Visit your favourite destinations
|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Sichuan, China, May 19 – June 5, 2006,
Visited sites: Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Emei Shan, Wolong (Sawan & Wuyipeng), Balan Shan, Mengbi Shan.
Participants: Jeroen de Bruijn, Remco Hofland (report), Diederik Kok, Peter Maaskant and Chris Quispel from The Netherlands.
Highlights: Chinese Bamboo-Partridge, Tibetan Snowcock, Snow Partridge, Lady Amherst's, Golden, Blood, Koklass & White Eared-Pheasant, Chinese Grouse, Chinese Monal; Emei Liocichla, Rusty, Elliott's, Black-faced, White-browed, Giant, Spotted, Moustached, Red-winged & White-throated Laughingthrush, Chinese Babax and Hwamei; 8 species of parrotbill, Purple Cochoa, Firethroat, 14 species of Phylloscopus warbler, Crested Tit-warbler, 8 species of rosefinch (incl stunners like Vinaceous and Three-banded) and Crimson-browed Finch. Personal top-3 (RH): Purple Cochoa, Tibetan Snowcock, Snow Partridge.
Preparation: Many of the maps in the report by Peter Hopkin (1996/1997, mainly about Wolong, available from OBC) are still valid. Furthermore, trip reports were consulted from www.eurobirding.com, especially the ones (in alphabetical order) by Björn Anderson (Mabian Dafengding & Wawu Shan, May 2004; Laojunshan, April 2005; Emei Shan July 2005; Wolong July 2003, November 2003 and July 2004), Christian Artuso (2005), Jon Hornbuckle (2000) and Frank Rheindt (2003). These were supplemented by (less informative, but nevertheless interesting) reports of professional tour operators, such as BirdQuest (Mark Beaman, 2004) and BirdtourAsia (Frank Rheindt, 2005). An interesting report, including pics, has since been published by Sam Woods from TropicalBirding (2006). Email correspondence was started with Björn Anderson [firstname.lastname@example.org], Christian Artuso and James Eaton [email@example.com].
Great pics of beautiful Sichuanese specialties and other Chinese birds are found, for example, at
www.orientalbirdimages.org/; www.netfugl.dk/pictures.php?id=listpictures&country_id=75; www.surfbirds.com; www.chinatibettravel.net/cnbirds/birdsphoto/index.htm (rarities are mentioned at www.chinatibettravel.net/cnbirds/birds-5.htm). Useful links are found at http://www.bsc-eoc.org/links/links.jsp?page=l_asi_cn
A special mention deserves this website: www.dinets.travel.ru. It has great travelstories and pics.
Websites where availability and, sometimes, price of Chinese domestic flights can be checked are
Acknowledgements: Björn Anderson (BA) for advice, Peter Collaerts for the use of his checklist and his copy of the (soon to be published) BirdingAsia paper (by F.E. Rheindt) about (future) splits in the Phylloscopus / Seicercus complex, as well as pointing out the correct spot for Chinese Monal. Many thanks also to James Eaton of BirdtourAsia, who kindly forwarded his map of Laojunshan (see attachment). Susan Myers & Dion Hobcroft of VENT are thanked for their info on Lady Amherst's Pheasant at Wawu, along with kindly sharing some birdsounds (Sichuan Treecreeper & Emei Leaf-Warbler). Peter van Scheepen provided us with a great number of birdsounds. Interpreter Daniel and driver Sun Po are thanked for their excellent help during the trip.
Visa: Arranged through Chinese Embassy in The Hague [Willem Lodewijkstraat 10, Den Haag, tel 070-306 5091]. Cost for a single entry visa is € 35, a double entry € 50, both issued in a week.
Money: at the time of travel, € 1 was about 10,5 yuen or renminbi (RMB in this report). ATM’s were available at Beijing and Chengdu (international) airports and in large cities such as Emei and Leshan. Maximum withdrawal amount was 2,000 RMB (about € 200) at a time, but multiple withdrawals are possible in a row.
Travel arrangements: (International flight) KLM took us to Beijing and from Chengdu. As of May 28th, 2006, KLM has a direct flight between Amsterdam and Chengdu, easily opening up Sichuan to European birders. A return ticket costs between € 600 and € 750. Since our departure was before May 28th, we had to fly through Beijing.
(Domestic flight) Air China Beijing – Chengdu took 2 hr 20 mins and cost € 125 (e-ticket) one-way. A transfer time of 1 hr 45 mins in Beijing airport proved sufficient. Choose “Passengers’ Guides”, then “Transfer Guides” at http://www.bcia.com.cn/en/index.jsp for a flowchart, in English, of where to go on Beijing Capital Airport. The ticket was booked for us by Sam (see below).
(Rental car with driver plus interpreter) Ground arrangements in Sichuan were made through Sam Yue from Sam’s Guesthouse [firstname.lastname@example.org] in Chengdu, that RH and CQ had good experience with from Jan 2005. A 15-seater van including a driver, Sun Po, cost 1,000 RMB / approx. € 100 a day, while the cost for the excellent interpreter Daniel (Chinese name: Zhou Yong Liang; email email@example.com) was 100 RMB / approx. € 10 a day. Sam also kindly booked our e-tickets Beijing – Chengdu in advance (as booking these ourselves through internet would have cost around € 50 more per ticket).
In the price for the rental van all gas, toll and parking fees were included, as was insurance. The cost of living for driver and interpreter was also included, but on occasions we would pay their lodging (such as at Laojunshan, for Daniel, while Po stayed in town) and most of the time their meals for them. Daniel was said to be a trainee-guide, thus costing less than a trained one (100 RMB / € 10 per day instead of 250 RMB / € 25). This was probably due to him being with the company for a short while – his English was good, and his bargaining skills excellent, regularly getting half the price off hotels and watching out for potential rip-offs at restaurants. Although more and more people know (basic) English in China getting an interpreter to join you, especially on a short trip, is much recommended. [For RH’s next trip, July 2006, Daniel’s price rose to 200 RMB / € 20 per day ]
A 4WD jeep was quoted to cost 800 RMB / approx. € 80 a day.
An involuntary detour through Yibin (see itinerary) cost us an extra 600 RMB / approx. € 60.
Literature: the following was taken on the trip
* A field guide to the birds of China, Mackinnon J & Phillipps K (2000)
* Birds of South Asia (The Ripley Guide), Rasmussen P C & Anderton J C (2005), vols. 1 & 2
* A guide to the birds of Southeast Asia, Robson C (2000)
* Raptors of the world, Ferguson-Lees J and Christie D A (2006, paperback, Princeton)
* Warblers of Europe, Asia and North Africa, Baker K and Baker J (1997)
* China, Harper D (2005, Lonely Planet)
* Southwest China (Sichuan, Yunnan, Guanxi, Guizhou, 1st ed, 1997, Lonely Planet)
* map of Central China (2004, Nelles Maps, 1: 1,500,000)
In China, we read the upcoming article by F.E. Rheindt: "Splits galore: the revolution in Asian leaf warbler systematics". BirdingAsia 5 (2006). This article contains valuable information on splits in the Phylloscopus and Seicercus complexes and comes with a number of maps.
Back home, we also checked Finches & Sparrows, Clement P, Harris A and Davis J (1993, Helm).
The rosefinches are dealt with in detail, and taking copies of the text and colour-prints of the plates is recommended.
“Revised species limits and field identification of Asian rosefinches” by Pamela C. Rasmussen, BirdingAsia 3 (2005): 18-27, proposes splits between Himalayan and SW Chinese populations of, for example, White-browed Carpodacus thura, Beautiful C. pulcherrimus and Spot-winged Rosefinch C. rodopeplus). We did not bring the article but we will next time!
We did not have (or take) the time to retrieve the following from the library, though it could have been helpful:
- Alström, P. & Olsson, U. 1995. A new species of Phylloscopus warbler
from Sichuan Province, China. Ibis 137: 459-468.
- Alström, P., Olsson, U. & Colston, P. 1997. Re-evaluation of the taxonomic status of Phylloscopus proregulus kansuensis Meise. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 117: 177-193.
- Alström, P. & Olsson, U. 1999. The Golden-spectacled Warbler: a complex of sibling species, including a previously undescribed species. Ibis 141:545-568.
- Alström, P. & Olsson, U. 2000. Golden-spectacled Warbler systematics. Ibis 142: 495-500.
- Irwin, D., Alström, P., Olsson, U. & Benowitz-Fredericks, Z.M. 2001. Cryptic species in the genus Phylloscopus (Old World leaf warblers). Ibis 143: 233247.
At Chengdu airport departure area, maps of Sichuan (in Chinese) and of China as a whole (in Chinese and in English) were purchased for less than € 1 each. During the trip, Daniel used a booklet (in Chinese) with maps of all municipalities in Sichuan, available in Chengdu for € 1.
Sound equipment: RH used an iPod with prerecorded Chinese birdsounds - easy jogdial and a minimum start-up time. The disadvantage is of course the inability to use playback. Playback was used in DK’s I-river HP340 mp3-player: even when his Sennheiser microphone failed, the quality of the built-in microphone proved enough to record and playback many sounds luring in, for example, Firethroat and Giant Laughingthrush. The I-river HP340 was purchased at (Dutch) MediaMarkt for around € 450,-. PM used a discman and 3 prerecorded cd’s.
HO = heard only;
kmp = kilometre post;
E = east (Wolong) side (of Balan Shan pass);
W = west side;
sev = several;
hrs = hours;
mins = minutes;
temp = temperature;
incl = including.
JB and DK left two days earlier for sightseeing and birding in Beijing, seeing Ibisbill in the same site where BA, RH and CQ had seen them in Jan 2005, and many since (see attached map).
[Wed May 17
Departure 17.10 (KL 0897) Amsterdam to Beijing (JB and DK).
Thu May 18
Arrival in Beijing Capital Airport 8.35. JB and DK met with driver and interpreter Barbi (niece of driver), arranged in advance by Nan (RH’s girlfriend). Departure for Ibisbill site north of Huairou at 9.15 where arrived, after shopping and several small detours, at 13.00 (male Amur Falcon and sev Amur/Hobbys along the way). Pair of Ibisbills found an hour after arrival. Other interesting birds here included 3 Long-billed Plovers, 1 Crested Kingfisher, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Black-naped Oriole, Dark-sided, Asian Brown and Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Songar Tit, Arctic, Dusky, Raddes’, Pallas’s and Yellow-browed Warbler, Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Black-faced, Godlewski’s, Chestnut-eared, Meadow and Little Buntings. Left site at 16.00, therefore not enough time to include visit to Great Wall. Late afternoon return to Beijing, where stayed at Silver Street Palace Hotel. Warm throughout the day.
Fri May 19
Early morning visit to Forbidden City and Tian’anmen Square. Afternoon visit to Summer Palace, where birding o.k. with Indian Cuckoo, Red-throated Flycatcher, Siberian Blue Robin, Thick-billed and Two-barred Warbler, Yellow-billed Grosbeak, Grey-capped Greenfinch, 10+ Chestnut Bunting. Stayed at same hotel. ]
Actual Sichuan trip
Fri May 19
Departure 17.10 (KL 0897) Amsterdam to Beijing (RH, PM and CQ).
