Tour Reports
Reports By Destinations: Sichuan
2013 20th May to 8th June Sichuan birding tour report

The report was reported by Summer Wong:

20 May After birding in Baihuatan park, drove from Chengdu to mt. emei, in the garden of the hotel where we stay, swinhoe’s minivet seating on a tree, while clients went to a lake to look for Chinese bamboo partridge, driver mr.peng and I happened to see a pair of Chinese bamboo partridge on the edge of the car park! I went to the lake to tell them about the partridge, but it’s too late, we tried to see it but in vein. After lunch, we went to a temple area, there we saw rufous-faced warbler singing on a tree, a few of spangled drongo flying around, slaty-backed forktail on a stream, even one without tail, poor bird! Black-streaked scimitar babbler mixed with white-browed laughingthrushes, blue whistling thrush, mrs gould’s sunbird, huamei, and bamoo partridge on the roadside!

21 May Due to the good birding afternoon of yesterday, we changed our plan, went to the top of mt.emei to look for grey-hooded parrotbill and succeed! The other good birds we saw there are Sichuan leaf/ bianchi’s warbler, chestnut-crowned bush warbler, grey-crested tit, white-collared yuhina, golden bush robin, vinaceous rosefinch, rufous-breasted accentor, and on the way down to the cable car station, white-bellied redstart attracted by my tape had been seen very well near the road. Lunch on the mountain, then took sightseeing bus down, changed back to our own bus heading to Laojunshan.

22 May Started early in the morning try to look for temminck’s tragopan and lady ams pheasant but in vein, another good view of Chinese bamboo partridge on the road. On the middle of the mountain we saw grey-crowned/ white-spectacled warbler, brief view of emeishan liocichla, red-winged/white-throated laughingthrush, white-tailed robin attracted by type hopping around the bushes, singing wedge-tailed green pigeon, Chinese blue flycatcher, grey-headed parrotbill, blue-winged and red-tailed minla on the same tree.

23 May Spending the whole morning around the middle area, found rusty laughingthrush and another good view of white-throated laughingthrush. Late in the afternoon, we tried again at the place where the staff in the reserve saw tragopan in April, waited there more than one hour but not even a response for the type.

24 May Tried very early in the morning for the tragopan, thick foggy weather, supposed to be a good weather for it but still in vein, hopelessly drove down got good view of female lady ams pheasant and female silver pheasant on the road. Then heading to Longcanggou.

25 May One and half hour drive to the end of the road up, after breakfast, walking up to the top for the parrotbills, seens not good weather for them, too foggy up there, but excellent view of spotted/ brown bush warbler , on the lower area, more birds there, we saw dark-sided/ ferruginous / rufous-gorgeted flycatcher, yellow-browed tit, Chinese fulvetta, close view of two emeishan liocichlas hiding in the bushes, good view of golden-breasted fulvetta, emei leaf warbler, marten’s warbler. Tried a few times around the tragopan area, finally saw a mother with two chiks on the road side!

26 May Drove up earlier than yesterday tried to see male tragopan, but a bright sunning day was not good for it. Then after breakfast, we tried in the lower area for other important birds: russet bush warbler, great view of firethroat, great parrotbill, verditer flycatcher, speckled wood pigeon landed on a dead tree.

27 May Before heading to Wolong tried on the lower area for golden parrotbill and made it while very good view of Chinese blue flycatcher again! On the way down, spotted laughingthrushes singing and good showing to us! Other birds are yellow-bellied tit, grey-headed fulvetta, daurian/ plumbeous/ white-capped redstart, black bulbul. What a nice morning before leaving! Then a long day drive to Wolong.

28 May Very early depature for woodsnipe on Balangshan, and good view of it displaying in the sky. Male Chinese monal flying and calling, no question for the bird of the day! A distant view of white-eared pheasant, many calling of koklass pheasant but not showing, chestnut-throated partridge crossed road as I said. After breakfast, we tried the top area for snow partridge and had very close view for Tibetan snowcock! Here we saw plain/ brandt’s mountainfinch, alpine/ rufous-breasted accentor, snow pigeon, white-tailed rubythroat, yellow-billed chough, Himalayan griffon, Chinese baxbax, buff-throated warbler, grey-headed bullfinch, Chinese fulvetta again, brief view of red-flanked bluetail, black-browed tit, rufous-vented tit, golden pheasant feeding on the open grass which I spotted while I just wanted to check a trial I had never been to, I was so excited running down to tell them! Lucky Summer also tried to see a well hidden Indian blue robin down a slope while the others gave up.

