China - 21 June - 28 July, 2007

Published by Greg Roberts (robertsg AT

Participants: Greg Roberts


With Glenn Sherf and Bill and Sandra Watson. Our visit was organised efficiently and economically, with some hiccups, by Chengdu operator Samuel Yue Common bird names follow A Field Guide to the Birds of China (MacKinnon & Phillipps 2000) with alternative names/taxonomic changes in Clements’s Birds of the World: A Checklist 2000 given where appropriate. Our itinerary follows.

21 June. Arrived Beijing. Harmony Hotel.
22 June. Visited the Great Wall of China at Badaling. There were opportunities here to watch birds from the wall; we veered left (northwards) from the parking centre. Chinese White-browed Warbler and Plain Laughing-Thrush were seen from the wall.
23 June. Visited the Summer Palace and the Imperial Palace, Beijing.
24 June. Flew to Chengdu, met up with our excellent guide Liu Jun-Feng and drove to Wawu Shan. Gongtong Hotel.
25 June. Took the cable car to the summit of Wawu Shan – beautiful bamboo forest with plenty of birds at 2700m, and good weather.
26 June. Birded the main road to the hotel between 1100m and 2200m. Excellent conditions made for easy birding.
27 June. Birded the road in the morning and the summit in the afternoon in heavily misty conditions.
28 June. Visited low elevation forest patches outside the gate at Wawu Shan before driving to Bao Guo at the base of Emei Shan. In the afternoon we had a look around the Fuhu Monastery and walked back from there to our hotel, the Teddy Bear.
29 June. Took the bus up Emei Shan to Leidongping (2430m). We walked 23km from there to Wannian (1200m) via Xixiang and Huayan. We added nothing of substance to the list this day; it may be better to focus higher-mid altitude birding efforts on the much more convenient Wawu Shan. From Wannian, the took the cable car to the road, where we were met by our driver.
30 June. The cable car to Wannian again, from where we walked to Wuxiangang before getting a bus back to Bao Guo.
1 July. Drove to Wolong via Chengdu, where we visited Liu’s family. Wolong Hotel.
2 July. We hiked to the Wuyipeng Research Station in the Wolong Biosphere Reserve – an uncomfortably steep ascent. The panda rangers told us we were supposed to have permits and local guides, but let us pass. We walked back in the late afternoon, having opted not to stay overnight at the station.
3 July. Mostly rained out, with a late afternoon visit to the Yinlong Valley, a pleasant and little birded forest track 12km west of Wolong, where we were surprised to encounter Rufous-tailed Babbler and Scaly-breasted Wren-Babbler.
4 July. Drove to Balang Shan 4500m along a very bad road – what should have taken just over an hour took 4+ hours because the road was being remade. Consequently, we missed several species such as Wood Snipe and Chinese Monal. Construction of roads, dams and infrastructure was widespread during our visit, a reflection of the booming Chinese economy slope behind the Wolong Hotel along poor and often ill-defined tracks.
6 July. Drove from Wolong to Maerking via Wenquan, taking an unexpectedly long 10 hours. We had planned to travel to Maerking via Balang Shan but this was not possible due to roadworks. Maerking Hotel.
7 July. Drove to Mengbi Shan 4000m. Walked 10km downhill from the summit. Very good, easy birding here.
8 July. Mengbi Shan. Walked 13km down the mountain.
9 July. Drove from Maerking to Chengdu. Riverside Hotel.
10 July. Visited the Giant Panda Breeding Centre in the morning and Du Fu Cottage Park in the afternoon.
11 July. Flew from Chengdo to Lhasa in Xizang Province, meeting our guide Kunchoc Loden, who spoke very little English and proved to be singularly unhelpful. Mandala Muslim Hotel.
12 July. Visited the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple in the Tibetan capital.
13 July. Drove from Lhasa to Reting Monastery via Chak La Pass 4600m, a long and bumpy drive. Overnight at the very basic and hygienically dubious monastery.
14 July. Returned to Lhasa, birding en route, especially at a spot identified in other reports – 7km west of Reting where the road meets a mountain and the river.