Sat May 20
Arrival in Beijing Capital Airport 8.20 (15 mins before ETA). Each got 5,000 RMB / approx € 500 from ATM. Met with JB and DK at domestic terminal (level 2). Departure for Chengdu (Air China CA 4114) on time at 10.20, arrival on time at 12.40. Handled financial matters with Sam’s employees at airport: cash payment of domestic ticket, transportation and interpreter, RH, PM and CQ paying in € (470), JB and DK in RMB (4780 each). Temp in Chengdu around 29°C, with high humidity and the ever present haze. On our way to Wawu Shan at 13.40. Dark brown birds feeding on lawn near airport car park were probably White-browed Laughingthrushes (drive-by ID). Arrived Hongya around 15.00. Birded the large river south of town for half an hour, unexpectedly finding 2 Oriental Pratincoles. Drove past large hydroelectrical dam constructed about 15 kms before Wawu gate. Temp in mountains around 17°C. Arrival at Wawu gate at 17.45. Contrary to information from Sam and experience of Jan 2005, vehicle was allowed into the park (after half an hour chatting by Daniel). Entry fee for 6 (incl Daniel) 240 RMB / € 24. Light rain started. Arrived at Gongtong Shanzhuang (accommodation at start of cable car) around 19.00 (dark). Cost of accommodation 1,000 RMB / € 100 per night for 5. Had good meal in restaurant and talked to Susan Myers and Dion Hobcroft of VENT, who were very helpful.
Sun May 21
Breakfast at 5.45, roadside birding started at 6.30 (in fog and rain). Walked down, followed by car every half hour or so. Rain stopped at 7.30, fog a little later. Lunch at Gongtong Shanzhuang, after which roadside birding again. As of 16.30, drove up and down between 2 kms either side of the longest bridge in the stretch Wawu gate - Gongtong Shanzhuang (see GPS wp 81 for exact location of bridge). Two male Lady Amherst's Pheasant were seen, one crossing and one feeding for minutes beside the road within 2 kms up from aforementioned bridge. This site also proved to be excellent for singing Emei Leaf-Warbler, a species confined to a very small altitudinal range – and more easily found here at Wawu than at Emei! Pleasant birding temp all afternoon, incl sun. Cable car usually opens at 8, but because of intervention by Daniel possibility to go up at 6.45 the next morning. Dinner and stay at Gongtong Shanzhuang.
Mon May 22
Breakfast at 6, up by cable car at 6.45. Didn’t take any of the rusty open ‘cars’ as they looked like they might fall off the cable any minute! Great views, few birds during the ca 30 mins cable ride to the top of the table mountain. Walked towards Xiang Er Hotel but took the turn-off towards the Mandarin Duck Pond. Sichuan Treecreeper proved common in the rich fir stands, one pair breeding at eye-level along the path (returning with food every few mins). Fog moving in and out on top throughout the day. The ridge trail, especially the first 500m turning right upon arrival by cable car, proved best for Grey-hooded Parrotbill – Fulvous Parrotbill was common in every patch of bamboo, in pairs (in Jan 2005, flocks of up to 20 were seen). Great Parrotbill very tape-responsive. Lunch at 14.00 at Xiang Er Hotel at top, taking cable car back down at 16.30. Drove down, seeing male and female Lady Amherst's Pheasant along the way at site indicated above. Checked into Wawu Shan (Grand) Hotel near gate, where no hot shower available. Therefore 200 RMB / € 20 per double room. Dinner at nearby restaurant.
Tue May 23
Breakfast at 6, drove up the side-road just before Wawu gate, where RH and CQ had seen Ashy-throated Parrotbill in Jan 2005 – and saw them at the exact same site! [Together with Three-toed Parrotbill, seen days later at the top by the Belgian crew (Peter Collaerts et al), the total at this mountain accumulates to a staggering 8 species!] Saw calling Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babblers, before driving off at 9. Arrival at Hongya at 11, reaching Leshan at 13.30. During detour road blocked by broken down truck loaded with heavy ricebags. Small detour then took us through paddies with farmers using the situation to ask for handouts (5-10 RMB) of people wanting to pass over their land. Saw small flock of White-browed Laughingthrush during small detour. During lunch at Leshan phoned Belgian crew, who mentioned that the stretch Leshan – Laojunshan took a mere 3 hrs. Decided to include the famous Leshan buddha, where visited from 15.45 until 16.30, seeing trip exclusive Rufous-faced Warbler and Eurasian Kestrel. Later, after many, many hrs on a terrible road it turned out that our driver had informed about the state of the road south, and upon being told that there were roadworks ahead (as everywhere in China), had decided to take a road eastsoutheast for about 100 km, that eventually led us to the highway 65 km north of Yibin, where we arrived at 20.30! Daniel talked price of hotel in Yibin down to (only) 180 RMB / € 18 per double room. Good dinner and bad karaoke bar at night.
Wed May 24
Stretch Yibin – Pingshan, according to Nelles Verlag map, is only about 100 kms - it nevertheless took from 6.15 until 15.30 to reach Laojunshan. Firstly, roadworks meant only one lane was open, to be used by both sides of traffic – plenty of time was spent waiting for the red flag to come our way. Saw White-crowned Forktail and Oriental Greenfinches during stops. Just east of Pingshan, turned right (north) onto a driveable track that took us to the foot of the mountain. A turn-off left, with a sizeable map of the mountain, was not recognised as the right road so that we detoured again. Where one truck was broken down at one side of the road, upon return half an hour later (realising our mistake) another truck got stuck next to the other………we walked up the right road, seeing Ashy-throated Parrotbill and trip-exclusives Grey Bushchat and Yellow-throated Bunting. After about half an hour our van followed and took us to the end of the track, from where it was a 20 min-walk to Er Ya Ping ‘guesthouse’.
People here claimed that the Belgian crew had paid 4,900 RMB / € 490 for a three-day stay for 3 – later this turned out to be true, only their quoted sum also included an airport pick-up all the way from Chengdu, all meals and porters. After a heated debate we had no choice than to pay 400 RMB / € 40 per person including porters and meals, staying one night at Er Ya Ping (nothing more than a brick building with a few very old sqeaky wooden beds) and one at Laojun guesthouse on top. Surroundings of Er Ya Ping very birdy, illustrated by the sighting of a male Temminck’s Tragopan (PM only) on the trail through the ‘gate’, only 50m away from the ‘guesthouse’! Other species easily seen here incl White-backed Woodpecker and White-throated Laughingthrush. No electricity at Er Ya Ping.
Thu May 25
After breakfast, everybody went up the mountain to Laojun Guesthouse in bright weather at their own pace, RH and DK slowest as they checked sounds and random taped, resulting in sightings of White-spectacled Warbler, Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, White-tailed Robin, Black-headed Sibia, Red-tailed Minla and Sichuan Hill-Partridge (in chronological order). Others saw most of these after lunch or next day. Very hospitable reception at Laojun Guesthouse, more or less a transformed farmhouse with good food and lodging for several scientists (Chinese PhD Darwin researching Temminck’s Tragopan as well as other students). Lunch here, then went back onto ridge trail for afternoon birding. Owling at night resulted in large toads only, with Oriental Scops Owl heard. Availability of electricity meant chance to load cameras, torches, iPod and mp-3 player.
Fri May 26
DK went into forest without breakfast, to try for Temminck’s Tragopan (sofar only seen by PM). [At start of trip we already knew about difficulty of getting into Wuyipeng – normally the easiest site to see the species. In the end, RH saw a female and heard chicks in the bamboo between the two streams along the ridge trail; JB saw two males and a female right beside the path not far from Er Ya Ping, and CQ managed to see the latter female flying from a tree; DK missed them altogether.] Fog and light rain along ridge trail; heavy rain near Er Ya Ping, where had lunch at 12.30.
Left at 14.00, taking the 3 female porters down to their village where arrived 14.45. Saw 2 pairs of Chinese Bamboo-Partridge on the entrance track, along with flushed Barred Buttonquail. Shortcut between Leshan and Laojunshan exists: at the foot of the mountain (at sizeable map) turned left and drove through Longhua, then Tienjiaba, arriving at provincial road 213 at 16.30. Last 5 kms of shortcut extremely bad, practically only negotiable by 4WD. Went through Jianwei to Leshan, detouring only slightly by taking a ferry instead of a bridge. Industrial pipe near ferry made the noise of a Boeing 747 taking off – continuously! Contrary to travel schedule, decided to spend a day at Emei Shan, to maximise chances of seeing (male) Temminck’s Tragopan; arrived Emei town at 19.30, staying at Teddy Bear Hotel for 180 RMB / € 18 for 2. Much rain at night.
Sat May 27
With Daniel, took public bus up Emei mountain (to just below Golden Summit) at 6.00. Plenty of activity from Chinese tourists – 10 buses leaving this early. Arrived at Leidongping (where cable car to Golden Summit starts) at 8.00, from where started walking down towards Xixiang temple. Initially planned to walk to Xianfeng temple (where most birders seem to go) but decided upon descending straight towards Wannian temple, as this meant a walkable distance for one-and-a-half day – the plan was to spend a night at the mountain, taking the cable car from Wannian early next morning. Most unexpectedly heard Purple Cochoa in reaction to random taping, and were able to tape it in right next to the path and watch a calling male at length (GPS wp 83). This was soon after finding a nestbuilding pair of Long-tailed Thrushes (GPS wp 82). Quite some rain, with harsh winds in late afternoon, especially on ridge trails. PM found a Moustached Laughingthrush along the path (GPS wp 84), that all but CQ managed to see; Hwameis just above Wannian was another surprise. Arrived at Wannian at 19.00, where because of Saturday the cable car still worked. Headed down, for hot shower and good bed – and a full body massage at the hairdresser where RH the previous evening had had a haircut and a head massage!
Sun May 28
Breakfast at 9. Each took 1,000 RMB from Emei ATM. Settled claim for more money by rental car agency: Sun Po’s boss apparently claimed that, because of unscheduled stop at Emei, we would have to pay an extra day’s car rental (1,000 RMB / € 100). Even more preposterous, Sam claimed “this was very understandable, given Chinese culture”. Even when we pointed out that the Emei stop didn’t mean an extra day, nor extra kms, Sam insisted we handle the matter with the rental car agency. He even threatened to withhold the money from Daniel’s paycheck if we didn’t pay. We eventually paid 600 RMB / € 60 extra, and believe the claim originated in the involuntary detour from Leshan through Yibin, that meant many extra kms, as well as some extra toll wages.
Left Emei at 9.30, arriving Chengdu 11.30. Small detour through city to collect documents (and receipt for extra 600 RMB), after which left for Wolong. Some 40 kms through forested valley slow traffic because of another set of road construction works. Short roadside stop at Panda breeding centre, watching eight 1-year-old Giant Pandas playing. Checked into Wolong (Grand) Hotel (280 RMB / € 28 per double room) at 16.30, then went up hillside trails behind hotel. Birdy, though only DK and PM managed to see a (male) Golden Pheasant (sev others heard); all but CQ saw Slaty Bunting. Good dinner at 21.00, lots to discuss with Belgian crew.
