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A Report from

Sichuan Province, China. June 1 - 30, 2001,


By Ron Hoff, Clinton, Tennessee   USA

My wife, Dollyann Myers, and I joined our friends Frank Bills and his wife, Sharon Bostick, for a 4 week birding trip to the province of Sichuan in the central southern part of the People's Republic of China. We arranged the tour through the China Golden Bridge Travel Sichuan Company. Our contact there was Luo Kaiyue (, who goes by the English name of Joshua. Joshua is the person who arranges all the logistics for the Birdquest tours to China, so he is very familiar with the proper locations to go to and which hotels to use, etc. We found him to be very competent, friendly, and always willing to answer our myriad of questions about Chinese culture or history.  Joshua is NOT a birder, as he tells us, so he can't help much with identification, but he is familiar with many of the species we encountered, and for sure knows where to look for them. Since our trip was in June, we missed the brunt of the spring migration and the territorial singing was less than what it might have been had we gone in May. This made the birding more difficult, but we feel we still managed to find a lot of what we were seeking. We should have made a tape of one of the local small owls so we could have used it to help entice some birds into the open, but failed to do so. I'll go through our tour with a day by day description of where we went birding, do the species list after that, and finish up with some of my thoughts and recommendations.

June 1 - We flew round-trip from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Chicago, and then direct from Chicago to Beijing for $1707 ($853 each). We spent the night in Beijing at the Qianmen Hotel.

June 2 - We left Beijing at 0730 and flew to Chengdu (by way of Xi'an), arriving around noon. The flight was on China Air and cost us $786 ($393 each). We checked in at the Grand Lhasa Hotel, then went for lunch, and then Joshua took us to the Chengdu Panda Breeding Center for some afternoon birding. It was a pretty good place to bird, with lots of trees. The center covers a fairly large area and hosts quite a few birds. I managed to glimpse Chinese Bamboo Partridge, and we also saw several other species here that we did not see elsewhere on the tour. This is a great place to start a tour.

June 3 - Our friends were not arriving in Chengdu until about noon, so Joshua took us to a place called Du Fu's Thatched Cottage. Du Fu was a much-revered poet in China's past and this park is where he lived. It has some nice trees and habitat to harbor some birds. We spent the morning there, but it was a Sunday and there were quite a lot of people after 0800 or so. We saw some birds here, including Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (not seen the rest of the trip), but it would have been better had it been a weekday with fewer people. After our friends arrived, we got in the van and drove to Wolong Panda Reserve, where we were to stay for the next 6 nights. We birded some along the way, and managed to find a Little Forktail. Night at the Wolong Mountain Villa Hotel.

June 4 - Today we walked up the hill behind the hotel. It was a very steep trail, and at over 6,000 feet, we had to stop often. We managed to find several of the target birds, but the day was sunny so the birds quit singing by about 10 a.m. We continued farther up the trail, hoping to find a Golden Pheasant. We were on a single-file trail and as luck would have it, I was first. As we came around a bend in the trail, there stood a stunning male less than 10 feet away. I instantly froze, hoping the bird wouldn't move off, but he had seen me and walked off into the brush, never to be seen again. We looked for another 2 hours, but never saw another one. We could have gone farther up another nearby valley to try to find some other species, but we didn't have enough water with us, so we went back to the hotel around 3 p.m. Overnight at Wolong Mountain Villa Hotel.

June 5 - Today we drove up the mountain to the area known as Beimuping. We heard Wood Snipes displaying overhead in the pre-dawn. We never could see one, so when it got light, we started to hike up the side of the mountain to try to flush one from around some of the small shrubs that were growing there. We hiked all over the side of the hill (at 12,000 feet, no less), but never managed to find one. Up on top of the ridge we were on, we did manage to scope a distant Tibetan Snowcock. We also found Rosy Pipits. After we came down, we drove on up to the Balang Shan pass at about 15,000 feet. It was cold and snowing lightly. We could tolerate both of those, but then fog rolled in and pretty much killed birding. Before the fog came in, we found 2 more Snowcocks, this time only about 75 yards away. We also got great looks at Alpine Accentors and Grandalas, but missed Snow Pigeon and Snow Partridge. Overnight at Wolong Mountain Villa Hotel.

June 6 - We left right after breakfast to hike up a steep trail to a research station called Wuyipeng. The trail was somewhat muddy, but passable. We took our time going up and ran into a couple of feeding flocks, one of which included Golden-breasted Fulvettas. We were hoping to find Firethroats, but never saw any. Once on top, the trail leveled out that last mile or so to the research center. After checking into our rooms, we hiked several trails to try to find any of the 3 species of pheasants (Blood, Koklass, and Temminck's Tragopan) that were supposed to be in the area. We turned up some other species, but were never able to find any of the pheasants. Our room was simple and we had a good source of heat, but the bedding was not very clean. Joshua had warned us about this and at his suggestion, we brought sleeping bags with us. The cook did a good job feeding us. We got our water out of a hose that came from a spring and we never experienced any discomfort from it.

June 7 - We got up early to look for some pheasants. While I had gone to one side of the clearing that was in front of the center, the other 3 saw a pair of tragopans walk across it. We then walked out one of the trails in the direction the tragopans had gone. We weren't very far from the center, when we heard what we thought was a pheasant. We stopped for a few minutes and then I caught sight of one walking through some tall grass and shrubs. We waited for a minute and then a gorgeous male Temminck's Tragopan walked out onto the path not more than 25 yards in front of us. We got a great look as it wandered off. Frank was looking for birds around the center while we waited for lunch and managed to see a Chestnut-headed Tesia. Nobody else ever saw it. We later hiked up a trail that went up the mountain behind the research center. The habitat looked fantastic, like something out of "The Hobbit", but birds were hard to come by. This was supposed to be an area where we might run across the Koklass Pheasant, but we didn't find any. We did find one of only 2 Darjeeling Woodpeckers found on the trip. Another find was White-browed Fulvetta. We started our hike back down the mountain around 3 p.m. Overnight at Wolong Mountain Villa Hotel.

