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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Qinghai and Xizang (Tibet), with W Sichuan, China, July 16 - August 14, 2006,
Visited sites: Wuyipeng, Sawan (Wolong), Balan Shan, Mengbi Shan, Chengdu (all Sichuan), Rato marsh southwest of Yushu, Kanda Shan pass, Beizha Forest, Bayankala Shan pass, marshes around Maduo, steppes north of Yeniugou village (Asiatic Wild Ass), Er La pass, Gongehe, marsh east of Qinghai Hu (= Koko Nor), Chaka flats, Rubber Mountain pass, Heimahe marsh, Bei Shan in northern Xining, Huzhu Bei Shan NP (all Qinghai, the latter bordering Gansu), Lhasa, Chak La pass and Reting Monastery (all Xizang). (Map of route)
We planned to visit Ma Ke He (= “Sichuan border site” in Jesper Hornskov’s annotated triplists) but decided to skip this as we could not afford it (see Money) and all birds available there could be seen elsewhere. A brief route description will be given nonetheless.
NOTE that we believe the Nanqian Forest Reserve (Qinghai) to be the same site as Beizha Forest, contrary to George Wagner. This is dealt with in Description of birding sites.
Participants: Johan van ‘t Bosch (JB), Remco Hofland (RH, reporter) and Bertus de Lange (BL) from The Netherlands.
Highlights incl 25 Lammergeiers and 9 Sakers; Chinese (Severtzov’s) Grouse, Szechenyi's Monal-Partridge, Blood Pheasant, Tibetan & White Eared-Pheasant, Temminck's Tragopan; Black-necked Crane, Ibisbill, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Firethroat, White-winged & Ala Shan Redstart, Crested & White-browed Tit-warbler, Giant & Kozlov’s (Tibetan) Babax; Giant, Barred & Prince Henry’s Laughingthrush; Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Wallcreeper, Tibetan (Chinese) Grey Shrike, Sichuan Jay, Henderson’s Ground Jay, six species of snowfinch, 11 species of rosefinch (including stunners like Roborowski’s (Tibetan), Three-banded & Vinaceous), Grey-headed Bullfinch, Pink-tailed & Slaty Bunting.
Non-avian highlights include Wolf, 120+ Asiatic Wild Ass (Kiang) and 100+ Tibetan Gazelle (mammals); Gynacantha spec. and Pseudothemis zonata (dragonflies) and Ghost orchid Epipogium aphyllum. We also thoroughly enjoyed the scenery, the monasteries and the food.
Top-3: Henderson’s Ground Jay and Tibetan Eared-Pheasant made all our top-3’s; others were Pallas’s Sandgrouse (RH), Lammergeier (JB) and Roborowski’s Rosefinch (BL).
Birds not seen: Tibetan Snowcock, Golden, Koklass and Blue Eared-Pheasant, Chinese Monal, Przevalski’s (Rusty-necklaced) Partridge, Tibetan Sandgrouse, Przevalski’s Nuthatch, Kozlov’s (Tibetan) Bunting, Spotted Great Rosefinch Carpodacus severtzovi.
Preparation: The idea of taking this trip originated from the excellent report by George Wagner (2005), available from www.travellingbirder.com/default.php (hereafter referred to as Wagner 2005). Through email correspondence with George (firstname.lastname@example.org) we obtained additional info gathered on his spring-2006 trip to northern Qinghai, including good sites for Blue Eared-Pheasant, Black-necked Crane, Pink-tailed Bunting and Ala Shan Redstart.
RH’s trip to Sichuan in May 2006 gave us a head start in birding W Sichuanese sites (Wolong, Balan Shan and Mengbi Shan, trip report available through www.lauwersmeer.com and the site mentioned above; hereafter referred to as Hofland 2006). As expected, some birds seen in May were not seen in July/Aug.
A number of other trip- and tour reports were consulted as well, see Literature for these.
Acknowledgements: George Wagner is thanked for his excellent tripreport and additional info. We also thank interpreter Daniel for his invaluable help during the first 10 days of the trip, and taxidriver Song Ga for his good company during the days in Qinghai. DuKe, a birder from Chengdu whom RH met in Jan 2005, is thanked for giving directions to and information on Ma Ke He and Beizha Forest. Bas van den Boogaard lend us his walkie-talkies.
Visa: Arranged through Chinese Embassy in The Hague, The Netherlands [Willem Lodewijkstraat 10, Den Haag, phone 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 a little over 10 yuen or renminbi (hereafter: RMB). ATM’s were available at Chengdu airport and in town, as well as in Xining and Lhasa. They were NOT available, or didn’t work, in the (large) provincial towns of Maerkang (= Barkam, Sichuan) and Yushu (Qinghai). Maximum withdrawal amount is 2,000 RMB (about € 200) at a time, but multiple withdrawals are possible, up to 5,000 RMB a day.
We made the mistake of (only) drawing 9,000 RMB at Chengdu airport (JB did not have sufficient funds, RH brought 2,000 RMB), thinking it would be enough for the first couple of days until Maerkang. It was, but in this town no ATM’s were available. Sam Yue of Sam’s Guesthouse helped out by transferring 4,000 RMB to interpreter Daniel’s account. In the end we didn’t need it and refunded the money back in Chengdu, but the help was much appreciated.
NOTE that, upon arrival at Chengdu aiport, one is only capable of drawing 5,000 RMB each. So, if you’re planning to drive straight from the airport to Wolong and continue to Qinghai, as we did, the only option is to take additional cash USD or Euros and change it at the airport.
Travel arrangements: (International flight) KLM Royal Dutch airlines took us from Amsterdam to Chengdu. KLM now has a direct flight between these cities, € 750 return.
(Domestic flights) Air China Xining – Chengdu took 2 hrs and cost € 90 (e-ticket) one-way. Chengdu – Lhasa cost € 190 (incl Lhasa permit) with Sichuan Airlines and Lhasa – Chengdu with Air China € 160, each taking 2 hrs. The tickets were booked for us by Sam Yue from Sam’s Guesthouse in Chengdu (email@example.com), but not on the agreed dates (see Day-to-day).
(Rental car with driver plus interpreter) This was, for the Sichuan part, also arranged by Sam. A 4WD Jeep including a driver cost 800 RMB / € 80 a day, while the cost for the excellent interpreter Daniel (Chinese name: Zhou Yong Liang; firstname.lastname@example.org) was 100 RMB a day.
In the price for the Jeep all petrol was included, as was the cost of living for driver and interpreter, but on occasions we’d pay their lodging and most of the time their meals for them.
From Yushu until Xining, Qinghai, we used the services of Tibetan taxidriver Song Ga. Song Ga asked 400 RMB / € 40 a day incl gas, excl his meals and hotel fees, with an additional days pay to drive back from Xining to Yushu. He was very friendly and helpful, knew where to find hotels and restaurants and proved an excellent companion. During the 9 days we spent together we developed our own sign language, as Song Ga didn’t speak any foreign language – he was eager to learn though so we taught him some frequently used Dutch words (such as “plassen” indicating a toilet stop). We paid Song Ga 4,500 RMB upon reaching Xining airport. Song Ga (Chinese name: Li Chun Lan) can be reached at P.R. China, Qinghai province, Yushu County, People’s Law Court. Phone 0976-8810175, mobile phone 13997369592.
Cost of the trip: around € 2,200 each, spent as follows: € 750 for return flight Amsterdam - Chengdu; € 808 for 10 days 4WD car with driver & interpreter Daniel, 3 domestic tickets and the ‘Tibet permit’; € 150 for 10 days taxi hire in Qinghai, € 63 for Reting Monastery 4WD rental and ca € 350 for food and lodging. The rest was spent on Lhasa souvenirs.
Health: at a high-altitude trip like this one, one should always keep in mind the possibility of (acute) altitude sickness (symptoms: headache, disorientedness, vomiting). Birding from the road, enabling you to see most of the specialties, should not be too difficult if one drinks enough water. Venturing away from the road however can be physically challenging, as JB experienced on his very first day. JB also suffered from a sore at an inappropriate place, which prevented him from walking far for ca 5 days (see Day-to-day). Proper health care can only be expected in major cities such as Chengdu, Xining and Lhasa and even there an interpreter is probably needed at hospitals or doctors.
Literature: the following books and maps were taken on the trip
* A field guide to the birds of China, MacKinnon J & Phillipps K (2000)
* A guide to the birds of Southeast Asia, Robson C (2000)
* China, Harper D (2005, Lonely Planet)
* ‘Nelles Verlag’ maps of Northern China (2005), Central China (2004), Southern China (2005) and Himalaya incl E Tibet (2005). All are 1:1,500,000, site names in English.
* ‘Reise Know-how’ map of Tibet proper (Xizang) with site names in German, Chinese and Tibetan (2005, 1:1,500,000)
The following trip- and tour reports were taken, some of which are mentioned in this report:
* Jesper Hornskov (Tibet/Qinghai, tourreports with annotated checklists 1998-2006)
* Jon Hornbuckle (Western China & Northeastern Tibet, 2000)
* Frank Rheindt (Sichuan & Yunnan, 2003; BirdtourAsia tour report 2005)
* Björn Anderson (Wolong, July 2003, November 2003 and July 2004; Qinghai, 2003)
* George Wagner (Tibet, Xizang and Qinghai Provinces, 2005)
* Remco Hofland (Sichuan, 2006)
Articles taken were BirdingASIA 5 (2006): "Splits galore: the revolution in Asian leaf warbler systematics" by Frank E. Rheindt on splits in the Phylloscopus and Seicercus complexes; and BirdingASIA 3 (2005): “Revised species limits and field identification of Asian rosefinches” by Pamela C. Rasmussen, which deals with the identification of sev rosefinches.
Copies of the text and colour-prints of the relevant plates (rose- and snowfinches) from Finches & Sparrows, Clement P, Harris A and Davis J (1993, Helm) were also taken.
Sound equipment: An iPod with prerecorded Chinese birdsounds was taken, but almost no birds responded. Also, we did not have sounds of most of the Tibetan plateau specialties. The iPod usually crashed over 4,000m, a frequent occurrence in this part of the world. It then had to be reset at a lower altitude. Playback is not possible with an iPod.
Other equipment taken: Apart from obligatory warm and rainproof clothing and mountain boots, the following proved useful. RH brought a light-weight Leki hiking stick, mainly because of a persisting leg injury. It was actually quite helpful when climbing steep hillsides (Kanda Shan, Beizha Forest) or high-altitude mountains with loose gravel (Bayankala Shan, Er La). As sev types of sockets occur in China, taking a universal electricity plug is recommended. We used walkie-talkies when splitting up to search for hard-to-find species (for example, Kozlov’s Bunting, Tibetan & Pallas’s Sandgrouse). They cost around € 20 for two, ranging from 1.5-3 km.
Legend: ca = circa; btw = between; E = east (etc); HO = heard only; hr(s) = hour(s); incl = including; kmp = kilometre post; mins = minutes; mtn = mountain; sev = several; ssp. = subspecies; wp = GPS waypoint.
NOTE that GPS wps 79-99, some of which are mentioned below, are found in Hofland 2006.
Sun July 16
Left Amsterdam Schiphol airport at 20.40 with KLM for our direct flight to Chengdu by Boeing 777 (KL 891).
Mon July 17
Arrived at Chengdu airport 12.30. Delay in baggage claim meant departure from airport at 14.00. Picked up by Daniel, Jeep Cherokee and driver. Paid Sam’s employee what we owed for 10 days’ car rental, interpreter, 3 x airline tickets Xining – Chengdu and Chengdu – Lhasa – Chengdu (€ 2410). Received tickets Xining – Chengdu. ATM visit at airport, left Chengdu with 11,000 RMB in cash. Heavy roadworks meant reaching Wolong at 19.30. Checked in at Wolong Grand Hotel, 380 RMB / € 36 for triple room. Ordered packed lunch for 4 (106 RMB). Hot and humid in Chengdu, cooler at Wolong.
Tue July 18
Up at 5.10, left hotel 5.40. Packed lunch waiting, no packed breakfast (included in room price). Started ascend to Wuyipeng at 6.00, first light. Reached ridge at 9.00, having seen Barred Laughingthrush and Golden-breasted Fulvetta along the way, with White-tailed Robin seen only by JB. Near access/ridge trail intersection heard calling Firethroat and singing Scaly-breasted Wren-Babbler in undergrowth, both seen by BL only. Overcast weather most of the morning, sometimes light rain, sunny most of afternoon. Reached research station at 11.00, where caretaker let us pass after chat with Daniel. JB and BL birded ridge trail all afternoon while RH rested (old injury from this very same place, see Hofland 2006). No panda researchers seen all day, though staying at the research station is probably still complicated and expensive (see Hofland 2006 for more details). Returned past research station at 17.00, where found Indian Blue Robin. Soft contact calls alerted to presence of female Temminck’s Tragopan with full-grown young near trail just above access/ridge trail intersection. Arrived at car 19.00. Heavy rain in evening while having dinner at hotel.
Wed July 19
Up at 4.10, left hotel 4.40 after having met DuKe, a Chinese birder from Chengdu RH met at Wawu Shan in Jan 2005. Reached kmp 94 of Balan Shan pass (wp 87, Wood Snipe site) just after first light. Clear weather, not cold, yet no sign of Wood Snipe, Chinese Monal or White Eared-Pheasant (tried latter two at wp 88; DuKe heard Monal call earlier). At around 4,000m (wp 102, male Grandala in flight, Lammergeiers) RH and BL climbed up, JB taking it easy as it was his first day ever at this altitude. When BL found Himalayan Rubythroat ca 300m up the valley, JB climbed too quickly and suffered from severe headache and vomiting. Recognising these as symptoms of acute altitude sickness, drove down to white obelisk, where situation better but not fully improved so left Balan Shan around 10.45. Afternoon rest at hotel. Started climbing Sawan hillside behind hotel at 15.45. Trails too overgrown to easily find way up, therefore never reached top of ridge where Golden Pheasant reportedly easier in rows of planted pines. Seen trip exclusives Slaty Bunting, Ferruginous and Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers though. Back at hotel at 19.00, after having been photographed by cute female birders from DuKe’s group.
Thu July 20
Dispute over ‘bathrobe missing from room’ meant refund 100 RMB 20 mins late, leaving hotel at 5.20. Started Balan Shan birding in scrub below white obelisk, where Giant Laughingthrush feeding on road, Vinaceous Rosefinch, White-bellied Redstart, Blood Pheasants crossing the road and Ghoral were the highlights. Further stops at Monal-site and top of pass, where sunny weather allowed for t-shirt birding. Walking down from top stumbled upon singing roadside male Red-faced Rosefinch. Two stops further down W side of Balan Shan produced full-grown juvenile and adult Golden Eagle, along with many Snow and Hill Pigeons (wp 97, kmp 134). Lunch at Rilong village between 14.00 and 15.00, then drove towards Xiao Jin (16.30), Mengbi Shan and Maerkang (21.00). Acceptable hotels in Maerkang full because of local minorities festival. Sev hotels did not allow foreigners, two were too dirty, finally checked in at 23.30 - good work by Daniel who managed to get us a bed in one of the hotels not allowing foreigners. After ‘soft-pot’ dinner (hotpot fondue without the extreme spicyness Sichuan is so famous for) and arranging taxi* for early birding the next morning, got to bed at 1.45……
* After a tiring day we considered it not wise to ask of our driver to get up at 5.00 again…
Fri July 21
JB, having minor stomach problems, stayed in while RH and BL took a taxi at 5.30 to Mengbi Shan, ca 30 kms southeast of Maerkang town. Deal with taxi driver (100 RMB, with 25 extra for every pheasant he’d stop for) resulted in him finding a flock of White Eared-Pheasants beside the road! Started from about kmp 28 and walked the road down to kmp 20, seeing a good selection of species including Blood Pheasant, Sichuan Jay, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, Giant Laughingthrush, Kessler’s Thrush, Rufous-vented Tit; Pink-rumped, White-browed and Three-banded Rosefinch; White-winged Grosbeak and Tibetan Siskin. RH leg-injury improved.
While the day started overcast and chilly, windy at times, it cleared around 10.00, becoming sunny and pleasant. JB, Daniel and the driver joined RH and BL at 13.00. A shorter version of the morning walk resulted in much the same birds, however without Blood Pheasant, Sichuan Jay and Tibetan Siskin. Added were Verreaux’s Monal-Partridge (JB and RH) and Crested Tit-warbler. Because of the altitude (3,900+ m) only BL followed RH onto the Severtzov’s Trail (wp 103), but only for a short while so Chinese (Severtzov’s) Grouse and Maroon-backed Accentor eluded him. Back in Maerkang at 18.00, different hotel costing 70 RMB.
Sat July 22
Planned leaving hotel at 5.30 but despite warning driver night before, car double-double-parked at hotel so only left at 6.05. Heavy rain throughout night and morning, fog at higher parts of Mengbi Shan. Drove upper 10 km of Mengbi Shan twice but no pheasants. Walked Severtzov’s and nearby Deep Forest Trail (latter starts at wp 104) from 7.30 until 10.00 seeing Chinese Grouse, thereafter some rainy roadside birding. Left Mengbi Shan for Luhuo at 11.45, having decided to forget about Ma Ke He (“Sichuan border site”) and instead try and reach Beizha Forest (south of Nanqian in Qinghai province) with rental 4WD car and Daniel within 2-3 days. Arrived in Maerkang at 12.30, where Daniel got 4,000 RMB for us that Sam (the travel agency owner) had put in his account for that purpose. Lunch in Baiwan, small village W of Maerkang, until 15.00. Quiet road, at times unsurfaced, with beautiful scenery. Forced to wait for mudstream racing over the road in some small village, from 18.00 – 19.20. Two attempts to get through with 4WD failed, had to pay locals 150 RMB to dig out the car and to finally flatten the mud so we could cross. Crossed beautiful 4,266m high pass, drove 1.5 hr in the dark and rain before reaching Luhuo at 21.20. Two hotels fully booked, a dirty one rejected by Daniel, finally paid 80 RMB for triple room. Had dinner at same hotel but were charged too much according to Daniel, so paid 180 instead of 200 RMB. In bed by midnight.
