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Sichuan Birding

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Old Tuesday 23rd March 2010, 17:02   #226
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Agree with John, a Mountain Weasel, very nice!
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Old Wednesday 24th March 2010, 04:33   #227
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China Guy and Jiujiu, nice to see the high altitude birds and creatures! Not easy places for birds, animals or humans to flourish....

The mountain weasel pic is extremely cute! My less excellent than John's source here shows this drawing which looks pretty good for that id.
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Old Wednesday 24th March 2010, 09:13   #228
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Hi Sid and Meggie,
We've been away, so I've really missed this thread over the past few weeks.
Great to read these accounts of your adventures, and the pics bring back lots of memories.
Looking forward to the next installment..
J&J
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Old Wednesday 24th March 2010, 10:50   #229
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Hi John and Jemi - your name came up this morning, Meggie was looking at some of your latest OBC pics from Hainan. We're very motivated at the moment in wanting to look at pics from tropical holiday islands - a new chilly spell has just hit us.

Gretchen - I also use that picture source - it can be quite a guessing game with those illustrations.

As for pictures that bring back memories - that brilliant Jiujiu picture of the Mountain Weasel takes me back to about 4 years ago when we were first starting with bird photography (this was when we first started using a DSLR) - and a trip up Zhedou Mountain which is the gateway from Kangding up onto the Kham Tibetan Plateau. Near the top we got 3 of those Weasels - they looked like they were on a bit of rampage - and around them, on the fence posts, were about 6 Himalayan Rubythroat going mega-ape with warning calls. I reckon a stuffed Weasel on a string - maybe cast it out with a fishing rod so you could reel it back in - would be the perfect way to lure in a Rubythroat or two?????
Another weasily creature that's found in the forest close to this area is Yellow-throated Marten. I'm afraid we only have the gory picture of a dead example - found in forest on the Moxi to Kangding road (not quite certain how it died - no signs of trapping). Once again me and Gretchen will have difficulties in making an ID from the Mammalls of Sichuan website picture :(
To balance that gore with a bit of beauty - I'll put up a couple of pics of typical grassland birds. Two old pictures - Kessler's thrush, this year we want to get better pics of this bird, and Robin Accentor.
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Old Monday 5th April 2010, 05:53   #230
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Well we're just making the last arrangements before we start a long run of trips that begin tomorrow - but before we go here's a huge resource to share -
http://www.wwfchina.org/birdgallery/...e=%CB%C4%B4%A8
This is the work of Chinese birders - a gallery of bird photos - this list being Sichuan birds. For other provinces you navigate backwards towards the main-page - the Chinese can be a bit tricky, but if you click on the list (the word list is on one of the links) - you'll get a list of photos ordered in English common and scientific names.
Some of the those English common names differ from the ones normally in use - and a few photos may have been wrongly ID'ed - but this resource is pretty massive and makes a great ID tool.
There are also some pics that make very interesting records in their own right - for example a pic of Reeve's Pheasant taken in the the Pingwu area of North Sichuan (this is the area close to Wanglang and Tangjiahe).

As for our pics - well we've just used our time to buy a new camera body - a Canon 7D - which makes me happy because I get to use the 50D!!!!!
Here are some of the old 50D pics from our most recent trips - Little Owl and Rock Sparrow from the Ruo Er Gai area and Vinous-throated Parrotbill from just outside Moxi.
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Old Tuesday 6th April 2010, 15:23   #231
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Yesterday, I have had the luck to almost step on a flock of tib. partridges on the Pass between Xinduqiao and Yajiang. They weren't shy at all...
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Old Saturday 10th April 2010, 17:51   #232
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A quicky post with some nice pics from our last trip around Moxi and Erlang Mountain -
A solitary Snipe - that was nice and solitary up at its 4000m wetland. As with all Snipe - pretty hard to see - we would have all walked passed it without Meggie's Eagle-eye!!!!
An interesting Thrush - Long-tailed - as always it's useful with a pic of these birds - and from it you can see its build and bars instead of spots separates it from Chinese.
White-browed Fulvetta - these cracking little birds showed up a few times.
And finally a slightly bedraggled Lady A, about to cross the Chengdu to Lhasa highway - that day we saw about 20 of these Pheasants including some stunning males. Even during a toilet break I had a Cheeky female come out of the scrub and give me a quick eyeballing before skedaddling back into cover.
All these birds were lifers for our guests - but this trip included a special category of lifer - the traffic-jam lifer. We got stuck in a couple of unfortunate jams - but from within the car still were able to pick up Chinese Blackbird and a Grey-faced Buzzard.
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Old Sunday 11th April 2010, 01:00   #233
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Terrific pix - especially of the Solitary Snipe.