June 8 - We went back up to the Beimuping area, as it is a very reliable place to see White Eared Pheasant. We got there early enough and we even heard the pheasants, seemingly only a couple of hundred yards away, but we were totally fogged in and couldn't see but 20 yards or so. The fog only lifted for a few brief periods during the whole day and we never saw the pheasants. In spite of this, we still managed to add 10 new trip species for the day by just walking up and down the side of the road, including a great look at Lammergeier. We tried to drive on up to the pass at Balang Shan, but the fog got even worse, so we turned around. Overnight at Wolong Mountain Villa Hotel.

June 9 - This was a long day. We drove nearly 500 km up onto the Tibetan plateau to a town called Hongyuan. We birded along the way and added about 20 species for the day (one of our best days as far as adding species goes), including Chinese Grey Shrike. The roads up on the plateau were pretty rough and we didn't get to our hotel until 9:30 p.m. Overnight at Hongyuan Hotel.

June 10 - Today we drove to the town of Ruoergai, birding some along the way. We found one wet area that produced Ferruginous Pochard, Great Egret, Gray Heron, and Common Moorhen. Along the way we found our first Black-necked Cranes, Tibetan Larks, Oriental Skylarks, Black Redstarts, and Tibetan Ground Jays. We also saw lots of Citrine Wagtails along the road. This was the only day we saw White-browed Tit, Little Owl, and Rock Sparrow. Overnight at a new hotel in Ruoergai. Nice rooms, but no heat to speak of and the coldest tile floors I've ever encountered.

June 11 - We spent the day birding the Zeer plain and a large marshy area called Daba Lake, which we hoped would produce Black Stork and Bar-headed Goose. We missed both of those, but did manage to find some other goodies as Red-crested Pochard, Greylag Goose, Saker Falcon, more Black-necked Cranes, and Eurasian Coot. We experienced rain most of the morning, but it finally quit around noon. The roads in this area are in pretty poor shape and the rain made them even more treacherous. Overnight at the same hotel in Ruoergai.

June 12 - This day was mostly a travelling day, and it was a good thing. It was one of the worst roads I've ever been on. We did manage to find Chinese Bush Warbler, Brown Dipper, and Twite. We stopped for lunch along the side of the road. There was a small valley nearby that Joshua said Siberian Rubythroats had been seen in before, so after lunch we decided to hike a few km up the valley to see what we could find. We got about 1.5 km up the valley when a cold squall descended upon us and the wind blew fiercely, even blowing snow sideways! Not knowing what we were in for, we stopped birding and got back to the van as quickly as we could. Birding was just not meant to be today. Overnight at a town called Chuanzusi.

June 13 - Our ultimate destination today was Jiuzhaigou Park. On the way there, we stopped at a roadmenders building to look for Blue-eared Pheasant and Sichuan Jay. It was a fairly short hike up the hill to where the birds were supposed to be. We picked up Goldcrest and White-winged Grosbeak, but couldn't find the Jays. We had split up from our friends, trying to cover more ground. I flushed what I'm almost sure was a female Blue Eared Pheasant, but she ran away quickly before I could see any field marks. We tried to look for her for another 2 hours, but were never able to re-find her. While we were doing this, our friends had stayed in an open glade area and eventually saw 4 Jays. We never saw them. We then went back the way we had driven to the roadmenders place to a nearby valley, to look for Rubythroats. We didn't find any, but on the way out we found a Lesser Kestrel soaring and hunting over an open grassy area. We got to Jiuzhaigou and took a park bus to our hotel. We birded a bit in front of the hotel and added Hodgson's and White-bellied Redstarts. Overnight at Zechawa Hotel, inside the park.

June 14 - We wanted to start early, but the park buses (the only mode of transportation inside the park) didn't start until about 0830. Instead we decided to start walking towards Pearl Shoal waterfalls. We eventually got to the waterfalls before the buses ran. We went behind the waterfall and hiked up a trail into a valley. This was supposed to be the place to find Rufous-headed Robin. We looked but never came across the robin. We did, however, find a pair of Slaty Buntings building a nest in front of the first man-made dam. The nest site was in some low (4 feet high) shrubs under a large tree. We also found a Eurasian Treecreeper and some of the group saw Sooty Tits. White-throated Dippers had been reported at the waterfall, but we didn't find one. An evening walk along Mirror Lake didn't produce any new species, except a family of Eurasian Nuthatches. Overnight at Zechawa Hotel.

June 15 - We wanted to try again for the Rufous-headed Robin, so Joshua told us about an alternate site that had been used in the past. It was about 5 km above our hotel. We started walking on the road until a bus came by and picked us up. We hiked about 3-4 km up another valley, but never found the robin. We did pick up Chinese thrush and Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher. From here we caught a bus up to the top at Long Lake. Rain stumped us for while, but during a brief pause in the rain we saw Vinaceous and Three-banded Rosefinches and Dark-sided Flycatcher. We added Plain-backed Thrush later down near the hotel. We then went back to Pearl Shoal waterfall about 5 p.m., where we finally found the White-throated Dipper. Overnight at Zechawa Hotel.