Sun July 23
No shower or hot running water in hotel; 7.30 breakfast incl porridge and yak butter tea. Left Luhuo at 8.15, entering Tibetan plateau about 50 kms W of town. Two Lammergeiers flying low over grassy meadows seemed out-of-place, altitude 3,800m though. First Ground Tits (= Hume’s Groundpecker, wp 105), Saker, Upland Buzzard, Rufous-necked and White-rumped Snowfinch 60-70 kms W of Luhuo (wp 106). From 11.15-12.00 failed getting money at bank in Ganzi, needed by Daniel to get back to Chengdu eventually. Weather coldish, ca 15˚ C, drizzle. Great scenery however, wide green valleys, winding streams, wild west villages, beautiful people. Lunch at Maniganggo from 14.15-15.00, crossing 4,576m high pass at 16.20, having seen Tibetan form of Chinese Grey Shrike at bottom of pass (wp 107). Short stop for Himalayan Marmots beside the road resulted in finding first Ibisbill (wp 109) in meandering roadside river – a familiar sight for 100’s of kms this trip (such rivers, not necessarily Ibisbills, though they are there!). Not long before dusk a Wolf crossed road in front of car (wp 110) as well as first Tibetan Foxes. Driver started shouting at Wolf, making it move away from the road, nevertheless were able to see it well for about 10 mins. Arrived SerXu at 21.10, having seen vast marshes around 30 kms E of town where according to local waiter Black-necked Crane occurs. Eagle Owl perched at lamp post in SerXu at dusk. Checked in at Shangdeenyma Hotel (hot running water), 280 RMB per double room. Driver got himself trousers as sofar he’d been driving around in shorts. Dinner at hotel. Located at 4,130m altitude, JB and BL had trouble sleeping. Cold at night.
Mon July 24
At driver’s request, slept until 8.00. Left SerXu hotel at 9.35 in bright weather. First Robin Accentors just north of SerXu (wp 111), with Tibetan Snowfinches at beautiful monastery, where stayed from 10.40-11.30 (wp 112). Sichuan/Qinghai border (indicated by sign only) reached at 13.10, brand new road to Xiwu, where lunch between 13.30-14.00. Arrived Yushu 15.40 and left 16.20, after finding Agricultural Bank of China closed and having failed to find China Construction Bank. Papers of driver checked twice by police in Yushu, with dozens of bystanders gazing at us open-mouthed. Spent between 18.00-19.30 at marsh near Rato village, ca 70 kms southwest of Yushu, admiring our first Black-necked Cranes and Tibetan Lark (wp 113). Arrived Nanqian at 21.25, checked in at Huan Ying Guang Lin (= welcome) Hotel at 160 RMB per double room. Dinner at restaurant next door. Discussion with driver about when to leave next morning, settled for 6.30. In bed by midnight.
Tue July 25
Left at 6.45, after return to collect universal electricity plug. Arrived Kanda Shan pass 8.45, having to talk driver into crossing shaky bridges twice. Used directions to site as per Wagner 2005, walked to low scrub on sides of crags (supposed site of Kozlov’s/Tibetan Bunting, wp 115) left of top of pass (starting point at 4,340m, wp 116). Despite using walkie-talkies, being able to search a wide area, failed to find two targets, Kozlov’s and Pink-tailed Bunting, but nevertheless saw beautiful scenery, Himalayan Rubythroat, first White-browed Tit-warblers and 3 Wolves (BL only). Left Kanda Shan at 12.35, arriving at Nanqian 14.35. Had lunch, collected money at bank for Daniel, checked bus schedules (bus leaving for Wenquan every day at 10.00, 650 km, 130 RMB) and shopped for intended three-day stay at Beizha Forest (50 small bottles of water, limited choice of vegetables meant purchase of zucchini, cucumbers, noodles). RH called Chinese girlfriend in Beijing, 1 RMB for 3 min call to mobile phone. Left Nanqian for Beizha/Dou’r monastery at 16.35, again using directions of Wagner 2005. Stopped at small village to try and arrange motorcycle transport back to civilised world (i.e. Nanqian) for 3 days later, but only got some guys to agree to collect us at Beizha forest station and drive us to their village, from where it would be another hot 8 km hike back to the surfaced main Nanqian-Lhasa road. Arrived unannounced and without permits, just before dusk, at seemingly deserted Beizha Forest station, at 19.00. The guy in charge demanded permits at first, but Daniel’s negotiating skills proved excellent once again and we were allowed to stay for 100 RMB / € 10 per person for 3 nights. Said goodbye to Daniel and driver who did not have sleeping bags and therefore had to drive back all the way to Nanqian (we should have planned this better, in retrospect). Got a room in one of the dilapidated buildings where wooden boards served as beds. With our own sleeping bags and mats it was comfortable enough, though no heating in cold nights. The staff (3 - 5 daily) invited us to their heated kitchen/livingroom (incl electric light, tv and VCR), where we cooked our meals. Seeing our daily meal consisted of noodles with zucchini and cucumber only, they generously offered us sauce, bread, meat and even beer. To bed at 21.30.
Wed July 26
Up at 7.30, off at 8.00. Entered the reserve through gate opposite Beizha Forest station. Slowly climbed the hill from 8.00-14.30, finding goodies incl Scechenyi’s Monal-Partridge (the latter at treeline, wp 118), Blood Pheasant, Crested Tit-Warbler, White-browed Tit and Chinese Fulvetta. Walked back over road, finding Kozlov’s Babax and Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler in streamside scrub about 1 km past the forest station. Lunched biscuits, did laundry in stream, afternoon nap (RH) or drinking beer with forest staff (JB, BL). Afternoon walk along road, RH went on after 2 km, to discover a path right following the stream to a larger river where dead Chinese Grouse on trail. Back at forest station at 20.45. Again, zucchini-cucumber-noodle for dinner.
Thu July 27
JB and BL started up the hill at 6.30, in search of White Eared-Pheasants, sofar only heard here. Their harvest incl a confiding pair of the distinctive ‘funebris’ Three-toed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Blood and White Eared-Pheasants, 3 Scechenyi’s Monal-Partridges with pulli (same site as previous day, wp 118) and 2 juvenile Maroon-backed Accentors. RH slept until 11.30 and went up from 14.00-18.00. Afternoon not as productive as morning. Cucumber snack, zucchini-onion for dinner, supplemented by rice donated by forest staff. Bed at 20.30.
Fri July 28
BL off at 6.30 but back at 8.30, announcing the arrival of two trucks from Dou’r Monastery. Forest staff gestured we could hitch a ride to Nanqian. Packed up in 10 mins, drove to Nanqian on top of loaded truck accompanied by 12 others, from 9.00–11.30. Nanqian saw huge colourful festivities as opening of new temple was widely celebrated, with visit of important lama. Lunch with drivers and selection of hitchhikers (incl female monk) in Nanqian. Paid for joined lunch (150 RMB). Decided against giving Kanda Shan / Kozlov’s Bunting another go, mainly because of inability to find a motorcycle driver who knew the site. Accepted offer of extended hitch, left Nanqian at 13.15 after changing a tyre, reached Yushu at 18.30. RH’s stay on top meant unlimited views of Lammergeiers, Golden Eagles and the occasional Ibisbill. Warm most of the day, though occasionally cold (especially at passes over 4,000m) and drizzle once. Stopped by police at festival terrain (our visit coincided with horse races and other festivities) 20 kms south of Yushu, from where other 12 hitchers had to walk – we were taken straight to Yushu however. Offer to pay for 9-hr ride rejected. Checked in at Lap (…?) Hotel, costly at 280 RMB per double room (with hot shower). Sev Western tourists in hotel - seen only 3 in Nanqian. Entered the street at 19.30 and randomly asked Chinese tourist (Nina, fluent in English) to ask around for a taxi driver willing to drive us for the next week or so. Dinner at restaurant near main roundabout (60 RMB for sev dishes and unlimited tea). Bought AAA-batteries (1 RMB each) for walkie-talkies and GPS. Email. Back at hotel, 22.30, Nina introduced Song Ga, a Tibetan who’d be our driver for the next 9 days at 400 RMB a day incl gas excl lodging and food.
Sat July 29
Up at 7.30, off at 8.15 after shopping. Stopped twice within first half hour: just N of Yushu where sev Himalayan Griffons perched next to road (probable slaughterhouse, wp 119) and at Ibisbill in roadside river (wp 120), ca 40m from car. Arrived Bayankala Shan pass 12.30, just when first rain/sleet occurred. RH searched highest of crags for target White-winged Redstart, trying to improve his altitude record (wp 121, 4.960m) before JB found target lower down. Left Bayankala Shan at 14.00, after start of heavy hail. Lunch at Yeniugou village, 50 km further north, at 15.10. Tried asking locals about occurrence of Asiatic Wild Ass in vicinity of village by impersonating one – lot of laughter. One km north of village (wp 122) found herd of 126 Kiangs, as well as 3 Sakers, less than 200m from road!! Six pairs and a juvenile Black-necked Crane seen further north, with other interesting species being Tibetan Gazelle (in pairs or small herds), Brown-headed and Pallas’s Gulls and Hume’s Short-toed Lark. Arrived at Maduo 18.30, where hotel (wp 123) found opposite official building with gate flanked by lion statues. 70 RMB per room per night. Town appeared to be extremely boring.
Sun July 30
Left Maduo at 8.30, after breakfast with fried egg and roasted peanuts. Overcast weather made town appear even less appealing than previous evening. In marsh between Maduo and kmp 465 found Black-necked Crane (pair with 2 pulli), 2 Sakers, 97 Ruddy Shelducks, a Black Stork, 2 Tibetan Foxes and 27 Tibetan Gazelles. Around kmp 459 three Asiatic Wild Ass and 97 Tibetan Gazelles seen on near-endless steppe. Small passes at kmp 430, kmp 424 and kmp 348 yielded Henri’s Snowfinch, White-winged Redstart and 2 Lammergeiers respectively. Huashixia town at kmp 408. Lunch at Wenquan between 12.00 and 13.00. Reached Er La pass, 30 km north of Wenquan, at 13.50 after various roadworks. Ascend to flat-topped mountain halted by severe thunderstorm and lightning, arriving at top (wp 124, 4,800m) at 15.00 in bright weather. Walked flat-topped mountain up and down twice before descending, having seen Roborowski’s (Tibetan) Rosefinch and Lammergeier, but no Tibetan Sandgrouse. Reached car at 18.30, brought lamb found on top of mountain to nomads and returned to Wenquan (19.10). Picked one of 3 identical hotels, room for 4 for 80 RMB. Hot washing water provided by thermos. Dinner next door.
Mon July 31
Overcast weather at Wenquan, sunny at Er La pass. Walked flat-topped mountain and surrounding high altitude plains from 9.20 until 14.00 without finding Tibetan Sandgrouse. Drizzle and most of road unsurfaced until Douhe. Had meal at Hekashannan, about 100 kms south of Gongehe, from 16.30 – 17.30. Roadblock because of asphalting road meant obligatory stop, where first Mongolian Lark and Isabelline Wheatear were found (wp 125). Most cars eventually left road to drive through sand dunes before entering road again further north (18.30). Arrived at Gongehe before dusk, 19.45, checked in at Ming Chang Hotel in centre of town, 60 RMB for double room, incl hot shower after 21.00.
Tue Aug 1
Left hotel at 6.30. Birded until 10.30. Tried finding areas’ specialties in small wadis opposite the factory just south of town, but failed. Mongolian Trumpeter Finches finally seen drinking at roadside pools, but Great Rosefinch and ‘margelanica’ Desert Lesser Whitethroats eluded us. Trip firsts incl Crested Lark and Richard’s Pipit. First warm day of trip (23˚ C). Brunch at Gongehe, left for Qinghai Hu (= Koko Nor lake) 11.30, arrived at marsh east of lake 12.30. Birded marsh and adjacent sand dunes (Small Snowfinch) until 15.10. Trip firsts incl Red-necked Stint, Kentish Plover, Yellow Wagtail. Lots of (Chinese and foreign) tourists along southern edge of lake, photographing lake and fields of rapeseed (Brassica napus). Lunch at tourist village at 15.45. Occasionally, small flocks of Pallas’s Gull scoped along southern edge of lake. Passed Heimahe and crossed Rubber Mountain pass, driving straight to roadside pool at kmp 2238, east of Chaka (stayed here between 18.30 – 19.10). Cloudy and windy, ca 18˚ C. Main target, Henderson’s Ground Jay, was easily found feeding and running between low bushes, with Blanford’s Snowfinch also here. Single distant Pallas’s Sandgrouse seen in flight while driving towards Chaka (19.30). Police checkpoint at edge of town. Stayed at main hotel, double room for 100 RMB incl hot shower.
Wed Aug 2
Started at roadside pool, kmp 2238, at 7.15. Pleasant 25˚ C, slight wind. Great fly-by’s of 15 Pallas’s Sandgrouse, incl flock of 5, but stalking perched birds proved fruitless. Breakfast at Chaka from 11.00 – 12.00. Stopped east of Chaka at roadside town near bend in road, where family of Turkestan Shrike found on wires bordering tall poplars. At Rubber Mountain pass stopped at kmp 2189.5 and walked north from the road. After carefully checking two birdy valleys (with White-browed Tit, Tibetan Snowfinch and Pink-tailed Bunting), finally found one that held Ala Shan Redstart (wp 126, see map). Stayed here from 14.30 until 17.30, altitude ca 3,600m, in pleasant temperature (20+˚ C). Arrived Heimahe at 18.15, where paid 120 RMB for 2 double rooms at basic Heimahe Hotel. Cloudy and windy here. Pallas’s Gull over town at dusk. Dinner at 20.30 (good restaurant at wp 129), after which 5 RMB haircut for RH.
Thu Aug 3
Birded the ‘old road bed’ at Rubber Mountain pass kmp 2189.4 (wp 128, see map), from 7.30 until 9.30, in a pleasant 24˚ C. Breakfast at Heimahe at 9.55. Heimahe marsh from 10.50 until 12.25. JB inconvenience got too bad so after brief consult at tourist village apotheker (help of English-speaking Chinese girl much appreciated) drove straight to Xining public hospital (that fortunately Song Ga knew where to find, arrived 15.30). Older doctor told us in poor French that JB had to stay in hospital, take his medication for 6 days and then needed surgery; a younger one explained in (better) English that JB could try just taking medication and see how it would work out. Worried about our planned Lhasa extension, JB decided on the latter. Checked in at Huang Zhong Hotel, 160 RMB / € 16 for 2 double rooms. Took taxi into centre of town at 18.30, eventually found ATM accepting our cards opposite Dico’s at large centre square. Dinner at Dico’s (local McDonald’s-lookalike) which obviously didn’t please Song Ga who thought it to be too loud and crowded. Emailed from gamer’s paradise opposite hotel. Pleasant 24+˚ C temperature in and around Xining.
Fri Aug 4
Up at 6.30, off at 7.15 without JB. Hired taxi driver to show us access to Bei Shan (turn-off towards mountain at wp 131). Facing entrance, turned right to find concrete road climbing the mountain, followed it to the top where found fake Akropolis. Trip exclusives Common Pheasant, Manchurian Bush-Warbler and Chinese Leaf-Warbler, as well as Père David’s (Plain) Laughingthrush up there, with Pied Wheatear and Pale Rosefinch lower down (wp 130). Left mountain at 11.00, had breakfast with JB, then returned to Bei Shan seeing a pair of Daurian Partridge with 3 pulli on the road and more Pied Wheatears. Returned to Xining at 13.30, had car fixed and bought medicine. Left for Huzhu town at 14.30, arriving 15.30. Crossed Huzhu pass (ca 3,600m), entered Huzhu Bei Shan NP (32 RMB entrance fee each) and drove to lake hostel (see Description of birding sites). Arrived 17.30, hostel full with large party but staff cleaned out office for us (15 RMB each). JB rested, BL washed clothes while RH made 2-hr walk in forested valleys behind hostel. Six species of Phylloscopus warbler in corral along trail, along with sev Red-flanked Bush-Robin and Grey-headed Bullfinch. No privacy in evening, since all men of party entered room all the time, eating, drinking, smoking or just being curious. Difficulty ordering food, had well-filled noodle soup eventually (10 RMB each). Cold at night.
Sat Aug 5
Up at 6.00, RH and BL walked to George’s Blue-Eared Pheasant-site 2 kms up the valley behind hostel (see Description of birding sites). Pheasants heard but not seen, other interesting birds incl Wallcreeper, Elliott’s and Père David’s Laughingthrush and Gansu Leaf-Warbler. Back at hostel at 11.40, where found happy JB as health problem solved. Lunch at roadside restaurant in park, brief stop yielded Chinese Song Thrush and Slaty-backed Flycatcher (at steep trail opposite stream, wp 134). Back at Xining at 17.15 where most hotels full. Checked in at posh-looking Haolong Hotel, paid 460 RMB / € 45 for double and triple room (incl breakfast). Dinner at KFC downtown, where young girl played two-string instrument. Warm at Huzhu Bei Shan NP and Xining, even at night.
