Thursday, 21 May 2015

Sichuan: Balangshan

Snow is still on the top of the pass.

And with the snow.........

Snow Partridge!

My driver Mr Liu.

Up at 4.20 am on the 27th May for the drive in the dark up Balangshan. This is a magnificent wilderness area, with both the scenery & birds being fantastic.

Brandt's Mountain Finches are common
 at the highest elevations.

A few Plain Mountain Finches are present too.

Alpine Accentor.

It was quite hard going at this elevation,
 around 4,600 meters a.s.l.

This was the prime area for gamebirds. 

Snow Partridge

Tibetan Snowcock.

 Calling across the hillside.

 Both above & below the tunnel 
was great habitat for gamebirds.

Chinese Monal.

 Heavily cropped, as they were very distant.

There is a male Temminck's Tragopan in this photo
 - somewhere!

 The incomparably beautiful
White-eared Pheasant. 

 Only found in the remotest & wildest mountains.

 Snow Pigeon.

 Spotted Bush Warbler.

 Normally shy & retiring.

 White-capped Redstarts were common
 around the tunnel area.

 A rather distant male White-throated Redstart

The female came a bit closer though!

Rosy Pipit with nesting material.

 White-tailed Rubythroats were on territory.

Rufous browed Accentor.

Przewalski's Nuthatch.

Buff barred Warbler.

Best birds were: 7 Snow Partridge; 3 Tibetan Snowcock; a superb male Temminck's Tragopan; 2 Chinese Monal; 10+ White-eared Pheasant; 12 Snow Pigeon; 2 Lammergeier; 7 Himalayan Griffon Vulture; Golden Eagle; both Chestnut & Kessler's Thrushes; 8 White-tailed Rubythroat; 4 White-throated Redstart; 2 White-capped Redstart; 4 Grandala; 3 Przewalski's Nuthatch; Spotted Bush Warbler; 10 + Buff throated Warbler; 3 Alpine Leaf Warbler; 6 Buff barred Warbler; 20+ Sichuan Leaf Warbler; 2 Giant Laughing Thrush; 13 Ellliot's Laughing Thrush; 5 White collared Yuhina; 8+ Rosy Pipit; 16 Alpine Accentor; Rufous breasted Accentor; 2 Tibetan Siskin; 7 Plain Mountain Finch; 150+ Brandt's Mountain Finch; 3 Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch & 2 Red-fronted Rosefinch; 

On the 28th May I got up even earlier & was treated to a magnificent vista on the way up the mountain.

I mainly birded the Wolong slope of the mountain, slowly going down the hill.  Best birds were:
Koklass Pheasant; Lady Amherst's Pheasant; 4 Snow Pigeon; Blue-fronted Redstart; 5+ White capped Redstart; 25+ Buff throated Warbler; 2 Chinese White-browed Rosefinch; & Crimson-browed Finch.

Superb vistas on the way down.

 Wolong - which was totally destroyed by an 
earthquake a few years ago.
My hotel for the night.

 Llama Monastry

 Prayer bells.

Forest around the monastery.

 Sooty Tit

This is an uncommon & very localized
 Chinese endemic.

White collared Yuhina

Buff throated Warbler

Slaty Bunting: rare & hard to see!

Late afternoon of 28th & early morning of the 29th May I spent birding the more lowland forest around Lama Monastery. Birds were not plentiful, but some rare & little known species were seen well.

Then it was all over & time to drive back to Chengdu & the flight home.It had been an excellent little trip with some very special memories. I will be back!

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