15 July. A rest day around Lhasa.
16 July. Took the new overnight train from Lhasa to Xining via Golmud. Stunning scenery and some things seen from the train - Black-necked Crane, Ibisbill, Eurasian Eagle-Owl, Wolf, Blue Sheep, Tibetan Wild Ass.
17 July. Arrived Xining 2200m, Qinghai Province. Afternoon visit to Bei Shan. It was not clear from reports where the best road was, but we ended up birding a road which leads to prominent radio transmitters.
18 July. All day in the Dongxia Forest Park, a pleasant pine forest 70km north of Xining.
19 July. Drove from Xining to the small Tibetan village of Wenquan via Gonghe (2800m – we birded the gullies just south of the town); the town of Heka; the so-called Canyon at km 258; and Er La Pass (4800m). Overnight in a very basic truck stop resthouse. We originally intended driving on to Maduo but changed our minds after seeing so many Tibetan specialties from the train.
20 July. Walked to the summit of Er La Pass, failing to see Tibetan Sandgrouse, though we didn’t look hard. Drove to Gonghe. Yuhe Hotel.
21 July. Drove to Qinghai Lake (Koko Nor) 3400m. Birded the lake edge and marshy areas near the town of Heimahe, and gullies in the Rubber Mountain Pass before proceeding to the desert town of Chaka 3800m. The recently reopened Yanhu Hotel was run-down but well located for birding.
22 July. Birded the steppe around roadside pools 15km east of Chaka in the morning, and hills north of the town of the late afternoon.
23 July. Drove back to Xining, not stopping for birds because BW was suffering altitude sickness, an affliction which bothered us all to varying degrees, as we were at high elevations for prolonged periods.
25 July. Flew to Xian in Shaanxi Province in the morning. In the afternoon, BW and I drove to Yangxian through the never-ending Qinling Mountains. We saw Chinese Crested Ibis at their roosting site near the town – shared with hundreds of nesting egrets, night-herons and pond-herons - but were severely hassled by a local ibis ranger, who insisted that as foreigners, we had to pay substantial fees to see the birds. As we had found the birds of our own accord on a public road - after rangers failed to meet us at a previously arranged rendez-vous - we refused.
26 July. Returned from Yangxian to Xian, birding the Qinlings en route.
27 July. Visited the Terracotta Warriors and Banpo Village.
28 July. Flew to Beijing and Hong Kong.
29 July. An unexpected delay in Hong Kong due to a mechanically faulty Qantas jet. 30 July. Returned to Brisbane.

Species Lists

*denotes lifer

*Tibetan Snowcock (pair flushed below summit, Balang Shan),
*Chesnut-throated (Verreaux’s) Partridge (1 flushed Mengbi Shan),
*Tibetan Partridge (1 between Reting and Chak La Pass),
*Daurian Patridge (2 + 1 Bei Shan; 8 near Chaka),
*Blood Pheasant (2 crossing road Mengbi Shan),
*White Eared-Pheasant (2 parties totalling 20+ Mengbi Shan),
*Tibetan Eared-Pheasant (2, others heard 7k west of Reting),
*Temminck’s Tragopan (1 female roadside Wawu Shan),
*Lady Amherst’s Pheasant (1 + 1 females roadside Wawu Shan),
*Golden Pheasant (1 female at base of climb to Wuyipeng; 1 male in bamboo at Giant Panda Breeding Centre),
Common Pheasant (several around Xining, Great Wall),
Mallard, Common Merganser (several around Lhasa),
Ruddy Shelduck (common Tibetan plateau),