How often do you see this? Solitary and Wood Snipe are big target birds for me. I've dipped on Wood Snipe in the Dwarf Juniper in Wolong and had either Solitary or Wood Snipe in the Gaoligong Shan in Yunnan a few years ago.

Cheers
Mike

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Old Sunday 11th April 2010, 12:20   #234
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I will visit WaWu Mountain 22-25th April. Hope to find Lady Amherst's Pheasant and many Parrotbills.
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Old Sunday 11th April 2010, 13:02   #235
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Xiaoming, great news! I hope you have a great trip. Will you have two days or more on the mountain? (Hope more !!!)

Jiujiu and China guy, keep forgetting to say how much I am enjoying the pictures. The quails were great, and easy to see too!! My my. All the latest pics are great too - I love the fulvetta, am semi-enlightened by the thrush, and delighted with the cautious looking pheasant (so glad she watches before crossing the road!). Snipe looks easy to see with snow in the background - haha!

cheers!
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Old Sunday 11th April 2010, 15:24   #236
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Mike - the Solitary Snipe is a solitary sighting - previous trips we have flushed 'altitude' snipe on a couple of occasions, but have never been able to get in contact with them. This year Wood Snipe are a target - the Balang area is now easily accessible again and is quieter after the last round of road building has finished!!!!!
There's now a new project for that @#%%!! road to 4 sisters - they intend to drive a tunnel through Balang Shan (which makes you wonder why they improved the road in the first place - it was never that bad) - I just hope they've worked out where they're going to dump the all that rock they're going to dig!!!!!

Here are a couple more pics of the Solitary Snipe - it's pretty big for Snipe and the way it flies makes it look a little Woodcock.

And yes Gretchen those pheasant seem to be more traffic smart than a lot of the pedestrians - as kids back in the UK we had Tufty the Squirrel to teach us how to cross the road - the kids here could do with a Lady A equivalent.
The Lady A pics show a male in the mist - and a 'let's get out of here quickly' female shot.

Xiaoming - the Lady A at Wawu are on the road about 5 km from the main gate up to the the lower hotel area - its best to drive this road early - like from first light -and watch from a car - you can see them almost all the way to the car-park area. You can also get them late evening.
At Wawu they've just made a new walking path at the lowest elevation - when going into the park through the main gate you have to make left in the direction of the temple and follow that track for around 5km until you come to the new path that leads into some nice looking forest. Good luck on the Parrotbills - try and get yourself Grey-hooded!!!!!
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Old Sunday 11th April 2010, 16:52   #237
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Great stuff Sid, some magic birds once again.

Good luck Xiaoming, look forward to hearing the results from your trip.
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Old Monday 12th April 2010, 10:25   #238
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Here are a few more pics from our short trip to Erlang/Moxi -

Our local version of Spot-winged Rosefinch - verreauxii which has been argued up as a split known as Sharpe's. These birds show white on the wings when they fly - the pictured bird is male.
We got the bird on the Kangding side of The old Erlang Road - where there were also both White-winged and Collared Grosbeak (although we only found female of the latter species).

A female Temminck's Tragopan - we still patiently wait for a good photo opportunity for the male!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Plain Mountain Finch - lots of these around the top of the Old Erlang Road - we usually see this bird on the high grassland, but this trip we even saw them perching in trees, which is a first for us!!!!

And now for something completely different - at the moment we're out in rural N Sichuan - a pic from today - a nice male Russet Sparrow set off well by its background.
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Old Friday 16th April 2010, 09:40   #239
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Congratulations on the wonderful photos... particularly the shots of the snipe.

Best regards
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Old Tuesday 20th April 2010, 00:51   #240
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As usual, very nice pics - the tragopan showing lovely camouflage and the russet sparrow very sharp with his contrasting background. As usual your descriptions cause me to pull out the books - didn't know (recall?) you had so many kinds of grosbeaks there. Have you seen the spot-winged as well?
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Old Wednesday 21st April 2010, 03:22   #241
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We're out in NE Sichuan at the moment - far off the normal beaten birding track. Our usual hotel is full - so after a little scouting around we found a new one that borders a rather grotty looking river that is used as the local rubbish dump. But not too worry - as long as that waste isn't toxic birds don't seem to mind shuffling around empty instant noodle-pots and what-not - and we've been watching the likes of Citrine Wagtail from our hotel window. But this morning we got something that really took us by surprise.

