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Sichuan Birding

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Old Sunday 25th July 2010, 13:01   #301
china guy
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Mike - just watch out for the weather with any trip in this direction!!!!!! We've just had about 12 hours of heavy rain - with a delightful 10 hour of power-cut - this summer has been very wet!!!!
Getting to Hailuogou you have to pass a site where we've seen another bird you've shown interest in - Rufous-tailed Babbler - on the old Erlang Road (west side). We've never been able to show anybody this bird - but we came kind of close this year - while me and 3 guests went walking into a location where I've spotted Snowy-cheeked Nuthatch Meggie had the Babbler fly past in a mixed flock while she waited by the van!!!!!! Needless to say we came back without a Nuthatch sighting and couldn't pick up again on the Babbler!!!!!
Anyways here are some more of our birds from the last couple of trips -
Buff-throated Warbler - from precisely the same site as Rufous-tailed Babbler. The next bird - another rather non-distintive Phylo - Yellow-streaked Warbler - was taken up on the Plateau on the road between Kangding and Yajiang. And a bird that is heard far more than seen - Lesser Cuckoo - this time in a very handsome hepatic plumage.

Tomorrow we're off on new trip - this time carrying rubber rings and life-jackets - but hopefully it ain't going to be that rainy!!!!!
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Old Tuesday 27th July 2010, 23:46   #302
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I'v been fortunate enough to run into the moupinia without really trying - at Sawan in Wolong in 2001 and at Dali in 91.

It's good to see a pic of Yellow-streaked Warbler - still a rare bird in HK and very much open to confusion with an odd-looking Dusky or Radde's.

Have a good trip and keep dodging the landslides.

Cheers
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Old Wednesday 28th July 2010, 19:39   #303
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Those photos are stunning, CG! Especially love the cuckoo.
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Old Wednesday 28th July 2010, 22:56   #304
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Hey Mike - amazingly the sun is shining so have avoided landslides but not HK birders - in Kangding at the moment and amid the bustle of grassland Tibetans bumped into John and Jemi Holmes walking down the street!!!!!!

Thanks halfto -here are some more of Meggie's pics from the last couple of days on the old Erlang Road.
A Sichuan Mammal first for us - Red and White Giant Flying Squirrel - this was a mighty big rodent, shame we didn't see it do a glide or two, but it just took the time to pop its head out to give us the one over and then go back to sleep.
Next up is a male tragy - we never get pics of the guys just their girls - but this time we struck a little luckier even though it was at a distance.
A Laugher - Barred Laughingthrush - as you normally see them, deep in the type of camera testing bush that often makes picture taking a challenge.
Finally an Orchid - this time one of our guests is a flower nut - so I'm taking the chance to follow behind. This was a foot high Orchid growing on a track on the more arid western side of Erlang - a very pretty plant.
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Old Monday 2nd August 2010, 11:38   #305
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Finished the first week of the present trip and are now down in the far SW of Sichuan - very close to the Yunnan border.
Here are some pics, taken over the last 2 days, that show Sichuan birding can still be tremendous during mid-summer.
A young Lammergeier on the grasslands between Litang and Batang - this area gave some great birds including Chinese Grey Shrike, Tibetan Snowfiches, Ibisbill, Tibetan Lark and Bar-headed Goose.
Another bird from this area is shown in pic 2 - Streaked Rosefinch.
Today, driving towards Yading, we came over a couple of interesting Chickens - A Tibetan Partridge close to the 4,600m pass at Rabbit Mountain - and White-eared Pheasant at Bangbu Monastery.
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Old Monday 2nd August 2010, 12:48   #306
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With the tragopan from the previous posting that's three fine chooks!

The orchid is a stunner, and the Lammergeyer shot is beautifully composed.

Keep 'em coming!

Cheers
Mike
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Old Monday 2nd August 2010, 17:11   #307
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Some more great photos, CG.

Co-incidentally I saw a Blue eared pheasant today.