Bar-headed Goose (common Qinghai Lake), Little Grebe (3 Summer Palace),
Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker (2 Wawu Shan summit; 1 Mengbi Shan), Crimson-breasted Woodpecker (3 Wawu Shan), Darjeeling Woodpecker (1 Wuyipeng),
Grey-headed Woodpecker (1 Reting), Black Woodpecker (1 Mengbi Shan),
White-backed Woodpecker (1 Wawu Shan), Great Spotted Woodpecker (1 Xian),
Speckled Piculet (1 Wannian),
*Rufous-bellied Woodpecker (1 Mengbi Shan),
Great Barbet (several Wawu Shan),
*Sino-Himalayan (Eurasian) Treecreeper (1 Mengbi Shan; 1 Reting),
*Sichuan Treecreeper (1 Wawu Shan summit),
Black-capped Kingfisher (1 near Maerking), Crested Kingfisher (2 Quinling Mtns), Common Kingfisher, Eurasian Hoopoe,
Large Hawk-Cuckoo (calling commonly in mountains),
Oriental (Himalayan) Hawk-Cuckoo (1 Wawu Shan summit, others heard), Common Cuckoo (widespread), Asian Koel (heard Wawu Shan),
*Lesser Cuckoo (2 Wawu Shan summit; heard commonly in mountains),
Himalayan Swiftlet (common mountains), White-throated Needletail,
Common Swift (common Beijing, Xining), Fork-tailed Swift,
Collared Owlet (1 called in Emei Shan),
Little Owl (widespread but uncommon in high mountains),
*Eurasian Eagle-Owl (1 on ground seen from Lhasa-Xining train)
*Hill Pigeon (widespread on Tibetan plateau),
*Snow Pigeon (4 around Balang Shan summit),
Speckled Wood-Pigeon (common Wawu Shan),
Wedge-tailed Green-Pigeon (several Wawu Shan),
Spotted Turtle-Dove, Oriental Turtle-Dove, Red Collared-Dove,
Eurasian Collared-Dove (several around Chaka and Xining),
*Black-necked Crane (2 + 1 + 2 + 2 seen from Lhasa-Xining train),
Common Moorhen, Watercock (1 flushed from rice paddy near Chengdu),
*Pallas’s Sandgrouse (2 + 2, including one on ground, 15km and 7km east of Chaka),
Ibisbill (1 from Lhasa-Xining train),
Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper,
Common Redshank, Mongolian Plover, Kentish Plover, Pacific Golden Plover,
Little Ringed Plover, Pallas’s Gull (common Qinghai Lake and from Lhasa-Xining train), Brown-headed Gull, Common Tern, Whiskered Tern,
Black Baza (2 Wawu Shan), Oriental Honey-Buzzard (2 Wawu Shan),
Black-eared Kite, Osprey (1 near Lhasa),
Golden Eagle (fairly common in mountains), Lammergeier (widespread in high mountains), Himalayan Griffon (common in high mountains),
*Upland Buzzard (common on Tibetan plateau),
Besra, Chinese Goshawk (1 Quinling Mtns), Northern Goshawk (1 Wawu Shan), Saker Falcon (10-15 on Tibetan plateau), Eurasian Kestrel, Amur Falcon (1 Great Wall),
Great Cormorant, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron,
Chinese Pond-Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron,
*Chinese Crested Ibis (25-30 at roost 4km north of Yangxian, including five juveniles),
Grey-backed Shrike (common), Long-tailed Shrike, Rufous-tailed Shrike tsaidamensii race (common Chaka area), Brown Shrike (Xian area), Eurasian Jay,
Red-billed Blue-Magpie (common in mountains),
Azure-winged Magpie (common Beijing, Xian), Black-billed Magpie,
*Mongolian (Henderson’s) Ground-Jay (1 east of Chaka),
*Hume’s Groundpecker [Tibetan Ground-Jay] (common Tibetan plateau),
Red-billed Chough (common in mountains), Large-billed Crow, Common Raven,
*Daurian Jackdaw (1 from Lhasa-Xining train),
Black-naped Oriole, Long-tailed Minivet (common in mountains),