Sun Aug 6
Breakfast at 8.30. Short stroll through town. Expressway to Xining Airport, arrived 11.20. Paid Song Ga 4,500 RMB / € 450, warm goodbyes. Lunch at overpriced airport restaurant. Check-in at 12.10, Air China departure to Chengdu at 13.40, arrival 15.00. Chaos at baggage reclaim in Chengdu Airport, ATM not working. Taxi to Sam’s Guesthouse, as Holly’s Hostel not known to taxidrivers. Single room 120 RMB, double 150 RMB. At Sam’s Guesthouse office, no tickets available for Air China flight to Lhasa next day, even though they’d been paid for 3 weeks before! Excuse given was mix-up of airport computer. Only option was to book for Tue Aug 8, return flight on Sun Aug 13. Stroll through nearby Renmin Park from 17.30 yielded Tiger Shrike, White-browed Laughingthrush and suspect Hwamei, as well as few Pseudothemis zonata and plentiful Globe Skimmer Pantala flavescens (dragonflies). Dinner at Sam’s Café. Drinks in beautiful guesthouse garden. Warm in Xining, hot and humid at Chengdu.
Mon Aug 7
Visited Du Fu’s Cottage from 8.30 until 13.30, hot and humid all day. Good variety of scrub, dragonflies (incl a species of Gynacantha) and birds (best being Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Rufous-faced Warbler and a suspect Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler). Heavy rain on taxi-drive back to guesthouse; got lost and were dumped at wrong backpacker’s guesthouse where got directions to right one. Refunded Sam’s 4,000 RMB. Lunch at Sam’s Café, with plenty of banana and peach lassies. Afternoon shopping by RH and BL (hotpot ingredients), transported by cycle rickshaw. At 19.00 were handed over Lhasa tickets for next day – turned out to be Sichuan Airlines ticket, where Air China ticket had been specifically requested. Backpack of RH stacked in Sam’s lockerroom, along with BL’s scope and tripod.
Tue Aug 8
Up at 4.50, ready in front of Sam’s Guesthouse office at 5.30, as were 7 other fellow Lhasa travellers – but no transportation. Two small vans arrived that took in all 10, plus luggage, with difficulty. Arrived Chengdu Airport at 6.30 but were not allowed to check in as person holding ‘Lhasa permit’ (consisting of a list of travellers leaving with that flight) was not present. Tickets handed over previous evening were useless. When ‘permit person’ arrived, around 7.00, checked in and were seen through customs. Departure with brand new Sichuan Airlines plane and little delay around 8.20. Breakfast served and Tibetan dance performed during 2-hr flight to Lhasa airport (wp 135, altitude 3,530m), ca 65 km from Lhasa. Easy baggage reclaim, entered Lhasa bus (25 RMB each) that left at 11.00, arriving at Lhasa at 12.00. Difficulty getting a room because of many tourists in town. Problems with cycle rickshaw drivers asking 15 RMB but claiming 50 after bringing us to other guesthouse than requested. Flora Hotel, Airway Hotel, Snow Hotel, Post Hotel all full. Taxi driver eventually dropped us at Tashi Nota Hotel (wp 136) 10 min walk north of city centre where triple room with hot massage shower and (distant) Potala view cost 400 RMB per night. Lunch at hotel restaurant. Afternoon spent at Jokhang temple, nearby square and Gangki restaurant overlooking the square. Light rain in evening. Checked bookstore (no English novels) and Tibet Potala Travel Co. Ltd travel agency (127, Beijing Middle Road; email@example.com; Reting Monastery unknown to manager Jinckmee Wing, but he’d check with experienced tourist driver next day).
Wed Aug 9
Up at 7.45. Walked to Potala Palace, ticket office hard to find. Long line of people waiting, procedure turned out to be: 1,000 tickets sold each day for the next day, reservations for another date impossible, per ticket an ID should be shown, no guarantee of obtaining a ticket even when waiting for hrs. Returned to Tibet Potala Travel Co. where mr Wing (fluent in English) and driver located Reting Monastery on map, agreed on 600 RMB / € 60 for two-day 4WD trip with driver before mr Wing claimed mistake, saying he thought we’d agreed on 600 USD. Turned to Tibet Shigatse International Travel Information (1, Dangayling Road; firstname.lastname@example.org or Fit0891@hotmail.com) instead, where 1,900 RMB was agreed for two-day 4WD trip with driver (incl petrol, food and lodging for driver) to start Aug 10 at 6.00. Paid 900 RMB in advance.
Taxi to Drepung Monastery, just north of town (meter showed 27.5 RMB, driver claimed 50 incl toll). Entry fee 50 RMB each. Unexpectedly, Prince Henry’s Laughingthrush common and confiding here. Impressive monastery, more quiet than Jokhang. Walked down towards Lhasa. Back to Tibet Shigatse travel agency, where told of impossibility of them booking Potala tickets for us. Tourists present in travel agency told about all tickets being sold out in 40 mins as well as Potala being a disappointment: all rooms are locked and there are no monks or other people around. Decided to not pursue Potala any further. Dinner at Gangki restaurant.
Thu Aug 10
Up at 5.20, ready to go at 5.50, still no 4WD at 6.30. After calling Tibet Shigatse from shop bordering Tashi Nota Hotel (no answer) two of us walked to travel agency and banged the door (no answer). Back at Tashi Nota called again and were told that driver would be there soon. Left Lhasa at 7.25 (driver overslept). Drove eastwards until large suspension bridge over river which we crossed northwards. Brief stop at small marsh 5 kms NNE of Taktse (wp 137): ‘calcarata’ Citrine Wagtails and trip exclusive Mallard. Treated to good close-up views of Wallcreeper at southern end of Chak La pass (wp 138). Driver was tantalisingly slow over straight surfaced roads, yet dangerously fast when passing 40m drops at unsurfaced mountain roads. Just below top of pass (altitude 4,850m) Little Owl attracted attention of small songbirds, incl a pair of Red-faced Rosefinch, which turned out to nest in concrete wall underneath road (at wp 139). Lunch at village ca 20 kms south of Reting, arrived at monastery 14.00. ‘Checked in’ at monastery (30 RMB each); beds and linen present. Few Prince Henry’s Laughingthrush at monastery. Started walk up behind monastery at 14.30, initially quiet with birds except for Giant Babax (common just above monastery) and some confiding males Streaked Rosefinch (just east of monastery). 22˚ C, partly cloudy. Forest consisting of low old pine trees with mossy undergrowth. Flock of 8 Tibetan Eared-Pheasants found at 17.30, at altitude of ca 4,400m (wp 140). Arrived back at monastery at 19.00, where bus had arrived with few tourists (8 hr ride from Lhasa). Simple noodle dinner (10 RMB).
Fri Aug 11
Contrary to Wagner 2005, no trouble sleeping because of loud dogs barking (though many around). No problem with altitude either (monastery at 4,200m). Up at 7.30, noodle breakfast, departed at 9.00. Saw Tibetan (Chinese) Grey Shrike at prayer wall ca 3 kms west of monastery, then 40 min stop at spot described in Wagner 2005, ca 7 km west of monastery where river, road and rocks meet. Here, saw Prince Henry’s Laughingthrush and flock of 5 Tibetan Eared-Pheasants. 2 hr stop at Chak La pass, where 4 Wallcreepers could be approached to within 5m. Left Chak La pass at 13.45, arriving Linzhou 14.30. Lunch at Sichuanese restaurant. Two roadside stops for dragonflies not very productive. Arrived Lhasa 17.15, paid driver remaining 1,000 RMB (not deducting extra costs of 0.4 RMB phone call, 10 RMB taxi, 20 RMB meal and 30 RMB lodging). Checked in to Tashi Nota Hotel, took shower, walked into town to see card refused by Agricultural Bank ATM. Dinner at Gangki restaurant. Each drew 500 RMB at nearby China Construction Bank ATM. Same young girl playing two-string instrument at souvenir shop as in front of KFC Xining. In bed by 22.30.
Sat Aug 12
Easy day at Lhasa. Souvenir shopping around Jokhang temple before lunch at Gangki restaurant. Lost Lonely Planet guide Tibet so couldn’t remember where to go for debating monks. However, tv programme about Tibet previous evening showed we should visit Sera Monastery at 15.00. There, watched ca 100 debating monks, as did ca 97 other tourists. More souvenir shopping in late afternoon. Dinner at Do & Me fast food restaurant.
Sun Aug 13
Left Lhasa at 6.35, after receiving silk scarf by Tashi Nota Hotel staff. Taxi driver, arranged previous evening, got petrol and then parked at dark alley, gesturing he’d have breakfast first. After heated debate left for airport with other driver on same taxi. Arrived at Lhasa airport at 7.50. Initially booked on 10.40 Air China flight to Chengdu, we could get seats on extra 9.10 flight. Arrived Chengdu at 11.15, without BL’s backpack however. Waited until 15.00 for arrival of another 3 Lhasa flights but no backpack. Filled out forms (total worth of backpack and contents exceeding € 1650) then taxi to Sam’s guesthouse (41 RMB). Checked into 3 single rooms. RH’s backpack, with both scopes and tripods, still there. Ca 33˚ C, heavy thunder at 15.30. Lunch at Sam’s Café. Afternoon walk through Renmin Park meant last new bird for JB: Black-throated Tit (seen earlier by others at Du Fu’s). Email, dinner, late night chat in beautiful guesthouse garden.
Mon Aug 14
2.30 phone call announced arrival of BL’s backpack, fully intact. Departed Chengdu at 14.45, arriving at Amsterdam Schiphol airport as scheduled, at 19.00.
Description of birding sites: these are meant to complement Wagner 2005 and, regarding western Sichuanese sites, Hofland 2006.
Chengdu: has little birdlife apart from its parks. The occasional House Swift or Red-rumped Swallow is seen over the city.
Du Fu’s cottage park, Chengdu: is a large touristy park with quiet corners and lush varied vegetation. It is famous for being an easy site for Vinous-throated Parrotbill and other species not found in the forested parks visited by most birders travelling Sichuan. Apart from Vinous-throated (and possible Ashy-throated) Parrotbill, we encountered Little Egret, Spotted Dove, Light-vented Bulbul, Oriental Magpie Robin, Chinese Blackbird, Claudia’s Warbler, Rufous-faced Warbler, Asian Paradise-Flycatcher, the stunning and unexpected Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, a suspect singing Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler lacking a tail, White-browed Laughingthrush, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Black-throated Tit, Tiger and Long-tailed Shrike, Yellow-billed (Chinese) Grosbeak and an unidentified female sunbird that might have been a Mrs. Gould's Sunbird. Dragonflies Gynacantha sp. and Pseudothemis zonata, Globe Skimmer Pantala flavescens (abundant) and Sympetrum eroticum ardens (quite common) were also recorded.
Renmin park, Chengdu: is found close to Sam’s Guesthouse. It is much smaller than Du Fu’s Cottage but nevertheless we found a few nice birds, such as Spotted Dove, Light-vented Bulbul, Oriental Magpie Robin, Chinese Blackbird, a suspect damaged Hwamei, White-browed Laughingthrush, Black-throated Tit and Tiger Shrike. Pseudothemis zonata and Globe Skimmer were also found here.
Wuyipeng: For access to the site, see tripreports by Björn Anderson (Wolong July 2003, November 2003 and July 2004, available through www.travellingbirder.com/default.php) and Hofland 2006 (wp 85 and 86). Depending on physical fitness and the willingness to walk straight up, the (usually more productive) ridge trail can be reached within 1.5 hrs. Golden Pheasant (May), Barred Laughingthrush, Pygmy Wren-Babbler and White-tailed Robin were only found along the access trail though. There’s no such thing as a clear intersection of the two trails – once the trail becomes level and is bordered by the occasional pine tree, you’re on the ridge trail. This intersection part is where Firethroat can be found, usually in bamboo understorey. After about 1-2 kms on the ridge trail (that loops left) one finds the research station, at which until recently one could stay for a modest fee. In spring 2006 however, a radio-tagged Giant Panda was released into the wild, attracting researchers who do not seem to like having birders around. Apparently staying is still condoned, though at a price (see Hofland 2006).
We walked up to the research station, not knowing what to expect, but could pass after Daniel had a chat with the caretaker. Being there mid-morning until mid-afternoon at the height of summer, the ridge trail was not as productive as it could have been (see Frank Rheindt 2003). The increased amount of people walking the trails might have made the pheasants more wary - of these, Golden, Koklass and Blood Pheasant, as well as Temminck’s Tragopan and even Chinese Grouse have been found here.
Birds we recorded in a single day incl Temminck’s Tragopan (female with young), Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Alpine Swift, Firethroat, Indian Blue Robin, White-browed Bush-Robin, Plain-backed Thrush, Large-billed, Sichuan and Kloss’s Leaf-Warbler; Claudia’s, Bianchi’s and Martens’s Warbler, Rufous-gorgeted and Slaty-backed Flycatcher, Rufous-bellied Niltava (probable juvenile), Barred Laughingthrush, Golden-breasted and Streak-throated Fulvetta, White-collared and Stripe-throated Yuhina, Coal ssp. ‘aemodius’, Grey-crested, Yellow-bellied, Green-backed and Yellow-browed Tit, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Spotted Nutcracker, Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird, Pygmy and Scaly-breasted Wren-Babbler and White-tailed Robin (the latter three heard only).
Long-tailed Shrike and Plumbeous Redstart were found in the fields and stream between the road and the start of the access trail.
Balan Shan: Nowadays the pass is reached in 1.5 hr, driving west from the Wolong (Grand) Hotel. Birding at different altitudes will maximise the triplist.
At kmp 94 both sides of the road have steep grassy meadows (wp 87), and this is where Wood Snipes rode just before dawn in May (Hofland 2006). None were heard on July 19, but we arrived after dawn so birds could have stopped roding already.
The ChineseMonal-site is found at ca kmp 92.3 (wp 88), right where south of the road a parking space for 3 small cars is found. Both sides of the road have dispersed pine trees and (rhodondendron) 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 regular in May, as are White Eared- and Koklass Pheasant. In July we had to settle for scrub birds like Chestnut Thrush, Blue-fronted Redstart, Tickell’s Leaf-Warbler, Giant Laughingthrush, ‘roseatus’ Common and Dark-breasted Rosefinch, while Snow Pigeons regularly flew past.
Higher up, at an altitude of 4,188m (wp 102), Lammergeier, Grandala and Rufous-breasted Accentor are regular, as is Himalayan Rubythroat higher up the valley. In May, Snow Partridge and Tibetan Snowcock were seen here, but snow had disappeared from the area by July.
In scrub below the white obelisk we found a number of birds such as Blood Pheasant, White-bellied Redstart, Greenish, Large-billed, Buff-barred and Yellow-streaked Warbler, Giant and Elliott’s Laughingthrush, Common, Beautiful, Vinaceous and White-browed Rosefinch. In addition, a roadside Ghoral was seen.
At the top of the pass, around 4,500m, a female Grandala feeding next to the road was a nice surprise on July 20. Walking down from the western side of the top, we found a singing male Red-faced Rosefinch on a rock next to the road (about 700m past the top).
On the western side of Balan Shan the ‘Brown Dipper’ seen in May turned out to be the brown-throated form of White-throated Dipper. It was seen together with a white-throated bird, and like that one had greyish scales on its back.
Just up from two opposite white stupas one overlooks a wooded valley with some cliffs at the far side of the valley (looking left coming down). Here (wp 97), Golden Eagle breeds at a cliff where also Snow and Hill Pigeons are found. No sign of the Chinese Babax or Wallcreeper seen here in May, though.
Wolong: The hillside behind the Wolong (Grand) Hotel is sometimes referred to as Sawan. To find the right trailhead, we walked east from the Wolong (Grand) Hotel along the low stone wall behind the apartment buildings. We climbed the wall (finding a copula of the localised endemic damselfly Mesopodagrion tibetanum in the scrub) and walked right until, after about 100m, we found the right trail up. This trail is easy to follow in May, but overgrown in July as we found out the hard way. After finding the ‘cattle hut’ (see Björn Anderson) we were able to work our way up the steep hillside trails, but we never reached the top rows of planted pine trees high up along the trail, where reportedly Golden Pheasants are easier to see. They were neither heard nor seen. We had to settle for more common birds such as Collared Finchbill, Long-tailed Minivet, Sichuan Leaf-Warbler, Claudia’s and Martens’s Warbler, Ferruginous and Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher and Yellow-bellied Tit. A few Slaty Buntings were seen as well. Firethroat was heard but not seen, quite low along the trail in thick scrub. Daurian Redstarts were present east of the hotel’s basketball court.
Mengbi Shan: Found about 5.5 hrs drive from Rilong town at the western end of Balan Shan pass, this site is easily accessible, provides easy and quiet roadside birding and holds a number of good (endemic) birds. Of these, Verreaux’s Monal-Partridge, White Eared- and Blood Pheasant, Chinese Grouse, Sichuan Jay, Père David’s Owl, Przewalski’s Nuthatch Sitta przewalskii (a recent split from White-cheeked Nuthatch S. leucopsis), Crested Tit-warbler, Maroon-backed Accentor, Chinese Fulvetta and Three-banded Rosefinch are probably best. In 1.5 day, we saw all of these, except for Père David’s Owl (no night visit) and Przewalski’s Nuthatch and Chinese Fulvetta (not found). Other nice birds recorded by us include Golden Eagle, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Chestnut and Kessler’s Thrush, Slaty-backed and ‘rothschildi’ Siberian Flycatcher, Himalayan Red-flanked Bluetail, White-throated Redstart, Streak-throated Fulvetta, Elliott’s and Giant Laughingthrush, Rufous-vented and Grey-crested Tit, “Sino-Himalayan” Treecreeper ssp. ‘khamensis’ (see List of recorded birds, no. 192, for more details on this recent split), Pink-rumped and Chinese White-browed Rosefinch (the latter particularly common), White-winged Grosbeak and Tibetan Siskin.