June 16 - We made our third attempt to find the Rufous-headed Robin today by getting up early and walking to the valley behind Pearl Shoal waterfall. It took us an hour to get from our hotel to the second man-made dam. We searched all morning but were never able to turn up the robin. The habitat in this valley looks great, with lots of trees and a stream for water, but with the exception of the ever-present Phylloscopus warblers, there were very few birds seen. We did not re-find the Slaty Buntings we saw the first time here. We did manage to find a Eurasian Jay. We went back to the hotel and had an early lunch. Then we headed for Long Lake. Contrary to our first visit, this time it was warm and sunny. The birding was nearly dead. We barely managed to find a Chinese Fulvetta. Around 3 p.m. there was a brief rain shower. We were getting ready to catch the bus back to the hotel, when we found a couple of Maroon-backed Accentors on the ground near the parking lot. The rest of the day was uneventful. Overnight at Zechawa Hotel.

June 17 - This was basically a driving day so not much birding. Not far from the entrance to Jiuzhaigou, we stopped along the road and hiked up a hillside to try for Moustached Laughingthrush. We didn't find the laughingthrush, but did see a Spectacled Parrotbill and I caught a very brief glimpse of a Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler. Later we stopped at another Panda reserve called Batyang. We walked about 3 km up into yet another valley. Here we were able to find Eurasian Kestrel, a great look at Godlewski's Bunting, a pair of Golden Eagles, and some great looks at a small flock of Speckled Wood-Pigeons. Overnight in a town called Maoxian.

June 18 - Final travel day back to Chengdu for Frank and Sharon. We left early to make sure our friends got back in time to get to the airport, as they we flying back today. We encountered a traffic accident that delayed us some 80 minutes. While we were waiting we managed to find a Collared Finchbill on the side of a hill. We got back early enough that we were able to go to a park near Chengdu that had a Chinese Pond Heron rookery. For supper we asked to go to McDonald's and had our first hamburger in 2 weeks. Overnight at Grand Lhasa Hotel.

June 19 - Drove to Emei Shan Park. We were allowed to drive on up to the highest car park. On the way up, we stopped at about km 27 and had lunch. There are some trails behind the restaurant and we birded there for a couple of hours. We found Emei Leaf Warbler, Red-billed Leiothrix, and Hill Blue Flycatcher. We had to park the car and walk the last 1.5 km to a cable car station. On the way we saw a Lesser Cuckoo. Just below the station we saw a Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler. We went up to the Golden Summit and found that the whole top of the mountain was fogged in. There was wind, rain, and fog so the birding was almost impossible. We kept trying to go out and see if we could turn up anything new, but the weather wouldn't let up. While walking back to the hotel, we found a very tame female Dark-rumped Rosefinch along the walkway. Overnight at Golden Summit Hotel.

June 20 - The weather was bad the whole day, with dense fog, rain, and some wind. Rarely was there ever a time when we could see more than 50 feet. In spite of the lousy weather, we managed to find a female Golden Bush Robin and a Black-faced Laughingthrush at the rubbish tip. We also managed to find Buff-barred Warbler later on. Overnight at the Golden Summit Hotel.

June 21 - We woke up to clear skies, so we decided to spend an extra day at the summit, hoping to find some of the species that were supposed to be there. It did turn out to be a nice day, but we only added a couple of new species. We did get great looks at male Golden Bush Robins. The new species we added were Brown Parrotbill and Rufous-capped Bush-Warbler. We paid another visit to the smelly rubbish tip, but were unable to add any more species. In the afternoon, we birded all the way down the trail to the cable car station, but birds were very scarce. Overnight at Golden Summit Hotel.

June 22 - We left the summit after breakfast and took the cable car back down to the parking lot, where we started hiking down the trail to the Xixiang Monastery. The habitat looked pretty good, but the birds were few and far between. Right before we got to the monastery, we found a feeding flock and added female Fujian Niltava, Gray-faced Liocichla, and Chestnut-crowned Warbler. At the monastery, we found flocks of Speckled Wood-Pigeons and Wedge-tailed Pigeons. There is a small trail that hugs the side of the mountain and we walked out it to try to find Lady Amherst's Pheasant. They have been found in the past along this trail. Try as we might, we did not see any and didn't hear any either. Overnight at a small guesthouse just outside the monastery.

June 23 - We tried once more to find the Lady Amherst's Pheasants on the small trail. We got up at first light and sat motionless for about 90 minutes in the area near a small pavillion, but no luck. On the way back the trail to the monastery, we briefly saw a Red-headed Trogon. We then hiked down a steep and long trail to the next monastery at Xian Feng. We added Plain Flowerpecker, Yellow-browed Tit, and Pygmy Wren-Babbler. We checked in at the monastery and then went back out and did some birding. We eventually came across a feeding flock and got a great look at a Bar-winged Wren-Babbler that hopped out onto the trail right in front of us, and a Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler. Overnight at Xian Feng monastery.

June 24 - Thankfully this was the final day of descending the mountain. The trail was long, steep, and seemingly relentless. It was raining when we woke up, so we didn't leave the monastery until after 7:30 a.m. In spite of the weather we managed to add Sulphur-breasted Warbler, Spotted Forktail, Dusky Fulvetta, Black-chinned Yuhina, and Spangled Drongo. Overnight at Emei Shan Grand Hotel.

June 25 - Today we drove to Wawushan by way of going back into the Emei Shan Park, instead of taking the main highway. We tried to bird some along the way, but were only able to turn up 1 new species, a Slaty-backed Forktail. When we got to Wawushan, we checked into the hotel. After a brief rest, we drove into the park and went towards the waterfall area. Here again, the habitat looked great, but the birds were hard to come by. We did happen upon a juvenile White-crowned Forktail. Walking back down the road, we ran into a small flock of Ashy-throated Parrotbills and found an adult White-crowned Forktail along the roadside stream. Overnight at Wawushan Grand Hotel.

