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Sichuan Birding

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Old Sunday 3rd February 2013, 13:47   #751
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Sichuan bird pics

Happy New Year to all (I know its Feb!).Just looking through last years visit to Sichuan with Sid and thought I would post a few photos not previously shown.Looking forward to the next visit.
Ron.
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Old Tuesday 5th February 2013, 11:16   #752
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Great photos Ron - they get the old birding hormones to flow in anticipation to another great spring and summer season.
We've been busy all winter, with survey work and a few winter guests. This month is now one where i can sit down and relax a bit before I'm back out for my next outings in March.
This winter has been notable for some good winter count numbers - up in my NE Sichuan birding haunt I got a flock of 24 Mandarin Duck - which were split into 12 female and 12 male. Another 3 drakes were found at a nearby site. According to news we got of the Sichuan Wetland's Survey, 24 is the largest Sichuan flock recorded this year - groups of 2 or 3 birds being normal. If the info given in MacK is still current - that the Chinese breeding population of Mandarin has fallen to around the 1000 pair level - then those 24 ducks represent over 1% of the population!!!!

Another interesting winter record was the number of Japanese Waxing I saw, together with my bird photographer guest Elizabeth Ruzich, during a trip which ended last week. We saw flocks up on Emei, which must have numbered at least 100 birds, and then at the irrigation park in Dujiangyan - where there must have been at least 150 birds.
In the past I've seen them in the very center of Chengdu - but that was around 8 years ago. However another good Chengdu City record from Elizabeth's trip was a flock of around 30 Maroon-backed Accentor at the Panda Research Center - Slaty Bunting and Chinese Bamboo Partridge were also fairly easy to find.

Although I haven't seen any - there have been records for Baird's Pochard around Chengdu. One in Qinglong Lake on eastern edge of the city - at least one in Donghu Park near Sichuan University and one at Duck River (Yazi He) to the North of Chengdu. This species - whose population has tumbled to critically low numbers - is a hot topic at the moment.

pictures -
A few of those Mandarin Duck - as commented by one of my local birding friends after seeing the picture - colourful ducks in colourful rubbish!!!!!

Elizabeths pictures of Japanese Waxwing at Emei - she is putting up more of her China and Sichuan pictures at - http://www.avianexplorer.com/
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Last edited by china guy : Tuesday 5th February 2013 at 11:23.
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Old Wednesday 13th February 2013, 12:20   #753
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During that last trip with Elizabeth we came across an interesting pipit - with that back and hint of eye-stripe I've put it down as a very streaky Rosy Pipit. Red-throated Pipit could be another suggestion, but it looks too grey and the beginning of Feb. is very early for this bird - anybody got any ideas.
One of the more interesting thrushes that turned up several times on Emei was Grey-winged Blackbird. Last summer Roland found family groups in one of the higher green areas in Dujiangyan - so hopefully we can make this into a more regular tick during our spring and summer trips.

I've also been out to look for Baer's Pochard - but its difficult when your son decides that the telescope tripod is the next best thing to a climbing frame. I'm afraid the only diving duck on view were a couple Common Pochard - Fudge Duck also seems in big decline over here - and none of them were seen either!!!
Best duck of the day was a lonely looking female Baikal that was in a group of Mallard.

Pics of that Pipit - a Grey-wingeg Blackbird - and a grainy Baikal that shows that distinctive spot just behind the bill
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Last edited by china guy : Wednesday 13th February 2013 at 12:30.
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Old Wednesday 13th February 2013, 12:27   #754
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During that last trip with Elizabeth we came across an interesting pipit - with that back and hint of eye-stripe I've put it down as a very streaky Rosy Pipit. Red-throated Pipit could be another suggestion, but the beginning of Feb. is very early for this bird - anybody got any ideas.
One of the more interesting thrushes that turned up several times on Emei was Grey-winged Blackbird. Last summer Roland found family groups in one of the higher green areas in Dujiangyan - so hopefully we can make this into a more regular tick during our spring and summer trips.

I've also been out to look for Baer's Pochard - but its difficult when your son decides that the telescope tripod is the next best thing to a climbing frame. I'm afraid the only diving duck on view were a couple Common Pochard - Fudge Duck also seems in big decline over here - and none of them were seen either!!!
Best duck of the day was a lonely looking female Baikal that was in a group of Mallard.