Mon May 29
Left Wolong Hotel at 6.30 and drove to village ca 4 km west of town. Had a little difficulty finding the right access trail (but see GPS wp 85 and 86), because of many pedestrian bridges over river. Took ca 2.5 hrs to reach ridge, birding pace. Heard Golden Pheasant nearby during ascend. Soon after reaching ridge heard up to 4 Firethroats singing, of which 1 was taped in nicely – it sang from 5m-high perch (see www.surfbirds.com, World Rarities pics for one of probably same male, taken by TropicalBirding guide). Random playing of Collared Owlet-tape resulted in several tit-flocks, with a.o. Père David’s (Rusty-breasted) and Fire-capped Tits. Walked past research station, where tea offered by welcoming caretaker, birded along trail, only to be summoned back to research station at 11. Mr Wang, senior Giant Panda researcher, explained (in good English) that a month earlier the first (ever) attempt was made to release a captive-bred Giant Panda into the wild, and that that individual was followed closely by the researchers (it apparently roams around less than 2 kms from the research station). Mr Wang claimed it was only possible to stay at the research station if one paid 200 USD per person – RH and Daniel were able to negotiate to 3,200 RMB / around € 60 per person for one night including three meals. [A receipt was printed by mr. Wang ]
Upon inquiring where to find target pheasants one researcher remarked he knew a breeding female Temminck’s Tragopan, and sure enough showed it after lunch: at a site we’d walked past three times already (see www.surfbirds.com, World Rarities pics for one of the breeding female - TropBi). The female sat on top of a dead tree, about 12m high, 12m from the trail. Forest along ridge trail looked fine but no trace of the many good birds tripreports mention. Best birds noted were female Temminck’s Tragopan on the trail, a male Slaty Bunting, sev Spotted Nutcrackers, two Great Parrotbills and a Pygmy Wren-Babbler. RH fell on the trail, injuring his leg. Cool at night.
Tue May 30
Up at 6, everybody went into forest to look for Temminck’s Tragopan. A pair of White-browed Bush-Robin feeding young, not far from the research station, was best find before breakfast. RH, troubled by injured leg, started descend right after breakfast – on his 5-hr walk best birds were female Golden Pheasant, Firethroat and 2 Chestnut-crowned Bush-Warblers (as well as meeting Vladimir Dinets, on his way up). Indian Blue Robin and Spotted Laughingthrush were seen by others, close to the research station after breakfast. JB and CQ walked down during late morning, JB seeing (another) female Golden Pheasant. DK and PM stayed up at Wuyipeng until late, and managed (brief) looks of a male Temminck’s Tragopan, along with male Koklass Pheasant running away from trail (PM only). No sign of Three-toed Parrotbill or Barred Laughingthrush though. Checked into Wolong Hotel again. After dinner checked with Belgian crew who did well at Balan Shan pass.
Wed May 31
Left hotel at 4.15, arriving at kmp 94 (Wood Snipe-site) at 5.30 – just before daybreak. Two birds were roding and heard well - only JB, DK and PM managed brief looks of one (“a wader skimming the hilltop”). The Belgians positioned themselves better and taped it, so that it flew right over their heads, enabling them to see (slightly more) details. [ Apparently unique, we experienced two clear mornings in a row at the pass. ]
Drove back to Monal-site (approx. kmp 92.3, right where a blue roadsign indicates a car crashing into a truck) where, after half an hour waiting, 3 male and 2 female monals flew to an open hilltop north of the road where they could be viewed nicely. White Eared-Pheasants showed at the opposite side of the road and PM had brief looks of a Giant Laughingthrush.
Pushed on up the pass as we wanted to be the first ones driving the road, hoping for Tibetan Snowcock and Snow Partridge, which indeed we saw pairs of next to the road. Headed for the top at ca 4,500m to look for Red-faced Rosefinch, but quiet near the Tibetan hut, foggy, and PM had trouble breathing, so went down again. Other targets seen easily included Plain and Brandt’s Mountain-Finch, Kessler’s (White-backed) Thrush and, back at the Monal-site, 6 Snow Pigeons (they seemed to breed in the ‘bridges’ underneath the road at this point, visible from further down the road).
At 10.30, started roadside-birding from near the white obelisk. RH went to the hotel at 14.00, when leg-injury proved too painfull. Also, his iPod appeared not to have survived the visit to the top…..[it works fine now] Others saw Giant Laughingthrush, Golden Bush Robin and Yellow-streaked Warbler that afternoon. After dinner, explained about Wuyipeng situation (and where to go birding at Wawu) to British birder Frank Moffet, and talked to Belgian crew. Campfire and loud disco in front of hotel. Clear weather all day, apart from few spots of rain in early afternoon.
Thu June 1
Even clearer than previous day, so arrival at Wood Snipe-site at 5.45 proved too late to be able to get views of one. Back to Monal-site, again enjoying Chinese Monals and White Eared-Pheasants, this time with (good scope views of) calling male Koklass Pheasant and singing Southern Spotted Bush-Warbler. Sev birding stops when crossing Balan Shan pass, arriving at village west of it at 11.10. Had lunch there, after which drove towards Danba. At Xiao Jin town, stopped at intersection with large map at right hand side of road, where Daniel insisted the map showed location of Mengbi Shan to be halfway the intersection and Maerkang, taking the road right. As the map forwarded by the Belgian crew indicated Mengbi Shan to be just north of Jinchuan town (which town was also mentioned in their email), and that town was located between Danba and Maerkang, we insisted on driving on towards Danba – therefore taking the left turn. Five hours later we arrived in rainy Jinchuan, a town – like all of the roads Xiao Jin – Danba – Maerkang – located in a valley next to a large river, nowhere near a pass…..
Then again, the road from Danba to Maerkang was exceptionally scenic, passed great little villages with lots of Tibetan people wearing colourful clothes and furthermore yielded Hodgson’s Redstart, Russet Sparrow and Godlewski’s Bunting new for the triplist (which species, however, were also seen between Maerkang and Xiao Jin, along the ‘new’ road). NOTE that the Nelles Verlag map does not show this ‘new’ road, which is probably already 10 years old, but that Chinese maps do…..
Checked in at best (if not only) hotel in Jinchuan, paying 180 RMB / € 18 per double room. After dinner RH, DK and PM went into town to witness people dancing at public square; met volunteers from Chengdu university to help poor children getting educated.
Fri June 2
‘Late’ start because of tiredness driver, on our way at 7. Again, beautiful Tibetan villages along the road Jinchuan - Maerkang, some guarded by 700-year-old towers, at one stopped by schoolkids doing a competitive run on the road. Arrived at Maerkang (indicated at some maps as ‘Barkam’) at 10, where had quick dumpling-breakfast/lunch before continuing to Mengbi Shan, located a mere 20 kms eastsoutheast of town. Great roadside forests starting around kmp 5 (deciduous forest, however noise from nearby river disturbing), going up until just below the top of pass at slightly over 4,000m (around kmp 30, GPS wp 92). Birded kmp 24, then near top, then kmp 28 and kmp 24 again. White Eared-Pheasants easily seen in late afternoon. Checked into Maerkang Hotel, having dinner at private restaurant opposite. Because of heavy rain in evening, RH, DK and PM aborted plan to take taxi up the mountain to try for Père David’s Owl at night – instead choosing to try in (very) early morning.
Sat June 3
RH, DK and PM at gate of hotel at 3. With taxi (that Daniel bargained down to 80 RMB / € 8 the previous evening, for a potential 3-4 hr-trip) drove towards Mengbi Shan. After rocks and tree on the road, eventually stopped by large amount of mud, shingle and branches, that blocked the way around kmp 10. This being way before any good fir forest started, decided to head back to the hotel – belated arrival because of flat taxi tyre. Paid taxi driver 100 RMB / € 10. Informed fellow travelers of later departure (5.30 to 6.30) - even then still had to wait until noon for road to be cleared by shovel ordered in from Maerkang). While our large van almost got stuck in the mud on two tries to get through, smaller Daihatsu-type vans crossed easily. Roadside birding below kmp 10 not very productive, though PM saw Spotted (along with Giant and the ever-common Elliott’s) Laughingthrush at GPS wp 94.
From noon onwards roadside-birding at higher elevations. Apart from areas already mentioned, a good spot was an area of open fir forest at ca 2,800m (GPS wp 95), where Three-banded Rosefinch and Slaty-backed Flycatcher were noted. [Coincidentally, 2,800m is higher than Mackinnon & Phillipps mention for Three-banded Rosefinch ] Pair of Chinese Grouse seen by RH and PM at GPS wp 96 (seen there by DK previous afternoon). Assembled at 16.30 near top, where met with Belgian crew having arrived from Balan Shan. Drove to Xiao Jin in 3 hrs, arriving at village below Balan Shan pass half an hour later. Because of nearby famous mountain and it being weekend, busloads of Chinese tourists filled up most hotels, leaving us no choice than to check into most expensive, yet least attractive hotel of trip at 350 RMB / € 35 per double room. Then again, fanciest-looking restaurant in town not expensive at all (180 RMB / € 18 for 7). Bought some souvenirs at (plentiful) shops.
Sun June 4
Slowly birding the roadside we passed Balan Shan pass. At kmp 134 (west side of pass) found, at opposite side of the valley, ‘Golden Eagle-cliff’ (GPS wp 97 - actually found about 7 nests, none of which seemed occupied), where Snow and Hill Pigeons were much in evidence, along with a single Wallcreeper (scope needed for these, latter seen only by RH and DK) and roadside Chinese Babaxes. Despite sev stops, failed to find either White-browed Tit-warbler or White-tailed Rubythroat. A good find, however, was a pair of Crimson-browed Finch (GPS wp 98). Top of pass and both Wood Snipe- and Monal-site shrouded in thick fog (as usual?). Roadside-birding just below white obelisk enabled RH to finally add Yellow-streaked Warbler, also hearing Firethroat that was consequently taped in. Lunch at Wolong Hotel, left for Chengdu at 14.50 arriving, in heavy rain, at 18.30, having survived some of the craziest overtaking procedures by other traffic (once by a police car of which passenger was later seen throwing up at roadside).
Checked into Holly’s Hostel, closer to Chengdu airport than Sam’s (beautiful old) Guesthouse. Rooms 120 RMB / € 12 per double room. At night, went into town (by 2 taxis, 10 RMD each) to have dinner at Chinese fast-food type restaurant, amongst Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonald’s. Meeting with Björn Anderson cancelled because of his late arrival in Chengdu. Late evening was spent at a bar not far from Holly’s Hostel, where imported Heineken’s cost 3.5 USD each.
Mon June 5
Four of us went shopping, while DK & PM also did some birding (at the park near Holly’s Hostel and Du Fu’s cottage respectively) – seeing trip-exclusives Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Yellow-billed Grosbeak, Red-billed & White-cheeked Starling. RH slept in late, met with Sam and then, at 11.30, we were off to the airport, transportation courtesy of Sam.
KL 0892’s Boeing 777 left right on time at 14.00, arriving at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport at 18.45 as planned. The plane, being only one third full, allowed RH extra legspace and most could sleep.
Notes on specific sites:
these are meant to complement other tripreports, of which the ones of Björn Anderson and Frank Rheindt (2003) are the most informative and up-to-date.
Hongya river: according to Susan Myers, there are multiple ways of reaching Wawu Shan; both times we were taken there (Jan 2005 and May 2006, by Sams drivers) we crossed a wide river just south of Hongya. In winter (Jan 2005, tripreport still not published) the river held Long-billed Plover and many (Eurasian) ducks, such as Wigeon, Gadwall etc. This time, 2 Oriental Pratincoles were a most unexpected find; Little Ringed Plovers were heard and Chinese Pond-Herons and Black-backed Wagtail ssp. alboides seen.
Wawu Shan: great place and easy to bird. This table mountain has three levels, each with its own accommodation if needed. Top (2,200m, according to BA) is best for the endemics, and can be reached by cable car (30 mins) or by taking the trail up (maintenance trail of cable car, probably takes at least 4 hrs up). Sichuan Treecreeper, along with Grey-hooded, Fulvous, Great and Three-toed Parrotbill are probably the best birds up there. There have been (occasional) sightings of Temminck’s Tragopan and Red Panda, by others. Other birds incl Elliott’s and Black-faced Laughingthrush, many (species of) Bush-Warblers (though we did not see all of the ones Frank Rheindt recorded), Grey-crested and Rufous-vented Tit and Grey-headed Bullfinch. In Jan 2005 RH and CQ saw Three-toed Woodpecker here, ssp. funebris. We spent about 9 hrs at the top.