*Swinhoe’s (Brown-rumped) Mininvet (4 near Bao Guo),
Black Drongo, Hair-crested (Spangled) Drongo,
Brown Dipper (1 Qinling Mountains),
Blue Whistling-Thrush (widespread in mountains), Blue Rock-Thrush,
Chesnut Thrush (small numbers in high mountains),
*Plain-backed Thrush (1 on track Wuyipeng),
*Chinese Thrush (1 Dongxia),
*White-backed (Kessler’s) Thrush (several Balang Shan, Mengbi Shan, near Chaka, Rubber Mountain Pass),
Eurasian Blackbird (several Chengdu and Xian),
*Tibetan Blackbird (several between Lhasa and Reting),
*Himalayan Bluetail [Orange-flanked Bush-Robin] (1 Mengbi Shan, 1 Dongxia),
Golden Bush-Robin (2 Wawu Shan summit), White-tailed Rubythroat (1 Rubber Mountain Pass), Himalayan Rubythroat (2 Dongxia),
*Firethroat (1 male called in, others heard Wuyipeng),
*Indian Blue Robin (1 Wuyipeng, 1 behind Wolong Hotel),
*Ala Shan Redstart (1 adult male, 1 juvenile Rubber Mountain Pass),
Black Redstart, Hodgson’s Redstart (small numbers in mountains),
Blue-fronted Redstart (widespread in high mountains),
*White-throated Redstart (several Reting, Mengbi Shan, Dongxia),
*White-winged Redstart (2 Er La Pass, 1 Chak La Pass),
Daurian Redstart (several Great Wall, Qinling Mtns, Wolong village),
*White-bellied Redstart (1 male Wawu Shan summit),
Plumbeous Water-Redstart, White-capped Water-Redstart,
*Brown-breasted Flycatcher (1 below Wannian),
Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher (common Wawu and Emei shans),
Ferruginous Flycatcher (several behind Wolong Hotel),
Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher (common in mountains),
*Slaty-backed Flycatcher (1 male, 1 female Mengbi Shan),
Slaty-blue Flycatcher (2 Wawu Shan), Verditer Flycatcher,
Oriental Magpie-Robin, Little Forktail (1 Wawu Shan),
White-crowned Forktail (1 Wolong village, 1 Wawu Shan),
Slaty-backed Forktail (1 Wawu Shan, Siberian Stonechat (4 Rubber Mountain Pass), Grey Bush-Chat, Pied Wheater (several Bei Shan), Desert Wheatear (common near Chaka and between Gonghe and Haka), Isobelline Wheater (2 near Chaka),
White-cheeked Starling (1 Imperial Palace), Crested Myna,
*Chinese (Snowy-browed) Nuthatch (6-8 Dongxia),
*White-cheeked (Przelwalski’s) Nuthatch (3 Dongxia),
Coal Tit (2 aemodius race Wawu Shan), Great Tit (Great Wall, Xian, Qinling Mtns), Green-backed Tit (common in mountains),
Black-throated Tit (flocks Du Fu Park, Qinling Mtns, Bao Guo),
*Yellow-bellied Tit (widespread in lower mountains),
*Grey-crested Tit (several Wuyipeng, Mengbi Shan),
Yellow-browed Tit (flocks Wawu and Emei shans),
*Rufous-vented Tit (widespread in mountains),
*Rusty-breasted (Pere David’s) Tit (several Wuyipeng),
*Songar (Willow) Tit (several Dongxia),
*Sooty Tit (several Qinling Mtns),
*White-browed Tit (1 Rubber Mountain Pass),
*Chinese Sand (Pale) Martin (fairly common Tibetan plateau),
Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow,
Asian House Martin, Eurasian Crag-Martin,
Brown-breasted Bulbul (common Qinling Mtns), Chinese (Light-vented) Bulbul,
Black Bulbul, Collared Finchbill (common in lowlands),
Winter Wren (several Mengbi Shan),
*White-browed Chinese Warbler (1 from Great Wall),
Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler (common in mountain areas),
*Brown Bush-Warbler (1 Wawu Shan summit),
*Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler (2 Wawu Shan summit, 1 Wuyipeng),
