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Sichuan Birding (1 Viewer)

china guy

A taff living in Sichuan
Hi Marmot - I think it's a hard-life being a winter Pika. If you're not frozen to death then you're constantly dodging the attentions of all those predators that depend on these little rodents as one of the backbones of the local food-chain.
It's the abundance of this species that supports so many grassland carnivore species
Here are a couple of pics showing the Upland Buzzard/Steppe Eagle/Tibetan Fox dual over a pika. Just looks at the size of a Steppe Eagle against the Fox. A couple of summers back I watched a Tibetan Fox narrowly escape a Golden Eagle stoop - so you could assume that this animal would also have to be wary of Steppe Eagles. However when the Eagle is on the ground the Fox doesn't have to worry too much - its in flight where a combination diving speed, weight, talon size and strength of grip give a large raptor its deadly killing weapons.
The encounter reminds me of my former life on the Falklands watching the antics of Skuas, Giant Petrel and Gulls as they circled Penguin colonies - where even though there was an abundance of food they often as not tried to rob another predator rather than find their own.
The last pic is also of a frozen species - me and Wendy viewing the fun through the scope.


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Must have been special to be the witness of that drama and to get pictures too!:eek!: Eagles are huge. The attached picture shows a White-tailed Sea Eagle and an Upland Buzzard together. The Eagle is in a completely different class size wise. Amazing to see the eagle and fox together on the ground beside each other to compare. Ever seen the BBC episode where a captured Golden Eagle takes down a fox in Mongolia?

Love your blog and always look forward to new posts by china guy.



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china guy

A taff living in Sichuan
Hi Tom - great pics and that's a great blog you're putting out. I haven't seen that BBC film of the Eagle and Fox, one I have to look out for.
Just to emphasize the size of the big raptors - here's a pic I took tonight of Roland's youngest daughter, Olivia, holding a Himalayan Griffon primary.


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Well-known member
A few pics from our late October visit with Sid.

Just got around to sorting a few more pics from our Sichuan visit in late October.Yunnan nuthatch, spot-breasted parrotbill, grey-hooded parrotbill and plain martin.


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Well-known member
Great shots, the parrotbills are fabulous !

Thanks for the kind comments.Just a few more pics from our October visit.
Happy New Year to you all.


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china guy

A taff living in Sichuan
Hi Ron and Sue those pictures are a great reminder of our trip, and with the cold spell we're having here at the moment, I also long for a bit of that Southern Sichuan winter warmth. But my tasks will be taking me in whole other chilly direction during the next few days - I have a trip on the 7th up to Ruoergai and then onto Jiuzhaigou.

Just before Christmas Roland and I were lucky enough to assist in a research project that is designed to asses the value of various forest replantation schemes with regard to avian biodiversity. During this trip I got to a whole other part of Emei Mountain, which is completely separated from the tourist developed areas that birders usually visit - the back mountain. To get to this area you avoid the tourist town at the base of the mountain and carry up the S306, around 10kms in direction of Ebian, to a place the locals call Longchi. Although a lot of land on the lower back mountain have been degraded, by recent clearing of the secondary scrub with the cultivation of a medicinal plant and establishment of new areas of timber plantation, there are still good areas of bird attractive habitat. But more exciting, there's a track that leads you higher into the mountain and with guiding - and a 7 hour trek- can get you all the way to the Golden Summit. 2 hours walk should get you into natural forest. Although we didn't have time to make this trip - we could see that this trek would obviously lead you into some great habitat - with added bonus of no tourists, souvenir stalls, work projects or tourist development - that are the bane of normal Emei birding.
I've attached a pic of the the lower Back Mountain in the direction of the track to that eventually leads to the Golden Summit.

Also a couple more pics from my last trip with Steb and Wendy - from the Pingwu area of Collared Crow and Mandarin Duck

And finally a birder who's starting to get choosy about his binoculars - this young birder is testing a pair of Zeiss.