June 26 - We drove up to the top of Wawushan park and took the cable car up to the top of the mountain. It was raining and there was some fog when we got there. The birds were pretty active for a while near the cable car station. We started walking the trail and after about an hour the rain let up. We eventually came to the junction of the Lan Xi and Village trails. About 10 minutes past this signpost, we came across a family group of Grey-hooded Parrotbills. They were pretty tame and responded well to light pishing. We walked out to a remote hotel and temple area. Past that on one of the trails, we flushed what was probably a Severtzov's Grouse, but it flushed so fast that we never got a good look at it. On the way back to the cable car station by way of another trail we managed to find several Fulvous Parrotbills and a single Three-toed Parrotbill. Dense fog and rain returned about 3 p.m., thus ending our birding for the day. That night at supper at a local restaurant, Joshua found out that the lady who owned the restaurant had 2 Temminck's Tragopans in a cage on the roof. Why she had them in the first place is anybody's guess. We went up to have a look and sure enough there were two gorgeous males in a small pen. After talking to Joshua, we decided to buy them and take them to the mountains the next day and set them loose. Her story was that she bought them from some local people who said they raised them. It's illegal for anybody to keep these birds, and she was visibly nervous about foreigners buying them, fearing we were some kind of conservation officers. We said we would come back in the morning and get them. Overnight at the Wawushan Grand Hotel.

June 27 - We went back to the restaurant and the lady balked about selling the tragopans to us. Joshua talked to her for quite a while and eventually she agreed to sell them to us only if she could go with us to watch us set them loose. That's what we did. We drove higher up into the mountains at the parking lot near the waterfall area and set them both loose. I'll never be sure if we did the right thing or not, but at least 2 male tragopans have a new lease on life and are not on somebody's dinner table. On the other hand, we may have encouraged her to buy more to sell to other people. Who knows? The rest of the day was spent driving back to Chengdu. Overnight at the Grand Lhasa Hotel.

June 28 - Our flight didn't leave until 4:30 p.m., so we arranged to go back to the panda breeding center for a morning of birding. We tried the same patch of bamboo to find the Chinese bamboo Partridge, but didn't succeed. We also saw a couple of new birds, saw them fairly well, but were still unable to identify them. It was very frustrating. We did manage to add Long-tailed Shrike, Forest Wagtail, and Plain Prinia. Later we went to a bamboo park, but didn't add any new species. Flew back to Beijing. Overnight at Qianmen Hotel.

June 29 - Sightseeing day only. We went to the Great Wall first. While on the wall, we saw some Azure-winged Magpies for only the second sighting for the trip. We also saw a small bird that was flitting about in some scrub bushes but were never able to identify it. We ate lunch and then went to the Summer palace, but didn't record any other birds to speak of. Overnight at Qianmen Hotel.

June 30 - Our flight didn't leave until early afternoon, so we used the morning to take a taxi and go to the Forbidden City, across the street form Tiannamen Square. The Forbidden City was worth going to.

Species list for Sichuan Province, June 2-28, 2001

The numbers after the species are the dates in June the sighting was made, along with any comments. I've tried to mark the endemic birds with an (E). The taxonomic order is from our computer checklist, which follows Clements checklist of the birds of the world. H = heard only.