Access is straightforward, with a decent (Chinese) map. From the western end of Balan Shan pass (Rilong town, with hotels and souvenir shops) continue towards Danba. You’ll reach an intersection after ca 1.5 hr, in the village of Xiao Jin. The intersection is right at a big stupa (Buddhist holy place), and there’s an obvious map at the right hand side of the road. Left goes to Danba and Jinchuan, right to Maerkang (about 4 hrs drive). The highest pass along this right hand road is Mengbi Shan, reached after about 3 hrs. The Nelles Verlag map does not show the road between Xiao Jin and Maerkang, sev Chinese maps do.
Just past the top some rhodondendron scrub is found on either side of the road. After about 500m there’s a house on the right hand side with good fir forest below it, accessed by at least two trails (in this report referred to as Severtzov’s (wp 103) and Deep Forest Trail (wp 104) that both start from the lower side of the meadow visible from the road. Specialties found here include Chinese Grouse (easily encountered along Severtzov’s Trail both in May and July), Kessler’s Thrush, Crested Tit-warbler and Maroon-backed Accentor.
Other good areas are kmp 24 (wp 91), with Chinese White-browed and Pink-rumped Rosefinch, along with Black Woodpecker, White-browed and Chinese Fulvetta & White-winged and Collared Grosbeaks (the latter only in May, see Hofland 2006); kmp 28 (wp 93) for Sichuan Jay and wp 95, with Three-banded Rosefinch and Slaty-backed Flycatcher. White Eared-Pheasants were not as easy as they were in May, though a flock of 10 was seen beside the road at first light on the morning of July 21. Waypoints 91, 93 and 95 are given in Hofland 2006.
NOTE that both Sichuan Jay and Three-banded Rosefinch were seen on July 21, both less than 500m from wps 93 and 95 (where they were seen in May 2006).
John & Jemi Holmes (http://johnjemi.hkbirds.net/tp/cn/sc/2006_06-07_sichuan.htm) mention a track leading to a small temple, where a White Eared-Pheasant is hand-fed by a monk every morning. They also saw Blood Pheasant, Giant Laughingthrush and Chinese Babax near here.
Koklass Pheasant has been recorded at Mengbi Shan by several tourgroups.
[ Ma Ke He a.k.a. “Sichuan border site”: This is a reserve just south of the village of Banma, along the road from Aba (in Sichuan) towards Huangshixia (in Qinghai). Directions (courtesy of DuKe) are as follows: from Maerkang drive to Rang Tang and then to Deng Ta. The managing staff of Ma Ke He is found here. They provide housing, bedding, a guide and some food but it’s better to bring in additional food from Rang Tang. There’s no need for a permit. They charge 100 USD per day that includes entry, food, guide and bed.
According to annotated species lists by Jesper Hornskov, target birds here are Chinese Grouse, Verreaux's Monal-Partridge, Blue Eared-Pheasant, Père David’s Owl, Maroon-backed Accentor, Sichuan Jay, Tibetan Siskin, Three-banded & Long-tailed Rosefinch and Crimson-browed Finch.
Other birds recorded here incl Blood Pheasant, Rufous-bellied and ‘funebris’ Three-toed Woodpecker, Long-tailed Minivet, Robin Accentor; White-throated and White-bellied Redstart; Crested Tit-Warbler, Long-tailed, Chestnut, Kessler’s and Chinese Song Thrush; Large-billed, Hume’s and Tickell’s Leaf-Warbler; Buff-barred and Yellow-streaked Warbler; Père David’s, Giant and Elliott’s Laughingthrush; Chinese Fulvetta; White-browed, Songar, Rufous-vented and Grey-crested Tit; Przevalski’s Nuthatch, Grey-backed Shrike, ‘bottanensis’ Black-billed Magpie, Daurian Jackdaw, Brandt’s Mountain-Finch; Pink-rumped, White-browed and Streaked Rosefinch; Grey-headed Bullfinch and White-winged Grosbeak.
Compared to Mengbi Shan and Beizha Forest Ma Ke He stands out as a good site for Blue Eared-Pheasant and Long-tailed Rosefinch (though the latter is probably easier elsewhere).
Mengbi Shan, which has more or less the same birds, is however within easier reach of Chengdu Int’l Airport (probably only 6 hrs one-way when the main road is taken instead of driving past Wolong/Balan Shan). At Beizha Forest Szechenyi’s instead of Verreaux's Monal-Partridge occurs, as well as the Chinese endemic Kozlov’s Babax. ]
Ma Ke He was not visited by us for lack of time and money (see Visited sites and Day-to-day (July 22).
Marsh next to Rato village, ca 70 kms southwest of Yushu: Not mentioned in Wagner 2005 (see map). This is probably the site mentioned as “marshes south of Yushu” in annotated species lists by Jesper Hornskov. When following the main highway 217 (Xining towards Nanqian & Lhasa) ca 70 kms southwest of Yushu, a marsh ca 1 x 2 km in size is found to the right (west) of the road. According to the (German) Reise Know-how map of Tibet, the village next to the road (and marsh) is called Rato. South of the marsh a road goes west from where we scoped the marsh and found a pair of Black-necked Crane on the northern side. We then drove back north over the main road and took a track west (starting at wp 114) from where we viewed the marsh from the north (at wp 113). From this viewpoint, a hill overlooking the marsh, we saw two pairs of Black-necked Crane of which one with 2 young, two Sakers, a large number of Himalayan Marmots, Black-lipped Pikas, White-rumped and Rufous-necked Snowfinches. On our way back to the main road, we saw our first Tibetan Lark close to wp 114. We visited on July 24, from 18.00 until 19.30.
Kanda Shan pass: We followed the directions as described in Wagner 2005, with whose waypoints RH’s (only) showed a slight discrepancy. The pass was found with few hick-ups (other than having to argue with the driver twice – he was reluctant to cross two shaky bridges over small streams). After arriving at the top of the pass, we walked over to the scrub below some crags to the left, about 400m from the road. Spreading out, we used walkie-talkies to inform each other on the goodies we found, which included 3 Wolves (BL only), Lammergeier, Tibetan Partridge, Himalayan Rubythroat, White-browed Tit-warbler, Twite, Plain and Brandt's Mountain Finch, Beautiful Rosefinch; but not the hoped-for Tibetan (Kozlov’s) or Pink-tailed Bunting. We searched from 8.45 until 12.35 (July 25) before leaving, because Daniel needed to be at the bank in Nanqian on time.
On the way back, we stopped in the Kanda Shan gorge only briefly, yet Tibetan Partridge, Elliott’s Laughingthrush and Yellow-streaked Warbler were seen. The pass and gorge are scenically very beautiful and deserve two full days.
Apparently, the Kozlov’s Bunting frequents areas with a special herb, areas that vary year by year. This is the reason that tourgroups plan 3 mornings in this area – once the general area is found, the buntings are there.
[ Nanqian Forest Reserve (NFR): When preparing for the trip we became convinced, contrary to George Wagner, that this ‘secret reserve’, mentioned in sev tour reports by Jesper Hornskov, is in fact the same as the next site, Beizha Forest.
We still think the sites are one and the same. However, we’re not sure. On one hand, Jon Hornbuckle (May-July 2000) describes how they travelled from Maduo past Yushu, to NFR where they stayed three days, before arriving in Nanqian to cover Kanda Shan pass from there. Björn Anderson (Qinghai, July-Aug 2003), also mentions the valley floor at NFR to be at 3,500m altitude, whereas this is at 3,900m at Beizha. On the other hand, Björn describes how he crossed the stream from the forest station, before hearing the Père David’s Owl and chasing it onto steep hillsides - much the same as we had to cross a stream to enter Beizha Forest. Also, in Björns NFR, Kozlov’s Babax and Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler were seen alongside the stream, where we saw ours alongside the stream at Beizha Forest……]
Beizha Forest: Easily found using the excellent directions in Wagner 2005. Arriving was quite adventurous, as until quite near the actual forest reserve, no trees were visible anywhere and we were wondering if we were on the right track! We arrived just before dusk, without permits but having brought sleeping bags, mats, food and water. Daniel talked the boss into harbouring us for 3 nights (100 RMB each), during which we were offered additional food and beer (see Day-to-day). The (basic) accommodations at the forest station might provide shelter for as many as 15 people (5 small rooms, each with room for 3).
We climbed the hill opposite the station on two consecutive days (July 26 & 27), returning through forest further to the right (west). The forest station is more or less at the start of the forest, but since we already found many of the specialties on the hill opposite the station, there was no need to venture any further. The hillsides are steep, scrubby in places and at quite a high elevation (forest station at ca 3,900m, with Szechenyi's Monal-Partridge, found on two consecutive days near the treeline on the opposite hill, at 4,176m), so it appears quite impossible to make long distances in a day.
On (or over) the mountain opposite the forest station we saw Lammergeier, a possible Eurasian Griffon, Himalayan Griffon, Golden Eagle, Szechenyi's Monal-Partridge, White Eared-Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Fork-tailed Swift, Grey-faced, Black and Three-toed Woodpecker ssp. ‘funebris’, Olive-backed Pipit, Maroon-backed and Rufous-breasted Accentor, Hodgson's, Blue-fronted, White-throated and White-capped (Water) Redstart, Kessler’s Thrush, Greenish and Buff-barred Warbler, Sichuan and Tickell’s Leaf-Warbler, Crested Tit-Warbler, White-browed, Songar, Grey-crested and Rufous-vented Tit, Chinese Fulvetta, Elliott’s and Giant Laughingthrush, Kozlov’s (Tibetan) Babax, “Sino-Himalayan” Treecreeper (Certhia hodgsoni khamensis), Grey-backed Shrike, Black-billed Magpie ssp. ‘bottanensis’, Red-billed Chough, Daurian Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Red Crossbill, Common, Pink-rumped and Chinese White-browed Rosefinch and White-winged Grosbeak. In addition, a Chinese Grouse was found dead on a trail ca 2.5 km past the forest station.
Kozlov’s (Tibetan) Babax, Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, Musk orchid and many species of Fritillary and other butterflies, herbs and flowers were found between the track and the stream, ca 800m past the forest station.
Tibetan Partridge and Hill Pigeon were seen close to the forest station.
[ Dou’r Monastery: Located ca 20 km from Beizha Forest, past the forest station, but not visited by us. See Wagner 2005 for more info. Szechenyi's Monal-Partridge occurs here. Sev 4WD vehicles, as well as the occasional truck, passed the Beizha forest station presumably on their way there, returning hrs later – one might be able to hitch a ride there. ]
Bayankala Shan pass: Wagner 2005 gives a wp of this site, found at kmp 602 on highway 217. We spent between 12.30 and 14.00 here on July 29, in drizzle, sleet and hail. Searched for Roborovski's (Tibetan) Rosefinch and White-winged (Gűldenstadt's) Redstart but only found the latter. Two possible female Roborovski's Rosefinches were seen by JB however, before heavy hail started. Brandt’s Mountain-Finch and Henri’s Snowfinch Montifringilla henrici (split from White-winged Snowfinch M. nivalis) were also found here.
Steppes north of Yeniugou village (Asiatic Wild Ass): Few kms north of Yeniugou village, at wp 122, is where we found a large herd of 126 Asiatic Wild Ass (= Kiang) and 3 Sakers. Sev Kiang stallions were chasing each other, while mares were giving milk to foals.
Marshes around Maduo: On July 29, south of Maduo along highway 217, Black-necked Cranes were seen as follows: at kmp 525 (4 pairs and a juvenile), kmp 513 (one pair, with an ad Pallas’s Gull and 100+ Brown-headed Gulls also present) and kmp 507.5 (one pair). Other interesting species were sev Tibetan Gazelles and (a single) Hume’s Short-toed Lark.
At kmp 492, a dried–out lake held a flock of 183 Long-toed Stints, along with an adult and a first-summer Pallas’s Gull and 11 Tibetan Gazelles.
On July 30, between Maduo and kmp 465 north of town (highway 217), a pair of Black-necked Crane with 2 pulli was found, along with 97 Ruddy Shelduck, 36 Upland Buzzard, 2 Sakers, a Black Stork, 2 Tibetan Foxes and 27 Tibetan Gazelles.
Roughly between kmp 465 and 430, 3 more Kiangs and 97 Tibetan Gazelles were seen.
Er La pass: Found at highway 217, kmp 319, this pass has two mountains east of its top, of which the southernmost one is flat-topped. Presumably (as both George Wagner and we could not find the birds here) this is the site for Tibetan Sandgrouse mentioned in Jesper Hornskov’s species lists.
We searched the flat-topped mountain, its high-altitude surroundings and the mountain slopes for two days in bright weather but could not find the Tibetan Sandgrouse. Perhaps it already migrated away from here, as it is supposed to be a nomadic species. By birding tourgroups, it is sometimes seen here in June, with or without downy chicks.
Birds we did see incl Lammergeier, Tibetan Lark (at the pass), White-winged Redstart, Robin Accentor (at the flat-topped mountain’s southern slope), Red-billed Chough, Common Raven, Henri’s Snowfinch and Roborowski’s Rosefinch (mainly at the slopes). The flat-topped mountain is also the only place where we encountered Blue Sheep / Bharal.
Gongehe: Wagner 2005 mentions sev wadis 3 km south of town (highway 217, kmp 149), where specialties like Desert Lesser Whitethroat ssp. ‘margelanica’, Mongolian and Desert Finch, Streaked and Great Rosefinch can be found, along with Rock Sparrow and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush. We found sev interesting-looking wadis but despite intensive searching in early morning as well as staking out freshwater (drinking) pools, only half of these were found.
Driving south from town, a factory is found on the eastern side of the road. Amongst low scrub between the road and the factory we found Richard’s Pipit, Crested Lark and Rock Sparrow.
In wadis on the opposite, western, side of the road we found 2 Little Owls and Black Redstart (abundant) but not much else. Two juv Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush were a lifer for JB. At a roadside pool, good views were had of Mongolian (Trumpeter) Finch.
Marsh east of Qinghai Hu (= Koko Nor): George Wagner communicated the following about this site, which he visited in spring 2006: “The east end of the lake is accessible from highway 109 at kmp 2088.4. A sealed road leads to a separate freshwater lake (at kmp 2.0) and eventually continues around Qinghai Lake. This freshwater lake has some waterfowl which you will not see on Qinghai Hu. On the lake's south shore was at least one Black-necked Crane in spring 2006. Along this road I had numerous sighting of Père David's Snowfinch. At kmp 6.3 on the right site of the road, there is the entrance to a beautiful marsh. This site is worth birding if you have the time, but I found nothing special here.”
In August 2006, the freshwater lake held trip exclusives Great Crested Grebe, Red-crested Pochard (1,000+), Common Pochard and Tufted Duck, with sev Bar-headed Geese also present. East of the road, a pair of Père David's Snowfinch was found in dune-like habitat.
The marsh at kmp 6.3 was very rewarding and we happily spent a couple of hrs here. It produced trip exclusives Black-necked Grebe, Little Ringed and Kentish Plover, Red-necked Stint and Yellow Wagtail, along with Ferruginous Duck (female in flight), Brown-headed Gull (1 only) and Mongolian Lark. A single Père David's Snowfinch obliged just south of it. The nearby east shore of Qinghai Hu consisted of more marsh, where we saw trip exclusive Black-tailed Godwit (2), along with Red- and Greenshank.
Chaka flats: We mainly birded in the wide area around the freshwater pool at kmp 2238 mentioned in Wagner 2005; this is ca 10 km east of Chaka. Ca 300m south of the pool (which is found south of the road) is where we saw Henderson’s Ground Jay on both (evening and morning) visits, as well as Mongolian (Lesser) Sandplover, Blanford’s Snowfinch, Isabelline and Desert Wheatears. A single Pallas’s Sandgrouse was seen in flight just before dusk, just east of Chaka; the next morning we had sev fly-by’s, mostly north of the road north of the freshwater pool. Sev sandgrouse landed in the desert ca 1 km north of the road but flew off before we reached the spot; another pair was stalked with caution but nevertheless flushed before found perched. A flock of Desert Finches was seen in roadside thistles. A family of Turkestan (Isabelline) Shrikes was seen at one of the small roadside settlements. Many roadside pools similar to the one at kmp 2238 were seen.
Rubber Mountain pass: this pass, located ca 13 km west of Heimahe, offers (at least) three good sites: either side of the road at kmp 2189.5 and near the top of the pass, kmp 2198, where White-winged Redstart and Henri’s Snowfinch can be found (Wagner 2005). At kmp 2189.5 Ala Shan Redstart, White-browed Tit and Pink-tailed Bunting were seen in spring 2006 (George Wagner pers. comm.).
(kmp 2189.5, north of the road, see map) All grassy meadows north of the road are fenced off, however there’s a small corridor in between the fences at kmp 2189.5. This is opposite a blue-lined white-painted wall with red Chinese characters. We walked through this corridor for ca 800m and turned left into a small valley at an old ruined building. This valley (A) and the next (valley B) held some interesting species incl Lammergeier, White-browed Tit (B), Pink-tailed Bunting (A), Streaked Rosefinch (A) and Tibetan Snowfinch (ridge between A and B). Tickell’s Leaf-Warbler, Robin Accentor, Twite and Beautiful Rosefinch were common at both. Ala Shan Redstart was finally found at the end of valley C, the access of which is found at wp 127. Valley C starts right after passing 4 grey crags to the right of the corridor path; it’s a ca 15 mins walk to the end of the valley (wp 126, 3,584m). The crags are more rounded than indicated on the map, with the second obviously higher than the other three; they are hardly visible from the road.
(kmp 2189.4, south of the road) Follow the old road bed parallel to (and south of) the main road and check the low scrub on either side of the path. Tibetan Partridge, White-tailed and Siberian Rubythroat, (breeding) Dusky Warbler and Pink-tailed Bunting are found here. Tickell’s Leaf-Warbler, Robin Accentor, Twite and Beautiful Rosefinch are common.
