Paradoxornis alphonsianus

Sichuan 2016 (Part 2)

(Note: These maps can be viewed with different options (Mandarin, English, Satellite etc) by clicking the ‘layer-box’ in the top-right and making another selection)

We spent the evening in the excellent and reasonably-priced Chengdu Wenjun Mansion Hotel on Qintai Road near the centre of town. In the morning we were picked up outside and took the highway to the south-west towards Ya’an, where we made a ‘comfort-stop’ and spent a few-minutes birding, seeing White-rumped Munia, Brown-breasted Bulbul, Collared Finchbill (again!) and the highlight a small flock of Ashy-throated Parrotbill.

Shortly after we stopped at the Hulin Hotel at Longcanggou, where we intended to spend at least three days on the hunt for Parrotbills, Tragopans, Barwings and assorted ‘goodies’.

Hulin Hotel
Hulin Hotel

I had previously seen many non-forest species in the surrounding ‘agricultural’ areas, but sadly many of these didn’t seem to be around this time (possibly as we were a couple of weeks earlier than 2014) species such as Russet Sparrow, Forest Wagtail, Japanese Tit and Common Pheasant, however the Red-rumped Swallows were starting to nest-build and we got brief-views of Grey-faced Buzzard, Black-naped Oriole and Yellow-throated Bunting.

Soon it became clear that the weather-conditions at Longcanggou were much the same as my previous visit….very damp!  Therefore conditions on the tracks were difficult and made worse by the construction-traffic heading towards the summit of the mountain to create a new Giant Panda rehabilitation-centre. Unfortunately our vehicle got stuck and we were required to hire a van and driver from the local town, however the drivers were much better-equipped to take us to-and-from the good-birding spots.

Soon we were amongst singing Phylloscopus and Seicercus leaf-warblers and then the challenges started, Summer identified Claudia’s and Kloss’s from voice and Large-billed were calling, unfortunately I should have captured the sound as this seems to be the best way of identifying them correctly, and now am unsure what I’ve photographed.

Later at a higher-elevation we managed to see the elusive Golden-fronted Fulvetta, but sadly it proved too elusive for photos!  At the same spot I did manage to get reasonable shots of Red-tailed Minla and further up a nice-party of Golden Parrotbill.

We did exceptionally well for Parrotbills on this trip, eventually seeing 7 species. On the Longcanggou Mountain trail we also saw Great, Brown and Three-toed but the highlight was getting incredible views of Grey-hooded fairly close to the new Panda development.

The wet-weather continued in Longcanggou but we still managed to find some awesome birds, and on the last day we awake very early and visited a nearby area called Dove (or Pigeon) Mountain at dawn. Driving along a narrow track we suddenly stopped and Summer pointed out a male Temminck’s Tragopan just sitting in the vegetation on the road-side. Later returning via the same track we heard an interesting call from a dense patch of vegetation and managed to call out a stunning male Chinese Blue Flycatcher.

Around lunch-time we returned to say goodbye to the wonderful staff at the Hulin Hotel and then continued with a long drive to the Wolong area, and we were brought back to reality with a long-wait at road-works near Wenchuan, unfortunately the devastation caused by the 2008 earthquakes is still being felt, and although most infrastructure has now been repaired, apparently roads haven’t received adequate-funding and are still sub-standard. The eighty kilometre-drive to the Wolong area was a rather uncomfortable experience, but nothing compared to the tragedy that caused it eight years earlier when tens of thousands perished. Ebird Lists from Loncanggou, Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3

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