Great Egret-Casmerodius albus. 10. Only sighting was at a wet area up on the Tibetan plateau, between Hongyuan and Ruoergai.
Gray Heron-Ardea cinerea. 10. Found in the same wet area as the Great Egret.
Intermediate Egret-Egretta intermedia. 18. Only sighting was at a park near Chengdu.
Chinese Pond-Heron-Ardeola bacchus. 9, 18, 19. Mostly seen at a rookery in a park near Chengdu.
Cattle Egret-Bubulcus ibis. 10. Same wet area where the Great Egret was found.
Black-crowned Night-Heron-Nycticorax nycticorax. 2, 18. Both at Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu.
Greylag Goose-Asnser anser. 11. Few birds at Daba Lake.
Ruddy Shelduck-Tadorna ferrugina. 9, 10, 11, 12. Many of these beauties on the Tibetan plateau.
Mallard-Anas platyrhynchos. 10, 11. Same wet area as for Great Egret and then the next day at Daba Lake.
Red-crested Pochard-Netta rufina. 11. Couple of birds seen at a distance at Daba Lake.
Ferruginous Pochard-Aythya nyroca. 10, 11. A few scattered birds found on the plateau.
Oriental Honey-buzzard-Pernis ptilorhyncus. 6. One bird found soaring on the way down from Wuyipeng.
Black-eared Kite-Milvus lineatus. 9, 10, 11, 12. Fairly common on the plateau.
Lammergeier-Gypaetus barbatus. 8. Great view from above at Beimuping. Also saw juvenile later.
Himalayan Griffon-Gyps himalayensis. 5, 8, 10, 11, 12. Fairly common at Beimuping and on the plateau.
Cinereous Vulture-Aegypius monachus. 8. Only sighting at Beimuping.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk-Accipiter nisus. 4. Seen soaring above the hill behind the hotel.
Eurasian Buzzard-Buteo buteo. 5, 8, 16.
Upland Buzzard-Buteo hemilasius. 9, 10, 12. Several seen in the plateau area.
Golden Eagle-Aquila chrysaetos. 11, 17. One at Daba Lake and a pair seen at Batyang panda reserve.
Lesser Kestrel-Falco naumanni. 13. Great look at one soaring in an open area before the roadmenders hut where the Blue Eared Pheasants were supposed to be.
Eurasian Kestrel-Falco tinnunculus. 17. Lone female seen at Batyang panda reserve.
Saker Falcon-Falco cherrug. 11. Two individuals seen in the Daba Lake area.
Tibetan Snowcock-Tetraogallus tibetanus. 5. One seen at a distance at Beimuping and a pair seen very close at Balang Shan pass.
(E) Chinese Bamboo Partridge-Bambusicola thoracica. 2. Pair seen briefly at Chengdu panda breeding center.
Temminck's Tragopan-Tragopan temminckii. 7. One male seen very well on the trail near the research center at Wuyipeng around 7 a.m. Others in the group saw a pair walk by at the edge of the clearing in front of the center around 6:30 a.m.
Common Pheasant-Phasianus colchicus. 9, 10, 15, 29. Easy to find on the plateau. Seen at Great Wall also.
(E) Golden Pheasant-Chrysolophus pictus. 4. One beautiful male found on the trail behind the hotel. Unfortunately for the rest of the group, I was the only one to get a look at it.
Black-necked Crane-Grus nigricollis. 10, 11. Easily seen on the plateau and at Daba Lake.
Common Moorhen-Gallinula chloropus. 10. Wet area where the Great Egret was seen.
Eurasian Coot-Fulica atra. 11. Daba Lake.
Common Redshank-Tringa totanus. 9, 10, 11, 12. Common breeder on the plateau.
Brown-headed Gull-Larus brunnicephalus. 10, 11, 12. Scattered sightings of individuals up on the plateau.
Common Tern-Sterna hirundo. 10, 11. Wet areas on the Zeer plains.
Whiskered tern-Chlidonias hybridus. 10, 11. Same as Common Tern.
White-winged Tern-Chlidonias leucopterus. 10. A few individuals on the way to Ruoergai.
Rock Dove-Columba livia. 2, 10.
Speckled Wood-Pigeon-Columba hodgsonii. 17, 21, 22, 23. Great looks at Batyang reserve and Xixiang monastery.
Oriental Turtle-Dove-Streptopelia orientalis. 17. Single sighting just outside Jiuzhaigou.
Spotted Dove-Streptopelia chinensis. 3, 12. Du Fu's cottage and Chuanzusi.
Wedge-tailed Pigeon-Treron sphenura. 22. Flock of 30 or so at Xixiang monastery.
Large Hawk-Cuckoo-Cuculus sparveroides. 2H, 6, 22H, 23, 24H, 25H, 26H, 28. Heard almost everywhere. Seen several times, including Chengdu panda breeding center.
Oriental Cuckoo-Cuculus saturatus. 9, 10, 12H.
Lesser Cuckoo-Cuculus poliocephalus. 19, 21, 22H, 23, 24H. Common in the Emei Shan area.
Little owl-Athene noctua. 10. 4 individuals seen on way to Ruoergai. Look for them on building corners.
Himalayan Swiftlet-Aerodramus brevirostris. 4, 21, 23.
Common Swift-Apus apus. 2, 28, 29. Seen easily around Beijing.
Fork-tailed Swift-Apus pacificus. 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 22. Common.
Red-headed Trogon-Harpactes erythrocephalus. 23. Very brief sighting near Xixiang monastery.
Common Kingfisher-Alcedo atthis. 3. Only sighting at Du Fu's thatched cottage.
Darjeeling Woodpecker-Dendrocopus darjellensis. 7, 26. Only 1 bird seen each day. Beautiful bird!
Crimson-breasted Woodpecker-Dendrocopus cathpharius. 6, 7, 23, 24. Pair feeding young at Wuyipeng research center.
Great Spotted Woodpecker-Dendrocopus major. 9, 14. Only one bird seen each day.
Tibetan Lark-Melanocorypha maxima. 10, 11. Great looks on the plateau and Daba Lake area.
Oriental Skylark-Alauda gulgula. 10, 12. Fairly findable on the plateau.
Horned Lark-Eremophila alpestris. 9, 10, 11, 12. Abundant on the plateau.
Eurasian Crag-Martin-Hirundo rupestris. 9, 17, 18. Found around large rock outcroppings on way to Hongyuan, and on way back to Chengdu from Jiuzhaigou.
Barn Swallow-Hirundo rustica. 3, 4, 11, 12 19.
Red-rumped Swallow-Hirundo daurica. 2, 3, 28. On the river in Chengdu.
Asian Martin-Delichon dasypus. 15, 18, 22, 23, 24.
Forest Wagtail-Dendronanthus indicus. 28. 1 bird seen at the Chengdu panda breeding center.
White Wagtail-Motacilla alba. 2,4,9,10, 12, 18.
Citrine Wagtail-Motacilla citreola. 9, 10, 11. Plentiful on the plateau.
Yellow Wagtail-Motacilla flava. 3. 1 bird seen at Du Fu's thatched cottage.
Gray Wagtail-Motacilla cinerea. 4, 5, 8, 18, 25.
Olive-backed Pipit-Anthus hodgsoni. 8, 19. Several around Beimuping. 1 at Emei Shan summit.
Rosy Pipit-Anthus roseatus. 5, 8. Several seen in the Beimuping area.
Long-tailed Minivet-Pericrocotus ethologus. 4, 6, 7, 9, 16, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26. Common.