Heimahe (3,400m) is a small town on the southwest corner of Qinghai Hu on highway 109 at kmp 2176 (210 km from Xining). It has basic hotels and restaurants and is within easy reach of the birding sites at Rubber Mtn pass (13 kms away); Niao Dao (Bird Island) (70 km away) and a small marsh (see below) just northeast of town.
Heimahe marsh: George Wagner (pers. comm.): “On the western edge of Heimahe is the road junction to Niao Dao (Bird Island). Take the right (north) road to kmp 0.7 and there turn right onto the dirt road that goes to the lake. Scan the marshy areas to the right after one km. It had a nesting pair of Black-necked Cranes in spring 2006 and was full of Tibetan Larks. Along this road I had a pair of Citrine Wagtail ssp. ‘calcarata’. I had a third Black-necked Crane in the different marshy area past the buildings near the lake shore and to the left. The stony area around the lake shore buildings has Hume's Larks.”
In August 2006 both marshy areas were dry and no Citrine Wagtails were found. A pair of Black-necked Crane with a single young fed in the fields south of the stupa found at the end of the dirt road. At this stupa, sev confiding Hume’s Larks were present. We crossed the grassy fields north of the stupa in order to observe a flock of Pallas’s Gulls more closely. The fields held plenty of Tibetan Larks and a single Mongolian Lark, while 2,500+ Bar-headed Geese at the lake shore provided an impressive sight.
[ Niao Dao / Bird Island, Qinghai Hu: George Wagner: “If you continue on the road north for 52 kms beyond Heimahe, you will reach the entrance town to Bird Island. From this town, where you buy your tickets, it is still another 16 kms to the refuge. There is public transport from Heimahe to this town but it is infrequent and inconvenient. I hitched out there. There is no public transport along the 16 km from the ticket office to the refuge. However, you can hire someone to take you there. The refuge is a tourist attraction and has little value for birders. The two main attractions are two colonies of nesting birds. One contains Bar-headed Geese and Brown-headed Gulls. The other colony has Great Cormorants. There are no trails and no access to marshy habitat here. The only bird I saw here that I missed elsewhere is Mongolian Lark, which is common here. I would not recommend visiting this site.” ] So we didn’t.
Bei Shan: Wagner 2005 does not give precise access directions, though we probably used the same access road. With help of a taxidriver we managed to find the mountain (wp 131 is at the turn-off north from the main east-west road in northern Xining; Bei Shan entrance is found less than a km from the wp). As the steps and mountain trails of Bei Shan are steep and climbing them from the main entrance would take many hours, we looked for an alternative access route and found it by following the road east past some maintenance (?) buildings, turning left (north) at a crossroads (ca 600m east of the main entrance). From here, an unsurfaced road starts climbing the mountain (left of the road was an empty canal filled with garbage, right some houses and two small shops). The road becomes concrete after ca 300m, after which it was a ca 12-km climb to the top, where tickets were sold for a fake Akropolis. At some more arid hillsides more or less halfway (wp 130) is where we saw Pale Rosefinch and Pied Wheatears. The planted pine trees and scrub around the fake Akropolis held Père David’s Laughingthrush (common) and Manchurian Bush-Warbler, while during a walk down from the top two single road-crossing Common Pheasants, sev Meadow and Godlewski’s Buntings and a trip-exclusive Chinese Leaf-Warbler were seen. A pair of Daurian Partridge with 3 pulli was seen on the road, ca 4 km below the top, mid-morning.
Huzhu Bei Shan NP (bordering Gansu province): the following directions were provided by George Wagner, who visited the site in spring 2006:
“Huzhu Pass is at kmp 36 (north of Huzhu town). The park itself is another 39 km. The problem is that at kmp 62 there is a junction at which most of the (bus) traffic takes to the left. You should continue straight ahead. However the kmp are now different. They start at 113 and go down. The entrance to the park is at kmp 100.5. Here are some GPS coordinates for these points mentioned:
Huzhu Pass 37 deg 00.541' N; 102 deg 10.838' E
Entrance road to park 36 deg 57.136' N; 102 deg 28.865' E
Lake Hostel at kmp 18 in park 36 deg 55.325' N; 102 deg 18.682' E
Blue Eared-Pheasant site 36 deg.56.188' N; 102 deg 18.740' E
I went to the park on a hired taxi and with a translator, Niu Xiao Jun. If you hire the taxi in Xining, it will cost about 500 RMB. But if you take the bus to Huzhu and hire a taxi there, it will cost only 300 RMB to go to the park and drive you around there all day. Niu Xiao Jun can make the arrangements. There is only one bus that goes to the park entrance each day. It leaves the long distance bus station in Xining at 09:30 and takes 3 hrs to get there. The only bus coming back leaves the park entrance junction at 16:00 for Xining. This method will not allow you to make a stop at Huzhu Pass.
Niu Xiao Jun lives at the Hongguang Hotel in the northeast corner of the Xining railroad station. He speaks English and is available for help. He knows most of these sites and has been with me to some. His phone number is 13195791105. He can help with vehicle hire, site access, etc. If you want to take a translator along, he will go with you for 200 RMB per day.
My site for Blue Eared-Pheasant is inside the Huzhu Bei Shan national park. From the gate take the following two right turns at each main juction you come to. This will take you to the waterfall and a few kilometers farther a lake and a hostel at kmp 18. You can spend the night at this hostel. A small path leads behind this hostel and into three canyons. At each opportunity take the right path. After 2 km you are at the site (see GPS wp above). Scan the slope opposite this site and just slightly above eye level. The birds are there. At one point I had a Blue Eared-Pheasant and a Blood Pheasant in the same field of view.
Don Roberson recorded Przewalski's Nuthatch at Huzhu Bei Shan NP and even found a nest there. As I spent four of my five days there in search of Blue Eared-Pheasant at much higher elevations, I did not record nuthatches at all there. Furthermore, Huzhu has over half-a-dozen species of leaf-warblers of interest such as Hume's, Gansu, Large-billed and Southern Spotted Bush-warber. If you are into warblers, Huzhu is one of the best places in China to try and sort them out on the breeding grounds. If you don't come with a vehicle, you can use the local motorcycles-for-hire to drive you around.”
In August 2006, at the Blue Eared-Pheasant site described above, the pheasants were heard but not seen. There were however sev trails crossing the hillside where the birds were heard, so with time and patience the birds should be seen at any time of year (we only had one morning though). A local kid that sat with us for half an hour, gestured that the birds could be seen further along the trail as well.
Birds seen by us at the Blue Eared-Pheasant-wp incl Wallcreeper (!, not many exposed rocks there), Elliott’s and Père David’s Laughingthrush, White-winged Grosbeak, Beautiful and Chinese White-browed Rosefinch. Gansu Leaf-Warbler was found further down along the trail, as were Greenish, Buff-barred, Yellow-streaked and Buff-throated Warbler & Large-billed, Humes and Tickell’s Leaf-Warbler (8 species of Phylloscopus!), Himalayan Red-flanked Bluetail and Grey-headed Bullfinch. Back at the lake hostel, a young Blue Eared-Pheasant was feeding amongst the chickens – all meant to be served as dinner probably.
Lower down, during a random 20-mins stop to search for Przewalski's Nuthatch, we found a steep trail opposite a stream (wp 134) on, driving towards the exit, the right side of the road. Here, we saw Chinese Song Thrush, Slaty-backed Flycatcher and Gansu Leaf-Warbler while Large-billed Leaf-Warbler was HO.
[ Laoye Shan, Datong: not visited by us, see Wagner 2005 for a site description. In spring 2006, George recorded Chinese Bush Warbler in the farm fields’ hedges on the back side of the mountain.]
[ Dongxia Forest Park, ca 30 km north of Datong: not in Wagner 2005. George Wagner remarked the following after his visit to the site in spring 2006: “You can either take a bus from Datong or hire a taxi there. The GPS coordinate for the entrance road is 37 deg 02.530'N; 101 deg 49.311' E. If you take the bus, you will not get here until about 09:30. It would be smarter to take the 06:15 bus from Xining to Datong and hire a taxi at Datong. That way you can arrive here at 08:00. I had Przewalski's Nuthatch there and Gansu and Hume’s Leaf-Warbler.” ] Not visited by us.
XIZANG (TIBET proper)
Lhasa: at both Drepung and Sera Monastery Prince Henry’s Laughingthrush was found, more common at the former. Russet Sparrow was also seen at both monasteries, max 3 at the latter. Tibetan Blackbird was found at Drepung Monastery. At Sera Monastery we saw a male Hodgson’s Redstart. In town, the occasional Hoopoe was seen. None of the Lhasa sites described in Wagner 2005 were visited by us.
Chak La pass: When approaching Reting Monastery from Lhasa from the south, one will cross this pass. We had good close-up views of Wallcreeper, Tibetan Blackbird, Buff-throated Warbler and Pink-rumped Rosefinch at the southern end of this pass (wp 138, 4,285m), right where the road crossed a river, at a gated fence left of the road.
At an altitude of 4,678m, just south of the top of the pass (wp 139) is where we found Little Owl, 4 Wallcreepers, White-winged Redstart, Brandt’s and Plain Mountain-Finch, Streaked and a pair of (nesting) Red-faced Rosefinch.
NOTE that the Chak La pass is found south of a crossroads, of which the road west goes to a main road and Nam Tso Lake and the road east to another main road; the road north is the one to Reting Monastery. Travel agencies might take the main road past Nam Tso Lake to Reting, thus not passing by the Chak La pass.
Reting Monastery: Located NNE of Lhasa, our (Reise Know-how) map of Xizang did not show where to find this monastery, nor was it widely known to travel agencies in Lhasa. Chak La pass, not far S of the monastery, was however indicated on our map, as was a road heading there, starting from Sera Monastery in Lhasa. This appeared to be the shortest road to get to Reting, however, according to both travel agencies we visited, it is too dangerous to drive. For a brief description of how we got to Reting, see Day-by-day (Aug 10).
Giant Babax were seen just above the monastery and two male Streaked Rosefinches obliged just to the right (N?) of it. Higher above the monastery is where we found 8 Tibetan Eared-Pheasants at an altitude of around 4,400m (wp 140). Feathers on the trail indicated that they were around. Here, White-browed Tit-warblers were also seen. Amongst the trees just below the monastery is where we saw few Prince Henry’s Laughingthrush. Other birds recorded in the rather quiet hillside forest were Blue-fronted and White-throated Redstart, Great Tit, “Sino-Himalayan” Treecreeper, Pink-rumped Rosefinch, White-winged Grosbeak (common) and Godlewski's Bunting.
Just west of the monastery, halfway the latter and the next site, there’s a prayer wall between the road and the river where we saw a Tibetan (Chinese) Grey Shrike perched on the wire.
About 7 kms west of the monastery (wp at 30 deg 17.492’ N; 91 deg 26.806’ E according to Wagner 2005) is the site where rocks, road and river meet: here we had few Prince Henry’s Laughingthrush and 5 Tibetan Eared-Pheasants feeding near the top of the crags (ca 80m high), loudly calling when charged at by a Golden Eagle.
Note on separation of Beautiful and Pink-rumped Rosefinch: 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. Male Beautiful Rosefinch is recognisable by the deep-purplish red in the face, where male Pink-rumped is more evenly-coloured red. Identification is actually straightforward once one gets to know their calls well: Beautiful Rosefinch calls much like a (European) sparrow Passer, while Pink-rumped Rosefinch calls much like European Serin Serinus serinus.
List of GPS waypoints: RH used Garmin E-trex (ca € 170).
Wp 102 4188m Balan
Shan: site for Lammergeier, Grandala and White-tailed Rubythroat
N 30˚54’22.7” / E 102˚54’38.6”
Wp 103 3919m Mengbi Shan: start Severtzov’s Trail, good for Chinese Grouse, Maroon-backed Accentor, Crested Tit-warbler
N 31˚42’45.5” / E 102˚18’34.7”
Wp 104 3911m Mengbi Shan: start Deep Forest Trail
N 31˚42’44.8” / E 102˚18’33.9”
Wp 105 3717m Start of Tibetan plateau in W Sichuan, ca 60 km west of Luhuo: site for first Ground Tits, with marsh and lake closer to Luhuo
N 31˚38’37.1” / E 100˚15’34.7”
Wp 106 4000m Tibetan plateau in W Sichuan: first Saker, Upland Buzzard, Rufous-necked and White-rumped Snowfinches
N 31˚59’16.3” / E 99˚05’28.6”
Wp 107 4197m Below pass: site of Tibetan Grey Shrike
N 32˚01’40.6” / E 99˚01’27.5”
Wp 108 3805m Site of heard Black-faced Bunting
N 32˚11’37.1” / E 98˚50’06.5”
Wp 109 3883m Tibetan plateau in W Sichuan: site of Ibisbill, kmp 211
N 32˚17’00.0” / E 98˚43’44.0”
Wp 110 4117m Site of Wolf and Tibetan Foxes (evening)
N 32˚48’02.5” / E 98˚20’23.4”
Wp 111 4315m Site of pair of Saker and first Robin Accentors, ca 5 km north of SerXu
N 33˚01’16.1” / E 98˚01’24.4”
Wp 112 4109m Monastery, site for Tibetan Snowfinch
N 33˚08’18.2” / E 97˚55’10.4”
Wp 113 4362m Viewpoint
marsh near Rato; Black-necked Cranes
N 32˚54’45.1” / E 96˚38’39.6”
Wp 114 4339m Turn-off onto dirt road to viewpoint marsh near Rato
N 32˚53’33.8” / E 96˚39’22.0”
Wp 115 4587m Kanda Shan pass: possible site of Kozlov’s Bunting
N 32˚20’14.6” / E 96˚32’15.4”
Wp 116 4345m Top of Kanda Shan pass
N 32˚20’25.3” / E 96˚32’48.1”
Wp 117 3644m Entrance to busstation Nanqian
N 32˚12’20.9” / E 96˚28’49.6”
Wp 118 4176m Beizha Forest: site of Szechenyi’s Partridge (2 days)
N 31˚52’26.2” / E 96˚33’06.2”
Wp 119 3659m Probable slaughterhouse just north of Yushu: 15 grounded Himalayan Griffons next to road
N 33˚01’14.1” / E 97˚02’40.3”
Wp 120 3619m About 6 kms north of Yushu: Ibisbill, White-throated Dipper, Rock Sparrow
N 32˚59’55.9” / E 97˚09’54.6”
Wp 121 4960m Mountain east of top Bayankala Shan pass
N 34˚07’25.2” / E 97˚39’32.7”
Wp 122 4336m Km north of Yeniugou village: 126 Wild Ass, 3 Sakers
N 34˚31’30.2” / E 97˚59’13.6”
Wp 123 4379m Entrance to hotel in Maduo village
N 34˚54’54.4” / E 98˚12’36.1”
Wp 124 4781m Highest point “flat-topped mountain” east of Er La pass
N 35˚29’28.6” / E 99˚31’23.1”
Wp 125 3099m Roadworks between Hekashannan and Gongehe: Mongolian Larks and Isabelline Wheatear
N 36˚02’00.1” / E 100˚17’56.7”
Wp 126 3584m Rubber Mountain pass, ca 13 kms west of Heimahe, kmp 2189.5 (actual wp ca 1.5 km N of road): Ala Shan Redstart
N 36˚47’02.3” / E 99˚38’00.2”
Wp 127 3510m Rubber Mountain pass: turn-off right into canyon where Ala Shan Redstart is found
N 36˚46’51.9” / E 99˚38’11.3”
Wp 128 3452m Rubber Mountain pass, kmp 2189.4: site for Siberian and White-tailed Rubythroat, Dusky Warbler, Pink-tailed Bunting
N 36˚46’50.2” / E 99˚39’46.0”
Wp 129 3499m Site of best restaurant in Heimahe
N 36˚43’46.6” / E 99˚46’43.9”
Wp 130 2466m Bei Shan: site of Pied Wheatear and Pale Rosefinch
N 36˚39’14.3” / E 101˚47’05.1”
Wp 131 2236m Turn-off to Bei Shan from main road in Xining
N 36˚38’05.4” / E 101˚46’59.8”
Wp 132 2903m Huzhu Bei Shan NP: location of “lake hostel”
N 36˚55’19.9” / E 102˚18’38.9”
Wp 133 3231m Huzhu Bei Shan NP: site for Blue Eared-Pheasant, Wallcreeper, Elliott’s and Père David’s Laughingthrush
N 36˚56’19.1” / E 102˚18’50.9”
Wp 134 2522m Huzhu Bei Shan NP, steep trail opposite river: Chinese Song Thrush, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, Gansu Leaf-Warbler
N 36˚55’16.2” / E 102˚23’33.3”
Xizang province (Tibet):
Wp 135 3532m Lhasa Airport
N 29˚17’36.7” / E 90˚53’58.8”
Wp 136 3625m Tashi Nota Hotel, Lhasa
N 29˚39’45.4” / E 91˚07’46.0”
Wp 137 3709m Marsh ca 5 kms NNE of Taktse: Citrine Wagtails
N 29˚43’39.7” / E 91˚24’53.2”
Wp 138 4285m S end of Chak La pass: site for Wallcreepers, Tibetan Blackbird, Pink-rumped Rosefinch, Buff-throated Warbler
N 30˚05’06.2” / E 91˚16’17.9”
Wp 139 4678m Just below top of Chak La pass: nesting Red-faced Rosefinch, White-winged Redstart, Streaked Rosefinch, Wallcreepers, Brandt’s and Plain Mountain-Finch, Little Owl
N 30˚06’33.3” / E 91˚16’30.3”
Wp 140 4396m Reting Monastery: site of Tibetan Eared-Pheasants
N 30˚19’05.7” / E 91˚30’34.6”
Wp 141 3667m Lhasa: Jokhang temple
N 29˚39’10.0” / E 91˚07’50.6”
In the following triplist, the Phylloscopus, Seicercus and Carpodacus splits described and/or proposed by Frank Rheindt and Pamela Rasmussen (see Literature) are adapted. In case of other (potential) splits, the relevant literature and/or source is given where possible.