29 May On the way up to the top of Balangshan, Frank spotted a koklass pheasant on the road side, a good start for the day! On the top we tried and succeeded to see grandala, red-fronted rosefinch, streaked rosefinch, snow partridge and Tibetan snowcock again, then on lower area we saw giant/ barred laughingthrush which I distinguished out by it’s calling and then tried to see it in bushy roadside habitat, lucky mountain for Summer! We saw scaly thrush on a little trial, also heard white-browed bush robin, firethroat. Frank tried successfully to find out slaty bunting.

30 May This day we drove to the other side of the mountain, on the way we common/ dark-breasted/ white-browed/ pink-rumped/ Chinese beautiful rosefinch, plain/ brandt’s mountain finch again, excellent view of white-tailed rubythroat, elliot’s/ giant laughingthrush, hill pigeon, snow pigeon, and a three-banded rosefinch gave a quick showing for Howard, white-cheeked nuthatch singing on the top of a pinetree for long time! Sichuan tit also very nice view!

31 May A quick breakfast in the hostel, then headed to Maerkang, on the way we saw hill pigeon, long-tailed rosefinch, wallcreeper which we missed in Balangshan, yellow-streaked warbler, blue rock thrush. Lunch on a Tibetan family garden, then birding on Mengbishan, nice weather for birds, Sichuan jay, crested tit warbler were showing very well, after hearing the calling of blood pheasant, Frank tried to make it show to the clients and succeeded! Good view for white-eared pheasant this time. Long-tailed thrush singing on the top of a pine tree, great view from telescope!

1 June Started early but snowing on the mountain area, so we stayed on the lower area as the birds were forced by snow to lower area, where we had good view of a pair of three-banded rosefinch, slaty-backed flycatcher, white-throated deeper, gold crest and crested tit warbler again, chestnut-throated partridge showing and calling on a rock, amazing view of it, no question bird of the day!

2 June From Maerkang to Ruoergai, welcomed breakfast with yak yoghourt and honey! On the high plateau we saw azure-winged magpie, daurian jackdaw, white-browed tit, white-browed tit warbler, dusky warbler, saker falcon and it’s chiks on nest, Tibetan snowfinch, ground tit, white-rumped snowfinch, rufous-necked snowfinch, black-necked crane, upland buzzard, Chinese grey shrike near the nest.

3 June Early start for blue-eared pheasant which Janet spotted it seating on a tree! And snowy-cheeked laughingthrush, Chinese grouse, slaty-backed and Chinese blue flycatcher again, godlewski’s bunting. After lunch went to flower lake for water birds, good and closer view for Tibetan lark near the lake.

4 June On the way to Jiuzhaigou, we saw Siberian rubythroat, dusky warbler, common stonechat, Eurasian jay. Checked in hotel first, we headed to see speckled fulvetta near the national park.

5 June Quick breakfast in the hotel then tried to catch the first sightseeing bus into the park, I tried to get help from the bus arranger, and they kindly arranged a bus send us to the robin place before 9 o’clock. Spending the whole morning looking for the rare and shy rufous-headed robin but just heard it, good news is we tried to see Indian blue robin, Sichuan treecreeper, Eurasian nuthatch, and Frank spotted Chinese nuthatch while we just tried to board a bus! Then had lunch in a Tibetan village where we saw sooty tit after lunch. Then back to the reed lake looking for white-speckled parrotbill, and they did a great show for us, lovely birds! Brown deeper seating on the rock of side of the river outside park unexpectedly!

6 June Tried again for rufous-headed robin, nice staff in the park sent us to the place. Half day searching for it finally managed to see it! After that less than half day sightseeing in the rest part of the park, wonderful landscape and colorful lakes!

7 June Breakfast in hotel then drove back to Chengdu, on the way we saw collared craw, brown-breasted bulbul, collared finchbill. Near a gas station, we unexpectedly saw a lot of birds there, like red-billed starling, rufous-faced warbler, black bulbul, grey-capped greenfinch, vinous-throated parrotbill, black-naped oriole, black-winged cuckooshrike, Chinese grosbeak, white-rumped munia and speckled piculet.

Here is the report from Frank:

Sichuan, China

20th May – 8th June 2012

Leader: Frank Lambert

Participants: Peter and Rosemary Royle, John and Jan Jones, Howard Ackford, Robert Jones and Michael Frost.