Collared Finchbill-Spizixos semitorques. 18. A few seen along the road on the way back to Chengdu.
Light-vented Bulbul-Pycnonotus sinensis. 2, 3, 18, 24, 25. Common around Chengdu.
Goldcrest-Regulus regulus. 13, 21.
White-throated Dipper-Cinclus cinclus. 15, 16. Both sightings at Pearl Shoal waterfalls; top and bottom.
Brown Dipper-Cinclus pallasii. 12, 25.
Alpine Accentor-Prunella collaris. 5. Seen well at Balang Shan pass.
Rufous-breasted Accentor-Prunella strophiata. 8, 9, 19, 20, 21, 22. Common at Emei Shan summit area.
Blue Rock Thrush-Monticola solitarius. 9, 17, 18. Great looks.
Blue Whistling-Thrush-Myophonus caeruleus. 3, 4, 8, 9, 23, 24, 25, 26.
Plain-backed Thrush-Zoothera mollissima. 15. Lone bird seen at Jiuzhaigou.
Eurasian Blackbird-Turdus merula. 2, 18.
Chestnut Thrush-Turdus rubrocanus. 5, 7, 8, 9, 20, 21. Easily found in Wolong area.
White-backed Thrush-Turdus kessleri. 5, 10, 12. Beimuping and plateau.
(E) Chinese Thrush-Turdus mupinensis. 15. One adult found feeding a young bird on the alternate Rufous-headed Robin trail.
Gould's Shortwing-Brachypteryx stellata. 26. 1 bird barely seen at Wawushan. Skulker.
Plain Prinia-Prinia inornata. 28. Pair seen in bamboo at Chengdu panda breeding center.
Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler-Cettia fortipes. 4, 6H, 22H, 23, 24, 25H, 26H. Easily heard, but hard to actually see.
Chestnut-crowned Bush-Warbler-Cettia major. 21. Lone individual seen west of the hotel in a grassy area.
Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler-Cettia acanthizoides. 21, 22, 24. First sighting near cable car station at bottom.
Spotted Bush-Warbler-Bradypterus thoracicus. 5. 1 bird briefly seen on hillside at Beimuping.
Chinese Bush-Warbler-Bradypterus tacsanowskius. 12, 21.
Dusky Warbler-Phylloscopus fuscatus. 17. 1 individual seen on the way to Maoxian.
Tickell's Leaf-Warbler-Phylloscopus affinis. 5, 9, 12.
Yellow-streaked Warbler-Phylloscopus armandii. 4. Hillside behind Wolong Mountain Villa Hotel.
Buff-barred Warbler-Phylloscopus pulcher. 20, 26.
Lemon-rumped Warbler-Phylloscopus proregulus. 15. 5 km above hotel in Jiuzhaigou.
(E) Chinese Leaf-Warbler-Phylloscopus sichuanensis. 7, 26.
Large-billed Leaf-Warbler-Phylloscopus magnirostris. 4, 5, 8, 12, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25H.
Blyth's Leaf-Warbler-Phylloscopus reguloides. 4, 6, 7, 22, 23.
(E) Emei Leaf-Warbler-Phylloscopus emeiensis. 19. Behind restaurant at about km 27 on the road to Emei Shan upper parking lot.
White-tailed Leaf-Warbler-Phylloscopus davisoni. 4, 5, 8.
Hume's Warbler-Phylloscopus humei. 1 bird found in scrub on way to Chuanzusi.
Arctic Warbler-Phylloscopus borealis. 4, 12.
Sulphur-breasted Warbler-Phylloscopus ricketti. 24. Lone individual seen on way down to Wu Xian car park.
Golden-spectacled Warbler-Seicercus burkii. 4, 6, 7, 8, 21, 22, 24, 25H, 26.
Chestnut-crowned Warbler-Seicercus castaniceps. 22, 23, 24. Lower areas of Emei Shan.
Dark-sided Flycatcher-Muscicapa sibirica. 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22.
Ferruginous Flycatcher-Muscicapa ferruginea. 6,7. Wuyipeng area only. Building nest.
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher-Ficedula zanthopygia. 3. Lone individual found at Du Fu's thatched cottage.
Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher-Ficedula strophiata. 15, 20, 21, 26. Several at Emei Shan summit area.
Slaty-blue Flycatcher-Ficedula tricolor. 7. Lone female only on trail above research center.
Verditer Flycatcher-Eumyias thalassina. 4, 22. Behind hotel at Wolong. Also at Xixiang monastery.
Fujian Niltava-Niltava davidi. 22 (female only), 25-pair.
Hill Blue Flycatcher-Cyornis banyumas. 14, 15, 19, 24.
Gray-headed Canary-flycatcher-Culicicapa ceylonensis. 14, 16. Very vocal.
Red-flanked Bluetail-Tarsiger cyanurus. 8. Beimuping area.
Golden Bush Robin-Tarsiger chrysaeus. 20 (female), 21, 26. Gorgeous bird!
White-browed Bush-Robin-Tarsiger indicus. 6. On trail to Wuyipeng.
Oriental Magpie-Robin-Copsychus saularis. 3, 18.
Black Redstart-Phoenicurus ochruros. 10, 11, 12.
Hodgson's Redstart-Phoenicurus hodgsoni. 13, 16. From hotel room on 13th.
White-throated Redstart-Phoenicurus schisticeps. 9, 12.
Daurian Redstart-Phoenicurus auroreus. 9, 10, 22.
Blue-fronted Redstart-Phoenicurus frontalis. 5, 8.
White-capped Redstart-Chaimarrornis leucocephalus. 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 18. Common around water.
Plunbeous Redstart-Rhyacornis fuliginosus. Common around water.
White-bellied Redstart-Hodgsonius phaenicuroides. 13, 21. One seen very well in the grassy area west of the hotel at Emei Shan summit.
Grandala-Grandala coelicolor. 5. Several seen well at Balang Shan pass.
Little Forktail-Enicurus scouleri. 3, 23, 24.
Slaty-backed Forktail-Enicurus schistaceus. 25. Lone bird found on side road on way to Wawushan.
White-crowned Forktail-Enicurus leschenaulti. 25. Stream below waterfall area.
Spotted Forktail-Enicurus maculatus. 24.
Stonechat-Saxicola torquata. 10, 12.
(E) Pere David's Laughingthrush-Garrulax davidi. 9, 10, 17.
(E) Barred Laughingthrush-Garrulax lunulatus. 6, 7. Wuyipeng area only.
(E) Giant Laughingthrush-Garrulax maximus. 8. Couple of birds seen well at Beimuping area.
White-browed Laughingthrush-Garrulax sannio. 2, 3, 28. Only seen around Chengdu, including both times at the panda breeding center.
Elliot's Laughingthrush-Garrulax elliotii. 4, 5, 12, common at Jiuzhaigou, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26.
Black-faced Laughingthrush-Garrulax affinis. 20, 26. One individual only each time. At rubbish tip on Emei summit and one on the trail at Wawushan summit.
(E) Gray-faced Liocichla-Liocichla omeiensis. 22, 23. Around Xixiang and Xian Feng monasteries.
Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler-Pomatorhinus erythrocnemis. 17. A very brief glimpse of one bird a few Km from the entrance to Jiuzhaigou.
Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler-Pomatorhinus ruficolis. 23. Brief look at one bird near Xian Feng.