Szechenyi's Monal-Partridge = Chinese endemic and/or area specialty
List of recorded birds:
1. Great Crested Grebe - Podiceps cristatus: (marsh) E (of) Qinghai Hu (40+)
2. Black-necked Grebe - P. nigricollis: marsh E of Qinghai Hu (6+)
3. Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo: marsh E of Qinghai Hu (7), Qinghai Hu (30+)
4. Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis: btw Luhuo & SerXu (ca 20), btw Beizha Forest and Yushu (4)
5. Little Egret - Egretta garzetta: Chengdu (Du Fu’s Cottage, 1)
6. Bar-headed Goose - Anser indicus: btw SerXu and Nanqian (flocks of 5 and 17), freshwater lake E of Qinghai Hu (35+), S shore of Qinghai Hu (20+), W Qinghai Hu shore at Heimahe marsh (2,500+)
7. Ruddy Shelduck - Tadorna ferruginea: btw Luhuo and SerXu (20+), btw SerXu and Nanqian (6 and 1), btw Yushu and Maduo (50), btw Maduo and Wenquan (97), Qinghai Hu (20+), Heimahe marsh (8+)
8. Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos: small marsh near Taktse, N of Lhasa (female, wp 137)
9. Red-crested Pochard - Netta rufina: freshwater lake E of Qinghai Hu (ca 1,000)
10. Common Pochard - Aythya ferina: freshwater lake E of Qinghai Hu (50+)
11. Ferruginous Duck - A. nyroca: marsh ca 55 km W of Luhuo (4 at roadside lake), btw SerXu and Nanqian (1), marsh E of Qinghai Hu (female)
12. Tufted Duck - A. fuligula: freshwater lake E of Qinghai Hu (20+)
13. Goosander - Mergus merganser: btw Luhuo and SerXu (3), btw SerXu and Nanqian (12, 1, 3), N of Lhasa (female), btw Lhasa and Lhasa airport (6 juveniles)
14. Black-eared Kite - Milvus lineatus: btw Luhuo and SerXu (5), btw SerXu and Nanqian (2), btw Beizha Forest and Yushu (5), btw Lhasa and Reting (max 7)
15. Lammergeier - Gypaetus barbatus: Balan Shan (wp 102, adult and second-year), btw Maniganggo and SerXu (4), Kanda Shan pass (juvenile walking along road, 3 adults), Beizha Forest (3 adult fly-by’s, possibly referring to same ind), btw Beizha and Yushu (4 ad), Er La pass (ad, subad, juv), btw Maduo and Wenquan (2), Rubber Mtn pass (near wp 127, adult pair), Chak La pass N of Lhasa (ad). An amazing 25 individuals of this great species ! Fly-by’s at flat top of Er La pass (wp 124) often less than 15m.
[ Eurasian Griffon - Gyps fulvus: Beizha Forest (1 probable adult, RH only). This species is not supposed to occur here but size, wingshape and both upper- and underwing pattern could be judged well when the bird flew low through the valley ]
16. Himalayan Griffon - G. himalayensis: Balan Shan (3), Mengbi Shan (1), btw SerXu and Nanqian (20+), Kanda Shan pass (5), Beizha Forest (2), btw Beizha and Yushu (15), Yushu slaughterhouse (15 perched next to road), btw Yushu and Bayankala pass (1), btw Maduo and Wenquan (10), Er La pass (10), Rubber Mtn pass (3), Chak La pass (max 7)
17. Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus: Mengbi Shan (3), Beizha Forest (1 daily)
18. Eastern Buzzard - Buteo (buteo) japonicus: Balan Shan (1 possible), Mengbi Shan (3)
19. Upland Buzzard - B. hemilasius: btw Manigranggo and SerXu (70), btw SerXu and Nanqian (39), btw Nanqian and Yushu (3), btw Yushu and Bayankala pass (60), btw Bayankala pass and Maduo (54), btw Maduo and Wenquan (152), btw Wenquan and Er La pass (2), Er La pass (1), btw Gongehe and Chaka (2), btw Lhasa and Reting (2)
20. Golden Eagle - Aquila chrysaetos: Balan Shan (W, wp 97, juv on nest, ad in flight), Mengbi Shan (ad), Beizha Forest (max 2 ad), btw Beizha Forest and Yushu (4 ad), Chak La pass (2 ad)
21. Mountain Hawk-Eagle - Spizaetus nipalensis: Wuyipeng (1, ridge trail)
22. Eurasian Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus interstinctus: Balan Shan (1), btw Mengbi Shan and Beizha Forest (singles daily), Er La pass (1), just S of Gongehe (4), Rubber Mtn pass (1), Bei Shan (2), Chak La pass (2 ad)
23. Eurasian Hobby - F. subbuteo: btw Manigranggo and SerXu (1)
24. Saker - F. cherrug: btw Manigranggo and SerXu (1), btw SerXu and Nanqian (5, of which 2 at Rato marsh), btw Nanqian and Yushu (1), btw Yushu and Maduo (5), btw Maduo and Wenquan (6), S of Qinghai Hu (1). Using scopes, excellent views were had of these magnificent creatures, often perched on roadside telegraph poles.
25. Black Stork - Ciconia nigra: marsh N of Maduo (1 distant ind)
26. Chinese (Severtzov's) Grouse - Bonasa sewerzowi: Mengbi Shan (prolonged views of 5-6 along Severtzov’s Trail, starting at wp 103, July 21 (RH), with one along the trail and a pair running over the nearby meadow, in the rainy morning of July 22), Beizha Forest (dead male found on path bordering wide stream ca 2.5 km west of forest station)
27. Verreaux's Monal-Partridge - Tetraophasis obscurus: Mengbi Shan (brief but good views of a pair flushed from roadside, gliding into fir forest near kmp 24, JB and RH only)
28. Szechenyi's Monal-Partridge - T. szechenyii: Beizha Forest (upper forest edge at wp 118, 4176m, one seen and another heard on July 26, 3 adults with a pull on July 27)
29. Daurian Partridge - Perdix dauurica: Bei Shan (pair with 3 pulli on concrete road to fake Akropolis)
30. Tibetan Partridge - P. hodgsoniae: btw Nanqian and Kanda Shan pass (4), Kanda Shan pass (pair), Beizha Forest access road (1), btw Nanqian and Yushu (2), Rubber Mtn pass (wp 128, 3), Chak La pass (pair)
31. Blood Pheasant - Ithaginis cruentus: Balan Shan pass (single female and male crossing road below white obelisk), Mengbi Shan (2 single males crossing road plus excellent views of a pair and 5 pulli, July 21, with on July 22 a pair crossing the road and 2 HO), Beizha Forest (excellent prolonged views of 3 pairs and 5 pulli feeding, July 26; 3 HO July 26)
32. White Eared-Pheasant - Crossoptilon crossoptilon: Mengbi Shan (10 roadside at dawn near kmp 24), Beizha Forest (2 flocks heard in evening of July 26, with 3 seen and about 10 ind heard in morning of July 27)
33. Tibetan Eared-Pheasant - C. (c.) harmani: Reting Monastery (8 quietly feeding at wp 140), ca 3 kms from Reting, where river, road and crags meet (5, sometimes calling loudly, especially when charged by Golden Eagle !)
34. [HO] Blue Eared-Pheasant - C. auritum: Huzhu Bei Shan NP (HO 3 times at wp 133 between 8.30 – 9 am, at site reached by following trail behind ‘lake hostel’ for about 1 hr). Furthermore, a scruffy young bird scurried about the garbage with local chickens at the lake hostel…………we’re still wondering whether to tick this bird…………not!
35. Common (Ring-necked) Pheasant - Phasianus colchicus satscheuensis: Bei Shan (2 singles crossing road, RH and BL only)
36. Temminck's Tragopan - Tragopan temminckii: Wuyipeng (poor views of running female, ridge trail past forest station; good views of female + 4 fledged juveniles at ridge/access trail intersection)
37. Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra: marsh E of Qinghai Hu (30+), Heimahe marsh (8)
38. Black-necked Crane - Grus nigricollis: marsh near Rato village, ca 70 km SW of Yushu (2 pairs, one with 2 juv), marshes S of Maduo (13), marshes N of Maduo (2 ad, 2 pulli), Heimahe marsh (2 ad, juv)
39. Ibisbill - Ibidorhyncha struthersii: btw Maniganggo and SerXu (1, wp 109, kmp 211), btw Beizha and Yushu (2 singles, of which one in flight), 6 kms N of Yushu (prolonged views of 1 in the river next to the road, wp 120)
40. Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius: marsh E of Qinghai Hu (ad, 2 juv)
41. Kentish Plover - C. alexandrinus: marsh E of Qinghai Hu (15)
42. Mongolian Plover (Lesser Sandplover) - C. mongolus atrifrons: marshes S of Maduo (4), btw Gongehe and Heimahe (4), Chaka flats (max 6), Heimahe marsh (2)
43. Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa: E shore of Qinghai Hu (2)
44. Red-necked Stint - Calidris ruficollis: marsh E of Qinghai Hu (3)
45. Long-toed Stint - C. subminuta: S of Maduo, kmp 492 (flock of 183)
46. Common Redshank - Tringa totanus: btw Luhuo and Nanqian (10+ daily), Nanqian (3), btw Beizha and Maduo (few daily), Qinghai Hu (common), N of Lhasa (6)
47. Common Greenshank - T. nebularia: river near Maduo (1), marsh E of Qinghai Hu (2)
48. Green Sandpiper - T. ochropus: W of Luhuo (1), N of Lhasa (1)
49. Wood Sandpiper - T. glareola: marsh about 55 km W of Luhuo (2), marshes S of Maduo (8), Heimahe marsh (10)
50. Common Sandpiper - T. hypoleucos: marsh E of Qinghai Hu (2), Chaka flats (1)
51. Pallas’s Gull - Larus ichthyaetus: artificial lake S of Yushu (juv), marshes S of Maduo, btw kmp 513 and 492 (7 ad, first-summer), Qinghai Hu (ca 60), over Heimahe (ad), Heimahe marsh (30+), Lhasa river (imm), btw Lhasa and airport (ad, 7 imm)
[“large white-headed gull - L. species”: east of Lhasa (2 imm) ]
52. Brown-headed Gull - L. brunnicephalus: marshes S of Maduo, kmp 513 (100+), N of Maduo (20), marsh E of Qinghai Hu (imm), Heimahe marsh (2), E of Lhasa (ad)
53. Common Tern - Sterna hirundo thibetana: sev daily at Tibetan plateau, starting ca 50 km W of Luhuo, max 10 N of Maduo. Marsh E of Qinghai Hu (20+), Heimahe marsh (2), btw Lhasa and Chak La (3)
54. Pallas's Sandgrouse - Syrrhaptes paradoxus: Chaka flats (1 distant in flight late evening, with 5 pairs and flock of 5 flying past the next morning: great views, none perched however – two perched pairs stalked with caution but flushed at 2m)
55. (Blue) Hill Pigeon - Columba rupestris: Balan Shan (W, 3 pairs at wp 97), btw Rilong and Maerkang (6), sev daily at Tibetan plateau (max 100+ btw Luhuo and SerXu), btw Kanda Shan and Beizha Forest (40+), Beizha Forest (pair at forest station), btw Gongehe and Heimahe (5), Rubber Mtn pass (2), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (5), Lhasa monasteries (max 8 daily), btw Lhasa and Reting (common)
56. Snow Pigeon - C. leuconota: Balan Shan (E, kmp 92.3, wp 88, 3; W, 2 pairs at wp 97), btw Rilong and Maerkang (20+), Mengbi Shan (1 in flight, in well-wooded valley low down), Kanda Shan pass (15), btw Nanqian and Yushu (1)
57. Speckled Wood Pigeon - C. hodgsonii: btw Baiwan and Luhuo (3 in flight, RH only)
58. Spotted Dove - Streptopelia chinensis: Chengdu (sev, Renmin Park and Du Fu’s Cottage)
59. Oriental Turtle Dove - S. orientalis: btw Luhuo and Maniganggo (40+, mainly perched on roadside wires), btw airport and Lhasa (8), Drepung Monastery (10+), btw Lhasa and Chak La pass (max 101, mainly perched on roadside wires within first 40 kms E of Lhasa), Sera Monastery (3)
60. Common Cuckoo - Cuculus canorus: sev daily at Tibetan plateau (max 14 btw Luhuo and SerXu), Bei Shan (2 possible females, could have been migrant Oriental Cukoos C. orientalis though), btw Lhasa and Chak La pass (2)
61. [HO] Lesser Cuckoo - C. poliocephalus: Mengbi Shan (2 HO daily)
62. Eurasian Eagle-Owl - Bubo bubo: outskirts of SerXu (1 perched on telegraph post at dusk)
63. Little Owl - Athene noctua: btw Maniganggo and SerXu (6), btw SerXu and Qinghai border (7), Tibetan plateau in Qinghai (3 singles), Rubber Mtn pass (1), Chak La pass (2, top, mobbed by Red-faced and Streaked Rosefinch and White-winged Redstart)
64. Alpine Swift - Apus melba: Wuyipeng (ca 40 from access trail)
65. Common Swift - A. apus pekinensis: just N of Wenquan (10), btw Gongehe and Chaka (150), btw Chaka and Heimahe (20+), Bei Shan (2)
66. Fork-tailed Swift - A. pacificus: btw Balan and Mengbi Shan (200+), btw Maerkang and Luhuo (200+), btw Luhuo and SerXu (50+), btw SerXu and Nanqian (250+), Kanda Shan pass (80+), Beizha Forest (8), btw Nanqian and Yushu (4), Rubber Mtn pass (3)
67. House Swift - A. nipalensis: Chengdu (5, July 17)
68. Eurasian Hoopoe - Upupa epops: 96 seen. Includes 1 btw Balan and Mengbi Shan, Tibetan plateau (up to 8 daily), Bei Shan (2), Lhasa (sev daily, in town), btw Lhasa and Reting (16), Sera Monastery (1)
69. Grey-faced Woodpecker - Picus canus: Beizha Forest (1, flushed from steep meadow opposite forest station, RH only)
70. Black Woodpecker - Dryocopos martius: Beizha Forest (1, forest left of the hill opposite the forest station, JB and BL)
71. Three-toed Woodpecker - Picoides tridactylus funebris: Beizha Forest (prolonged close-up views of a pair, in forest left of the hill opposite the forest station, JB and BL)
72. Tibetan (Long-billed Calandra) Lark - Melanocorypha maxima maxima: Rato (1, btw road and marsh, wp 114), btw Nanqian and Beizha Forest (8, btw main road and pika colony), Er La pass (2, roadside), Heimahe marsh (common)
73. Mongolian Lark - M. mongolica emancipata: N edge of Tibetan plateau, btw Hekashannan and Gongehe (3, wp 125), marsh E of Qinghai Hu (2), Heimahe marsh (1). Seen in flight only.
74. Short-toed Lark - Calandrella brachydactyla dukhunensis: just S of Gongehe (10), Qinghai Hu (2)
75. Hume's Lark - C. acutirostris tibetana: just S of Maduo (1, roadside), Heimahe marsh stupa (8+). Identified on the basis of very grey plumage, with fine pointed bill.