China is rapidly becoming a top birding destination, and within this huge country, and indeed the Asian region, there are very few birding areas that rival Sichuan. Despite last minute changes to the itinerary due to the closure of Labahe, our Sichuan tour this year recorded a total of 292 species (of which seven were heard only) included an incredible ten species of pheasant, 13 species of laughingthrush, nine rosefinches, eight parrotbills, 27 warblers and three species of snowfinch. We managed to find all of the main target species, including such highly wanted birds as Sichuan Treecreeper, Sichuan Jay, Verreaux’s Monal Pheasant, Grandala, Emei Liocichla, Przewalski’s and Chinese Nuthatches, Pere David’s Tit, Chinese Fulvetta and Rufous-headed Robin, although the last of these proved to be not only one of the most incredible birds in this region, but also one of the shyest, and it took a huge effort to track down and see a singing male.


On our first morning we made a pre-breakfast trip to a local park, a mere five minutes walk from our hotel in central Chengdu. Here, amongst the noisy early morning fitness fanatics, we quickly found Chinese Blackbirds, already feeding fully fledged young, along with White-browed Laughingthrushes and a pair of Chinese Grosbeaks attending a nest. Vinous-throated Parrotbill took a little more effort but showed itself readily in response to playback.

Leaving Chengdu after a rather filling breakfast, our bus took us along the highway to the base of Emei Shan. A brief walk around the garden produced a Swinhoe’s Minivet but not much else, although when we returned to our car we discovered that the driver and our local guide, Summer, had gripped us off with a pair of Chinese Bamboo Partridges in the parking lot! We managed to glimpse the birds, but after another half hour or so gave up trying to see them in the heat of the day and headed for lunch in the city. Afterwards, we visited the lower part of Mt Emei, birding along several rough-stone paved trails which produced some excellent birds, including Rufous-faced Warbler, Slaty-backed Forktails (including one fully grown juvenile), Black-streaked Scimitar Babbler, Eurasian Jays and a couple of very confiding Ashy-throated Parrotbills. Then, along the main road, we found two Chinese Hwamei vigorously singing in adjacent territories, and, nearby, Chinese Bamboo Partridge. Howard initially spotted the bird fly across the road and land nearby, after which it was quickly relocated just meters away, giving great views before flying back across the road and perching completely in the open. Certainly bird of the day for most of us…especially after our driver had seen one earlier.

On our second full day, since we had seen almost all of the lowland birds, we decided to make the long trip up to the top of Emei Shan, even though we would only have a couple of hours birding. This proved to be an excellent decision because, despite the large number of visitors, there were still plenty of new birds. Our main target was the highly localized Grey-hooded Parrotbill, and this we saw incredibly well after about an hour of searching its stunted bamboo habitat. We also had stunning views of a male Golden Bush Robin in the same area, and Summer, our local guide, found us a magnificent and highly responsive male White-bellied Redstart that sat in full view only meters from us. Later we had similar excellent views of Chestnut-crowned Bush Warbler in the understory as they sang in competition with the various noises of this crowd-pulling tourist attraction. The pines were full of warblers too, and we saw our first of many Sichuan Leaf Warblers, Greenish and Large-billed Leaf Warblers, Buff-barred Warblers and Bianchi’s Warblers. Other birds included Rufous-breasted Accentors, some Vinaceous Rosefinches, the local race of Coal Tit (very unlike those one sees in Europe) and our first Green-backed Tits. The weather was uncharacteristically clear and we had magnificent views of 7,000m high snow-covered peaks some 100km to our north, along with the sheer cliffs below the Golden Temple. All in all this was a great experience, and well worth the five hours return journey! After an excellent lunch near the cable car we headed back down and continued our journey south to stay near Laojunshan National Park.

This was the first visit to Laojunshan National Park, this year included in the itinerary because some of the other sites we had originally planned to visit had been closed for the upgrading of facilities or due to the recent earthquake. The drive up to Laojunshan follows a rough dirt track, at first through arable land and plantation, and later through logged-over forest. We found a number of interesting species along the road including Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Wedge-tailed Pigeon, Collared Finchbill (though not seen by everyone), Red-tailed Minlas, Alstrom’s Warbler and on our final morning in the mist and rain, both Silver and Lady Amherst’s Pheasants. We even met Per Alstrom, having just seen the warbler named after him! Above the end of the road the forest was a little more mature, although still not primary, and we birded the trails here near to the accommodation block, under construction at the time of our visit.

