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Sichuan Birding

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Old Monday 7th December 2009, 13:40   #101
firstreesjohn
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Yellow-browed Tit

I, too, have struggled (in Thailand and China) to see the 'yellow brow': there is sometimes just a (very) slightly paler supercilium.

See the series on OBI, for what I mean:
http://orientalbirdimages.org/search...ID=&pagesize=1

They are nice little birds to see, however- often causing a moment or two of puzzlement, before the ID 'kicks in'.

Has anyone actually seen one WITH a yellow brow ?
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Old Monday 7th December 2009, 15:54   #102
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Well the poor soul who named this bird must have seen a yellow-brow - but a late night of taxonomy in the museum specimen department - whiffing up all those preservatives I dare say you could also see pink spots!!!!!!
Here's another pic of this bird - if you get them agitated they'll raise that neat crown - and if you could glue a couple of horns up there - I'm sure they'd look just like a miniature Triceratops Dinosaur.

I've also got pics of Deer droppings - we found what seems to be a deer WC - and Musk Deer will use communal dunging areas. It was interesting that larger dung was also present - which we presume comes from the Sambar Deer.
And so there's a picture of a biggish print - which I presume is from Asian Black Bear (not a very big example - we've found larger prints in the past).
All of these animal signs were found in plantations trees, very close to the noise and activity of logging areas. But I suppose if the animals aren't hunted they soon habituate to this activity - the logging is being done in a fairly organised manner with plantation thinning rather than the usual clear-cut. We were told that they will let scrub naturally grow back in the cleared areas - which bodes well for wildlife in this area.

Hej Jui Jui they've knocked down a lot of the buildings in the park - and as much as I tried, I'm afraid I couldn't find Cinderella. Everybody was still wearing leech gaiters, and told us there were still leeches about - but much to Meggie's relief we couldn't find any!!!!! We got into the core Zone of Anze He - but the path becomes quite bad due to earthquake landslides, and it started to get quite icy. By the way Cinereous Vulture was pretty neat on Ballang!!!!!
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Old Tuesday 8th December 2009, 15:02   #103
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Got a nice bird today - first time we've photographed this one - Bar-tailed Treecreeper.
We found it on Linyan Shan which is just on the ouskirts of Dujangyan. Although the book says this bird is just 1cm lomger than Eurasian Treecreeper - it looked bigger right from the start. The barring on the tail makes the ID pretty easy.
We had all the usual suspects - best birds including Stripe-throated Yuhina, and both Crested and Northern Goshawks.
One interesting observation was that Red-billed Blue magpies were stripping off and carrying away small branches/twigs that were full of berries rather than eating them individually off the tree. Those Magpies have got brains!!!!!

And we came home with a souvenir - one more net destroyed, far too remote to get any of the forest police out to this one.
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Old Wednesday 9th December 2009, 00:04   #104
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Very nice shots of the creeper! Looks like this species is quite well named It reminded me of a cuckoo (though that would be the breast I guess).

Interesting magpie behavior. Always regard those Red-billed ones as handicapped by the long tails - wonder if they have to be a bit extra smart? By the way what are the common magpies out there? You don't have Azure Winged, do you? Are Common the most common for you, or perhaps those Red-billed are more common in out of the way places?

PS looking around at treecreepers more, I should ask, how many kinds have you seen in Sichuan? Not sure how many of 4 in MacK might actually be around.

Last edited by Gretchen : Wednesday 9th December 2009 at 01:17. Reason: another question
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Old Wednesday 9th December 2009, 04:28   #105
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First them Treecreepers - well our most famous creepy is not even in MacK - Sichuan Treecreeper.
This guy was split from Eurasian in 1995 - its pretty much identical, but has a shorter bill and the buffish brown tinge to belly that contrasts with white chin - but to see these ID marks in the field is very difficult - far easier in my pic.
The real give-away with Sichuan is its call - which can be described as longish descending trill - you can download a couple of examples at Xeno Canto.
This bird is quite common in areas of high natural forest (Wawu is the place to hear and see them) - it must also occur in Yunnan, since we've seen it at a spot just on the border (forests around Muli) - but to make things complicated we've also had Eurasian Treecreeper come when playing Sichuan Treecreeper calls - responding with the Eurasian call.