Grey-sided Bush-Warbler (2 Wawu Shan summit), Aberrant Bush-Warbler (common Wawu Shan summit), Manchurian Bush-Warbler (1 Bei Shan),
Oriental Reed-Warbler (several Summer Palace),
*Crested Tit-Warbler (1 Mengbi Shan, 3 Dongxia),
*White-browed Tit-Warbler (4 at Canyon),
Ashy-throated Warbler (1 Wawu Shan), Buff-throated Warbler (2 Wawu Shan),
Buff-barred Warbler (several Wawu Shan),
Hume’s Warbler (several Dongxia, 2 Mengbi Shan),
*Sichuan Leaf-Warbler (forresti widespread in mountains),
Tickell’s Leaf-Warbler (common in high mountains),
Yellow-streaked Warbler (several Dongxia), Greenish Warbler (common),
*Chinese Leaf-Warbler (1 seen, others herd behind Wolong Hotel),
*Large-billed Leaf-Warbler (common in mountains),
Goldcrest (common Dongxia),
*Emei Leaf-Warbler (2 Wawu Shan lower elevations),
*Gansu Leaf-Warbler (several Dongxia),
*Claudia’s (Blyth’s) Leaf-Warbler (claudiae common in mountains),
*Kloss’s (White-tailed) Leaf-Warbler (klossi 2 Wawu Shan),
*Bianchi’s Warbler (valentini common_high elevations Wawu and Emei shans, Wuyipeng),
*Martens’s Warbler (omeiensis common high-mid elevations Wawu and Emei shans),
*Plain-tailed Warbler (2 lower elevations Wawu Shan; Seicercis warblers seen at Wolong and in the Qinling Mtns may be this species or tephrocephalus),
Chesnut-crowned Warbler (2 Wawu Shan), Japanese White-eye,
Chesnut-flanked White-eye (common behind Wolong Hotel),
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker (1 Bao Guo),
*Plain (Pere David’s) Laughing-Thrush (1 from Great Wall; 2 Bei Shan),
*Giant Laughing-Thrush (several Balang and Mengbi shans),
*Spotted Laughing-Thrush (2 behind research station Wuyipeng),
*Elliot’s Laughing-Thrush (common in mountains),
*Rusty Laughing-Thrush (2 flocks Wawu Shan, 1 flock Emei Shan),
*Brown-cheeked (Prince Henry’s) Laughing-Thrush (common around Reting and Reting-Chak La Pass road),
Hwamei (4 near Bau Guo), White-browed Laughing-Thrush (common in lowlands), Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler (2 Emei Shan),
*Emei Shan (Grey-faced) Liocichla (several Wawu Shan),
*Scaly-breasted Wren-Babbler (1 Yinlong Valley),
*Rufous-tailed Babbler (1 Yinlong Valley),
Rufous-capped Babbler, Red-billed Leiothrix (common Wawu and Emei shans),
Pygmy Wren-Babbler (heard Wawu Shan),
*Chinese Babax (1 Wawu Shan, 1 below Balang Shan),
*Giant Babax (common around Reting),
*Streak-throated Fulvetta (common Wawu and Emi shans, Wuyipeng),
*Dusky Fulvetta (several below Wannian),
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Golden-breasted Fulvetta (2 Wawu Shan, 1 Wuyipeng), Stripe-throated Yuhina (4 Yinlong Valley),
Black-chinned Yuhina (flocks Wawu Shan lower elevations, Wannian),
White-collared Yuhina (common in mountains),
*Great Parrotbill (1 Wawu Shan summit),
*Fulvous Parrotbill (several Wawu Shan summit),
Grey-headed Parrotbill (1 Wawu Shan lower elevations),
*Grey-hooded Parrotbill (3 Wawu Shan summit),
*Vinous-throated Parrotbill (common Du Fu Park, Qinling Mtns),
*Ashy-throated Parrotbill (common below Wannian, near Bao Guo),
*Golden Parrotbill (2 Wawu Shan near hotel),
*Tibetan Lark (common near Heimahe lakeside),
*Hume’s Short-toed Lark (several near Heimahe lakeside),
Lesser (Asian) Short-toed Lark (2 near Chaka),
Horned Lark (common in high mountains), Oriental Skylark,