These trails and the clearing around the building produced many good birds, most notably Emei Liocichla, Red-winged, Buffy and White-throated Laughingthrushes, Lesser and Hodgsons’ Hawk Cuckoo, Pygmy Wren Babbler, Klosses, Grey-crowned and White-spectacled Warblers ,and an amazing number of Red-billed Liothrix, a species that is abundant in this area. We all heard Sichuan Partridge, but despite numerous attempts to see one, only Jan managed to get a view of this elusive species through the understorey as it scuttled past us. Another bird briefly seen by a couple of people was Temminck’s Tragopan, two of which we flushed from a tree along one of the trails. Our wet morning got wetter and wetter and we soon gave up our search and headed back to town and onto our next destination, Longcanggou. This was another site added to the itinerary at the last moment, in replacement for Labahe which had been closed following damage to the roads in a recent earthquake.

We arrived at Longcanggou at dusk, too late to bird, but set out early the following morning in the hope of a tragopan on the road. Sadly we saw none, probably because the weather was just too good, and after our usual field breakfast we headed up from the end of the drivable road in search of parrotbills and other birds. One of the first birds we saw was a Grey-hooded Parrotbill, and we later saw another two on our way back at lunch time, but both Great and Brown Parrotbills proved elusive and we failed to hear or see any. Bush Warblers, on the other hand, were in abundance, and we saw Brownish-flanked, Aberrant, Yellowish-bellied, Spotted and Brown – five species in a couple of hours! Other birds we saw before fog settled in to ruin our views included a very close Black-faced Laughingthrush.

After lunch we headed down the road but the fog was by now blanketing everything and although we saw few species, birding was very slow. Birds we did see, however, included Grey-hooded Fulvetta and Claudia’s Leaf Warbler, both new for the trip. Later in the afternoon, when the fog had cleared, we were fortunate to see a female Temminck’s Tragopan and two tiny chicks – the latter were unable to climb a tall mud bank to join their mother (which we had flushed from beside the road), and we watched them for some time, with the mother in attendance and continuously calling to them from the bamboo at the top of the bank. Eventually they struggled to the top of the bank and rejoined the female before disappearing into the dense bamboo.

On our second morning at Longcanggou we headed off early again but the weather was too good for any pheasants on the road. Heading up again to look for parrotbills we encountered very few birds and by 11am still had not seen anything significant. Things were looking grim! But our luck soon changed, and by the end of the day we had had amazing views of both Three-toed and Great Parrotbill, Emei Liocichla and a gorgeous male Firethroat. The Firethroat was truly amazing, singing close by and sitting in the open almost too close to focus on! What a superb bird. To top off the afternoon two Speckled Wood Pigeons flew over our heads and instead of doing their usual disappearing act landed very close by in perfect light – wonderful.

Our final morning at Longcanggou was also a great success. With only a couple of hours birding before we had to begin the long drive to Wolong, we managed to see Golden Parrotbill, a male Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, Chinese Blue Flycatcher, and the artemisiae race of Spotted Laughingthrush, a likely future split. Our drive to Wolong took us about eight hours – the short route – involving transferring to two vehicles and having the van driven by a policeman for the last two hours of the journey because of rules relating to road conditions. We passed through a long, spectacular gorge where rock falls must occur daily, if not hourly, before entering the serene upper end of the valley where the small town of Wolong is located.

On our first day in the Wolong area we drove up towards the Balangshan Pass before dawn to witness the display of Wood Snipe, several of which were heard before it got light, doing their ritual of calling and swooping over the meadows in which they breed. As it got light we could clearly see at least one bird, but as soon as it was light the show was over. We then turned our attention to finding some pheasants, and were soon listening to at least four Koklass Pheasants calling nearby, but they proved impossible to see. A pair of Chestnut-throated Monal Partridges started calling not far off and these crossed the road for us, giving brief but reasonable views. Asian House Martins and Snow Pigeons were also seen nearby, as well as Chinese White-browed and Dark-breasted Rosefinch, and shortly afterwards we heard the distinctive call of one of our main targets, a male Chinese Monal Pheasant. Within a few minutes we had spotted it on a rock but it soon flew down into the valley and we walked towards it. It flushed up and flew towards our vehicle, landing close to where our abandoned breakfast was laid out on the ground, and then proceeded to walk up slope, still calling and giving wonderful views before it suddenly spotted our driver, Mr Pun, and flew off again. Very satisfied, we returned to breakfast, and at this point found yet another male Chinese Monal in full view up the slope, this time displaying to a female, with its tail raised right in the air. Fantastic! White-eared Pheasants proved more elusive but we eventually spotted three on a distant slope, walking around in the open pasture.

