Friday, 20 September 2013

Hiking the Ala Shan Mountains

We yet again had a lot of mileage to cover and as we pressed eastwards, the scenery became more and more arid.

The eastern race of Black Kite (lineatus), looks very different from the birds in Western Europe & was a constant companion by the roadside.

 Black Kite

We spotted a Henderson's Ground Jay near the roadside and spent sometime obtaining photos of this wonderful bird. It is like a giant Greater Hoopoe Lark on steroids!

Ground Jay habitat.

One of the birds of the trip!

We turned up a side valley towards a distant monastery and suddenly we were surrounded by a green and pleasant land with a nice stream running down the valley. The mountains were covered in sparse Juniper woodland and it as here that our target bird lived.

 As we climbed higher, the scenery became
 more & more stunning!

A Golden Eagle soaring over the valley

 The Ali Shan Redstart a beautiful, rare and rarely seen species. We started the steep climb up the slopes. It turned out to be a wonderful hike, in magnificent surroundings. Birds were a little thin on the ground but eventually we found a pair of the Redstarts and it did not disappoint! Whow!

 Ali Shan Redstart! What a bird!

 Blue-fronted Redsarts were in the more open, 
rocky areas.

 White-throated Redstarts were common.

White-browed Tit

White-browed Tit-Warbler found on the higher, 
more scrubby areas.

Rufous-browed Accentors were found 
on the higher slopes.

 The drier side of the mountain chain.

 Birding, in a big sky environment.

The next day was spent hiking in similar terrain but on the rain shadow side of the watershed. Here the terrain is a little more arid & there are a slightly different set of birds to be found. 
We all enjoyed the sunshine and Jesper and I decided to get on up there and scale those peaks! We had a great six hour hike, with more Redstarts on show and our only Cinereous Vulture of the trip flew over.

Jesper - enjoying the spectacular view.

Cinereous Vulture

 Blue Sheep were at the higher elevations

 Brown Accentors were common.

 Margelanic Lesser Whitethroat
a distinct species?

A few Pine Buntings were found 
on the more grassy hillsides.

We moved on to the nearby more desert-like steppes and enjoyed more views of Henderson's Ground Jays3 Black Storks flew over.

 These birds were by the side of the main highway!

Black Stork, common in the more arid mountains
 with braided streams.

The following day saw us back on the road driving towards Koko Nor Lake, here we had started the trip. We had just completed a huge circuit around the Tibetan Plateau!

 A typical shop in this part of the world.
 Read the wording on the window carefully - 
it didn't have any of those items!

 Koko Nor Lake

 Friendly locals, doing a spot of birding!

The mozzies were unbelievably bad!

We once more arrived in Xingang & stayed in our comfortable lodgings.

No comments:

Post a Comment