Pygmy Wren-Babbler-Pnoepyga pusilla. 23. Good look at a bird just before Xian Feng.
Bar-winged Wren-Babbler-Spelaeornis troglodytoides. 23. Great look at an individual that had hopped out Onto the trail right in front of us near Xian Feng.
Chinese Babax-Babax lanceolatus. 4. On hillside behind Wolong Mountain Villa Hotel.
Red-billed Leiothrix-Leiothrix lutea. 19, 22, 23, 24. Fairly easy to find at Emei Shan.
Golden-breasted Fulvetta-Alcippe chrysotis. 6. Only seen on trail going up to Wuyipeng.
White-browed Fulvetta-Alcippe vinipectus. 7. Seen briefly on trail above Wuyipeng research center.
(E) Chinese Fulvetta-Alcippe striaticollis. 16. One seen to the right of the parking area at Long Lake.
Streak-throated Fulvetta-Alcippe cinereiceps. 6, 20, 21, 22, 26.
Dusky Fulvetta-Alcippe brunnea. 24.
White-collared Yuhina-Yuhina diademata. 4, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26.
Black-chinned Yuhina-Yuhina nigrimenta. 24, 25. Seen below Emei Shan summit.
Great Parrotbill-Conostoma oemodium. 6, 21.
Brown Parrotbill-Paradoxornis unicolor. 21, 26.
(E) Three-toed Parrotbill-Paradoxornis paradoxis. 26. Lone individual seen on top of Wawushan. We were actually able to see the toes!
(E) Spectacled Parrotbill-Paradoxornis conspicillatus. 17. A couple seen on a hillside a few km from the entrance to Jiuzhaigou.
Vinous-throated Parrotbill-Paradoxornis webbianus. 2, 3, 18, 28. In and around Chengdu.
Ashy-throated Parrotbill-Paradoxornis alphonsianus. 25. Small flock on the roadside below the waterfall area at Wawushan.
(E) Gray-hooded Parrotbill-Paradoxornis zappeyi. 26. Family group seen on top of Wawushan.
Fulvous Parrotbill-Paradoxornis fulvifrons. 26. Total of about 10 birds in 4 different locations on top of Wawushan mountain.
Black-throated Tit-Aegithalos caudatus. 2, 28. Panda breeding center and bamboo park in Chengdu.
(E) Sooty Tit-Aegithalos fuliginosus. 15. On road above hotel and Pearl Shoal valley.
Marsh Tit-Poecile palustris. 10. On road to Ruoergai.
Willow Tit-Poecile montanus. 8. Seen at Beimuping.
(E) White-browed Tit-Poecile superciliosus. 10. Watched a pair visit a nest hole in a roadside dirt bank.
(E) Pere David's Tit-Poecile davidi. 6, 7, 23.
Coal Tit-Periparus ater. 2, 14, 21, 22.
Rufous-vented Tit-Periparus rubidiventris. 8. Well seen at Beimuping.
(E) Yellow-bellied Tit-Pardaliparus venustulus. 4, 6, 7, 19, 23, 25.
Gray-crested Tit-Lophophanes dichrous. 6, 7, 21, 26.
Great Tit-Parus major. 2, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17.
Green-backed Tit-Parus monticolus. Common everywhere.
Yellow-browed Tit-Sylviparus modestus. 23. One individual seen on way to Xian Feng monastery.
Eurasian Nuthatch-Sitta europaea. 14, 23, 24.
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch-Sitta nagaensis. 6, 7. Wuyipeng area only.
(E) Snowy-browed Nuthatch-Sitta villosa. 15. On trail about 5 km above hotel in Jiuzhaigou.
Eurasian Treecreeper-Certhia familiaris. 14, 26.
Fire-capped Tit-Cephalopyrus flammiceps. 6. On trail just below Wuyipeng research center.
Gould's Sunbird-Aethopyga gouldiae. 4, 6, 19, 22, 26.
Plain Flowerpecker-Dicaeum concolor. 23. Lone bird seen on trail down to Xian Feng monastery.
Chestnut-flanked White-eye-Zosterops erythropleurus. 6. Seen well on trail going up to Wuyipeng.
Japanese White-eye-Zosterops japonicus. 3, 6, 9, 18, 19, 22.
Tiger Shrike-Lanius tigrinus. 9. Up on the Tibetan plateau on way to Hongyuan.
Brown Shrike-Lanius cristatus. 2, 10, 18.
Long-tailed Shrike-Lanius schach. 28. Pair seen at Chengdu panda breeding center.
Gray-backed Shrike-Lanius tephronotus. Common and seen in most places.
Chinese Gray Shrike-Lanius sphenocercus. 9, 10. Seen well on the plateau.
Black Drongo-Dicrurus macrocercus. 9, 15.
Spangled Drongo-Dicrurus bracteatus. 8, 24.
Eurasian Jay-Garrulus glandarius. 14, 19, 23, 25.
Azure-winged Magpie-Cyanopica cyana. 10, 29. Small group along road to Ruoergai. Also at Great Wall.
Blue Magpie-Urocissa erythrorhyncha. 3, 4, 23, 25. A real beauty!
Black-billed Magpie-Pica pica. 2. Chengdu.
Tibetan (Hume's) Ground-Jay-Pseudopodoces humilis. 10, 11, 12. Great looks up on the plateau.
Eurasian Nutcracker-Nucifraga caryocatactes. 6, 7. Wuyipeng area only.
Red-billed Chough-Pyrrhocorax phyrrhocorax. 17. Roadside sighting on way to Maoxian.
Daurian Jackdaw-Corvus dauuricus. 10, 12.
Carrion Crow-Corvus corone. 15. Single sighting at Mirror Lake.
Large-billed Crow-Corvus macrorhynchos. 1, 4, 8, 9, 21, 22, 23.
Common Raven-Corvus corax. 10, 11, 12.
Red-billed Starling-Sturnus sericeus. 2. Only sighting at Chengdu panda breeding center.
White-rumped Munia-Lonchura striata. 2, 28. Chengdu panda breeding center.
(E) Slaty Bunting-Latoucheornis siemsseni. 14. Great looks at a pair building a nest in low scrub bushes.
Godlewski's Bunting-Emberiza godlewskii. 9, 10, 17. Super look at Batyang reserve.
Black-headed Mountain-Finch-Leucosticte brandti. 5. Only sighting at Balang Shan pass area.
Dark-breasted Rosefinch-Carpodacus nipalensis. 8. Beimuping.
Common Rosefinch-Carpodacus erythrinus. 8, 10, 12, 21.
Beautiful Rosefinch-Carpodacus pulcherrimus. 13. On the roadside to Jiuzhaigou.
(E) Pink-rumped Rosefinch-Carpodacus eos. 9. Along roadside on way to Hongyuan.
Vinaceous Rosefinch-Carpodacus vinaceus. 15, 21. Great look near Long Lake parking lot.
Dark-rumped Rosefinch-Carpodacus edwardsii. Tame female at Emei summit hotel.
Three-banded Rosefinch-Carpodacus trifasciatus. 15. Super look near Long Lake parking lot.
White-browed Rosefinch-Carpodacus thura. 5 Female), 8, 13.
Gray-capped Greenfinch-Carduelis sinica. 2. Only seen at Chengdu panda breeding center.
Twite-Carduelis flavirostris. 12. Along the road towards Chuanzusi.
Gray-headed Bullfinch-Pyrrhula erythaca. 6, 15, 16, 21.
Yellow-billed Grosbeak-Eophona migratoria. 2, 3.
White-winged Grosbeak-Mycerobas carnipes. 13. Above roadmenders hut at Blue Eared Pheasant place.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow-Passer montanus. 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, 14, 28, 29.
Rock Petronia-Petronia petronia. 10. Single sighting on the road to Ruoergai.