Heading up to the top of the pass, at 4,487m, we passed through the clouds that had been rolling in since dawn and into the most wonderful scenery with jagged snow-capped peaks all around us. This area supports a whole new set of birds, and we were soon watching Rosy Pipits, Alpine Choughs and the occasional Plain Mountain Finch and Alpine Accentor. A majestic Lammergeier and several Himalayan Griffon Vultures glided over the slopes on which we were concentrating as we searched for Grandala, Tibetan Snowcocks and Snow Partridges. Incredibly we discovered a pair of snowcock no more than 20m from our vehicle, feeding amongst the rocks and seemingly unalarmed by the array of binoculars aimed at them. Such incredible views were in contrast to those we managed to get of Snow Partridges, way in the distance, and of Grandalas. The weather was changing, with fog rolling in near the peak, and we headed back down to look for other birds nearer Wolong. Half way back we stopped to gaze down on an open meadow where a superb male Golden Pheasant was seen feeding in the open, and Chinese Babax and Buff-throated Warblers flitted around nearby bushes. We also unexpectedly found Chinese Fulvetta and Black-browed Tit along the roadside, and had a brief view of a Himalayan Bluetail. Few other birds of note were seen in the afternoon, but most of us saw a male Common Pheasant and heard Indian Blue Robin, Firethroat and Chinese Leaf Warblers, whilst Rosemary and Peter had more views of male Golden Pheasant.

Our second day at Wolong started off very well with a roadside Koklass Pheasant, tame Brandt’s Mountain Finches by the roadside and both Streaked Great and Red-fronted Rosefinches giving close views at the Balangshan Pass. Grandalas had also moved down the mountain, perhaps because the weather was changing, and the stunning colours of the males contrasted sharply with the bleak rocks and patches of snow. Later, at lower elevation, we found some responsive Giant Laughingthrushes, and even better, a fantastic Barred Laughingthrush that Summer had picked up on voice in bushy roadside habitat, not the bamboo that one usually associates with this species. Great work Summer! Another unexpected find was a nice Small-billed Scaly Thrush. After a lot of searching we finally found a male Slaty Bunting along with Chinese Leaf Warblers, but sadly Indian Blue Robins were again too secretive to show themselves, though a Slaty-backed Flycatcher showed briefly.

The following morning we said goodbye to Wolong and headed up towards Balangshan Pass, hoping for some closer White-eared Pheasants but the hillsides were shrouded in fog and we only heard one. However, there were plenty of rosefinches along the road and we had good views of Common, Dark-breasted and Chinese White-browed Rosefinches. After driving up above the clouds and down the other side of the mountain we found some singing White-tailed Rubythroats and had the most marvelous views of this spectacular bird. Moving down towards the town of Rilong we found a succession of great birds, including Pink-rumped, Chinese Beautiful and Streaked Great Rosefinches, a superb Przwalski’s Nuthatch, Maroon-backed Accentor (though sadly not seen by all), Grey-crested, Rufous-vented and Sichuan Tit and a host of Phylloscopus warblers including Hume’s, Greenish, Alpine, Sichuan, Buff-barred and Claudia’s Leaf Warblers. We also had excellent views of an adult Lammergeier, Hill and Snow Pigeons and, for Howard, a male Three-banded Rosefinch that put in a brief appearance.

The following morning we headed to an area that holds several special birds, and within a very short time were watching some superb Long-tailed Rosefinches, followed shortly afterwards by a pair of Wallcreeper that were feeding young in a nest near the road. Hodgson’s Redstarts, Yellow-streaked Warblers, Snow and Hill Pigeons were all also seen in the vicinity. Driving onwards to Mengbishan, at 4,100m, we spent the afternoon birding in the beautiful valley above Maerkang. Although slow at first, we were soon watching some very close Sichuan Jays, followed by a singing Long-tailed Thrush atop a pine tree, at least seven White-eared Pheasants and, just before it started to rain, a pair of lovely Crested Tit-Warblers. This had been another incredible day, with exceptional views of many species, and fine weather – in sharp contrast to the weather experienced on our Sichuan 2012 scheduled tour.