So them we have our mysterious Hodgson's Treecreeper - this split doesn't seem to be acknowledged by OBC - but there's a section on it in Wikipedia -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hodgson%27s_Treecreeper
In that article they mention a so-called - Certhia hodgsoni khamensis - or Kham Treecreeper. The Kham is the eastern part of the Tibetan Plateau - that's mainly within Sichuan.

The the other Treecreeper we have left is Eurasian - we have pics of this bird scattered through our discs - Ill have to pay more attention to them to see if I can pick up any of the Hogsoni characteristics.

As for Magpies - the only place, in Sichuan, where we've commonly seen Azure-winged - is around the Ruo Er Gai area - in north Sichuan. These birds are a lot cleaner than some of super scruffy examples I've seen in Beijing!!!!!
We get a few Black-billed Magpie in the Sichuan Basin - we sometimes see them in Chengdu - but up on the plateau they're very common - and can be see scavenging around almost any site of human rubbish.
Red-billed Blue Magpies stick in areas with more forest/tree cover - I've see them on the outskirts of Chengdu - at the Botanical Gardens - but you have to go out of town and climb a little before you get into this bird. They can be thankful for that long tail - it makes them an impractical bird for housing in traditional Chinese bird cages - Eurasian Jay isn't so lucky and is commonly seen in cages around here. In a general throughout Sichuan basis- red-billed Blue is the most Commonly see magpie in Sichuan

But the real gem of Sichuan Magpies should be the Indochinese Green Magpie - MacK talks about this bird being present within the Mabian area of Sichuan - that's right in the middle of Yi minority country. Yi areas can be very poverty stricken - often there's been a lot deforestation - you always have to be a little cautious in these places, and try not to travel at night.
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Old Wednesday 9th December 2009, 09:42   #106
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Sid,
Really a great shot of the Bar-tailed Treecreeper. I have regularly seen them in Aixi / Songpan, even more common than the Eurasian Treecreeper.
But the Hodgons one I have never heard about. Maybe a good idea to keep the eyes more open for those small differences that make the split.
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Old Wednesday 9th December 2009, 09:49   #107
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Everybody:

A few days ago my wife took a picture in the Sichuan University. I was a little bit puzzled at first, because I didn't see the bird but only the picture, and on the picture you can't see its front. But, after a while it looked pretty like the Chinese Thrush to me...
Does everybody agree???
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Old Wednesday 9th December 2009, 10:52   #108
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Thats 1000% Chinese Thrush - tell Pin Li well done from us - the shape of the head is characteristic of Chinese Thrush - it's a smaller more compact thrush than Long-tailed. Those two white wing bar type markings are also a great ID in a picture - but in the field Long-tailed also can show similar markings and in the brief views, these shy birds often give' can lead to some confusion.

We had a good pic today - after very briefly seeing this bird it finally decided show up in the rice paddies just outside our apartments - female Common Pheasant. And just around the corner was a male bird - but too brief a view to get a pic of this.
Back home these birds are of course very common - but in land of origin - well I'm afraid they're not too numerous - especially in kind of flat farming area where we are living. I suggested in an earlier post that these pheasant could be a release - but now I've seen them as a pair I'm more inclined to think they could be truly wild.
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Old Wednesday 9th December 2009, 11:49   #109
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Nice to see birds surviving/thriving alongside people. Last spring I was amazed at the number of pheasants, just a handful I suppose but more than 1-2, booming in our local park. Since the park borders on a large wooded expanse it wasn't astounding, but I was surprised that they were in the park itself. Of course at the time I hadn't considered releases at all...

By the way, I guess I was wondering about Rusty-Flanked Treecreeper - but I guess that's west of you? Tibet/Yunnan? And I take it that your Sichuan creeper is distinct from the Brown-Throated ... (I was noting that in preparation for birding in Thailand).
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Old Thursday 10th December 2009, 15:40   #110
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It's good to see you have park pheasants up your way - parks and urban areas offer protection from hunters, but with all the weeding and landscape gardening, I'm afraid they don't always provide very good habitat. Our Pheasants are on farmland, so I have real feeling that eventually they'll get some hunting attention - but at least here we don't suffer from illegal guns, which can be a big problem for game birds in other parts of China.