*Mongolian Lark (several between Gonghe and Haka, 2 Qinghai Lake),
Crested Lark (1 Gonghe), Fork-tailed Sunbird (1 Bao Guo),
Gould’s Sunbird (2 Wawu Shan, 1 Wolong, 1 Emei Shan),
Rosy Pipit (common Balang Shan, Rubber Mtn Pass),
Olive-backed Pipit, Richard’s Pipit (2 near Chaka), White Wagtail,
Citrine Wagtain (common near Heimahe), Grey Wagtail,
Tree Sparrow, Rusty Sparrow (several between Lhasa and Reting),
Rock Sparrow (2 near Chaka),
*Henri’s (White-winged) Snowfinch (several Er La Pass),
*Black-winged (Tibetan) Snowfinch (several between Lhasa and Chak La Pass, the Canyon, Rubber Mtn Pass),
*White-rumped Snowfinch (several between Haka and Wenquan),
*Rufous-necked Snowfinch (common between Haka and Wenquan),
*Small (Pere David’s) Snowfinch (2 near Haka),
*Plain-backed (Blanford’s) Snowfinch (several near Chaka),
*Robin Accentor (widespread in high mountains),
Rufous-breasted Accentor (2 Mengbi Shan),
Alpine Accentor (several Balang Shan
*Brown Accentor (several near Gonghe, the Canyon, Bei Shan),
*Maroon-backed Accentor (1 Mengbi Shan summit),
*Tibetan Siskin (several Mengbi Shan),
Twite (widespread), Oriental Greenfinch (several Great Wall, near Xian),
*Mongolian (Trumpeter) Finch (2 near Gonghe),
Plain Mountain-Finch (widespread in high mountains),
*Black-headed (Brandt’s) Mountain-Finch (several Er La and Chak La passes),
*Pink-tailed Bunting [Przevalski’s Rosefinch] (a male and a female of this enigmatic species in a gully, Rubber Mtn Pass),
Common Rosefinch (several below Balang and Mengbi shans),
Dark-breasted Rosefinch (1 below Balang Shan),
*Pale (Sinai) Rosefinch (several Bei Shan),
*Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch (1 Mengbi Shan; common Reting, Rubber Mtn Pass),
*Pink-rumped Rosefinch (4 Mengbi Shan; several Chak La Pass),
*Chinese White-browed Rosefinch (common Mengbi Shan, Dongxia),
*Three-banded Rosefinch (1 Mengbi Shan),
*Red-fronted (Red-faced) Rosefinch (1 Balang Shan summit),
*Tibetan (Roborowski’s) Rosefinch (2 + 2 Er La Pass),
*Streaked (Eastern Great) Rosefinch (2 Mengbi Shan summit),
*Great (Caucasian Great) Rosefinch (1 + 1 Rubber Mtn Pass),
*Grey-headed Bullfinch (2 Wuyipeng; 2 Mengbi Shan),
*Yellow-billed Grosbeak (2 Du Fu Park; 1 Xian),
*Collared Grosbeak (6 + 3, Mengbi Shan),
*White-winged Grosbeak (several Mengbi Shan, Reting),
Meadow Bunting (several Bei Shan, Qinling Mtns),
*Godlewski’s Bunting (several Bei Shan, near Gonghe, Great Wall),
*Slaty Bunting (1 male, 1 female behind Wolong Hotel).

Total 296 species, 113 lifers


*Perny’s Long-nosed Squirrel Dremomys perny (several Wawu Shan),
*Pere David’s (Tibetan) Macaque Macaca thibetana (several Emei Shan, 1 Mengbi Shan),
*Musk Deer (1 Wuyipeng),
*Swinhoe’s Striped Squirrel Tamiops swinhoei (1 Mengbi Shan),
*Moupin Pika Ochotona thibetana (several Mengbi Shan),
*Black-lipped Pika (common Tibetan plateau),
Himalayan Marmot (common high mountains),
*Ala Shan Souslik Spermophilus alashanicus (several Bei Shan),
*Tibetan Gazelle (commonly seen from Lhasa-Xining train),
*Blue Sheep (several seen from Lhasa-Xining train),
*Asian (Tibetan) Wild Ass (30-40 seen from Lhasa-Xining train),
*Wolf (1 seen from Lhasa Xining train: 1 seen very well on a high ridge between Wenquan and Er La Pass),
*Tibetan (Corsac) Fox (1 seen from Lhasa-Xining train).

14 species (13 lifers)