76. Crested Lark - Galerida cristata magna: just S of Gongehe (6), Chaka flats (common)
77. Oriental Skylark - Alauda gulgula: Tibetan plateau (quite common: ca 5 seen daily)
78. Horned Lark - Eremophila alpestris brandti: Tibetan plateau (common: 20+ seen daily)
79. Chinese Sand Martin - Riparia diluta: Tibetan plateau (quite common: 5-10 seen daily, with 100+ in marshes south of Maduo)
80. Eurasian Crag Martin - Hirundo rupestris: btw Balan and Mengbi Shan (20), btw Maerkang and Luhuo (5+), Beizha Forest (1), btw Beizha and Yushu (4), Rubber Mtn pass (up to 5), Lhasa (Drepung, 6; Sera, 10+), Chak La pass (3, nesting)
81. Barn Swallow - H. rustica: W of Chengdu (few), btw Luhuo and Nanqian (few)
82. Red-rumped Swallow - H. daurica gephrya: W of Chengdu (common), btw Luhuo and Nanqian (10-20 daily), btw Beizha and Yushu (30+), marshes south of Maduo (4), Chengdu (10+, Renmin Park; few, Du Fu’s Cottage; singles, downtown), btw Reting and Chak La pass (3), Lhasa (Sera Monastery, 2)
83. Asian House Martin - Delichon dasypus: Wuyipeng, Balan Shan, Mengbi Shan, Maniganggo, Beizha, Yushu, Reting (quite common at all)
84. Collared Finchbill - Spizixos semitorques: roadside at Wolong (1), Sawan (2)
85. Light-vented Bulbul - Pycnonotus sinensis: roadside at Wolong (5); Chengdu (common, Renmin Park and Du Fu’s Cottage)
86. Richard's Pipit - Anthus richardi: Gongehe (3, btw road and factory, just S of town)
87. Olive-backed Pipit - A. hodgsoni: Balan Shan (near white obelisk, 1), Mengbi Shan (3, more HO), Kanda Shan gorge (2), Beizha Forest (3 daily), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (2 + 3 HO)
88. Rosy Pipit - A. roseatus: Balan Shan (common at higher elevations), Mengbi Shan (few), Huzhu Bei Shan pass (2)
89. Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava macronyx: marsh E of Qinghai Hu (male, RH only)
90. Citrine Wagtail - M. citreola calcarata: btw Luhuo and SerXu (6 males, 4 females), btw SerXu and Nanqian (1 HO), btw Beizha and Yushu (8), marsh south of Maduo (juv), marsh near Taktse (8), btw Chak La pass and Reting (male), south of Linzhou (2 males, 3 juv)
91. Black-backed Wagtail - M. (alba) alboides: Tibetan plateau incl Xizang (few daily); M. (alba) leucopsis: Chaka flats (5), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (6+)
92. Grey Wagtail - M. cinerea: Balan Shan (2 on road early morning)
93. Long-tailed Minivet - Pericrocotus ethologus: Sawan (2 females), Mengbi Shan (12+)
94. White-throated Dipper - Cinclus cinclus przewalskii: W Balan Shan (2 incl 1 brown-throat morph; the latter seperable from Brown Dipper by greyish scales on upper back), btw Maniganggo and SerXu (1), Kanda Shan gorge (juv), btw Beizha and Yushu (4), btw Yushu and Bayankala Shan (1), btw Reting and Chak La (2 wh, 1 br-throat)
95. Winter Wren - Troglodytes troglodytes szetschuanus: Mengbi Shan (10, incl sev HO), Beizha Forest (3), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (3)
96. Maroon-backed Accentor - Prunella immaculata: Mengbi Shan (prolonged views of a calling ad along Severtzov’s Trail, RH only), Beizha Forest (2 juveniles, JB and BL)
97. Rufous-breasted (-browed) Accentor - P. strophiata: Balan Shan (7, wp 102), Mengbi Shan (2), Kanda Shan pass (1), Beizha Forest (1), Rubber Mtn pass (1, valley A; juv, S of road), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (12+), Huzhu pass (6)
98. Brown Accentor - P. fulvescens: btw Maniganggo and SerXu (3 and 1), Kanda Shan pass (6), Gongehe (40+ in wadis just south of town), Rubber Mtn pass (5 on either side of road at kmp 2189), Chak La pass (10+)
99. Robin Accentor - P. rubeculoides: btw SerXu and Qinghai border (4), Er La pass (3), Rubber Mtn pass (common at kmp 2189), Chak La pass (15+)
100. Alpine Accentor - P. collaris: Balan Shan (2 at top)
101. Siberian Rubythroat - Luscinia calliope: Rubber Mtn pass (pair, alongside next species, south of road at kmp 2189.4)
102. White-tailed Rubythroat - L. pectoralis: Balan Shan (male, 2 juv, wp 102), Kanda Shan pass (20+), Rubber Mtn pass (male, south of road at kmp 2189.4)
103. Firethroat - L. pectardens: Wuyipeng (top of ascend, 1 heard calling, seen by BL)
104. Indian Blue Robin - L. brunnea: Wuyipeng (1 in scrub just before forest station)
105. Himalayan Red-flanked Bluetail – Tarsiger rufilatus: Balan Shan (1 below white obelisk), Mengbi Shan (2 pairs), Beizha Forest (2 ad, 1 juv), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (20+). Split from Siberian Bluetail T. cyanurus.
106. White-browed Bush-Robin - T. indicus: Wuyipeng (2 males, 4 HO, past forest station)
107. Ala Shan (Przevalski’s) Redstart - Phoenicurus alashanicus: Rubber Mtn pass (male, and female repeatedly visiting bush probably holding the nest, wp 126, see map)
108. Black Redstart - P. ochruros rufiventris: btw Luhuo and SerXu (10+), monastery north of SerXu (male), Kanda Shan pass (10+), btw Yushu and Gongehe (ca 10 daily), Gongehe (50+ in wadis just south of town), Rubber Mtn pass (10+), Bei Shan (common), Chak La pass (4)
109. Hodgson's Redstart - P. hodgsoni: btw Balan and Mengbi Shan (8), Maerkang (male), btw Maerkang and Luhuo (25+), Nanqian (male, at hotel), Beizha Forest (30+), btw Lhasa and Reting (3 males, 2 females), Lhasa (male, Sera Monastery)
110. Daurian Redstart - P. auroreus: Wolong Grand Hotel garden (male), Mengbi Shan (male), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (2)
111. Blue-fronted Redstart - P. frontalis: Balan and Mengbi Shan (10+ at each), btw Maniganggo and SerXu (male), Beizha Forest (5), Er La pass (male), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (male, juv), Reting (juv)
112. White-throated Redstart - P. schisticeps: Balan Shan (W, male), Mengbi Shan (10+), Beizha Forest (10+), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (20+), Reting (pair, juv)
113. White-winged (Gűldenstadt's) Redstart - P. erythrogaster: Bayankala Shan pass (10), Er La pass (2 males, female), Chak La pass (8 imm males, 2 females)
114. White-capped Redstart - Chaimarrornis leucocephalus: Balan and Mengbi Shan (3 daily), btw Maerkang and Nanqian (few daily), Kanda Shan (few), Beizha Forest ( 10+), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (4), Chak La pass (3)
115. Plumbeous Redstart - Rhyacornis fuliginosus: btw main road and Wolong (15+), Balan and Mengbi Shan (up to 5 daily), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (female, lower down)
116. White-tailed Robin - Cinclidium leucurum: Wuyipeng (1 HO, access trail, seen by JB)
117. White-bellied Redstart - Hodgsonius phoenicuroides: Balan Shan (female with juv, below white obelisk, RH only)
118. Oriental Magpie Robin - Copsychus saularis: Chengdu (Renmin Park, Du Fu’s Cottage)
119. Grandala - Grandala coelicolar: Balan Shan (male high over wp 102; female feeding at close range, top)
120. Common Stonechat - Saxicola torquata presvalskii: start of pass btw Maniganggo and SerXu (2 males, wp 107), Rubber Mtn pass (5), Chak La pass (pair)
121. Isabelline Wheatear - Oenanthe isabellina: btw Hekashannan and Gongehe (1, wp 125), Chaka flats (15+, kmp 2238), Chaka (1)
122. Pied Wheatear - O. pleschanka: Bei Shan (10 (just 1 ad male, in flight), wp 130)
123. Desert Wheatear - O. deserti atrogularis: Chaka flats (5, kmp 2238)
124. Blue Whistling-Thrush - Myophonus caeruleus: btw the main road and Wolong (3), btw Balan and Mengbi Shan (6+), Mengbi Shan (5, lower down)
125. Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush - Monticola saxatilis: Gongehe (2 juv, wadi south of town)
126. Blue Rock-Thrush - M. solitarius pandoo: btw Maerkang and Luhuo (male)
127. Plain-backed Thrush - Zoothera mollissima: Wuyipeng (prolonged views of 1 feeding on ridge trail in late afternoon)
128. Chestnut Thrush - Turdus rubrocanus gouldii: Balan Shan (3, wp 88), south of Mengbi Shan (15, in evening), Mengbi Shan (50+, at first light, lower down)
129. Common Blackbird - T. merula sowerbyi: Chengdu (4, Renmin Park; 10, Du Fu’s Cottage; 1, Sam’s Guesthouse). This race and ‘intermedius’ are sometimes referred to as Chinese Blackbird.
130. Tibetan Blackbird - T. maximus: Lhasa (ad and juv, Drepung Monastery), Chak La pass (12+, southern end). At Chak La pass, sev very distinct juv birds were seen. Split from previous species by del Hoyo et al (Birds of the world, vol. 10, 2005). The (large) male lacks an orange eye-ring.
131. Kessler's Thrush - T. kessleri: Balan Shan (1), Mengbi Shan (max 8, mainly near meadow), btw Luhuo and SerXu (50+), btw SerXu and Nanqian (7), Kanda Shan gorge (10), Beizha Forest (18+), btw Beizha and Yushu (8+), north of Yushu (2)
132. Chinese Thrush - T. mupinensis: Huzhu Bei Shan NP (1, wp 134)
133. [HO] Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler - Cettia fortipes davidiana: Sawan (2 HO), Mengbi Shan (1 HO, lower down)
134. Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler - C. acanthizoides: Wuyipeng (1, RH only)
135. Manchurian Bush-Warbler - C. canturians: Bei Shan (1-2 calling, scrub behind fake Akropolis on top, RH and BL)
136. Greenish Warbler - Phylloscopus trochiloides: Mengbi Shan, Beizha Forest, Huzhu Bei Shan NP (common at all). According to “Splits galore (…)”, the ssp. ‘trochiloides’ or ‘obscuratus’ could be involved.
137. Large-billed Leaf-Warbler - P. magnirostris: Balan Shan, Sawan (3), Mengbi Shan (quite common), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (6+ behind lake hostel; 1 HO, lower down, wp 134).
138. Buff-barred Warbler - P. pulcher: Mengbi Shan (sev), Beizha Forest (1 + 1 HO), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (common)
139. Sichuan Leaf-Warbler - P. forresti: Wuyipeng, Sawan, Mengbi Shan (sev, Severtzov’s Trail), Beizha Forest. Perhaps underrecorded.
140. Gansu Leaf-Warbler - P. kansuensis: Huzhu Bei Shan NP (ca 8, behind lake hostel, wp 132; 1, lower down, wp 134)
141. Chinese Leaf-Warbler - P. yunnanensis: Bei Shan (1 in roadside scrub, RH and BL)
142. Claudia’s Warbler - P. claudiae: Wuyipeng (2), Sawan (1), Chengdu (2-3, Du Fu’s Cottage)
143. Kloss’s Leaf-Warbler - P. ogilvigranti klossi: Wuyipeng (10+), Mengbi Shan (1)
144. Hume's Leaf-Warbler - P. humei mandelli: Mengbi Shan (1, kmp 24), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (common on trail behind lake hostel; these birds had a striking head pattern with whitish supercilium in front of the eye and furthermore fed exclusively on the trail)
145. Yellow-streaked Warbler - P. armandii: Balan Shan (1, below white obelisk), Kanda Shan gorge (1), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (2)
146. Dusky Warbler - P. fuscatus: Rubber Mtn pass (1, valley C; 4+, south of road at kmp 2189.4, wp 128)
147. Tickell's Leaf-Warbler - P. affinis: Balan Shan, Mengbi Shan, Kanda Shan, Beizha Forest (1 HO), Rubber Mtn pass, Huzhu Bei Shan NP, Lhasa (1, Drepung Monastery), Chak La pass. Quite common in low scrub at higher altitudes.
148. Buff-throated Warbler - P. subaffinis: Huzhu Bei Shan NP (2, feeding in corral behind lake hostel), Chak La pass (3, southern end, wp 138)
149. Bianchi's Warbler - Seicercus valentini: Balan Shan (5+, below white obelisk)
150. Martens’s Warbler - S. omeiensis: Wuyipeng (3+, access trail), Sawan (2+)
151. Rufous-faced Warbler - Abroscopus albogularis: Chengdu (2, Du Fu’s Cottage)
152. Goldcrest - Regulus regulus: Balan Shan (1), Mengbi Shan (common), Beizha (sev)
153. White-browed (Stoliczka's) Tit-Warbler - Leptopoecile sophiae: Kanda Shan pass (20+, JB and RH only), Reting (male, 4 females)
154. Crested Tit-Warbler - L. elegans: Mengbi Shan (3), Beizha Forest (25)
155. Asian Paradise-Flycatcher - Tersiphone paradisi: Chengdu (3, Du Fu’s Cottage)
156. Siberian Flycatcher - Muscicapa sibirica rothschildi: Mengbi Shan (1, RH only)
157. Ferruginous Flycatcher – M. ferruginea: Sawan (10+)
158. Yellow-rumped Flycatcher - Ficedula zanthopygia: Chengdu (1-2 males, Du Fu’s Cottage)
159. Slaty-backed Flycatcher - F. hodgsonii: Wuyipeng (2 males, 1 HO), Mengbi Shan (3, 20 HO), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (pair, lower down, wp 134). Has a distinct warbling song.
160. Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher - F. strophiata: Wuyipeng (1 male, ridge trail, JB and BL)
[ Rufous-bellied Niltava – Niltava sundara: Wuyipeng (1 probable, juv) ]
161. Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher - Culicicapa ceylonensis: Sawan (2)
[ Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler - Pomatorhinus ruficollis: Chengdu (Du Fu’s Cottage, 1 tailless singing ind. had us wondering about its provenance….) ]
162. Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler - P. erythrocnemis: Beizha Forest (1, streamside scrub past forest station, JB and RH)
163. Kozlov's (Tibetan) Babax - Babax koslowi: Beizha Forest (4, streamside scrub past forest station; 12, scrub at treeline)
164. Giant Babax - B. waddelli: Reting Monastery (30+, just above monastery)
165. Père David's (Plain) Laughingthrush - Garrulax davidi: Bei Shan (25+, near fake Akropolis), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (4, associating with Elliot's Laughingthrush, wp 133)
166. Prince Henry’s Laughingthrush - G. henrici: Lhasa (Drepung Monastery, common; Sera Monastery, few), Reting Monastery (few), 7 kms south of Reting (5)
167. Barred Laughingthrush - G. lunulatus: Wuyipeng (1, access trail just below powerlines, came in upon JB’s whistled imitation of its call)
168. Giant Laughingthrush - G. maximus: Balan Shan (11, below white obelisk), Mengbi Shan (6 + 12 HO), Beizha Forest (2 + 6 HO)
169. Elliott's Laughingthrush - G. elliotii: Balan Shan (5 + 30 HO, near white obelisk), Mengbi Shan (15 + commonly HO), Kanda Shan gorge (3), Beizha Forest (25+), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (5, loosely associating with Père David's Laughingthrush, wp 133)
170. White-browed Laughingthrush - G. sannio: Chengdu (Renmin Park and Du Fu’s Cottage, common at both)
[Hwamei - G. canorus: Chengdu (1, Renmin Park teahouse, had a badly damaged tail and was considered an escape]
171. Scaly-breasted Wren-Babbler - Pnoepyga albiventer: Wuyipeng (1 HO, briefly seen by BL, access trail; 1 HO, ridge trail)
172. [HO] Pygmy Wren-Babbler - P. pusilla: Wuyipeng (2 HO in late afternoon, access trail: both too deep in (bamboo) vegetation to stand any chance at seeing them)
173. Golden-breasted Fulvetta - Alcippe chrysotis swinhoii: Wuyipeng (20+ in sev small flocks)
174. Chinese Fulvetta - A. striaticollis: Beizha Forest (4, feeding in low scrub halfway hill)
175. Streak-throated Fulvetta - A. cinereiceps: Wuyipeng (10+), Mengbi Shan (2)
176. Grey-cheeked Fulvetta - A. morrisonia: Chengdu (20+, Du Fu’s Cottage)
177. Stripe-throated Yuhina - Yuhina gularis omiensis: Wuyipeng (pair, start of ridge trail)
178. White-collared Yuhina - Y. diademata: Wuyipeng (pair, start of ridge trail)
179. Vinous-throated Parrotbill - Paradoxornis webbianus: Chengdu (30+ incl young, Du Fu’s Cottage)
[Ashy-throated Parrotbill - P. alphonsianus: Chengdu (Du Fu’s Cottage, sev in a large flock of Vinous-throated Parrotbill closely resembled this species)]
180. Coal Tit - Parus ater aemodius: Wuyipeng (5)
181. White-browed Tit - P. superciliosus: Beizha Forest (1, near treeline, RH and BL), Rubber Mtn pass (6, valley B, near wp 126)
182. Songar Tit - P. songarus a.k.a. “Sichuan Willow Tit” P. montanus weigoldicus: Mengbi Shan (1), Beizha Forest (max 9 daily), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (6, near lake hostel; 2, lower part, wp 134). The ssp. ‘weigoldicus’ has been mentioned for both Willow Tit (see Frank Rheindt, www.birdtourasia.com/Birdtour%20Asia%20Sichuan%20Custom%202005.pdf - BirdtourAsia tourreport 2005) and Songar Tit P. songarus weigoldicus (WINGS 2006, see wingsbirds.com/tours/birdlist/76). The relations between the different ssp. of Willow Tit were subject to study in 2002 (see www.medscape.com/medline/abstract/12128026).
183. Yellow-bellied Tit - P. venustulus: Wuyipeng (ad, 5 juv), Sawan (2)
184. Grey-crested Tit - P. dichrous: Wuyipeng (10), Mengbi Shan (1), Beizha Forest (10+), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (1, lower part, wp 134). Not noted which ssp. was involved.
185. Rufous-vented Tit - P. rubidiventris: Sawan (1), Balan Shan (10+), Mengbi Shan (4), Beizha Forest (50+ daily), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (3, lake hostel trail)
186. Great Tit - P. major minor: btw Balan and Mengbi Shan (1 in village garden), Bei Shan (few, near top), Lhasa (sev in town; 10+, Sera Monastery), Reting Monastery (20+)
187. Green-backed Tit - P. monticolus: Wuyipeng (40+), Sawan (15+), Balan Shan (sev),
188. Ground Tit (Hume's Groundpecker) - Pseudopodoces humilis: common at Tibetan plateau (20-50 daily, mostly in family groups up to 20+; highest daycount 150+ btw Luhuo and SerXu). Fewer seen in N Qinghai, with 15 at marsh E of Qinghai Hu and 20+ at Rubber Mtn pass. In Xizang, 20+ seen at lower reaches of Chak La pass.