Its been raining heavily - and the river is in flood - and the the most interesting bird of a pre-breakfast scan was a Crested Kingfisher. Down bellow there were some farm ducks, of which I obviously hadn't taken too much notice, but when a passing farmer on the river bank walked by - something pretty fantastic popped out of that group of ducks - Lesser White-fronted Goose!!!!

At first I couldn't believe my eyes - and then there was a mad scramble to get the camera, which was cardless - find a card - and then get off some pics before our goose disappeared. Meggie and me get a bit volatile in situations like this, but we managed not to hit each other in our desperate camera panic - and obscene language both in English and Chinese was kept to a minimum.

That was far too much excitement for a start of a day which is supposed to a free-one for us - and we had to relax with another sensation of our trip - our new toasted sandwich machine - and a nice breakfast of toasted cheese, tomato and onion.

There are two pics of that Lesser White-front - the pic of it in the water shows a little of the eye-ring - the other pic is of an Asian Barred Owlet in yesterday's rain storm - the likely reason why the goose decided to stop-off at this unlikely location.
But we mustn't get too cocky - after reading Shi Jin's posts - were guessing he's probably already seen a whole flock (or should that be a gaggle) of these birds at his local gas station or walking around the cash-desk of some Beijing supermarket

Gretchen - We've yet to see Spot-wing Grosbeak - I reckon we'd have to go out on the Kham (Sichuan Tibet) to get them - we'll be keeping our eyes open for those beauts.
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Old Wednesday 21st April 2010, 03:30   #242
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Quote:
Originally Posted by china guy View Post
the the most interesting bird of a pre-breakfast scan was a Crested Kingfisher.
Yeah for kingfishers!
Quote:
Shi Jin's probably already seen a whole flock (or should that be a gaggle) of these birds at his local gas station or walking around the cash-desk of some Beijing supermarket
What a picture that brings to mind!
Quote:
Gretchen - We've yet to see Spot-wing Grosbeak - I reckon we'd have to go out on the Kham (Sichuan Tibet) to get them - we'll be keeping our eyes open for those beauts.
You know I'm clueless as to what is easy to see and what's not. If you guys haven't seen it, it must be hard to see! Good to know there are still some new things for you all to look forward to.

Nice view of owlet in the rain - wow no cover or anything! I guess they are daylight hunters?

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Old Wednesday 21st April 2010, 08:50   #243
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The more to see still out-balances the have seens - I'm looking forward to the day we can post up a pic of Spoon-billed Sandpipers passing through Sichuan - wonder if we'll ever find that????

Our Lesser White-front is still around - we managed to get some better shots - by virtue of hanging out of hotel windows and other extreme acts of dangerous dare-devil birding.
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Old Wednesday 21st April 2010, 09:01   #244
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The more to see still out-balances the have seens - I'm looking forward to the day we can post up a pic of Spoon-billed Sandpipers passing through Sichuan - wonder if we'll ever find that???.
I'm hoping so too!
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Old Wednesday 21st April 2010, 13:25   #245
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Love the random birds which turn up in odd places out of the blue. The one that springs to mind is Chinese Pond Heron close to the petrol station just outside Ma'erkang.

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Old Thursday 22nd April 2010, 07:01   #246
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Well that Lesser White-front sighting was more than just random - it turns out that it was only the second for Sichuan - the first being from a specimen collected in Chengdu in 1955!!!!!

It's not often I get to be younger than the age of a last sighting

Thanks a lot to to Metroplex - another Chengdu birdforum member for giving me the info
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Old Sunday 25th April 2010, 08:25   #247
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After a couple of weeks in NE Sichuan our present visit is almost finished - and we'll be starting to head back towards Chengdu tomorrow. This morning yet more rain - in these two weeks we've seen a fair bit of the wet-stuff and these damp conditions mean we sometimes have to take the longer surfaced road routes instead of using the shorter mud track alternatives. Even though we've got 4WD - steep gradients on highly rutted, wet clay surfaces ain't much fun and those small roads are very prone to landslides when it gets wet!!!

Birding out here, although not in the same class as the premium Sichuan sites is interesting - we've seen a couple and heard lots of Golden Pheasant - and spring migrants are passing through. There's a lot of Sichuan - and much of the NE is one of the many hardly been birded areas of this province. For those who like to explore - there's still a well off the beaten birder's track Sichuan - that's often well worth a bit of exploration.

