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SE of Qinghai/Tibet Plateau, China 2005: 6th June to 15th June 17, 2005

Participants: Mr. Tang Jun, Ms Dang Rong, Mr. Dong Xiaohe

Route: Xining  Gonghe  Wenquan  Maduo  Yushu  Nangqian

I think this is probably the first birding report from this area by a local Chinese people. So it should be good to let the birders worldwide have more view of birds of this area from a Chinese viewpoint..

The purpose for us to do this trip was wanting to be updated with the latest information of the birds plus road condition from Xining to Nangqian as we are a local travel company doing birding tours for several years. We want to drive inside Tibet from Nangqian via Neiwuqi. But at last we abandon the plan as the road to Tibet is under repair and the rainy season is coming as well.

Mr Tang Jun is the owner of the travel company and has done birding tours since 2000.

Ms Dang Rong, whose English name is Iris, traveled this route many times to acted as guide for western tourists 4 times for birdwatching tours. Mr. Dong, native driver in his 40’s and used to be professional driver on tourism.

The gear we have:

Books: A Field Guide to the Birds of China (Chinese Edition)(2)
3 PANDA 10×42 binoculars (Made in China)

General road information:

General food and hotel information:

Public Transportation Information:


6th June, after 90 minutes flight from Chengdu to Xining, the capital city of Qinghai province, I was met by Iris and Mr.Dong with his old TOYOTA landcruiser. The airport is 28km outside the city and spent around 30min to arrive my hotel.

We bought some food and vegetable and fruit in Xining as Dong told me sometimes it will be difficult to have food. And plenty of bottled water as well.

7th June departure from the hotel at 6 am is around daybreak, we carry on the trip to south and today’s destination is named Wenquan (Hot Spring). We stopped around 60km outside the city named Dangtanghe to have breakfast. After around 150km drive here name Gonghe or Qiabuqia, here we had the first stop of the day for birds. Then we carry on to Wenquan arrive about 8 pm with several stops en route for birds.

The accommodation in Wenquan is quite basic and here the altitude is around 4200m.

The birds we saw today:

G214-148 (No 214 road, 148km)


G214-210 pool right side



G214-310km Ela Pass 4260m

8th June today we did not start very early, 8am, as today’s distance is only about 180km with good road. But today we have many stops for birds not only for the pass but also for lakes and wet lands. We had good lunch at Huashixia(G214-410) and arrived at Maduo around 5 pm and find a clean guesthouse (Traffic Guesthouse) to sleep. Iris told me here is the source of Yellow River and one day drive plus half day trek can reach it.

The birds we saw today:


G214-351+400m  pass name Jiangluo Ling  4300m




From G214-465-471  for around 6km total, with many pools and wetlands on left side I am sure will be quite good place for birding but when we drive by it is heavy snowing.

9th June Today is long drive with many places to stop for birds, so we departure 0530 am from Maduo, after Bayakala pass and drive to Qingshuihe. The road is under repair and quite bad.We spend total 14 hours on the way. We check in Yushu Hotel on 2 stars and it is good can have a hot shower. Yushu county is the capital town of Yushu district with the altitude around 2200m. Here we have a better choice of food and accommodation. Local at a main branch river of Yangtse River.

Birds we saw today:


It is interesting, local government set the nests for Buzzards on the top of electricity sticks to protect the grasslands.

G214-524 pools on both side


G214-602 Bayanka La Pass 4824m

10th June, today is a beautiful drive from Yushu to Nangqian. We start from hotel at 6 am, outside Yushu around 50km, the left way is carry on to Tibet via Nangqian, and the right road leads to Zhaduo county where it is said the real resource of Yangtze by a UK person. We had a good breakfast beside the river inside the gorges and birding as well.15km before we arrive Nangqian, we take the left road went to Kande Mountain and gorge to have a quick look for the coming days birding. We are lucky and find a guesthouse at Nangqian named Mingmao, a guesthouse where we can have a hot shower.

Birds seen today:




Kande Gorge(4km from G214-970 on the branch way to the Kande pass)

11th June Today we decided visit Kande Mountain Pass and Kande Gorge for a full day birdwatching. We start from guesthouse 5 am and one hour and a half drive to get the pass try to look for the Tibetan Bunting.

We succeed!! we all saw 3 buntings(1 male+2 females) on the bushes located at the upper mountain behind the village, where we spend more than one hour to climb.

Other birds today:

We back to Nangqian around 7 pm and have a very good dinner not only for the buntings but also today is the Chinese traditional Dragon Festival.

12th June: Today’s trip is head to south to Beizha forest. 29km good road along G214 and turn left for a dusty and bumpy road. Total 54km to Beizha forest station but we stopped about 6 km before the station by 4 Blood Pheasants crossing the road. So this is where we decide to stay and trek about 2km on the right side up to a grassland area with juniper and pine tree. Perfect habitat for birds. Here we spent almost the whole day to look for the Buff-throated Partridge. We did hear the voice of this birds twice( 1145am & 1215am) but fail to see.

After 3km turn left from G214, left side uphill there is the best place for White Eared Pheasant. We saw 4 of them from the car even by Chinese made PANDA binoculars.

After lunch we cooked by ourselves and we carry on to Beizha Forest station, just 500m before the station check point, we saw at least 12 Tibetan Barbax beside the road.

And the road goes along a small river 20km before the forest station, and a kind of willow tree on both side. I am thinking this should be the place for Chinese Grouse.

13th June: we went to Kande Mountain Pass again as it is very beautiful and it is said it will be possible find Pink-tailed Bunting as well. We trek around the pass for about 3 hours but fail to see Pink-tailed Bunting. And we got Tibetan Bunting (1 couple) again.

14-15 June: complete drive back from Nangqian to Xining for more than 1000km.

Contact to Mr Tang Jun:

Post address: 1-21-12 Modern City Plaza,No 119 Jinli Xilu, Chengdu,China 610072

Tel/Fax: 86 28 86129925

We do tailor made itineraries for any bird watchers who have an interest in the birds of China: Sichuan,Yunnan and Tibet.

We have the experience. We can do tour arrangements for individuals or for for birding travel companys visiting China. We can arrange all your hotels, travel and guiding.

We also do our own customised Birding tours of Tibet. These are really special: much more than a birding trip, they are an unparalleled opportunity to explore a landscape as vast and un-peopled as one can imagine. Towering, snow-encrusted mountains punctuate the horizon at every turn. Prayer flags flutter in the breeze....

On the very highest passes and stony flats over 17,000 feet where we will gasp for breath are Tibetan Snowcock, the elusive Tibetan Sandgrouse, Brandt's Mountain Finch, and the much sought after Roborovski's Rosefinch, a bird seen by only a handful of ornithologists.
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