Overnight, however, the weather changed, and the following morning we were a little surprised to find the entire upper part of the Mengbishan valley white with snow, but snow is not always a bad thing when birding, forcing birds down to lower elevations or to the edge of their habitat, and on the way up the valley we saw two groups of Blood Pheasant, totaling at least 8 birds, along the roadside. Bird activity was low at the higher elevations, and apart from a probable Collared Grosbeak skulking in the understorey we found very little and after a while we moved to the lower slopes. Here we found more activity, and most notably a pair of Three-banded Rosefinches which gave great views for a few minutes before disappearing. More Sichuan Jays were also seen, along with another Crested Tit-Warbler. The middle of the day was very slow, but returning to the higher elevations, where the snow had now all but disappeared, we tried our luck at calling out Chestnut-throated Partridge. At the last moment we had a response and eventually had incredible views of a pair, one of which perched in full view near the road on top of a tree stump, calling loudly and excitedly for several minutes.

Leaving Maerkang early in the morning, we started our journey to the town of Ruoergai on the Tibetan Plateau. Our first birds of the day included a couple of nice corvids, Azure-winged Magpies and Daurian Jackdaw, as well as two distant flying Ibisbill that were seen by some of the group. Further along our journey, after some searching on the windswept slopes, we found a nesting pair of White-browed Tits and, whilst watching the tits, a colourful but diminutive White-browed Tit-Warbler that came to investigate us. Continuing our journey we stopped to look at a nest of Saker Falcon, with one adult sitting nearby and five almost fully-grown young in the nest – presumably this year’s high density of pikas were benefitting this raptor. Later we found three species of Snowfinch along our route – Black-winged, Rufous-necked and White-rumped, all of which gave us stunning views. To finish off what had been a very birdy trip into the picturesque plateau area, we stopped to watch a pair of Tibetan Grey Shrikes attending a nest with three large chicks – clearly visible through a scope at 30m. Our journey also produced our first views of many Black-necked Cranes – some very close to the road, many Ruddy Shelduck, Alpine and Greenish Warblers, an adult male Tibetan Wagtail and our first Upland Buzzard.

Our early morning stint in Baxi Forest was very productive, with superb views of two Blue-eared Pheasants miraculously spotted by Jan sitting in a tree nearby and preening, then sunning themselves, until 7am. This was followed by scope views of Snowy-cheeked Laughingthrush and good flight views, and for some brief views on the ground, of the elusive Chinese Grouse. Shortly afterwards we found several very confiding Godlewski’s Buntings as well as singing male Hodgeson’s Redstart and Olive-backed Pipit, both atop large pine trees. The area was full of Kessler’s Thrushes and the odd Chestnut Thrush, as well as several species of leaf warbler. When we first arrived there was a Goral down one of the valleys, giving nice scope views, and shortly afterwards Rosemary spotted a Wolf on the opposite hillside.

Leaving Baxi Forest we headed up higher on the Tibetan Plateau, where we visited the very well managed Flower Lake. En route we saw at least 150 White-rumped Snowfinches, Oriental Skylarks, Horned Lark, Black Redstarts, Saker Falcons, Himalayan Griffons and a single Lammergeier and small numbers of Black-necked Cranes. The Lake itself held many birds – Greylag Geese, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Great Crested and a single Black-necked Grebe, Brown-headed Gulls, Whiskered and White-winged Black Terns in immaculate breeding plumage, a few Grey Herons, a booming Eurasian Bittern and breeding plumage Lesser Sandplovers. In the surrounding fields we had close encounters with the impressively large Tibetan Lark. On our return to Ruoergai we found Rock Sparrows and Twite, and as we prepared for dinner most of us saw a stunning Tiger Shrike near the hotel.

On our journey from Ruoergai to Jiuzhaigou the following morning, after dropping from the sparsely vegetated wind-swept plains of the Tibetan Plateau we made a roadside stop for Siberian Rubythroat, and soon found a couple of singing males. One of these put on a magnificent show, sitting in full view and singing loudly away as we watched through our scopes. A wonderful bird! After lunch in Jiuzhaigou, we birded some areas further up the valley and found a few good birds. On a scrubby hillside we had good views of Spectacled Fulvetta, whilst along a forested trail we found, amongst other things, a Chinese Thrush.