Pics of that Pipit - a Grey-wingeg Blackbird - and a grainy Baikal that shows that distinctive spot just behind the bill
Sid

I'm sure you're right with Rosy Pipit. There seem to very few reports of Baer's this winter - even the one in Japan has been identified as a hybrid by some.

cheers, alan
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Old Wednesday 13th February 2013, 16:35   #755
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Looks like a Rosy to me too.

I always found Grey-winged Blackbird regular at one or two spots at Emei Shan but surprisingly didn't see it last year - a species that really looks good quality sub-tropical forest, worth looking out for where Vivid Niltava, White-spectacled Warbler and Purple Cochoa are found.

James
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Old Wednesday 13th February 2013, 21:11   #756
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Sid

I'm sure you're right with Rosy Pipit. There seem to very few reports of Baer's this winter - even the one in Japan has been identified as a hybrid by some.

cheers, alan
We were told by LaoLin when we were at Poyang Hu last month that no Baer's showed up there this year either.
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Old Thursday 14th February 2013, 00:10   #757
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Nice pic of the Grey-winged Blackbird Sid. And good luck with Saker- proofing your tripod. Insurance may be the best way to go there!

There are two Baer's Pochard at Mai Po this winter Alan.

Cheers
Mike
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Old Sunday 17th February 2013, 07:00   #758
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We were told by LaoLin when we were at Poyang Hu last month that no Baer's showed up there this year either.
... but we (or I - can't remember which day it was) heard there were 10+ in Wu Yuan !
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Old Sunday 17th February 2013, 08:20   #759
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... but we (or I - can't remember which day it was) heard there were 10+ in Wu Yuan !
Not Baer's Pochard fella...that'd be those pesky mergansers with scaly sides you are thinking of...

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Old Monday 18th February 2013, 09:30   #760
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Not Baer's Pochard fella...that'd be those pesky mergansers with scaly sides you are thinking of...

M
BTW, Mark, did you and Dev go for those?

He invited me along but I was already back in the States.
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Old Tuesday 19th February 2013, 05:17   #761
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Jeff, We dropped the plan as you already reached the states.

I became a victim to the modern day slavery. All weekend work has sabotaged the plan.
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Old Tuesday 19th February 2013, 07:23   #762
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Jeff, We dropped the plan as you already reached the states.

I became a victim to the modern day slavery. All weekend work has sabotaged the plan.
Ugh.

Considering I'm finally taking last year's holiday right now, I definitely know the feeling.
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Old Saturday 20th April 2013, 05:03   #763
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Hope you Meggie and Saker are safe after the earthquake in Sichuan today.
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Old Saturday 20th April 2013, 09:34   #764
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Hi Marmot - thanks so much for your concern, I'm happy to report we're fine, It was quite a rumble today. The epicenter was close to Labahe - the road out there is supposed to be blocked - but luckily none of our birders were in the vicinity, although Roland had planned to take his guests there tomorrow. We were at home when it struck - we've just got back from meeting up with the first spring customers who had been driving with my brother in law - we so easily could have been in that area!!!! But we've made one discovery - my son is earthquake proof - Saker easily slept through a rumbling, highly vibrating home, and was well narked when he was swept, out of his beauty sleep, into safety.

One small bit of cheery news from Balang - Monal Pheasant was nicely seen 4 days ago, while a male Temminck's Tragopan was a roadside bird about 2/3 of the way up to the monal stakeout.

Will keep folk informed of the consequences of this quake for the chances of getting to Labahe - but it already looks like Roland will have scrubbed Labahe from tomorrow's itinerary.
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Old Saturday 20th April 2013, 10:22   #765
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Oooh Sid, what a relief it was to find you'd updated this thread when I logged on, after hearing the news this morning.