In all, the 8 species of parrotbill recorded here are Great, Brown, Three-toed, Grey-hooded, Fulvous (all on top), Grey-headed, Golden (roadside) and Ashy-throated Parrotbill (sofar side road only). Remarkably, we did not see Grey-headed this time, where it was one of the commonest birdflock-contribuants in Jan 2005, one flock counting up to 80+ birds.
Gongtong Shanzhuang is the assembly of houses at the start of the cable car (1,967m, according to Garmin E-trex GPS). We never did find Björns circular “hotel trail” around the mountain, nor did we look hard for it, as the roadside birding down was so good. BA mentioned later that, days after our departure, the localised Gold-fronted Fulvetta was found breeding along this trail…..which only proves that good birds can still be discovered at this nice mountain. [I put my money on Hwamei, Moustached Laughingthrush and Streaked Barwing ]
Roadside birding, from Gongtong Shanzhuang down, gave a variety of species. Emei Liocichla was common, as were Red-billed Leiothrix and White-collared Yuhina, Large-billed and Claudia’s Leaf-Warbler. [ The latter is a split from Blyth’s Leaf-Warbler, see notes on identification ]. Rusty, Red-winged and White-browed Laughingthrush, Chinese Babax, Golden Parrotbill, Golden-breasted and Streak-throated Fulvetta were seen in small numbers. Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler and Pygmy Wren-Babbler were heard, the former repeatedly. Dark-sided, Verditer and Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher were also noted, as were Darjeeling and Crimson-breasted Woodpecker.
A good site is the area with indistinct overgrown vegetable gardens on either side of the road, an estimated 3 km down from Gongtong Shanzhuang. Lady Amherst’s Pheasant was heard here, while White-bellied Redstart was seen well. This site should be good for Red-winged Laughingthrush and Great Parrotbill, according to Susan Myers.
Further down, at the longest bridge (GPS wp 81, ca 15m long) of the stretch Wawu gate - Gongtong Shanzhuang (actually about 15 kms down from the latter, about 7 kms up from Wawu gate), is where the best forest and therefore best chance of Lady Amherst’s Pheasant is. According to Susan Myers, driving slowly up and down between 2 kms either side of the bridge is best, starting at 16.30. We saw 2 males, of which one feeding for minutes, on our first evening; a male and a female, when we weren’t trying very hard, on our second. We found the roadside scrub 2 kms up from the bridge best for Emei Leaf-Warbler, and also saw Golden Parrotbill there.
Lower down, about 3-4 kms down from the longest bridge we had great (scope!) views of an excited Pygmy Wren-babbler, calling from a bunch of pine tree branches lying around on moss-covered forest floor.
The side road, starting just before Wawu gate (not the wooden one, just where one has to pay the entrance fee, ca 300m beyond Wawu Grand Hotel) accesses forest at lower altitudes. In both Jan 2005 and May 2006 Ashy-throated Parrotbill was seen here, right where a small patch of roadside bamboo is found at the right hand side of the road in a sharp right hand turn where a thick rusty pipe crosses the road (approx. 2 kms after Wawu gate). Black-chinned Yuhina and Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler were other good birds along this road – especially when keeping in mind we only birded here for less than 2 hrs. [ In Jan 2005, Little, Spotted, Slaty-backed and White-crowned Forktail, along with White-browed Laughingthrush, many Grey-headed Parrotbills, Bay Woodpecker and a possible Dusky Fulvetta were seen along this road ] Continuing past the rusty pipe the deteriorating road leads to a deep forested valley.
Laojunshan: Specialties here include Sichuan Hill-Partridge, Streaked Barwing and Gold-fronted Fulvetta. The former is quite easily seen in bamboo stands, the latter two proved too difficult. Both were seen by James Eaton et al, in 2005 (see pics at OBC website) but, as Darwin, the resident Temminck’s Tragopan researcher mentioned, they have not been seen since (at least 4 groups tried since, incl us). The birding is nevertheless quite good, with for example a good variety of laughers and warblers. Nice birds seen here incl Temminck’s Tragopan, Chinese Bamboo-Partridge (on entrance track), White-backed and Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Great Barbet, White-throated, Red-winged, Rusty (common along ridge trail), Elliott’s and Spotted Laughingthrush, Emei Liocichla, Spot-breasted and Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, Red-tailed and Blue-winged Minla, Black-headed Sibia, White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Golden Parrotbill (common along ridge trail), Snowy-browed and Slaty-blue Flycatcher, Vivid Niltava, White-tailed Robin, Chinese, Claudia’s and Kloss’s Leaf-Warbler, Martens’s, White-spectacled and Chestnut-crowned Warbler. See attached map for more details – courtesy of James Eaton.
Emei Shan: Most birders concentrate on the forest near and in between Xixiang and Xianfeng temples but then again, most birders have more than one day. We chose the site as back-up for Temminck’s Tragopan/Wuyipeng, knowing that the latter site could be closed off for visitors. Initially we wanted to spend a full day and a morning at Emei, staying at Wannian temple, but after a rainy afternoon we took the cable car down at Wannian.
Everywhere on the mountain there are food stalls at regular intervals. Accommodation is found in most (all?) temples, and probably also at some food stalls. Own transport is not allowed onto the mountain. The road bypasses the mountain at some distance and is only used to transport tourists to 3 sites, which have their own connection to the trails/steps on the mountain. Wannian is lowest (ca 1,000m) and has a cable car up from the first car park after entering Emei gate. Leidongping is highest (around 2,500m) and from here one can take a cable car up to the Golden Summit, or start walking down towards, i.e., Xixiang temple (like we did). According to the free tourist map there’s a third stop in between from where one can walk to Emei trails. It takes 2 hrs to drive from Emei town to Leidongping: this includes a 20 mins stop to get a day pass incl a mugshot, and a shopping stop at one of the roadside shops.
Each level has its own kind of avifauna (see Jon Hornbuckle, 2000). We walked down to Xixiang and then, further down, took a left turn towards Wannian. Taking right at this intersection leads to Xianfeng temple, a good birding site that we unfortunately did not have the time for. We initially left Emei Shan out of our itinerary because we were afraid there would be loads of (mostly Chinese) tourists, but in the end we mostly walked alone. Bear in mind that not all trails lead down, though most did on our route which, after 15 kms, started to take its toll on knees and calves. Most trails (we walked) consist of endless steps, making birding more difficult (having to watch ones steps more often).
In between Leidongping and Xixiang (approx. 7 kms) forest was mostly pine and mixed and small flocks, usually in response to taping Collared Owlet, consisted mainly of leaf-warblers and tits, with the occasional Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Aberrant Bush-Warbler, White-collared Yuhina, Vinaceous Rosefinch and Grey-headed Bullfinch. At appropriate habitat Ferruginous, Rufous-gorgeted and Dark-sided (high up in dead trees), or Slaty-blue Flycatcher (low down in bamboo) were seen. Red-billed Leiothrix was moderately common. Not far below Xixiang temple a nestbuilding pair of Long-tailed Thrush was found (nest high up in a pine tree, see GPS wp 82) and shortly thereafter a Purple Cochoa reacted to random taping of its song and was taped to the trail, where it eventually was seen singing for minutes (see GPS wp 83)!
Below Xixiang temple, just past a small monastery where Tibetan Macaques rather aggressively begged for food, we found a nest of Chestnut-vented Nuthatch – at eyelevel in a pale-bark thin dead tree just left of the path. Around 300m beyond this point (many steps down) a Moustached Laughingthrush was found unobtrusively feeding beside the trail (see GPS wp 84). Red-billed Leiothrix and Slaty-blue Flycatcher were found there, too.
Finally, just above Wannian, good birds included a flock of Black-chinned Yuhina, and 3 Hwameis.
Wolong: The hillside behind the Wolong (Grand) Hotel is sometimes referred to as Sawan. The (generally steep) trails here provide a selection of species, though its specialties Golden Pheasant and Slaty Bunting are by no means common. To find the right trailhead, walk east from the Wolong (Grand) Hotel along the stone wall. Climb up through the 3-4 steps and walk right until, after about 300m, one finds the right trail. It is easy to follow, and after one or two turns one should find the ‘cattle hut’ that BA’s report mentions. Four of us saw Slaty Bunting (two pairs) and two of us a male Golden Pheasant along this trail. We were told later that the latter is seen easiest in rows of planted pine trees high up along this trail, and that Barred Laughingthrush was found in scrub right where this trail crosses a valley further east.
From the Wolong Hotel two calling male Golden Pheasants were heard quite low down, probably only 50m up from the stone wall: one right behind the hotel and one further east, opposite the basketball court. Here, Daurian Redstarts were also seen.
Wuyipeng: Much has been written about this site (see for example Frank Rheindt and Jon Hornbuckle), and many species have been seen. We found it somewhat disappointing, though we saw some nice birds. We only birded the access and ridge trails, with two ventures into the bamboo trail right (where only Great but no Three-toed Parrotbills were seen). This trail is indicated by a white sign with red Chinese marks (meaning: “no entry”) on it.
Good birds seen by us include a male Slaty Bunting just past the landslide about half an hour walk past the research station; single male and female Temminck’s Tragopans on the trail between 5 and 15 minutes past the research station; Spotted Laughingthrush, Rufous-bellied Niltava and Indian Blue Robin in the scrub 20m before the research station and White-browed Bush-Robin feeding young 20m past it. Singing Firethroats were seen and heard about 10 minutes after reaching the ridge, in an area with pine tree needles on the trail. Calling male Golden Pheasants were heard going up as well as down, while single females were seen by descending JB and RH.
Balan Shan: Nowadays the pass is reached from the Wolong (Grand) Hotel within 75 mins. Birding at different altitudes will maximise ones triplist. Birds like Blue-fronted Redstart, Plain Mountain-Finch, Alpine Accentor and Rosy Pipit are found in reasonably good numbers.
At the top of the pass, around 4,500m, it can be foggy but when it isn't, birds to look out for include Red-faced Rosefinch (found regularly near the stone Tibetan house with prayer flags, though we saw it about 500m west of the top) and Brandt's Mountain-Finch. Alpine Accentor was common here.
Further down, at least in late May, the road is flanked by patches of snow. At the snowline is where we found specialties like Snow Partridge and Tibetan Snowcock, though these two are more often searched for (and occasionally found) near the top (see other tripreports). At one point we
scoped a small group of Snow Partridge, while Lammergeier and Grandalas flew overhead - the latter were unfortunately not seen perched and/or nearby, as males are amongst the most spectacular birds on Earth.
At kmp 94 both sides of the road have steep grassy meadows (see GPS wp 87), and this is where Wood Snipes rode just before dawn. To get brief flight views of one, scanning the hillside above the road is best. Other birds here include Kessler's Thrush. Apparently this site can be covered in thick fog, as we experienced on June 4th.
James Eatons Monal-site is found between kmp's 92 and 94 (at approx. kmp 92.3, see GPS wp 88), right where south of the road a parking space for 3 small cars (at most) is found. Both sides of the road have plentiful rhodondendron and other scrub, with open grassy spaces in between. Looking across the road and slightly right from the parking a small meadow is visible on top of the hill, where Chinese Monals are regularly seen, on occasions even in courtship display. White Eared-Pheasants can be seen on either side of the road, as can be Koklass (on rare occasions: carefully scope the small open areas in between the bushes and trees as one might be calling from an exposed rock). The scrub here holds (at least) Common and Dark-breasted Rosefinch, Southern Spotted Bush-Warbler, Tickell’s Leaf-Warbler, Giant Laughingthrush, Chestnut Thrush, Orange-flanked Bush-Robin, Blue-fronted Redstart, while Snow Pigeons can be found along and underneath the road.