Unfortunately 'twas in a cage.

H
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Old Tuesday 3rd August 2010, 13:24   #308
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That squirrel was quite interesting looking - wonder how big the "giant" is. The birds in the last set are all quite beautiful, especially the rosefinch and the partridge. Sounds like you've had some nice sightings. Thanks for sharing.
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Old Friday 6th August 2010, 08:44   #309
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Great photos

Great pic of the Lesser Cuckoo, also brilliant shot of the male Traggy on the Old Erlang road, Must show the pic to Smithy.



Regards Si
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Old Saturday 7th August 2010, 08:03   #310
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We've now driven through Sichuan and have reached the tourist hell-hole of Yunnan's Shangrila - Zhongdian. This place really has been developed into a very tacky concrete and plastic Tibetan theme-park. Today we found a hat made out of a Red Panda skin - just outside Songzanlin monastery - at one of those photo taking stands where you can dress up in so-called folk-costume. This monastery is first I've seen where monks sell cold cokes and sausages on a stick - all very sad!!!!!
But away from the tourist eyesores - there are still plenty of places that hold an interesting bird or two - here are a couple of interesting pics from 3 days back when we were still inside Sichuan.
The first is Yunnan Nuthatch - one of a group of five, the second time we've seen this bird on the Sichuan side of the border. Yesterday - to even things up - we saw Sichuan Treecreeper in Yunnan.
That second pic is a rather blow up shot of a great bird - a female Crimson-browed Finch - our first summer sighting in Sichuan.
And the queen of our Orchids - that last pic is Tibetan Orchid taken at Yading.

Hey Si - Smithy will be fuming so we'll see if we can persuade that Chicken to take a walk towards Norfolk.

And Gretchen that squirrel is pretty big - I'll try and find a more exact size when I look at my China Mammal book at home. On the net I found a size of 42cm - but our giant seemed a bit bigger than that.
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Old Saturday 7th August 2010, 09:21   #311
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Hi Sid,
Never mind the birds - did you succeed in finding a COLD beer in Kangding ?
We failed. But "Room Temperature" is still okay up there.
J & J
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Old Monday 9th August 2010, 13:07   #312
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A COLD beer is what I could need now indeed! I am back to Chengdu where temperatures are about 35C and still rising...
Even in the mountains it was so hot recently that it was difficult to find some good birds. Except of all kind of warblers there wasn't very much around in the places I have been.
However, a cold night in the tent on Balang Shan included a thunderstorm and surprised with two flocks of Tibetan Snowcocks the next morning!

BTHW some info on road accessibility: The road to Wolong / Balang Shan is still dangerous especially under rainy weather conditions: The mountain still keeps falling apart and traffic police keeps non-local cars from driving in.
But the good news is that they plan to build tunnels behind the landslide sections and the road is supposed to be open again for "out-siders" from end of this year.

In July I was in Dege (most western part of Sichuan) Area and was surprised how easy it was to see Rosefinches: Streaked, Red-fronted, Common, White-browed and Beautiful were almost everywhere.

Also, White-tailed Rubythroat belonged to the daily companions.
The Alpine Accentor reaches high altitude in summer as well. This pic was made at about 4800m!
Last but not least, a hungry juvenile Kessler's Thrush was waiting for its mother to come back - completely startled by the view of my handy pocket camera.

Roland
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Old Sunday 15th August 2010, 05:34   #313
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Sid and Meggie how are you, we have been seeing those horrific floods that have hit your area.

Are you both safe?
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Old Sunday 15th August 2010, 15:16   #314
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Hi marmot - thanks for the concern - but at the moment we're in Yunnan province which is far south of that terrible flooding in Gansu.
Actually today we had the first major rainy day for over 2 weeks - but luckily we had one bright spell where we lucked in this close-up of a male Lady A - Tangsang Mt. Dali.
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Old Monday 23rd August 2010, 07:38   #315
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Hello everybody!