Here are pics from the last few days -
Bonelli's Eagle - third time we've seen this species in this area.
Crested Kingfisher - had to put this one on for Gretchen since she seems a Kingfisher freak. That crown looks like a paper hat you get to wear a 6yo's birthday party - also note the rain.
Another rain pic - Grey Faced Buzzard - here the chronic lighting and soft focus have given us GFB as Monet or some 19th century impressionist would have painted this bird.
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher - these hang around the farm houses. If this aggressive little bird could wear boxing gloves it would happily give you a black eye!!!!
And one of those spring migrants in a rare sunny situation - Greater Short-toed Lark - this one is just showning that black upper breast stripe.
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Old Sunday 25th April 2010, 10:20   #248
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Thanks for the crested's pic - he looks a bit like he's been pulling out crest feathers lately (maybe facing deadlines like me?). (Actually, this species seem rather unique among crested birds in having a very uneven line.) I really like the pic of the grey-faced buzzard - a lot to see despite any "impressionistic" qualities. That yellow-rumped flycatcher is quite a looker! He wouldn't want to hurt anyone, would he? (Funny how people were talking about another small yellow bird, goldcrests? I forget, as being quite aggressive too.) Nice to see the lark - I had just been studying the short-toed one, and this is a bit of a contrast.

Hope you continue safe on your back roads and the rain lets up a bit. In the past we toyed with living in Sichuan (could happily live on Sichuan food), but we've never been attracted by the weather.
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Old Tuesday 27th April 2010, 12:05   #249
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We've just got back - now a few days in so-called civilization - and then on the road again.

Gretchen - to live in Sichuan and beat the weather you have to travel away from Chengdu, since Chengdu lies within the Sichuan basin, which is a humid, misty, damp hole in the ground from where you rarely see the sun and into which rolls some very nasty pollution. Although, during the winter, it's far warmer than the N of China - it feels far colder, since average winter temps are chilly 4C, but none of the houses have any insulation and no efficient heating systems. A wise 'gent' once told his minions that nobody needed winter heating south of Yangtze - and whatever that guy said was done!!!!
To escape the basin weather - get up onto the plateau - there you go into an alpine climate - much more sun that gives of a lot of warming radiance - but also leads to some pretty bitter frosts during the winter.

As for Sichuan food - our trick to enjoy it is not to eat it all the time!!!!!! But for those who are traveling through, the food is one of those great pleasures. To find some of the better eateries - don't go too much on restaurant appearance but on how many folk are eating at the place. If you see crowds you know something good is going into hungry tummies. To discover what it is - well just wonder around the tables and peer over diners shoulders to see what they're eating - this is perfectly acceptable and common behavior out here. To order - just point at one of those dishes!!!!!!

here are some more pics from that last trip -
Yesterday more Bonelli's Eagle - and the solving of a winter mystery. Back in January we got a very distant pic of a Bonelli's which seemed to be carrying prey. This time we saw the same bird - but this time discovered the supposed prey to be a gammy, sticking out leg. It seems that the bird can survive with this impediment - and in this second observation it was part of pair. Lets hope that leg doesn't stop it from doing its mating 'business".

Spring is here - we saw Eastern Crowned Warbler hard at work in nest production. In that pic I've included all those useful ID pointers for this species - bulky bill, a very insignificant wing bar and that median crown stripe.

More spring - one a this year's young from a pair of Little Forktail.

And a spring migrant - Taiga Flycatcher showing why its Taiga and not Red-breasted. These two species used to lumped under Red-throated - but now we have split our birds to Taiga where the red is limited to chin and throat rather than spreading down to the breast area.
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Old Tuesday 27th April 2010, 13:59   #250
Gretchen
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: southeast China
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Yeah, hard to say if we'd love Sichuan food all the time or if I would really manage the "real" thing frequently - I remember literally crying through a "hot" pot. Have very vivid memories of that time, I didn't speak much Chinese and so was taken back to the kitchen to point out what we wanted to put in our hotpot - and not recognizing a lot of the available items It is a different cuisine. I'm glad its easier to get in more places now, but not so genuine I'm sure...

The young forktail is sooo cute (excuse me, please). Wow, it's got a ways to go until it achieves "fork"! I guess it was a fledgling hopping around?

Thanks for the compilation on pointers for the Eastern Crowned, though honestly I'm sort of missing the coronal stripe (I often find birds reluctant to show it off). Fascinating about your eagle's foot - very interesting to have such a distinctive feature to recognize an individual!! Very lovely red-throat on the Taiga, and a good review for me ... I believe I saw some in Thailand, but don't think I saw such a clear marking.
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