Lower down roadside bushes become more apparent, and all the way to the white obelisk and beyond there's good habitat for a number of birds such as Golden Bush-Robin, Yellow-streaked Warbler, Southern Spotted Bush-Warbler, Giant Laughingthrush, White-browed Rosefinch and White-winged Grosbeak. Firethroat was found not far below the white obelisk, at GPS wp 99 (seen well after playback). The forest below the white obelisk is said to be good for (hearing) Verreaux's Monal-Partridge, but we didn't try for it in early morning because of a planned visit to Mengbi Shan where this species is said to be easier.
Quite far down are some villages, of which one is called Dengsheng (indicated by large roadsigns). Deciduous forest is found here, and birds here apparently reflect the avifauna of Wuyipeng (i.e. Firethroat). We did not bird here.
On the western side of the Balan Shan pass vegetation is few, initially. Apparently, where the first roadside bushes appear (see Frank Rheindt, 2003) White-tailed Rubythroat and White-browed Tit-warbler should be found, but we failed to find them on two occasions, despite extensive searching. Different roadstops a bit lower down did produce some good birds however, like Pink-rumped Rosefinch (see GPS wp 90 and notes on identification), Snow Pigeon, Brown Dipper, Songar Tit, Chinese Fulvetta and best of all, a pair of Crimson-browed Finch (see GPS wp 98).
Ca 1 km before/above two white stupas on either side of the road (see GPS wp 97) one overlooks a wooded valley with some cliffs at the far side of the valley (looking left coming down). Here, Golden Eagle should be breeding at a cliff where also Snow and Hill Pigeons and Wallcreeper are found. Chinese Babax, White-browed Rosefinch and breeding Asian Martins were found next to the roadside. White-throated Redstart was seen in the lushest of roadside vegetation, all the way down, in a wooded valley just before the village.
Mengbi Shan: A site not well-known to independent birders (yet), though easily accessible, providing easy and quiet roadside birding and holding a number of good (endemic) specialties, of which Verreaux’s Monal-Partridge, White Eared- and Blood Pheasant, Chinese Grouse, Sichuan Jay, Père David’s Owl, Przewalski’s Nuthatch, Crested Tit-warbler, Maroon-backed Accentor, Chinese Fulvetta and Three-banded Rosefinch are probably best. We saw all of these, except for Verreaux’s Monal-Partridge and Père David’s Owl (no early morning or night visit possible, due to circumstances), and Przewalski’s Nuthatch (not found). Other good birds seen by us include Golden Eagle, Black Woodpecker, Eurasian Treecreeper, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Chestnut and Kessler’s Thrush, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, Spotted and Giant Laughingthrush, White-browed Fulvetta, Rufous-vented and Grey-crested Tit, Streaked, Pink-rumped and Chinese White-browed Rosefinch (the latter particularly common), White-winged and Collared Grosbeak and Tibetan Siskin.
Access is straightforward, with a decent map. From the western bottom of Balan Shan pass (town with plenty of hotels and souvenir shops, near a famous gorge, attracting plenty of Chinese and Japanese tourists) continue towards Danba, reaching an intersection, in the village of Xiao Jin, after about half an hour. The intersection is right at a big stupa (Buddhist holy place; NB the Belgians saw Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker here), and there’s an obvious map at the right hand side of the road. Left goes to Danba, Jinchuan and then Maerkang (taking about 8 hrs drive), right to Maerkang (only about 4 hrs drive). The highest pass along this right hand road is Mengbi Shan, reached after about 3 hrs.
Just past the top some rhodondendron scrub is found on either side, holding Rufous-breasted Accentor (with Golden Eagle overhead and Tibetan Siskin flying past). After about 500m there’s a house on the right hand side that has good fir forest with some open patches below it: this (GPS wp 96) is where we saw, on two consecutive afternoons, Chinese Grouse, Kessler’s Thrush, Crested Tit-warbler and (on June 3) Maroon-backed Accentor.
Other good areas were kmp 24 (GPS wp 91), with White-browed (common) and Pink-rumped Rosefinch, Black Woodpecker, White-browed and Chinese Fulvetta & White-winged and Collared Grosbeaks; kmp 28 (GPS wp 93) where we stumbled upon Sichuan Jays, a difficult species elsewhere; and GPS wp 95, where we saw Three-banded Rosefinch and Slaty-backed Flycatcher. White Eared-Pheasants were easily seen in late afternoon, scoping open hillsides from the road.
Lower down Spotted, Giant and Elliott’s Laughingthrush (at GPS wp 94), Long-tailed Minivet and (female) White-bellied Redstart were seen.
The Belgian crew (Tom Theuwis, Erwin and Peter Collaerts: Peter.Collaerts@scarlet.be) had some nice observations at this site (incl Verreaux’s Monal-Partridge & Blood Pheasant) which will be published in due course.
Some notes on identification: Two subspecies of White-browed Rosefinch were possibly involved, since the females encountered near the white obelisk at Balan Shan pass resembled the (sub)species from the Himalaya blythi (that RH has previous experience with), i.e. with rufous-buffy brow and chest. The females seen at Mengbi Shan were however an evenly coloured grey with fine dark streaks, lacking any rufous-buffy tones. These were probably ssp. femininus or possibly dubius.
As noted by Frank Rheindt (2003), Beautiful and Pink-rumped Rosefinch are extremely similar (males) or inseperable (females), apart from size, possibly habitat and a few, rather difficult-to-judge, fieldmarks. We identified ‘our’ birds, at both Balan Shan W and Mengbi Shan, as Pink-rumpeds, mainly on colour of undertail-coverts (creamy, possibly slightly pinkish, not bright pink as described for Beautiful) and bill (dark-horn rather than light-horn). We will, however, forward our digiscoped pics of these birds to knowledgeable people, so in future times this paragraph might read something else! [The TropicalBirding report (2006) mentions sightings of Beautiful Rosefinch only ….]
Sev of the Long-tailed Minivets Pericrocotus ethologus seen appeared to be Short-billed Minivets P. brevirostris (i.e. seemingly lacking the red line along the tertials, in the male) but as the latter is supposedly uncommon in Sichuan and most birds were not seen well enough we were not sure about the ID. Future visitors watch out!
Identification of Phylloscopus and Seicercus warblers is exceptionally difficult in Sichuan, since many (look-alike) species occur. Fortunately, DK was well-prepared and was able to record many calls and songs. In addition, we were able to read a copy of Peter Collaerts’s (soon to be published) BirdingAsia article by F.E. Rheindt, which confirmed most of our ID’s.
In short, the White-tailed Leaf-Warbler found in Sichuan (at least in sites visited by us) is split as Kloss’s Leaf-Warbler; the Blyth’s Leaf-Warbler as Claudia’s Leaf-Warbler. [The splits within the Seicercus complex can not be dealt with in short……read the article]
The Songar Tit found in Sichuan (ssp. affinis) is now placed with Parus songarus but appears to be more closely related to Willow Tit P. montanus – it might deserve full species status. See tripreport by Frank Rheindt (2003).
List of GPS waypoints:
RH used Garmin E-trex. [ Mentioning waypoints in tripreports is a new feature, therefore the actual no’s are used; wp 1 – 78 were taken in SE Brazil (tripreport of very successful trip soon to be published by Johan van ‘t Bosch) and Norway.]
Wp 79 1967m Gongtong Shanzhuang (base of cable car Wawu Shan)
N 29˚40’16.0” / E 102˚57’06.6”
Wp 80 2681m Wawu Shan: upper side of cable car
N 29˚39’28.5” / E 102˚56’59.5”
Wp 81 1593m Wawu Shan: longest bridge
N 29˚42’42.1” / E 102˚57’09.5”
Up to 2 kms either side is best habitat for Lady Amherst’s Pheasant. Drive this 4 km-stretch slowly as of 16.00 and success is almost guaranteed, from a vehicle.
Wp 82 1543m Emei Shan: site of nesting Long-tailed Thrush
N 29˚33’12.1” / E 103˚20’51.6”
Wp 83 1575m Emei Shan: site of (taped in) singing Purple Cochoa at Emei Shan.
N 29˚33’13.9” / E 103˚20’48.3”
Wp 84 1606m Emei Shan: site of Moustached Laughingthrush
N 29˚34’22.3” / E 103˚21’42.4”
Wp 85 2018m Start of route to pedestrian bridge accessing trail to Wuyipeng
N 31˚00’05.2” / E 103˚08’46.5”
Wp 86 2028m Start of trail to Wuyipeng (next to stone canal)
N 31˚00’04.7” / E 103˚08’48.8”
Wp 87 3611m Balan Shan (E, kmp 94): site for Wood Snipe
N 30˚52’22.7” / E 102˚57’25.4”
Wp 88 3492m Balan Shan (E, approx. kmp 92.3): site for Chinese Monal
N 30˚52’53.5” / E 102˚57’56.6”
Wp 89 3421m Balan Shan pass (E): site for White Eared-Pheasant, Southern Spotted Bush-Warbler, Giant Laughingthrush
N 30˚53’19.9” / E 102˚58’26.8”
Wp 90 3861m Balan Shan pass (W): site for Pink-rumped Rosefinch
N 30˚57’10.4” / E 102˚52’54.5”
Wp 91 3767m Mengbi Shan (kmp 24): Black Woodpecker, White-throated Redstart, Chinese and White-browed Fulvetta, Pink-rumped and Chinese White-browed Rosefinch, Collared and White-winged Grosbeak
N 31˚43’32.6” / E 102˚17’02.4”
Wp 92 4078m Top of Mengbi Shan pass
N 31˚42’25.2” / E 102˚18’47.9”
Wp 93 3955m Mengbi Shan (kmp 28): site for Sichuan Jay and Giant Laugher
N 31˚42’31.0” / E 102˚18’08.5”
Wp 94 3017m Mengbi Shan: site for Spotted, Giant and Elliott’s Laughingthrush
N 31˚48’04.4” / E 102˚16’29.6”
Wp 95 3852m Mengbi Shan: site for Three-banded Rosefinch
N 31˚43’05.7” / E 102˚17’15.5”
Wp 96 3867m Mengbi Shan: site for Chinese (Severzov’s) Grouse, Kessler’s Thrush, Crested Tit-warbler, Maroon-backed Accentor
N 31˚42’47.3” / E 102˚18’28.4”
Wp 97 3489m Balan Shan (W, kmp 134): site for breeding (?) Golden Eagle, Snow and Hill Pigeon, Chinese Babax and Wallcreeper
N 30˚59’14.2” / E 102˚50’41.2”
Wp 98 3877m Balan Shan (W, kmp 127): site for feeding pair of Crimson-browed Finch, Chinese Fulvetta, Songar Tit, Pink-rumped Rosefinch
N 30˚57’40.5” / E 102˚52’38.4”
Wp 99 3289m Balan Shan (E): site for Firethroat, Yellow-streaked Warbler
N 30˚53’24.7” / E 102˚58’41.3” (just below white obelisk)
List of observed birds:
Taxonomy roughly follows Robson, C. Birds of South-east Asia (2000).