Happy new year to everyone - let 2014 be a good birding year


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Well-known member
Hi Sid,
That back mountain area looks very interesting, it would be good to get into natural forest habitat, good luck with the trip to Ruoergai and Jiuzhaigou, I shall be interested to hear what you see up there in the snow! Love those collared crows - its always good to start birding with good bins!!

china guy

A taff living in Sichuan
That trip to Ruoergai and Jiuzhaigou was another chilly affair - and although my clients weren't birders, as usual we saw a number of interesting species. Lots of Robin Accentor up at Langmusi - so many Sakers - and the animal stars were a herd of Tibetan Gazelle.
I enjoyed one day back at home and then promptly had to fly back to Jiuzhaigou to speak at a tourism conference on birdwatching tourism. Unfortunately not many birds on that trip - but a lot of interest in the type of low impact sustainable tourism that well managed birdwatching tourism represents. Many are now realising that the hectic norms of modern Chinese tourism is not only driving potential customers to look for alternative destinations but is unsustainable with its environmental destruction.
Saying that the accommodation provided was hardly an eco-lodge - we were all given rooms at the Sheraton!!!

At the moment we're also getting a new home ready for living in - an apartment we've got at Dujiangyan - just a stones throw away from Qingcheng Mountains. We have a park just opposite the house and was there about 10 days ago when me and Saker got Scaly Thrushes, a Great Barbet and, most unusual, an Azure Winged Magpie - maybe an escaped cage bird since it was minus tail. Another species that were definite escape, but look like they could be living feral were a pair of Hill Mynas - that were flying about in the trees.

Pictures -
1 - the Blue Eared Pheasant at Baxi were on the road side last week

2 - my van and a snowy Baxi - with so many slippery hills I'm glad for 4WD low ratio

3 - a Red-throated Thrush near Pearl Shoals at JZ

3 - the area around Jiuzhaigou from the air - difficult to access many of these areas, plenty of potential for birding. The habitat bordering the road up to the airport also looks interesting - grassland, conifers and scrub


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china guy

A taff living in Sichuan
Long time since I've last written - but there's been plenty of birding since my last post - with a trip to Thailand and more survey work in the NE.
At the moment our trip season is starting - Roland is already out - he was at Balang today and although conditions were foggy, there was just enough break in cloud for Chinese Monal. Apparently Snowcock was far easier and they got some very close views.
He got into Longcanggou- where they got Gold-fronted Fulvetta - but Labahe was closed. As an alternative they took to the Old Erlang Road where they got T Tragopan and Lady A - when I was there in November all 30km of the track was open - but that can soon change with a landslide after a bad rainstorm.
We've finally finished our move to Dujaingyang - the town just under Qingcheng Mountain. We now have Red-billed Leiothrix as garden birds - and today there was big fall of Sichuan Leaf Warblers who were singing away and in fine mating form. I'm using these last few days to write reports on the survey I've been doing - this Feb we once again recorded Bonelli's Eagle, which now gives us 11 sightings of the bird, which had previously not been recorded in Sichuan.


Well-known member
I have friends in Dujiangyan, and have been wanting to visit. It sounds like a nice place to live. Having Leiothrix as a garden bird sounds okay!

china guy

A taff living in Sichuan
Hi Gretchen - compared with other Chinese towns, Dujiangyan is nice. If your friends are teaching at the international school - that was one of the reasons we chose this place - Saker will probably be starting their kindergarten this Sept.
It's also a great place for a first night after arriving in Chengdu - with the motorway, just an hour from The airport, and plenty of birding sites at easy reach.
Breeding birds close to the town include -
Indian Cuckoo
Long-billed Plover
Northern Bobook
Swinhoe's Minivet
Tiger Shrike
Grey-winged Blackbird
Chinese Blue Flycatcher
Red-billed Starling
Sulpher-breasted Warbler
Spot-breasted Parrotbill
Dusky Fulvetta
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker

While up on the Qingcheng Mountain you can also find
Great Barbet
Spotted Forktail
Little Forktail
Chestnut-crowned Warbler
Black-capped Sibia
Golden Parrotbill
Golden-breasted Fulvetta
Chestnut-crowned Warbler

Today we had Red-billed Blue Magpie in the garden - while Claudia's Leaf Warbler were singing from the park, just over the road.