189. Yellow-browed Tit - Sylviparus modestus: Wuyipeng (10+)
190. Black-throated Tit - Aegithalos concinnus: Chengdu (50+, Renmin Park; 20+, Du Fu’s Cottage)
191. Chestnut-vented Nuthatch - Sitta nagaensis montium: Wuyipeng (20+), Sawan (3)
192. Wallcreeper - Tichodroma muraria: Huzhu Bei Shan NP (1 flying around before landing on one of the few exposed crags, wp 133), Chak La pass (1, southern end; 4, near top)
193. “Sino-Himalayan” Treecreeper - Certhia hodgsoni khamensis: Beizha Forest (1), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (2), Reting Monastery (5+). According to Tietze, D T, Martens, J & Sun, Y-H (Ibis Vol 48, page 477, July 2006), a good split from Eurasian Treecreeper C. familiaris.
194. Tiger Shrike - Lanius tigrinus: Chengdu (Renmin Park and Du Fu’s Cottage, 1 and 3 juv respectively, hunting large cicadas)
195. Turkestan Shrike - L. (isabellinus) phoenicuroides: roadside settlement east of Chaka (pair with 3 juv on wires bordering tall poplar stands)
196. Long-tailed Shrike - L. schach: btw Chengdu and Wolong (3), fields below Wuyipeng (1), Balan Shan (6), Mengbi Shan (3), btw Maerkang and Luhuo (10+), btw Luhuo and Maniganggo (1), marsh east of Qinghai Hu (1), Chengdu (1, Du Fu’s Cottage), btw Lhasa airport and Lhasa (1), Lhasa (1, Drepung Monastery)
197. Grey-backed Shrike - L. tephronotus: btw Maniganggo and SerXu (50+), btw SerXu and Nanqian (1), Kanda Shan pass (3), Beizha Forest (1), btw Beizha and Yushu (10+), btw Yushu and Maduo (2), Rubber Mtn pass (ad, 2 juv), Bei Shan (10), Lhasa (5+, Drepung Monastery; sev, Sera Monastery), btw Lhasa and Reting Monastery (40+)
198. Tibetan (Chinese) Grey Shrike - L. sphenocercus giganteus: btw Maniganggo and SerXu (1, bottom of pass, wp 107), Reting Monastery (1, prayer wall)
199. Sichuan Jay - Perisoreus internigrans: Mengbi Shan (pair, 500m lower than site where this species was seen in May 2006 (wp 93), RH and BL only)
200. Azure-winged Magpie - Cyanopica cyana: btw Huzhu and Huzhu Bei Shan NP (1)
201. Black-billed Magpie - Pica pica sericea: Gongehe (1), Bei Shan (2); (bottanensis) btw Baiwan and Luhuo (2), btw Luhuo and SerXu (10), Beizha Forest (sev), btw Lhasa and Reting Monastery (20+). The latter ssp. is sometimes referred to as Tibetan Magpie.
202. Eurasian Nutcracker - Nucifraga caryocatactes macella: Wuyipeng (5), Sawan (1)
203. Henderson's Ground Jay - Podoces hendersoni: Chaka flats (ca 300m south of freshwater pool at kmp 2238, ca 12 km east of Chaka)
204. Yellow-billed Chough - Pyrrhocorax graculus: Balan Shan (2)
205. Red-billed Chough - P. pyrrhocorax: Balan Shan (4), btw Luhuo and SerXu (40+), btw SerXu and Nanqian (6), Kanda Shan pass (20+), Beizha Forest (6), just north of Wenquan (10), Gongehe (6), Qinghai Hu (2), Rubber Mtn pass (1), Bei Shan (10), Huzhu pass (1), Lhasa (4 pairs, Drepung Monastery), Chak La pass (3 pairs)
206. Daurian Jackdaw - Corvus dauuricus: btw Luhuo and Maniganggo (3), btw Xiwu and Nanqian (1), just south of Nanqian (3), Beizha Forest (10 incl 2 juv, with flock of ca 260 flying west, high over valley at dusk)
207. Carrion Crow - C. corone: btw Luhuo and Maniganggo (20+), Beizha Forest (2), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (2)
208. Large-billed Crow - C. macrorhynchos: Balan Shan (3 near white obelisk), btw Balan and Mengbi Shan (20+), Mengbi Shan (5), btw Beizha and Maduo (9)
209. Raven - C. corax: btw Luhuo and SerXu (20), btw SerXu and Nanqian (8), Er La pass (3), Chak La pass (1)
210. Mrs. Gould's Sunbird - Aethopyga gouldiae: Wuyipeng (3), Balan Shan (4), Chengdu (unidentified female at Du Fu’s Cottage might have been this species)
211. Russet Sparrow - Passer rutilans: btw Maerkang and Luhuo (pair at large bridge), btw Luhuo and Maniganggo (5+), Lhasa (1, Drepung Monastery; 3, Sera Monastery), village north of Chak La pass (male in flight)
212. Tree Sparrow - P. montanus obscuratus: sev in most cities, noted on all but 6 days.
213. Rock Sparrow - Petronia petronia: ca 6 kms north of Yushu (2, wp 120), Gongehe (150+, wadis just south of town), Rubber Mtn pass (10+)
214. Blanford's (Plain-backed) Snowfinch - Pyrgilauda blanfordi: Chaka flats (3 ad, 5 juv on Aug 1; 10+ on Aug 2). Cute little snowfinch.
215. Rufous-necked Snowfinch - P. ruficollis: Tibetan plateau (up to 50 daily btw Maniganggo and Gongehe, with max of 120+ btw Maniganggo and SerXu), Rubber Mtn pass (2). Most common snowfinch encountered.
216. Père David's (Small) Snowfinch - P. davidiana: E of Qinghai Hu (2 pairs in dune-like vegetation E of the road aside Qinghai Hu’s E shore). Difficult to find, unobtrusive.
217. White-rumped Snowfinch - P. taczanowskii: Tibetan plateau (typically, ca 20 daily btw Maniganggo and Gongehe, with max of 120+ btw Maniganggo and SerXu; 60+ btw SerXu and Nanqian; just 2 north of Er La). Only slightly less common than Rufous-necked Snowfinch.
218. Tibetan (Black-winged/Adam’s) Snowfinch - Montifringilla adamsii: just N of monastery NW of SerXu (12, wp 112), btw Nanqian and Yushu (1), btw Yushu and Maduo (2), just N of Wenquan (10), Rubber Mtn pass (20+), Chak La pass (70+)
219. Henri’s Snowfinch - M. henrici: Bayankala Shan pass (35+), Er La pass (50+), Rubber Mountain pass (2). Very distinct from White-winged Snowfinch M. nivalis (of W Palearctic) with which it was previously lumped. According to Jesper Hornskov (2006), DNA studies have shown this species to be most closely related to M. adamsii.
220. Tibetan Siskin - Carduelis thibetana: Mengbi Shan (9, ca kmp 23.5)
221. Twite - C. flavirostris miniakensis: btw Maniganggo and SerXu (3), near Sichuan/Qinghai border (1), Kanda Shan pass (5), btw Nanqian and Yushu (3), Gongehe (4), marsh east of Qinghai Hu (8), Chak La pass (15+); (korejevi): Rubber Mtn pass (common either side of the road at kmp 2189.5). Ssp. ‘miniakensis’ is a light race; ‘korejevi’ light above but heavily streaked below.
222. Red Crossbill - Loxia curvirostra himalayensis: Beizha Forest (4 + male on July 26-27)
223. Plain Mountain Finch - Leucosticte nemoricola: Balan Shan (15+), Kanda Shan pass (20+), Er La pass (6), Chak La pass (4). All were seen near the top of the passes.
224. Brandt's Mountain Finch - L. brandti: marsh about 55 km W of Luhuo (13), Kanda Shan pass (2), btw Nanqian and Yushu (2), Bayankala Shan pass (16), Er La pass (5), Chak La pass (4, near top)
225. Desert Finch - Rhodospiza obsoleta: Chaka flats (11 feeding on roadside thistles, BL)
226. Mongolian Trumpeter Finch - Bucanetes mongolicus: Gongehe (5+ at roadside pool just south of town, with a pair at wadi W of the road and sev in flight only)
227. Common Rosefinch - Carpodacus erythrinus roseatus: Wolong Panda breeding centre (1 HO), Balan Shan (8 + 20 HO), Mengbi Shan (quite common), Beizha Forest (quite common), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (4 + 2 HO). Males seen in cages in Xining and Lhasa.
228. Dark-breasted Rosefinch - C. nipalensis intensicolor: Balan Shan (2-3, wp 88)
229. (Chinese) Beautiful Rosefinch - C. davidianus: Balan Shan (male, below white obelisk), Mengbi Shan (2 males, 1 female), Kanda Shan pass (6), Rubber Mtn pass (10+ north of road; 15+ south of road at kmp 2189.5), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (8), Reting (male). Split from Himalayan Beautiful C. pulcherrimus by Pamela Rasmussen.
230. Pink-rumped Rosefinch - C. eos: Balan Shan (20+, W side), Mengbi Shan (20+), Beizha Forest (10), Chak La pass (6), Reting Monastery (10)
231. Vinaceous Rosefinch - C. vinaceus: Balan Shan (2 males, below white obelisk)
232. Pale Rosefinch - C. synoicus: Bei Shan (1 male, wp 130, RH and BL)
233. Three-banded Rosefinch - C. trifasciatus: Mengbi Shan (male, 2 females, wp 95)
234. (Chinese) White-browed Rosefinch - C. dubius: Balan Shan (male + sev HO, wp 88), Mengbi Shan (common), Beizha Forest (common), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (20+, wp 133). Unmistakable call: it sounds like a goat. Split from Himalayan White-browed Rosefinch C. thura by Pamela Rasmussen.
235. Streaked (Eastern Great) Rosefinch - C. rubicilloides: Rubber Mtn pass (max 1 male and 5 females, N of road near wp 128), Chak La pass (2 males, wp 139), Reting Monastery (2 males and female on Aug 10, 1 HO Aug 11)
236. Red-fronted (-faced/-breasted) Rosefinch - C. puniceus: Balan Shan (W, pair, ca 500m past top); Chak La pass (pair mobbing Little Owl and near nest in wall underneath road, wp 139). From the literature the ssp. involved were not very clear, but the ones at Chak La pass appeared larger and heavier-billed (longirostris?) than the Balan Shan ones.
237. Roborovski's (Tibetan) Rosefinch - C. roborowskii: Bayankala Shan pass (2 possible females), Er La pass (10, incl pair at a probable nest)
238. Grey-headed Bullfinch - Pyrrhula erythaca: Mengbi Shan (2 + 3 HO), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (10+, trail behind lake hostel)
239. Yellow-billed Grosbeak - Eophona migratoria: Chengdu (3 + 2, Du Fu’s Cottage)
240. White-winged Grosbeak - Mycerobas carnipes: Mengbi Shan (10+), Beizha Forest (2), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (female), Chak La pass (1, southern side, wp 138), Reting (30+)
241. Pink-tailed Bunting - Urocynchramus pylzowi: Rubber Mtn pass (kmp 2189.5: male, 2 females, 2 juv north of the road, valley A; male, 2 females south of the road). An alternate name for this species is Przevalski’s Rosefinch, but the bird clearly is an aberrant (long-tailed) bunting rather than a rosefinch, with which it only shares its ground-colour.
242. Slaty Bunting - Latoucheornis siemsseni: Wolong (male, 2 females, Sawan hillside)
243. [HO] Black-faced Bunting - Emberiza spodocephala: btw Maniganggro and SerXu (1 HO, wp 108, western Sichuan)
244. Godlewski's Bunting - E. godlewskii: btw Rilong and Mengbi Shan (1), btw Maniganggo and SerXu (1), Kanda Shan pass (2), Beizha Forest (12+), Gongehe (male), Bei Shan (4), Chak La pass (male), Reting (2 males), 7 kms south of Reting (3)
245. Meadow Bunting - E. cioides: Bei Shan north of Xining (2 pairs)
List of recorded mammals:
1. Tibetan (Milne-Edwards’) Macaque - Macaca thibetana: Mengbi Shan (2)
2. Black-lipped Pika - Ochotona curzoniae: Tibetan plateau. Confined to colonies on high-altitude plateau but at these very common, most recorded btw Maniganggo and SerXu (1,000+), btw SerXu and Nanqian (800+, most in Sichuan), btw Yushu and Maduo (400+). Absent from Beizha Forest, though common at colony btw main road and Beizha Forest (see Wagner 2005).
3. “different pika” (Chinese Red Pika O. erythrotis, Moupin Pika O. thibetana or Thomas' Pika O. thomasi): btw Maniganggo and SerXu (2)
4. Woolly Hare - Lepus oiostolus: hares presumed this species were recorded at Mengbi Shan (2), btw SerXu and Nanqian (2), btw Kanda Shan pass and Beizha Forest (2), btw Bayankala Shan pass and Maduo (2), Chak La pass (1)
5. “small striped squirrel”: Mengbi Shan (1)
6. Himalayan Marmot - Marmota himalayana: Balan Shan (2 HO), btw Maniganggo and SerXu (few; a stop at two near wp 109 resulted in finding this trip’s first Ibisbill), hill north of Rato marsh (12+), Kanda Shan pass (20), Beizha Forest (few daily), btw Yushu and Gongehe (up to 6 daily)
7. Alashan Souslik - Spermophilus alashanicus: Bei Shan (2, presumably this species)
8. “rat species”: btw Linzhou and Lhasa (1, in flat agricultural land)
9. “mouse species”: Balan Shan (1, grey), Er La pass (4), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (1, dark brown with large ears)
10. Wolf - Canis lupus: btw Maniganggo and SerXu (1, crossing the road in early evening, seen for ca 10 mins at distance of ca 50m, wp 110), Kanda Shan pass (3, BL only)
11. Tibetan Fox - Vulpes ferrilata: btw Maniganggo and SerXu (5, early evening, 2 at wp 110), Kanda Shan pass (1), btw Bayankala Shan pass and Maduo (1), btw Maduo and kmp 465 north of town (2)
12. Asiatic Wild Ass (Kiang) - Equus hemionus: ca 1 km north of Yeniugou (herd of 126, wp 122), between kmp 465 and 430, highway 217 north of Maduo (1 and 2)
13. Tibetan Gazelle - Procapra picticaudata: btw SerXu and Nanqian (8), btw Bayankala Shan pass and Maduo (19), btw Maduo and Wenquan (108)
14. Blue Sheep/ Bharal - Pseudois nayaur: Er La pass (herds of 9, 13 and 2, southern side of flat-topped mountain, July 31 only)
15. Ghoral – Nemorhaedus goral: Balan Shan (1, below white obelisk)
*Mesopodagrion tibetanum: Wolong (copula in scrub at the very bottom of Sawan hillside, behind Wolong Grand Hotel)
Lestes sponsa ?: marsh east of Qinghai Hu (sev)
Common Blue Damselfly - Enallagma cyathigerum - Watersnuffel: marsh east of Qinghai Hu (common)
“unknown blue damselfly”: Linzhou (Xizang, sev around roadside ponds south of town)
*Aeshna juncea ?: marsh east of Qinghai Hu (sev, incl a copula)
*Aeshna mixta ?: Gongehe (female-type aeshna with brown ground-colour)
Pseudothemis zonata: Chengdu (few, Renmin Park and Du Fu’s Cottage)
Anax parthenope ?: Linzhou (Xizang, 2 over roadside ponds south of town)
*Gynacantha sp.: Chengdu (1, Du Fu’s Cottage, hunting from shady cover)
*Orthetrum brunneum ?: Gongehe (sev)
*Globe Skimmer – Pantala flavescens - Wereldzwerver: Chengdu (common, Renmin Park and Du Fu’s Cottage)
Crocothemis servilia - Vuurlibel: Chengdu (sev, Du Fu’s Cottage)
Trithemis aurora - Purperlibel: Chengdu (1, Du Fu’s Cottage)
Black Darter – Sympetrum danae – Zwarte Heidelibel: S of Qinghai Hu (sev, in small pools)
*Sympetrum eroticum ardens: Chengdu (sev, Du Fu’s Cottage)
*Red-veined Darter - Sympetrum fonscolombii - Zwervende Heidelibel: Lhasa (1 male, Drepung)
*Sympetrum spec.: Chengdu (1 female, Du Fu’s Cottage), Linzhou (Xizang, sev in roadside ponds south of town). Females did not show the black outer wings, nor did they show upturned whitish tail ends (both features are shown by female S. eroticum ardens).
Sympetrum spec.2: Chaka flats (sev)
* see the Asian Dragonfly website (www.asia-dragonfly.net/globalQuery.php) for photographs posted by JB
Butterflies: Parnassius apollo (or a lookalike) was seen on the high-altitude passes of Balan Shan and Bayankala Shan. Unidentified fritillaries Boloria / Melitaea were found on some mid-altitude sites, like Balan Shan and Beizha Forest (sev species were particularly common along the stream at Beizha). Colias, small blues, Erebia and Hesperiidae were seen in various places. One unidentified butterfly was seen repeatedly at the highest parts visited, at over 4,700m on Bayankala Shan and Er La passes.
In addition, a large stick insect Phasmidae was found on the forest station of Wuyipeng.
Ghost orchid - Epipogium aphyllum – Spookorchis: Wuyipeng (1, flowering on the access trail, about two-thirds up)
Musk orchid - Herminium monorchis – Honingorchis: Beizha Forest (common along stream), Huzhu Bei Shan NP (common along stream, trail behind lake hostel)
Early-purple orchid - Orchis mascula - Mannetjesorchis: Balan Shan (sev, kmp 94, wp 88)
Frog orchid - Coeloglossum viride - Groene Nachtorchis: Balan Shan (sev, kmp 92.3, wp 87)
“Yellow orchid”: Kanda Shan pass (sev, above scrub covering the slopes, BL only)
In addition, the famous Edelweiss Leontopodium alpinum was found to be quite common at the higher areas of Balan Shan pass.
Remco Hofland, Oegstgeest, The Netherlands, email@example.com