(Proposed) splits of Phylloscopus / Seicercus warblers according to "Splits galore: the revolution in Asian leaf warbler systematics". BirdingAsia 5 (2006)
1. Snow Partridge – Lerwa lerwa: Balan Shan (E, near snowline, pair next to road, 2 more pairs)
2. Tibetan Snowcock – Tetraogallus tibetanus: Balan Shan (E, near snowline, pair next to road)
3. Sichuan Hill-Partridge – Arborophila rufipectus: Laojunshan (ridge trail, single and pair – latter seen on two occasions - in bamboo between two streams; trail near Er Ya Ping, 1 (JB)
4. Chinese Bamboo-Partridge – Bambusicola thoracica: Laojunshan (entrance track, 2 pairs on road just in front of car)
5. Blood Pheasant – Ithaginis cruentus berezowskii: Mengbi Shan (male crossing road, (JB)
6. Temminck's Tragopan – Tragopan temminckii: Laojunshan (near Er Ya Ping Guesthouse, male (PM); female seen by naked eye, with chicks heard, in bamboo between two streams along ridge trail (RH); 2 males and female along lower trail (JB); Wolong (Wuyipeng, nesting female on top of dead tree, single female (JB, RH) and male (DK, PM) on trail E of accommodation)
7. Koklass Pheasant – Pucrasia macrolopha (ruficollis?): Wolong (Wuyipeng, male (PM), Balan Shan (2 HO first morning at Monal-site - see wp 88); calling male + 1 HO next morning)
8. Chinese Monal – Lophophorus lhuysii: Balan Shan (approx. kmp 93.3, 3 males, 2 females - see wp 88); white obelisk, 1 in flight (JB)
9. White Eared-Pheasant – Crossoptilon crossoptilon: Balan Shan (Monal-site, 3 daily), Mengbi Shan (6 scoped at open hillside in afternoon halfway mountain, 10 scoped from top in afternoon)
10. Golden Pheasant – Chrysolophus pictus: Wolong (Sawan, male (DK, PM) + 2 HO; Wuyipeng, access trail, 2 single females (JB, RH) + 2 HO)
11. Lady Amherst’s Pheasant – Chrysolophus amherstiae: Wawu Shan (3 males, 1 female within 2 km up from longest bridge - 2 birds on two consecutive afternoons)
12. Severtsov's (Chinese) Grouse – Tetrastes sewerzowi: Mengbi Shan (single, DK, CQ) and pair (PM, RH) in forest below house just below top of pass, see wp 96)
13. Barred Buttonquail – Turnix suscitator: Laojunshan (entrance track, 1 flushed by car was only seen in flight)(not DK, CQ)
14. White-backed Woodpecker – Dendrocopos leucotos tangi: Laojunshan (lower trail, pair; ridge trail, 1+ (prolonged views of male)
15. Crimson-breasted Woodpecker – Dendrocopos cathpharius: Wawu Shan (sev), Laojunshan (1), Emei Shan (1, near Leidongping), Wolong (Wuyipeng, female)
16. Darjeeling Woodpecker – Dendrocopos darjellensis: Wawu Shan (plateau top, pair, not RH)
17. Black Woodpecker – Dryocopus martius: Mengbi Shan (clearing at kmp 24, female, 1 HO)
18. Grey-headed Woodpecker – Picus canus: Wawu Shan (HO), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 1, not RH, CQ), Mengbi Shan (HO)
19. Great Barbet – Megalaima virens: Laojunshan (2 seen (JB) and 5+ HO)
20. Common Kingfisher – Alcedo atthis bengalensis: Hongya river (1, CQ only)
21. Large Hawk Cuckoo – Hierococcyx sparverioides: Wawu Shan (few seen), Laojunshan, Emei Shan, Wolong, Balan Shan (sev HO at all sites)
22. Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo – Hierococcyx fugax: Wawu Shan (Gongtong Shanzhuang, 1 HO, DK)
23. Eurasian Cuckoo – Cuculus canorus: Wawu Shan, incl access road (HO), Emei Shan (HO), Wolong (Sawan, 1), Mengbi Shan (1)
24. Oriental Cuckoo – Cuculus saturatus: Wawu Shan (1 from cable car), Laojunshan, Emei Shan, Wolong (Wuyipeng, female), Mengbi Shan (HO at other sites)
25. Lesser Cuckoo – Cuculus poliocephalus: Wawu Shan (top, 2; roadside, 1, sev HO), Laojunshan, Emei Shan, Wolong (HO at other sites)
26. Asian Koel – Eudynamys scolopacaea: Wawu Shan (2 HO), Emei Shan (2 HO)
27. Himalayan Swiftlet – Collocalia brevirostris: Wawu Shan (10+)
28. White-throated Needletail – Hirundapus caudacutus: Wawu Shan (roadside, 3; top, 5+), Wolong (road, 3)
29. Common Swift – Apus apus pekinensis: Wawu Shan (2), between Danba and Jinchuan (30+)
30. Fork-tailed Swift – Apus pacificus: Emei Shan (2 + 6), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 10+), just south of Maerkang (1), Mengbi Shan (low down, 10)
31. House Swift – Apus nipalensis: ferry crossing just south of Leshan (1), Emei Shan (1)
32. Oriental Scops Owl – Otus sunia: Wawu (HO, Gongtong Shanzhuang, RH), Laojunshan (2 HO)
33. Collared Owlet – Glaucidium brodiei: Wawu Shan (4 HO, various altitudes), Emei Shan (1)
34. Asian Barred Owlet – Glaucidium cuculoides: east of Pingshan, 1 perched on top of tree
35. Snow Pigeon – Columba leuconata: Balan Shan (E, 6; W, kmp 134, 20 - see wp 97)
36. Hill Pigeon – Columba rupestris: between Danba & Maerkang (2), Balan Shan (W, kmp 134, 2)
37. Speckled Wood Pigeon – Columba hodgsonii: Wolong (Wuyipeng, 6, sev HO)
38. Oriental Turtle Dove – Streptopelia orientalis meena: Wawu Shan (2), between Danba and Maerkang (6) & Maerkang and Xiao Jin (6), Mengbi Shan (low down, 1)
39. Spotted Dove – Streptopelia chinensis: between Danba and Maerkang (2), Du Fu’s Cottage
40. Red Collared Dove – Streptopelia tranquebarica: between Maerkang and Xiao Jin (2, RH)
41. Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon – Treron sphenura: Laojunshan (Er Ya Ping Guesthouse, 15+)
42. Wood Snipe – Gallinago nemoricola: Balan Shan (kmp 94, see wp 87, 2 HO, 1 briefly seen in flight (not RH, CQ)
43. Little Ringed Plover – Charadrius dubius: Hongya river (HO, distant views of Charadrius spec)
44. Oriental Pratincole – Glareola maldivarum: Hongya river (2)
45. Black-eared Kite – Milvus lineatus: Mengbi Shan (1, PM)
46. Himalayan Griffon – Gyps himalayensis: Balan Shan (E, max 10 daily)
47. Lammergeier – Gypaetus barbatus: Balan Shan (E, 3 adults)
[ Sparrowhawk spec - Accipiter spec: Wawu Shan (roadside, 2, of which 1 resembled Besra A. virgatus) ]
48. Eurasian Buzzard – Buteo buteo japonicus: Balan Shan (E, 3+)
49. Golden Eagle – Aquila chrysaetos daphanea: Balan Shan (E, adult), Mengbi Shan (top, 1st year)
50. Mountain Hawk-Eagle – Spizaetus nipalensis: Wawu Shan (1), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 2, DK, PM)
51. Eurasian Kestrel – Falco tinnunculus: Leshan buddha (1, RH, DK, PM)
52. Eurasian Hobby – Falco subbuteo: between Danba & Maerkang (2)
53. Little Egret – Egretta garzetta: between Chengdu & Hongya, Hongya river
54. Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis: between Chengdu & Hongya, between Danba and Jinchuan
55. Chinese Pond Heron – Ardeola bacchus: Hongya river (2), between Maerkang and Xiao Jin (3)
56. Long-tailed Shrike – Lanius s. schach: common in open areas, south of Chengdu (15+ daily)
57. Grey-backed Shrike – Lanius tephronotus: Wolong (roadside, 1), Balan Shan (4 daily), between Danba and Maerkang (10+)
58. Sichuan Jay – Perisoreus internigrans: Mengbi Shan (kmp 28, see wp 93, 4-5)
59. Eurasian Jay – Garrulus glandarius sinensis: Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Mengbi Shan (singles)
60. Red-billed Blue Magpie – Urocissa erythrorhyncha: Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Wolong (singles)
61. Eurasian Magpie – Pica pica: between Danba and Maerkang (sev)
62. Spotted Nutcracker – Nucifraga caryocatactes: Wolong (Wuyipeng, 5+ daily)
63. Alpine Chough – Pyrrhocorax graculus: Balan Shan (E, 60+ in small flocks)
64. Northern Raven – Corvus corax: Balan Shan (E, 5), Mengbi Shan (1)
65. Carrion Crow – Corvus corone: between Danba and Maerkang (sev possibles), between Maerkang and Xiao Jin (1)
66. Large-billed Crow – Corvus macrorhynchos: Wawu Shan, Emei Shan, Mengbi Shan
67. Long-tailed Minivet – Pericrocotus ethologus: Wawu Shan (pair daily), Emei Shan (3+), Wolong (Sawan, male; Wuyipeng, 20+), Mengbi Shan (below kmp 10, pair, RH)
68. Ashy Drongo – Dicrurus leucophaeus: Laojunshan (2), Balan Shan (E, white obelisk, 4)
69. Spangled (Hair-crested) Drongo – Dicrurus hottentottus: Wawu Shan (sev daily), Laojunshan (1), Emei Shan (6+), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 1)
70. Asian Paradise-Flycatcher – Tersiphone paradisi: behind Wolong Hotel (immature male, JB, DK)
71. Brown Dipper – Cicnlus pallasii: Wawu Shan (low down, 3), Balan Shan (W, 1)
72. Blue Rock Thrush – Monticola solitarius: east of Pingshan (1), between Danba and Maerkang (20+) & Maerkang and Xiao Jin (25+)
73. Blue Whistling-Thrush – Myophonus caeruleus: Wawu Shan (sev daily, mostly roadside), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 1), between Danba and Maerkang & Maerkang and Xiao Jin (3 daily)
74. Long-tailed Thrush – Zoothera dixoni: Emei Shan (nestbuilding pair between Leidongping and Xixiang temple, see GPS wp 82)
75. Eurasian Blackbird – Turdus merula mandarinus: south of Hongya, east of Pingshan, Chengdu
76. Chestnut Thrush – Turdus rubrocanus gouldi: Balan Shan (E, 6), Mengbi Shan (5 daily)
77. Kessler's (White-backed) Thrush – Turdus kessleri: Balan Shan (E, 3), Mengbi Shan (4)
78. Dark-sided Flycatcher – Muscicapa sibirica rothschildi: Wawu Shan (1), Emei Shan (1), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 1)
79. Ferruginous Flycatcher – Muscicapa ferruginea: Wawu Shan (2, PM), Emei Shan (2), Wolong (Sawan, 4; Wuyipeng, up to 6 daily)
80. Slaty-backed Flycatcher – Ficedula hodgsonii: Mengbi Shan (see wp 95, 2 pairs, 4+ HO)
81. Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher – Ficedula strophiata: Wawu Shan (2), Emei Shan (male), Wolong (Wuyipeng, up to 5 daily)
82. Taiga Flycatcher – Ficedula albicilla: Wolong (Wuyipeng, 1st summer male, JB)
83. Snowy-browed Flycatcher – Ficedula hyperythra: Laojunshan (ridge trail, male, RH; 1 HO, DK)
84. Slaty-blue Flycatcher – Ficedula tricolor: Laojunshan (female, RH, DK), Emei Shan (male, RH)
85. Verditer Flycatcher – Eumyias thalassina: Wawu Shan (roadside, 3 daily), Emei Shan (1), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 1)
86. Rufous-bellied Niltava – Niltava sundara: Wolong (Wuyipeng, 3 males, 2 females)
87. Vivid Niltava – Niltava vivida: Laojunshan (ridge trail, male)
88. Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher – Culicicapa ceylonensis: Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Emei Shan Wolong (Wuyipeng)(singles)
89. Firethroat – Luscinia pectardens: Wolong (Wuyipeng, 2, 1 HO; white obelisk, 1, 1 HO - wp 99)
90. Indian Blue Robin – Luscinia brunnea: Wolong (Wuyipeng, pair plus male) (not RH)
91. Orange-flanked Bush Robin – Tarsiger cyanurus: Wolong (Wuyipeng, 2 females), Balan Shan (2), Mengbi Shan (up to 3 daily)
92. Golden Bush Robin – Tarsiger chrysaeus: Balan Shan (E, 3 below white obelisk and 1 above it)
93. White-browed Bush Robin – Tarsiger indicus: Wolong (Wuyipeng, 2 pairs and male)
94. Oriental Magpie Robin - Copsychus saularis: Leshan buddha (male), Emei Shan (male)
95. Hodgson’s Redstart – Phoenicurus hodgsoni: between Danba and Maerkang (sev) & Maerkang and Xiao Jin (sev)
96. White-throated Redstart – Phoenicurus schisticeps: Balan Shan (W, male), Mengbi Shan (8+)
97. Daurian Redstart – Phoenicurus auroreus: Wolong Hotel (2), Balan Shan, Mengbi Shan (lower down, few), between Maerkang and Xiao Jin
98. Blue-fronted Redstart – Phoenicurus frontalis: Balan Shan (5+ daily), Mengbi Shan (10+ daily)
99. White-capped Water-Redstart – Chaimarrornis leucocephalus: Wawu Shan, Balan Shan, Mengbi Shan
100. Plumbeous Water-Redstart – Rhyacornis fuliginosus: Wawu Shan, Wolong Hotel, Balan Shan, Mengbi Shan
101. White-bellied Redstart – Hodgsonius phaenicuroides: Wawu Shan (male at overgrown vegetable gardens), Mengbi Shan (female, approx kmp 8)
102. White-tailed Robin – Cinclidium leucurum: Laojunshan (3 seen, 4 HO, RH, DK, PM)
103. Grandala – Grandala coelicolor: Balan Shan (just E from top, 3 high in flight)
104. Slaty-backed Forktail – Enicurus schistaceus: Wawu Shan (roadside, 2)
105. White-crowned Forktail – Enicurus leschenaulti: east of Pingshan, during stop (1, not RH)
106. Purple Cochoa – Cochoa purpurea: Emei Shan (singing male taped in, between Xixiang & Wannian temple, see GPS wp 83)
107. Grey Bushchat – Saxicola ferrea: Laojunshan (entrance track, pair)
108. Red-billed Starling – Sturnus sericeus: Du Fu’s Cottage (PM), Chengdu (JB)
109. White-cheeked Starling – Sturnus cineraceus: Chengdu (DK)
110. Crested Myna – Acridotheres cristatellus: Leshan
111. Chestnut-vented Nuthatch – Sitta nagaensis: Emei Shan (pair at nesthole), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 5), Mengbi Shan (1, DK)
112. Wallcreeper – Tichodroma muraria: Balan Shan (1 scoped, see GPS wp 97 (RH, DK)
113. Eurasian Treecreeper – Certhia familiaris khamensis: Mengbi Shan (max 10 daily)
114. Sichuan Treecreeper – Certhia tianquanensis: Wawu Shan (plateau top, 20+ incl nest)
115. Winter Wren – Troglodytes troglodytes: Mengbi Shan (3 HO)
116. Fire-capped Tit – Cephalopyrus flammiceps olivaceus: Wolong (Wuyipeng, 5)
117. Rufous-vented Tit – Parus rubidiventris: Wawu Shan (top, 4), Mengbi Shan (15+)
118. Coal Tit – Parus ater aemodius: Wawu Shan (top, 4), Emei Shan (3), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 2). Has a huge crest and therefore does not resemble “European” Coal Tit……
119. Yellow-bellied Tit – Parus venustulus: Wawu Shan (roadside, 5), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 10)
120. Père David's (Rusty-breasted) Tit – Parus davidi: Wolong (Wuyipeng, 7)
121. Songar Tit – Parus songarus (or montanus?) affinis: Balan Shan (E, white obelisk, 1; W, 4, see GPS wp 98), Mengbi Shan (3 daily) See notes on identification.
122. Grey-crested Tit – Parus dichrous: Wawu Shan (top, few), Emei Shan (below Leidongping, 1), Wolong (Wuyipeng. 3 daily), Mengbi Shan (max 8 daily)
123. Great Tit – Parus major: Leshan Buddha (6+), Laojunshan (2), Jinchuan (2)
124. Green-backed Tit – Parus monticolus yunnanensis: Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Emei Shan, Wolong (Wuyipeng)(usually in pairs)
125. Yellow-browed Tit – Sylviparus modestus: Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Emei Shan, Wolong (Wuyipeng)(few in most flocks)
126. Long-tailed Tit – Aegithalos caudatus vinaceus: Wolong (Sawan, sev, CQ only)
127. Black-throated Tit – Aegithalos c. concinnus: Leshan buddha (15+), Laojunshan (5+)
128. Sooty Tit – Aegithalos fuliginosus: Wolong (Wuyipeng, 4) (not RH, CQ)
129. Pale Sand Martin – Riparia diluta (chinensis): Hongya river (common), river crossing south of Leshan (sev)
130. Eurasian Crag Martin – Hirundo rupestris: between Danba and Maerkang & Maerkang and Xiao Jin
131. Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica: Hongya river, Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Emei Shan (sev at all), Balan Shan (1)
132. Red-rumped Swallow – Hirundo daurica: Hongya river, east of Pingshan (gathering mud for nesting), Emei Shan (1+)
133. Asian House Martin – Delichon dasypus: Wawu Shan (3), Emei town (1), Wolong (Wuyipeng), Balan Shan, Mengbi Shan (common at latter two sites)
134. Goldcrest – Regulus regulus: Mengbi Shan, Balan Shan
135. Collared Finchbill – Spizixos semitorques: Leshan buddha (1 singing), Laojunshan (entrance track, 1)
136. Brown-breasted Bulbul – Pycnonotus xanthorrhous: Laojunshan (entrance track, 1), Balan Shan (E, 5), between Xiao Jin and Jinchuan (2)
137. Light-vented Bulbul – Pycnonotus sinensis: south of Hongya (1), between Yibin and Pingshan (common), Emei Shan (1)
138. Mountain Bulbul – Hypsipetes mcclellandii: Laojunshan (Er Ya Ping, 6, not RH)
139. Black Bulbul – Hypsipetes leucocephalus leucothorax: Wawu Shan (roadside, 5 in flight), Laojunshan (common)
140. Plain Prinia – Prinia inornata: between Hongya and Leshan (1 singing)
141. Chestnut-flanked White-eye – Zosterops erythropleurus: Wawu Shan (4), Emei Shan, Wolong (Wuyipeng)
142. Japanese White-eye – Zosterops japonicus: Wawu Shan (1), Leshan buddha (10+), Laojunshan (Er Ya Ping, 2)
143. Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler – Cettia fortipes: freqently heard on all mountains, seen at Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Emei Shan, Balan Shan
144. Chestnut-crowned Bush-Warbler – Cettia major: Wawu Shan (plateau top, 2+), Wolong (Wuyipeng access trail, 2, RH)
145. Aberrant Bush-Warbler – Cettia flavolivacea: Wawu Shan (sev), Emei Shan (1)
146. Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler – Cettia acanthizoides: Wawu Shan (2), Emei Shan (1), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 1 on both days)
147. (Northern) Spotted Bush-Warbler – Bradypterus davidi: Wawu Shan (plateau top, 2 HO, RH, DK)
148. (Southern) Spotted Bush-Warbler – Bradypterus thoracicus: Balan Shan (Monal-site, 1 next to parking; white obelisk, 1 HO), Mengbi Shan (1 HO)
149. Brown Bush Warbler – Bradypterus luteoventris: Wawu Shan (plateau top, 2-3)
150. Tickell's Leaf Warbler – Phylloscopus affinis: Balan Shan, Mengbi Shan (common at both)
[ Buff-throated Warbler – Phylloscopus subaffinis: birds resembling Tickell's Leaf-Warbler with aberrant calls at Mengbi Shan were probably this species, according to DK) ]
151. Yellow-streaked Warbler – Phylloscopus armandii: Balan Shan (E, near white obelisk, 10)
152. Buff-barred Warbler – Phylloscopus pulcher: Wawu Shan (top), Emei Shan (below Leidongping, quite common), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 2+), Mengbi Shan (3)
153. Ashy-throated Warbler – Phylloscopus maculipennis: Wawu Shan (top, 3), Emei Shan (sev)
154. Pallas’s (Lemon-rumped) Leaf-Warbler – Phylloscopus proregulus: Balan Shan (white obelisk, ca 8)
155. Sichuan Leaf Warbler – Phylloscopus forresti: Wawu Shan (top, 3+), Emei Shan, Wolong (Wuyipeng)(common at latter two sites)
156. Chinese Leaf-Warbler – Phylloscopus yunnanensis: Laojunshan (lower trail, 2 seen)
157. Hume’s Warbler – Phylloscopus humei mandellii: Mengbi Shan (3, near GPS wp 91)
158. Greenish Warbler – Phylloscopus t. trochiloides: Wawu Shan (top, 10+), Wolong (Wuyipeng), Balan Shan, Mengbi Shan (common at latter two)
159. Large-billed Leaf Warbler – Phylloscopus magnirostris: Wawu Shan, Wolong (Wuyipeng), Mengbi Shan (lower parts)(common, simple song heard often)
160. Emei Leaf-Warbler – Phylloscopus emeiensis: Wawu Shan (exactly 2 kms up from longest bridge, which is GPS wp 81: 1 seen after playback, 3 HO)
161. Claudia’s Leaf-Warbler – Phylloscopus claudiae: Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Emei Shan, Wolong (Wuyipeng). Split from Blyth’s Leaf-Warbler.
162. Kloss’s Leaf-Warbler – Phylloscopus klossi ogilvigranti: Wawu Shan (top), Laojunshan (ridge trail), Mengbi Shan. Split from White-tailed Leaf-Warbler.
