Konka Monastery, Tsemet Pass...
The trip this winter gave me Alpine, Brown (see image below) and Robin Accentor. Roufous-breasted you find there all over the year and also almost everywhere else.
The Maroon-backed Accentor was very common in October: got about 100 views of it within four days.
So, winter is the season for these birds. In Summer they are dispersed and mostly much higher up (>4500m).
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