I have to update the post on road accessibility again. The road to Wolong is away again. Heavy rain falls and floods make it almost impossible to go anywhere in the border area between Sichuan Basin and High Plateau.
See picture below - road near Ya'an.

We just can hope that road construction and tunnels will be accomplished by the beginning of the next birding season...
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Old Monday 23rd August 2010, 08:03   #316
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I just was happy to get back to Chengdu through all that mud.
On the high plateau (near Ganze) again the most common birds I managed to see were Grey-backed Shrike (see below a juvenile) and warblers. Very difficult to find any other species these days.

I've attached two pics of a warbler what I believe is a Blyth's Leafw - at least from its call it sounded like, but it looks more like Hume's, if looking at its dark feet. Really difficult to get an id. I'd like to ask for advice on that...
The pic was made on a shrub slope on ca 4300m.
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Old Monday 23rd August 2010, 14:48   #317
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Yeah it is a bit wet - but still plenty of good birds to get if you can find a dry spot. We've just come back from Yunnan via SE Sichuan - and here are some pics, 5 day's old, from Yunnan's Zixi Mountain - which is just south of Kunming.
The first bird is one of the focus ticks of this area - Giant Nuthatch. From the the picture it's difficult to gauge the size of this bird - and in-fact it only dawned on us what a monster it is when it dwarfed a Chestnut-vented Nuthatch that landed on the same tree.
Another useful bird is Black-faced Warbler - a single bird presented a lot of problems with regard to getting a half-decent pic.
And finally - bird we saw a lot of in this location - Chestnut-tailed Minla.
Another good bird we got at Zixi was Brown Bullfinch, a flock of 6 birds hanging around a temple - but unfortunately no pics.
Although this time spotted in Yunnan - we've seen both the Minla and Black-faced Warbler in Sichuan and that Giant Nuthatch should still be found in the south of Sichuan. Brown Bullfinch is an Emei speciality
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Old Monday 23rd August 2010, 15:46   #318
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Superb photos Maggie.

Good to hear both of you and juijui are well.
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Old Monday 23rd August 2010, 23:06   #319
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The Giant Nuthatch is a real stunner - bill like an Olivaceous warbler on steroids!

And that Lady A's is a bit of a gripper - despite 3 trips to Dali over the years I've only ever seen a female - and that was at Emei. Actually I have also seen the blood and wafting silver feathers of a male, which probably owes its life to the fact that I came round the misty corner and scared away the large raptor that had just caught it!

How far from Kunming is Zixi Shan?

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Old Tuesday 24th August 2010, 06:01   #320
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Zixi Shan is about 150km west of Kunming -on the Motorway to Dali (get off at Chuxiong). Almost half-way between the two destinations and makes a good first birding stop for anyone flying into Kunming. It's mainly plantation - but also holds some Older broadleaf forest, which gives a few good species. If you look at OBC images there's a pic of breeding Giant Nuthatch from the same area.

That Male Lady A from the close-up shot, of a few posts ago, seems not the brightest of its species - here's another pic of it lazily legging it down the road - but its soon tired of that and made a rather pathetic attempt to hide behind a earth embankment. Good job for the bird that Meggie's canon wasn't a lead-shot firing version - otherwise he'd have been that day's dinner!!!!!!
We saw a lot of Lady A's - with 3 males - on the stone road that leads up to the TV relay station on Tangsang Shan, Dali. This is a good birding spot - and one of the few areas in this terrible tourist hell-hole ehere you can escape the crowds and traffic!!! The Rufous-tailed Babbler (Moupinia) - was taken at the bottom of the road.
Mike its funny that you mentioned the male Lady A you've seen attached to a raptor - this year we met some Belgian birders who had near enough the same experience - they got their Male Lady A, on a very early morning drive out of Wawu - in the hungry jaws of a Leopard Cat.