[ Grey-crowned Warbler – Seicercus tephrocephalus: Wawu Shan (mid-elevation, few). ID tentative, based solely on altitude and occurrence as in article by Frank Rheindt ]
163. Plain-tailed Warbler – Seicercus soror: Wawu Shan (side road, low-elevation, 2+)
164. Bianchi's Warbler – Seicercus valentini: Wawu Shan (top and Gongtong Shanzhuang), Laojunshan, Wolong (white obelisk)
165. Martens’s Warbler – Seicercus omeiensis: Laojunshan (ridge trail), Wolong (Wuyipeng)
166. White-spectacled Warbler – Seicercus affinis: Laojunshan (lower trail, 2)
167. Chestnut-crowned Warbler – Seicercus castaniceps: Laojunshan (lower trail, pair, RH, DK)
168. Rufous-faced Warbler – Abroscopus albogularis: Leshan buddha (2, not CQ)
169. Crested Tit-Warbler – Leptopoecile elegans: Mengbi Shan (15+, with Goldcrests and tits, though sometimes singly)
170. White-throated Laughingthrush – Garrulax albogularis: Laojunshan (quite common, trail behind Er Ya Ping)
171. Moustached Laughingthrush – Garrulax cineraceus cinereiceps: Emei Shan (1, not CQ, see GPS wp 84)
172. Spotted Laughingthrush – Garrulax ocellatus artemisiae: Laojunshan (2, JB, PM), Wolong (Wuyipeng) (2, JB, DK), Mengbi Shan (1, PM)
173. Giant Laughingthrush – Garrulax maximus: Balan Shan (Monal-site, 4), Mengbi Shan (20+)
174. Rusty Laughingthrush – Garrulax poecilorhynchus ricinus: Wawu Shan (just below vegetable gardens, 2), Laojunshan (ridge trail, common, in flocks of up to 12)
175. Elliot's Laughingthrush – Garrulax elliotii: Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Emei Shan, Wolong, Balan Shan, Mengbi Shan (common everywhere, usually in small flocks of up to 8)
176. Black-faced Laughingthrush – Garrulax affinis (blythi?): Wawu Shan (plateau top, 3)
177. Hwamei – Garrulax canorus: Emei Shan (just above Wannian temple, 2)
178. White-browed Laughingthrush – Garrulax sannio oblectans: Wawu Shan (1 with Chinese Babaxes, RH only), in agricultural fields east of Pingshan (2), Chengdu parks (sev pairs)
179. Red-winged Laughingthrush – Garrulax formosus: Wawu Shan (1, sev HO), Laojunshan (sev HO, few seen)
180. Emei Liocichla – Liocichla omeiensis: Wawu Shan (common, roadside), Laojunshan (common), Emei Shan (few)
181. Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler – Pomatorhinus erythrocnemis: Wawu Shan (side road, 2), Laojunshan (RH, DK, 1 seen well after playback)
182. Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler – Pomatorhinus ruficollis: Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Emei Shan, Wolong (Wuyipeng)(more heard than seen)
183. Pygmy Wren-Babbler – Pnoepyga pusilla: Wawu Shan (1, sev HO), Laojunshan (HO), Emei Shan (HO), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 1)
184. Rufous-capped Babbler – Stachyris ruficeps: Wawu Shan, east of Pingshan, Laojunshan, Emei Shan (HO), Wolong (Wuyipeng)
185. Chinese Babax – Babax lanceolatus: Wawu Shan (5), Balan Shan (W, 2, see GPS wp 97)
186. Red-billed Leiothrix – Leiothrix lutea: Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Emei Shan
187. White-browed Shrike-Babbler – Pteruthius flaviscapis: Wolong (Sawan, pair, JB only)
188. Green Shrike-Babbler – Pteruthius xanthochlorus: Emei Shan (2, DK, CQ), Wolong (Wuyipeng, max 3 daily)
189. Blue-winged Minla – Minla cyanouroptera: Laojunshan (max 7 daily)
190. Red-tailed Minla – Minla ignotincta: Laojunshan (ridge trail, 5)
191. Golden-breasted Fulvetta – Alcippe chrysotis swinhoii: Wawu Shan (few pairs daily), Laojunshan (few daily), Wolong (Wuyipeng)
192. White-browed Fulvetta – Alcippe vinipectus: Mengbi Shan (1, kmp 24, see GPS wp 91)
193. Chinese Fulvetta – Alcippe striaticollis: Mengbi Shan (4 daily), Balan Shan (W, 2, wp 98)
194. Streak-throated Fulvetta – Alcippe c. cinereiceps: Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Wolong (Wuyipeng)(at all sites few daily)
195. Grey-cheeked Fulvetta – Alcippe morrisonia: Wawu Shan (top, 1), Laojunshan (10+)
196. Black-headed Sibia – Heterophasia desgodinsi: Laojunshan (ridge trail, 3 seen, 4 heard)
197. Stripe-throated Yuhina – Yuhina g. gularis: Wawu Shan, Emei Shan, Mengbi Shan
198. White-collared Yuhina – Yuhina diademata: Wawu Shan, Emei Shan, Mengbi Shan (1, low)
199. Black-chinned Yuhina – Yuhina nigrimenta: Wawu Shan, Emei Shan (Wannian)
200. Great Parrotbill – Conostoma oemodium: Wawu Shan (top, 5), Wolong (Wuyipeng, 2)
201. Brown Parrotbill – Paradoxornis unicolor: Wawu Shan (plateau top, 1)
202. Grey-headed Parrotbill – Paradoxornis gularis fokiensis: Laojunshan (near Er Ya Ping, 1 on first day, RH, with ca 20 in mixed flock on second day, RH, DK)
203. Vinous-throated Parrotbill – Paradoxornis webbianus elisabethae: Du Fu’s Cottage (few pairs, PM only)
204. Ashy-throated Parrotbill – Paradoxornis alphonsianus: Wawu Shan (side road, 2), Laojunshan (entrance track, 2)
205. Grey-hooded Parrotbill – Paradoxornis zappeyi: Wawu Shan (plateau top, ridge trail, pair at far end of trail (PM) and pair 500m right of cable car station, all 4 others)
206. Fulvous Parrotbill – Paradoxornis fulvifrons: Wawu Shan (plateau top, sev pairs)
207. Golden Parrotbill – Paradoxornis verreauxi: Wawu Shan (2 km up from longest bridge, sev), Laojunshan (common)
208. Fire-breasted Flowerpecker – Dicaeum ignipectus: Leshan buddha (2)
209. Mrs Gould's Sunbird – Aethopyga gouldiae: Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Wolong (Wuyipeng)
210. House Sparrow – Passer domesticus: between Danba and Jinchuan (male, JB and DK only)
211. Russet Sparrow – Passer rutilans: between Danba and Maerkang & Maerkang and Xiao Jin (sev)
212. Eurasian Tree Sparrow – Passer montanus: most cities and villages
213. Black-backed Wagtail – Motacilla (alba) alboides: Hongya, Wawu Shan, Laojunshan, Emei Shan, Balan Shan, Maerkang, Mengbi Shan
214. Grey Wagtail – Motacilla cinerea: Wawu Shan, Balan Shan, Mengbi Shan
215. Olive-backed Pipit – Anthus hodgsoni yunannensis: Balan Shan (white obelisk, 3), Mengbi Shan (3)
216. Rosy Pipit – Anthus roseatus : Wolong Hotel (4), Balan Shan (E, sev)
217. Alpine Accentor – Prunella collaris (tibetana?): Balan Shan (E, common)
218. Rufous-breasted Accentor – Prunella strophiata: Mengbi Shan (rhodondendron scrub near top, 5+), Balan Shan (W, 4)
219. Maroon-backed Accentor – Prunella immaculata: Mengbi Shan (singles by RH, PM)
220. White-rumped Munia – Lonchura striata: east of Pingshan (2 pairs)
221. Oriental (Grey-capped) Greenfinch – Carduelis sinica: east of Pingshan (dozens)
222. Tibetan Siskin – Carduelis thibetana: Mengbi Shan (male in flight near top, RH only)
223. Plain Mountain-Finch – Leucosticte nemoricola: Balan Shan (common)
224. Brandt's Mountain-Finch – Leucosticte brandti: Balan Shan (E, 30+)
225. Dark-breasted Rosefinch – Carpodacus nipalensis: Balan Shan (E, Monal-site, pair)
226. Common Rosefinch – Carpodacus erythrinus roseatus: Balan Shan, Mengbi Shan (few both)
227. Pink-rumped Rosefinch – Carpodacus eos: Balan Shan (W, 12+), Mengbi Shan (15+). But see notes on identification.
228. Vinaceous Rosefinch – Carpodacus vinaceus: Wawu Shan (plateau top, 2 pairs), Emei Shan (female, just below Leidongping)
229. Three-banded Rosefinch – Carpodacus trifasciatus: Mengbi Shan (3, see GPS wp 95)
230. (Chinese) White-browed Rosefinch – Carpodacus thura: Balan Shan (E, male, 2 females, ssp. blythi?), Mengbi Shan (common, ssp. femininus). See notes on identification.
231. Streaked Rosefinch – Carpodacus rubicilloides: Mengbi Shan (ca 10)
232. Red-fronted Rosefinch – Carpodacus puniceus: Balan Shan (W, male, 2 females)
233. Crimson-browed Finch – Pinicula subhimachala: Balan Shan (W, pair, see GPS wp 98)
234. Grey-headed Bullfinch – Pyrrhula erythaca: Wawu Shan (pair on top), Wolong (Wuyipeng, max 15 daily), Balan Shan (roadside near Dengsheng, 2)
235. Yellow-billed Grosbeak – Eophona migratoria: Du Fu’s Cottage (pair, PM only)
236. Collared Grosbreak – Mycerobas affinis: Mengbi Shan (kmp 24, max 5 daily, most by JB)
237. White-winged Grosbeak – Mycerobas carnipes: Balan Shan (white obelisk, pair), Mengbi Shan (max 8 daily)
238. Slaty Bunting – Latoucheornis siemsseni: Wolong (Sawan, 2 pairs and full-grown young; Wuyipeng, male)
239. Godlewski's Bunting – Emberiza godlewskii: between Danba and Maerkang (sev) & Maerkang and Xiao Jin (sev)
240. Yellow-throated Bunting – Emberiza elegans: Laojunshan (male, entrance track)
Chinese Ghoral Nemorhaedus caudatus: 1 at Monal-site, Balan Shan.
Chinese Muntjak Muntiacus reevesi: sev at hill behind Wolong Hotel (Sawan).
Tibetan (Milne-Edwards’) Macaques Macaca thibetana: 30+ at Emei Shan, just below Leidongping and near a small temple much further down.
Unidentified monkeys (darker than macaques, with more friendly appearance) were seen roadside at Wawu Shan (JB only).
Hare: 1 grey individual at Mengbi Shan (RH, PM).
Himalayan Marmot Marmota himalayana: sev large yellow ones, seen and heard, at Balan Shan and Mengbi Shan.
A variety of rodents were seen at Mengbi Shan, including a large grey Cricetinae-type species, that could well have become that evenings dinner of Père David’s Owl.
A number of small squirrels (striped, yellowish-brown and grey) were seen, mainly at Balan Shan and Mengbi Shan.
Crocothemis servilia was common in rice paddies between Hongya and Leshan. A beautiful large Anotogaster-type dragonfly was seen on the ridge trail at Laojunshan, where also a large purplish dragonfly was seen briefly, and two types of damselfly, Agriomorpha fusca (see pic at http://www.asia-dragonfly.net/picSearchCountry.php?Country=CN) and one probable Caliphaea consimilis (see http://www.asia-dragonfly.net/picSearchCountry.php?Country=CN&&offset=10). Sev of a Trithemis spec. were found at the Leshan buddha.
July 7th, 2006
Aert van Neslaan 336
2341 HN Oegstgeest
RH PS Top Ten Most Beautiful New Birds (57 lifers for RH, incl the Phylloscopus splits)
1 Purple Cochoa
2 Tibetan Snowcock (first Tetraogallus)
3 Snow Partridge (first Lerwa)
5 Rusty Laughingthrush
6 Vinaceous Rosefinch
7 Emei Liocichla (first Liocichla)
8 White Eared-Pheasant (first Crossoptilon)
9 Slaty-backed Flycatcher
10 White-throated Redstart