That Sichuan Treecreeper is a distinct species - it's a very sought after tick - but the bird its self could hardly be called spectacular.
Rusty-flanked Treecreeper - is one of the good Yunnan ticks.
Another creeper were seeing a few of at the moment is Wallcreeper - we've seen a couple quite close into Chengdu - during cold winter spells they'll come down to lower altitudes. Maybe this species also benefited from the earthquake - certainly a lot more exposed cliff habitat in our part of Sichuan.
The picture of Wallcreeper comes from just over a week ago - around 30 km from Chengdu.
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Old Friday 11th December 2009, 00:19   #111
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A few years ago I had a Wallcreeper crawling around on the chest of the Big Buddha at Leshan - wonderful birds!

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Old Friday 11th December 2009, 14:33   #112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKinHK View Post
A few years ago I had a Wallcreeper crawling around on the chest of the Big Buddha at Leshan - wonderful birds!

Cheers
Mike
This Wallcreeper is still there...
And probably got married...
I saw there two of them this spring
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Old Saturday 12th December 2009, 14:41   #113
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Must be very old birds - I saw mine in 1998!

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Old Sunday 13th December 2009, 15:19   #114
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The first time I got to Big Buddha was in 1987 - as a long haired backpacker - in those wonderful days the Buddha really did look special, none of today's horrible restoration job, there was good bit of vegetation growing out of his head - but the best was Blue Whistling Thrush - flying in and out, presumably nesting - in one of it's ears!!!!!!

As for Wallcreeper - the first one of those was in Austria - but not up in the Alps - down in the city center of Salzburg - climbing up the front of Mozart's birthplace. We've also seen one climbing up a building in a town in NE Sichuan - and I really wouldn't be surprised if the odd winter Wallcreeper was also found in city center Chengdu - climbing up the wall of a high rise block - but to spot one would take a bit of doing!!!!!!!
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Old Tuesday 15th December 2009, 04:27   #115
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Here's a bit of a non-birding topic - but has a connection in as much you often come to stumble on interesting and mysterious finds during birding trips around Sichuan.
What on earth are these - Well I'm pretty sure they're fossils of some kind - and as such I've just put them up in a fossil forum - but if any body here has any ideas.
So far my mind has been telling me they're seeds - but it'd be great if they were dino pooh or eggs (I greatly doubt it) - or are they just balls of clay trapped in a sand sediment???????
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Old Wednesday 16th December 2009, 02:08   #116
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Those stones - no dino in them, in fact no fossil, but still very exotic - they are concretations and seem to match up to something know as Moqui Marbles or Shaman stones - seem to be a must for healers!!!!
We're off to Yunnan today for some winter watching - got a couple of those marbles in the car to give us positive vibes!!!!!!
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Old Thursday 24th December 2009, 02:59   #117
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Hi!

I'll be in Chengdu on Sunday (and Sichuan for a week). Please could you tell me if there's anything of note within strijing distance of the city.

Thanks in advance.
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Old Tuesday 5th January 2010, 02:31   #118
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Sorry Shi Jin - we just rolled back into Sichuan yesterday after 20 days of birding around Yunnan - so this message will be far too late!!!!
In Chengdu itself - two of the best areas areas are the Botanic Garden and the Panda Research Center - close to each other, and fairly easy to reach by public transport - both of which have wintering Slaty Bunting.
For day trips head in the direction of Dujiangyan - up onto the Qingcheng Mountain. The front mountain is now fully open - while the back mountain is still difficult because of quake damage. Both places are tourist sites - but early on week days they're quiter - and in the area there are tracks up the mountain that are outside the ticketed areas. Around here you can find wintering laughers - Red-winged, Barred and Spotted.

As for us, after the Yunnan sun, we now have to get used to the Sichuan winter chill - and sort out our photos - here's a Red-headed Trogon from Yunnan - this should also be a Sichuan bird Xeno-canto has a recording of a bird calling at Wolong.
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Old Wednesday 6th January 2010, 00:10   #119
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Sid & Meggie

It will be great to hear how you did in Yunnan

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Old Wednesday 6th January 2010, 04:51   #120
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Thanks China Guy!