I'm afraid many famous destinations in Yunnan seem to be concentrating on tacky tourist development to pack the crowds in - such a difference from my first journey in this area, during the 80's, as a smelly long-haired backpacker. But by using an element of stealth you can still discover the unspoiled and quiet - third pic is Slaty-backed Flycatcher, from the South entrance of Pudacuo Park, Zhongdian. The fleets - and I mean fleets - of tourist busses all stop at the entrance 15km further back - while hardly anybody enters by this gate!!!!!!! That flycatcher is a bird that has we've heard so many times during this year's Sichuan birding.
And finally a pic from the same area - a genuine, not dressed up for tourists Yi women in trad head-dress. Looks like pretty good all-weather - shade + rain protection cap for birders - anybody interested?????
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Old Saturday 28th August 2010, 06:35   #321
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One of the destinations we got to in early August was Litang Grasslands. This is an area of high 4000m grassland close to the present day border of Tibet.
Litang town is famous for its horse racing festival - but an anti-government demo in 2007 means that these have been since been closed. However this news seems to be hidden, and tours of the area still advertise the now non-existant horse event. During our visit their were many foreigners looking for the race-track - they must have been a little disappointed to say the least!!!!

In such situations its good to be a birder, since we can divert our energies out onto the grasslands and go after all the useful species that are found in this area. This is another good site to get sought after ticks like Chinese Grey Shrike, Hume's Groundpecker and Tibetan Lark. One of the interesting birds of the river is Ibisbill. We mainly found this bird in areas that had been dredged for stone and shingle to be used for cement and building purposes - maybe, like Little Ringed Plover back home, a species that can benefit from gravel extraction.

The fist picture shows one of our Litang Ibisbill.

That second pic is another species we found on the river - a Bar-headed Goose family - doing some fast-web work while swimming away from the camera.

Tibetan Snowfinch is common in this area - this is a bird without the black chin patch - many birds adult and imm. were not showing this feature.

An odd species to find a 4000m - a Yellow Bittern - which had recently become roadkill.

An finally the watchers - Himalayan Marmot - you're never alone on the grasslands!!!!!!!
PS - that last pic also indicates how the grasslands are full of flowers during the summer months.
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Old Sunday 29th August 2010, 07:17   #322
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Hi Meggie & Sid

Good that you found some of the Bar-headed Geese in this area. I was desperately looking for some geese and ducks on the rivers and lakes in Kham this summer - but without success. Thought that there should be some around.

The Ibisbill has good chances to return to its place in Tagong/Xinduqiao again, since the road works and gravel digging have finished recently, and - as you said - Ibisbill kind of likes those gravel pits as long as water is halfway clear.

I also like the picture of the Tibetan Snow Finch. Sometimes it is really hard to make out a single bird amongst a big flock of Plain-backed or Brandt's mountain finches. Especially, if missing all the significant features (such as the black chin patch) on young birds!
I had a flock of about 500 birds Plain-backed just two weeks ago in Ganze, but couldn't find any other birds amongst it. Anyway, never have seen such a big flock in summer!

I am still curious about the ID of that warbler I posted pictures of a few posts ago. Do you have any IDea?

Roland
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Old Sunday 29th August 2010, 07:28   #323
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Another 'WANTED'
I still have another animal which I don't have an ID of. Locals called it wild cow, but the horns look like those of a goat/gorral. In the same place half an hour age we heard a typical call of a dear and saw its foot prints...
Please see attachment
Any suggestions from anyone?
Roland
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Old Sunday 29th August 2010, 07:54   #324
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Thank you for the picture of my relatives from China, it is good to see them again

Do you have any more of these to put in the gallery.
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Old Sunday 29th August 2010, 08:05   #325
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sichuan jiujiu View Post
Another 'WANTED'
I still have another animal which I don't have an ID of. Locals called it wild cow, but the horns look like those of a goat/gorral. In the same place half an hour age we heard a typical call of a dear and saw its foot prints...
Please see attachment
Any suggestions from anyone?
Roland

How about this a Chinese Serow
http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgur...w=1436&bih=756
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