Entering the stunningly beautiful Jiuzhaigou National Park the following morning, we headed up to an area known to support one of Asia’s most beautiful birds, Rufous-headed Robin. We used the park’s impressively efficient transport system – electric buses – to reach our destination, passing strikingly beautiful scenery on our route up towards Long Lake. Almost as soon as we arrived in the area we heard the nightingale-like song of the robin, and, as usual, this elusive creature lulled us into thinking we were about to see it. Of course, this was not to be – such a handsome robin does not give itself up so easily, and after a few invisible passes of the group, and as it started to rain, the robin stopped singing for the day. With very little chance of seeing this species when it is silent, we decided to search for another main target species – Sichuan Treecreeper. This too proved to be difficult to find: at one point a couple of Eurasian Nuthatches in the upper canopy gave us a false alarm, but the treecreepers were nowhere to be found, and not calling. Nevertheless, after a couple of hours of intensive searching we finally found a confiding pair of birds, much to everyone’s relief.

The forests near Long Lake were bustling with birds, and we saw many interesting species. These included a couple of confiding Pere David’s Tits in a forest clearing, and not long afterwards we came across a small group of Spotted Nuthatch sitting in the upper canopy, whilst some of our group also managed to see a male Indian Blue Robin, as well as a male Vinaceous Rosefinch. Since the park closes at 5pm our time was up, and we headed to a late lunch in the Tibetan Village – but just as we were about to board a bus Frank found a Chinese Nuthatch, and we aborted boarding to watch this endemic before finally getting a bus down the mountain valley for a quick but welcome lunch of pot noodles. Then, not long after our noodles, we had another piece of good luck as a passing feeding flock contained at least four Sooty Tits, another of the species we had hoped to find in Jiuzhaigou. Our final stop of the day was Reed Lake, near the park entrance, where we found another important target bird – the charismatic Spectacled Parrotbill. Small numbers were seen very easily as we walked along the lakeside. Our final bird of the day we found outside the park – a nice Brown Dipper clinging on to a rock besides a very fast flowing river.

On our final day in Jiuzhaigou, with only one main target species to see, we headed back to the area in which we had heard Rufous-headed Robin the previous day. As we approached we heard two males singing – evidently some kind of territorial dispute – and within half an hour John had managed to see one of these amazingly secretive birds. During the next five hours or so we tried very hard to get views of the birds, but in the end only about half of us saw one reasonably well – how these robins sing from one place and then seconds later from another place and move without being detected is hard to conceive, and something one needs to experience! We had to give up mid afternoon and tried another couple of spots for the birds in a different part of the park, but heard none in those areas. At one point our hopes had been lifted as we heard the distinctive song, but it turned out to be some other birders playing a tape!

With only half the group seeing the robin, we were a little disappointed as we turned our attention to an hour of sightseeing in this most wonderful of parks, with its incredibly beautiful lakes, waterfalls and shoals. All the participants of the tour were in agreement that there are very few places in the world that can equal Jiuzhaigou in terms of its scenery – and despite the huge number of Chinese tourists visiting the park, the park authority has done an amazingly good job of preserving the area.

Leaving Jiuzhaigou after a leisurely breakfast on our final morning, we started our long journey back to Chengdu where we were to end this tour. On the way we stopped to look for a few birds, and we were lucky enough to find an adult and two young Collared Crows, now a scarce bird in China. At another random restroom stop we soon discovered a whole host of new birds for the trip, such as Red-billed Starling, Oriental Greenfinch and Plain Prinia, as well as other birds that most of us had already seen, such as Chinese Grosbeak, Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Rufous-faced Warbler and Speckled Piculet. So, even at the last moment we were still adding birds to the list in what is without doubt China’s premier birding areas…we had had a superb time with great birding combined with good weather (not always guaranteed in Sichuan at this time of year!), excellent food and some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. What more could you ask for on a birding holiday!?


1.Blue-eared Pheasant

2. Chinese Monal Pheasant

3. Barred Laughingthrush

4. Firethroat

5.Tibetan Snowcock

5. Wallcreeper

Tour Reports

Tour Reports  


What our clients say  


|  Terms & Conditions  |  Links  |  Clients Feedback  |  Contact Us  |  Email Newsletter  |

© 2004-2034 China Bird Tour. All Rights Reserved!

Website design, development and hosting by ChinaIdo