Friday, 6 July 2012

The road to Yushu

It was almost a pleasure, to rise from my bed in the pitch dark, pack up & leave. The dogs had been magnificent, managing to bark continously for the whole night! Not much sleep, a little tired, but lets get on the road. Today is a travel day, we have to drive to Yushu (the place that was destroyed by the earthquake, a few years ago - 3,000 dead).

Ever changing & totally fascinating skies
Typical landscape that we travelled through.

Herds of grazing Yaks were common.
Tibetan Wild Ass were also seen
 in good numbers today.
A great animal, in a great setting!

The unusual looking, Tibetan Gazelle

Tibetan Gazelle were also present in small herds, along the way. They seem to graze on the meagrest of pasture, often just tiny lichens, on patches of rock.

At most high passes, there are prayer flags -
these have been blown down by the wind.
The bleak & forbidding pass

The road to Yushu!
The main road is in the centre of the photo!
Brandt's Mountain Finch is often one of the
 very few species as this altitude.
We will drive through the plateau region, dotted with large marshes, cross a very high, bleak pass and then its all downhill to Yushu. The town is a bit lower than where we have been the last few days, so we should sleep a little easier.
We drive for over two hours and then stop. The surroundings are plateau grasslands, but with lakes and marshes dotted around. We spot a distant Tibetan Fox.
The weird, but wonderful Tibetan Fox.
Black necked Crane
A total of 16 Cranes were seen today.
Then a great pair of Black-necked Cranes. Lots of Bar-headed Geese & Ruddy Shelduck, the former with goslings. It feels quite strange seeing Common Terns flying over, this far from the coast. This race is slighlty different from the ones we are used to seeing.

Common Tern

Bar-headed Geese
Ruddy Shelduck
Upland Buzzard in its upland setting.
Upland Buzzard
This dry stone wall cairn, was errected
by the local people, for the buzzards to nest on!
A Saker sits on a telegraph post. Upland Buzzards are common along the way. The authorities have actually errected nesting posts for them, as formerly they were breeding on pylons and causing a bit of a headache. The buzzards collect any kind of rubbish, to adorn their nests. They appear to be thriving.
Hume's Groundpecker
 Hume's Groundpeckers are seen wherever we stop, they always seem to be on the go, a real busy bird!The other Hume's, this time the Short-toed Lark is also common on these grasslands.
Hume's Short-toed Lark
As you loose altitude,
there is much more vegetation.
Birding in sunshine - an absolute pleasure!
The rare White-lipped Deer
After crossing the pass, we descend rapidly and soon see small amounts of vegetation on the sides of the mountains. These stunted, dense bushes prove to be home to a wide variety of species. The endemic White-browed Tit is easily seen. Alpine Leaf Warblers share their home. Also our first Kessler's Thrushes are noted. What a great bird! Very similar to our own Ring Ouzel in both stature and behaviour. A confiding Citrine Wagtail gives us great views & Brown Accentors are singing from the hillsides.

The endemic, White-browed Tit.
Kessler's Thrush
Citrine Wagtail
Alpine Leaf Warbler
Despite all these great species, Jesper is keen to move on & we continue to Yushu. We are now rapidly loosing altitude and around 35 kms from the town, Pete spots an Ibisbill on the river. We rapidly stop and pile out of the vehicles. For the next hour we are treated to some great birding. in the small grove of Poplar trees migrants are everywhere. There are over 30+ Common Cuckoos, Common Rosefinch and a couple of Eastern Rock Buntings. Tibetan Partridges are also seen, but unfortunately not photographed.

A poor photograph of a great bird!
This little grove of Poplar trees,
was full of migrants.

Eastern Rock Bunting
Brown Accentor
It is late when we arrive at the hotel. Then it starts to rain, quite hard. After a good meal we all retire for the night, as we have a big day in the morning.

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