No problem, I headed to Emei Shan (after a couple of hours at Dufu's Cottage, where Ashy-throated PBs performed well).

I spent one afternoon at the bottom and three days walking up the mountain, taking the much longer south-easterly route (stayed at Hongchun Monastery and a small guest house near to the Greeting Gate).

It was cold, snowy, and foggy... until New Year's Day which was glorious.

Despite the mostly miserable weather I saw some very good birds.

The most amazing of which was the male Temminck's Tragopan that walked out and across the steps 10 yards in front of me (just as well, visibility was down to about 50 yards because of snow and low cloud). Thank goodness I decided to risk my camera's well-being by having it constantly ready.

Also, I saw a flock of several Red-winged Laughingthrushes - one of two new birds for me there (the other was Black-chinned Yuhina).

I've published a few shots from the trip on my website:

http://www.chinesecurrents.com/wild_water.html

I'll publish a report in due course.

There were a couple of puzzles... including a golden-spectacled type that I suspect was an Emei Shan Warbler (at 600 masl); and a bush warbler that could be many things!
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Old Wednesday 6th January 2010, 05:51   #121
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That Tragopan is pretty epic - we only seem to find females!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Those stone paths can be pretty slippy in the snow - but at least a winter Emei is far quieter than during the tourist packed summer.

I'll try to find time to get some Yunnan info up - but at the moment we're busy servicing cars - we're out again in 4 days time. This is a post from the garage internet!!!!
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Old Friday 8th January 2010, 07:12   #122
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I posted the records of Day 1 and 2 of my Emei trip on to another thread, which is here:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=160518
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Old Friday 8th January 2010, 07:38   #123
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Here's some pics to sum up our Yunnan trip - we got to Goaligong, Tengchong, Nabang, Husa and Ruili

pic 1 - Golden-throated Barbet - we got so many of those classic tropical forest birds that are a speciality of SW Yunnan - they included both Yellownapes, Greater Flameback, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Common Green magpie, both Racket-tailed Drongos, Long-tailed Broadbill and a host of other stuff.

pic 2 - Scarlet Finch - also bumped into a few of the birds that make this part of Chine especially interesting - such as, Black-headed Shrike Babbler, Grey-bellied Wren Babbler, Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Yellow-throated fulvetta, Scaly Laugher, Rufous-necked Laugher, Grey-cheeked Warbler, Slaty-bellied Tesia, White-tailed Nuthatch, Black-backed Forktail, Black-breasted Thrush - but still need so much more that we'll be back next winter.

pic 3 - Grey-cheeked Warbler - our list as of today is 207 birds - I fished out a pic of the Grey-cheeked Warbler a couple of hours back and confirmed it against the OBC images. OBC is a must for confirming dubious sightings.

pic 4 - all praise Photoshop - Rufous-throated Partridge - photography can be difficult, one moment Meggie was trying to get shots against a harsh sun in the canopy, while in the next second something would be scampering along in the gloom of the forest under-scrub - hardly time to change settings. Some of our pics ain't in the masterclass - but we snaped a lot species.

pic 5 - you can't help birding, even when you're trying to concentrate on driving home - Rufous-necked Laugher - these guys were hopping around on the crash barriers to the main road north about 20kms outside Ruili. Meggie had to dodge trucks to get the pic. If that was not enough I turned around and saw movement across the road - frigging Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbills - Meggie side-steps some more horn blarring trucks and she gets a pic - a Purple Sunbird then turns up as a Newbie to our list, but we resist birding temptations, we're late we have to head back to Sichuan - but 5 minutes further on, an emergency stop, as a Steppe-Eagle decides to make a fly-over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old Friday 8th January 2010, 08:08   #124
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Hi Shi Jin - that record of Greter Necklaced Laugher at Emei is pretty interesting - we first picked that species up in Sichuan last Autumn - but in the NE of the province. This Laugher doesn't seem to be on the Cnbirder list either.
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Old Friday 8th January 2010, 16:25   #125
Marmot
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Happy New year to you both from a snowy NE England. We have had minus temps and snow here since a few days before christmas.

Good to see that Meggie has been finding some brand new species..will make sure Ian gets them onto opus for you.
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