A bit of birding news that doesn't seem to have had much attention is this year's closure, to foreigners, of the Shaanxi Blackthroat site at Changqing. I got word today that even HK birders are being denied access!!!!!!!! But not to worry if you want a photo of this bird just give your camera to my 2yo son - since he still holds a Chinese passport he has no problems getting in. Still to ask him what he's charging - but I'm sure he'll put in a good day's work for a magnum ice cream.
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James Eaton

Trent Valley Crew
That's quite a list of breeding birds Sid!

Any idea on the reason for the closure of Changqing?


I believe it's now part of a 'Military Zone' Mike, as is Foping. No great surprise as the permit situation was very different last year to 2012 as access was greatly restricted so foreigners were kept away from prying eyes and public areas of the park (ie, Snub-nosed feeding area and main nesting colony of Crested Ibis).

Shame about Labahe closure for this season once again.. Sichuan never gets any easier!


china guy

A taff living in Sichuan
Yes the whole of the Qingling Mountains should be a military area - anybody now looking for Blackthroat are committing an act of espionage.
Denying HK'ers access must mean they're regarded as the enemy!!!!!!!!

And on the subject of fifth columnists from the special administrative region - Hi Mike, Yes a lot of birding here and a few species omitted from that list. A couple of summers back I got a Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher just a few minutes drive from where I live - and wintering Laughingthrushes on the Back Mountain include Barred, Red-winged and Spotted.

But the most important - the air is almost clean!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Sid - the birds I can handle (just), but as for the comments on air quality . . . thou art a smug bar steward!

Sounds like a great move.


china guy

A taff living in Sichuan
News from Roland and two sites where the air is very fresh -

Wuyipeng - the new research center building is finished, but they've constructed it out of portacabin type polystyrene and tin sheeting. Apparently it already looks like it's falling down!!!!!! It also looks like they're going to build a proper path up to the site - which could mean more disturbance. Good news is that the Tragopans are still up there - and they also got Sichuan Treecreeper which has become more difficult since the demise of Wawu.

Ruoergai - the cranes were back yesterday, Roland got a flock of around 40.

As for my fresh air life in Dujiangyan - today a house tick of true quality. Going for a walk with Saker and Roland's Girls, I thought we were doing well in getting a nice male Grey Bush Chat just outside our gate - but that was obliterated by 11 Fire-capped Tits in the trees just over the road. The three I got in the bins were all immaculate males.

1 - this place Lingyan Mountain is just 5 minutes walk from where we live - worth a visit if you stay in Dujiangyan - Roland has had Grey-winged Blackbird, Northern Bobook and Collared Scops Owl in here - I've had Moustached Laughingthrush. This is where we walked today but not a great deal of action - best bird a single Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher - otherwise the usual offerings of Yellow-bellied, Green-backed, Coal and Black-throated Tits, Rufous-faced Warbler, Oriental White Eye, David's Fulvetta and Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers - heard a distant Great Barbet

2 - the birding team - one was playing a mouth harp which seemed to bring in more birds than my Owlet calls!!!!!!


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china guy

A taff living in Sichuan
A quick update on Roland's trip -
Blue-eared Pheasant and Chinese Grouse present and correct at Baxi - but the jays were playing hard to get!!!!!

Ruoergai has given some exciting sightings -
A flock of Common Starlings - that's exciting for us!!!!

and a Short-toed Snake Eagle - exciting for everyone

Lots of Red-throated Thrushes on spring migration

Animals also very good - The Tibetan Gazelles are still there
2 Wolves and lots of Tibetan Foxes

But star of the show - a dusk sighting of Chinese Mountain Cat
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