1 - We highly recommend Joshua ( and his company, China Golden Bridge Travel Sichuan, to arrange your trip. He took care of any problems that arose and it helped make our trip very pleasant. He is very friendly and is always looking out for your best interests. Just remember that he is not an ornithologist or even a birder as such.

2 - The best time to go to Sichuan, in my opinion, would be to go to the southern places (Emei Shan and Wawushan) from about April 20 to May 1. Then go to the more northern places (Wolong, Wuyipeng, Jiuzhaigou, and the Tibetan plateau) from May 1 until about May 20. This would maximize your chances to see migrants and hopefully the birds would be singing more than when we were there. Also, at Jiuzhaigou, the Primeval Forest was closed to the public after June 1 because of the risk of forest fire.

3 - If you don't have bird guide, take some kind of owl tape to try to lure the birds out, but as always with a tape, don't overdo it and use common sense to not disturb the birds any more than needed. I felt that some tape calls of the pheasants would have been helpful, but who knows?

4 - The one family of birds that seemed to be in abundance were the Phylloscopus warblers. They were seemingly everywhere, and calling a lot. It would serve you well if you were to learn some of the calls of the more common ones. We managed to identify about a dozen species, but if we knew 4 or 5 of the common ones, it would have saved us some time. Spend some time studying this group. 

5 - Don't expect large numbers of birds. The number of individuals here is far lower than we were used to in other parts of the world.

6 - The accommodations were generally fine. At Wolong, the room was always cool, but it had an electric blanket that made the bed nice and toasty. In most hotels, the hot water was only available after 8 p.m. You need a sleeping bag at Wuyipeng, as the beds there are mildewy. We hired a porter to carry them up to the research station for us.

7 - Get in good physical shape. This was one of the hardest trips we've ever taken. Most of the birding sites are a far from the road and require a lot of hiking hillsides, most at high elevation, to get there. Most of the hikes were not flat, but instead up and down. The hike down from the Emei Golden Summit was arduous.

8 - We found the food to be very tasty for the most part. Simple and nutritious in the countryside and more options in the larger cities. We carried a jar of peanut butter and some granola bars to help when there was something we didn't care for. Coffee was not available much in the countryside.

9 - Allow a few extra days at Wolong. We were there for 5 days and 7 would have been better. The fog ruined our chance for the White Eared Pheasants. We probably would have seen them the next day, as the location is very reliable. You also would have had a better chance at some other species (Snow Pigeon, Chinese Monal, etc.). I think a second night at Wuyipeng would be better also. This is some great habitat, but like all deep forest birding, it is slow at times and requires more time to glean more species. Jiuzhaigou was a difficult place to bird, because you had to rely on the park buses for transportation and they never started before 0830. Joshua said that in a couple of years you won't even be able to stay inside the park like we did. The government is going to make everybody begin to stay outside the park. This will make birding early in the morning almost impossible. Wawushan is super also, but an extra day there would be great, as you never know when the fog and rain will shut off the birding.

10 - I've tried to make this report as accurate as possible. If there are any mistakes, they are mine alone and I would like to hear about them (

Why not send us a report, or an update to one of your current reports?