Take care.
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Old Saturday 20th April 2013, 11:36   #766
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Wish all of you the best out there. Take care.
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Old Saturday 20th April 2013, 14:26   #767
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Yup...we head N

;D
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Old Saturday 20th April 2013, 16:12   #768
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Thanks for all the concern - this isn't a major headache - we already got in touch with friends in Wolong today and they're all fit and sound, the road is open - they didn't even get a blackout when the quake came.
I also think Labahe will be open as soon as the road is cleared - the major problem is the alternative route to Balang and Wolong that goes over Jiajang Mountain - that's where the worse has hit and will be probably closed for some time for emergency work.
My next trip was scheduled to go north north north - plenty of birds out that way - on a recent trip to the NE we got Yellow-browed Bunting - thought it was the first modern Sichuan record and then discovered some local birders had got one a few days before us, a 100 or so km to the west!!!!!
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Old Saturday 20th April 2013, 17:53   #769
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Hey Sid,

Good to hear that you and the family are all OK. I've been in a 5.0, so I can't imagine a 6.5 or 7.0. Must be terrifying. Stay safe.

And thanks for the birding updates. I'll be birding with you (and Birdfinders) in June, so all the news is appreciated.

Jeff

PS. The news here in the US is "All Boston, all the time", so the earthquake didn't even make the radar. Good to know Birdforum is a little more cosmopolitan.
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Old Saturday 20th April 2013, 18:08   #770
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I'm happy to report we're fine
Similarly glad you've circumvented the need to send you an email, Sid.

Relieved you're all safe and well.
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Old Sunday 21st April 2013, 00:57   #771
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Glad to hear its business as usual Sid.

Less glad to be gripped, again, on the Monal!

At least this time I'm being gripped in Phuket (for work) and am racking up a nice little list of garden birds with Indian Roller topping the charts at present.

Cheers
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Old Tuesday 23rd April 2013, 13:54   #772
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Request for Info.

Labahe
Sid and Roland are both on tour at present, but does anyone esle have any update on the roads around Labahe? We think this has been pretty badly hit but do not have details. With Wawu closed, it will be pretty hard (eg for LAP) if Labahe is also off limits this year.

Jiuzhaigou
Does anyone know if a hostel has actually opened up in the park? A rumour that I heard today - perhaps seems unlikely but maybe true?

cheers, alan
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Old Tuesday 23rd April 2013, 14:55   #773
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Hi Alan - I'll be out in a couple of days time - so I'm still here to answer questions
The worse hit road is that goes through Baoxin - which is the alternative route to Wolong.
It seems that the road from Ya'an to Kanding, that takes you up to Labahe is still passable - but at the moment all these roads will have police on them and for extremely sensible reasons only emergency vehicles and others that have good reason to go up these routes will be permitted - I don't think birders will be included in this category, and by the number of ambulances we saw yesterday rushing off the Ya'an road to the Chengdu hospitals, I don't think anyone knows when that area will again enjoy normality, and free access. By the time you guys arrive I think some of this stuff will be a lot clearer - but at the moment it's just too early to ask.

The alternative for Lady A will be the West side of Wawu - Longchangou, which is 4 hours from Chengdu.

As for the accommodation in JZ - this I believe is a so-called eco-tourism area that i think was opened up a year or two back - but I'm pretty sure it doesn't give you dawn access to known areas of the RH robin - and if you're supposed to take a park guide the chances of exploring are probably not very forthcoming!!!! If prices are anything to go by in JZ it will probably be very expensive
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiuzhaigou_Valley
Zharu Valley is the home of eco-tourism in Jiuzhaigou.[7] The valley has recently been opened to a small number of ecotourists wishing to go hiking and camping off the beaten track. Visitors can choose from day walks and multiple day hikes, depending on their time availability. Knowledgeable guides accompany ecotourists through the valley, sharing their knowledge about the unique biodiversity and local culture of the national park. The Zharu Valley has 40% of all the plant species that exist in China and it is the best place to spot wildlife inside the national park.

The main hike follows the pilgrimage of the local Benbo Buddhists circumnavigating the sacred 4,528 m Zha Yi Zha Ga Mountain
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Old Tuesday 23rd April 2013, 18:08   #774
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Sid

Great, thanks - fingers crossed!

I also suspect that the Jiuzhagou hotel story to come to nothing (nothing useful!). I'm not sure the knowledgeable guides would be up for a dawn start for Rufous-headed Robin!

good luck on the next trip,
cheers, alan
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Old Tuesday 23rd April 2013, 21:56   #775
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Feeling rather lucky at the moment I think, was due to be working in Ya'an from the 22nd, for the Chinese, thoughts go out to all those affected. It's been cancelled, but wishing Al and Sid luck with forthcoming trips.
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