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Chengdu Birding – Pandas and the Bamboo Jungle.

Posted Monday 28th January 2008 at 05:08 by china guy
Updated Monday 28th January 2008 at 05:26 by china guy
Chengdu Birding – Chengdu, Sichuan the gateway to Tibet.
Contact - [email protected].

Today it was a trip to another interesting Chengdu spot – the famous Panda research center. This place is located within parkland about 10km to the north of the city. Here you’ll find a lot of nice woodland, scrubby thicket and large areas of thick propagated Bamboo (a jungle of Panda fodder). The Pandas themselves are kept in large open-air enclosures that are full of trees, bush and scrub – and these themselves are good bird habitat. There is also a lake that attracts many species.

Daurian Redstart - this handsome bird is a winter sight in Chengdu.

Again it was bitterly cold – with a bit of falling snow (although none of it ever sticks). There is talk of this being the coldest winter for the last 10 years.
With this harsh weather I was hoping for some wildfowl on the newly enlarged lake. However only 2 species of wild duck were seen within the small tame wildfowl collection – about 50 Common Teal and 4 Gadwall. Maybe as this habitat matures and if some vegetation is allowed to grow on the new banks sides it can attract something a bit more interesting.
A disturbing point about the new lake development is that the lakeside tree habitat that once held the Heron/Egret nesting and roost area – has now also been developed. This used to be fenced off, but I found a large main path that goes right up to the trees – and not a Heron or Egret to be seen. However in some larger trees further from the lake – another roost site – containing Grey and Black-crowned Night Heron. It’ll be interesting to see what happens here during the breeding season.

Black-crowned Night Heron - a Chilly day, don't look too cozy up there!!!!

A lot of smaller birds were flittering about – and the most obvious of these was a busy male Daurian Redstart. In the Bamboo thickets a lot of skulking was taking place with the ever present White-browed Laughingthrushes, and big mixed flocks of Black-throated Tit and Vinous-throated Parrotbill. As the Parrotbills bobbed in and out of the scrub it was difficult to check out for Ashy-throated – but we got one definite in an empty Panda enclosure. Actually this episode was quite funny because a group of Chinese tourists passed at the same time – saw the foreigner, binoculars to eyes, focusing intently into a patch of bamboo. “There must be something of interest in there – a Panda???” After a few minutes of staring at a clump of bamboo my new companions chose to leave – none the wiser for the wonders of Ashy-throated Parrotbill – but obviously thinking – “those foreigners are barmy!!!”
The champion skulker of the Bamboo - Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler – was heard many times with its clicking call. And a couple were actually polite enough to show for a nanosecond or two.
Easier to spot in the trees – were Spotted and Oriental Turtle Doves, Light-vented Bulbuls and a couple of woodpeckers flew over (Crimson-breasted or Great Spotted). On one of the workers paths – where they harvest bamboo – I raised a gamebird, which must have been a Chinese Bamboo Partridge (I’ve seen them here before) – but there are also Common Pheasant and a feral population Of Golden Pheasant.

Slaty Bunting - one of the endemics that can get those twitchers hopping around!!!!!

In around the pens were some noisy White-rumped Munia, a couple of cold looking Oriental Magpie Robins and a single female Orange-flanked Bush Robin, which seemed to be having a good time watching Panda watchers.
An exciting species here – a China endemic – was Slaty Bunting. A nice looking bird that is quite easy to spot in this location (I’ve seen it during the breeding season as well).

From warmer days - a greedy Panda

Ohhhh – and I also saw a few Pandas.
Total Comments 2


Very interesting, thanks for the post. I was in that area many years ago, spent a day at the preserve, but I wasn't a birder then. I was a mountain climber passing through on the way to the eastern Himalaya. I'd sure like to return to bird. (Not in winter, though!)
Posted Monday 28th January 2008 at 14:00 by Gary Clark Gary Clark is offline
china guy's Avatar
As the months move on - I hope the weather in my blogs gets warmer. The best time for a birding visit is April or October. In the summer it gets very hot - but then you head up into those mountains. Cooler up there for stalking around with binoculars.
Posted Monday 28th January 2008 at 14:10 by china guy china guy is offline
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