Wuyishan, China, 8th - 11th June 2001

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT surfbirds.com)


Graham Talbot
Chris Campion


Wuyishan is a world biosphere site located in the north of Fujian province South East China. Apart from being an area of outstanding natural beauty it contains probably the only remaining large track of pristine forest in southern China. Chris had made a previous attempt to get there two years ago however he could not get into the reserve as he had no permit which has to be arranged in advance. We therefore decided to try again as it made an ideal weekend trip from Hong Kong being relatively easy to get to (there are direct flights from Shenzhen just across the boarder from Hong Kong). Also we had better contacts this time to arrange permits and transport

The reserve entrance is about 25k north of the tourist resort of Wuyishan. After entering the park the road follows a river through the narrow valley for a further 20km before it reaches the park headquarters. Along this valley the hills are covered with pristine forest it is awe inspiring. From the reserve HQ the road winds up steeply through more cultivated areas and large stands of mature bamboo to a manned gate at 1100m. At the gate the road forks one leg drops into a valley whilst the other winds steeply for 17km up to the top of the mountain to a height of 2000m. We spent the majority of our time birding along this section especially between KM 20 and 24 where the sides of the road were less steep. Whilst walking out of the park on the last day we noticed a track leading up into the hillside from just below the HQ We didn’t have time to explore this track but it could be worth while.


Chris made all the local arrangements through a local travel agent in Wuyishan who’s number he obtained from Joshua our Chinese contact. The flights were booked in Hong Kong and because of the late booking it was not possible to get direct flights so we thought we were going to have to change at Xiamen both ways. However when we got to Shenzhen airport we managed to book direct return fight back on the Sunday evening. Through the local travel agent in Wuyishan we arranged accommodation permits and transport. We stayed at the HQ in the Expert Guest House. It was good and even had hot water much to our surprise. To get round we arranged to have a car and driver for the whole weekend. They met us at the airport and dropped us off at the airport and basically done as we told them. The cost of the trip was the usual Chinese rip off We were charged $10US a day each to enter the reserve plus an additional 100 Yuan for what I am not quite sure. The accommodation cost 600 Yuan which was not bad but that did not include food The car and driver cost a total of 2000Yuan. To be fair the price that we were charged was what had been agreed when we booked however they did try to charge us extra for going up to the top of the mountain twice in a day. We took most of our own food in however we did eat one day at a village by the HQ where we were charged 200 Yuan for a bowl of rice and a few vegetables They wanted 400 Yuan to start with. Beware.


Friday 8th June

Departed Kowloon on the China ferry at 14.30 arrived in China an hour latter and caught the free bus to the airport. Departed on the 17.30 flight to Xiamen had an hours layover before departing to Wuyishan arriving at 20.30. Our car was at the airport to meet us and we left in heavy rain for the reserve arriving at the Expert Guest House at the reserve HQ at 22.00.

Saturday 9th June

Woke at 04.30 kicked the driver into action and departed for the top of the mountain. The rain had stopped by now but there was still a lot of low cloud. As we were driving up the last part of mountain at KM 21 we saw a Pheasant fly across the track from the steep left hand side. We leapt out of the car and were rewarded by excellent views of a female Cabot’s Tragopan running up and down the side of the track just inside the vegetation. I think we were lucky as she was running up and down she kept on giving a soft contact call and I think this was because she had chicks on the other side of the road. We eventually carried on to the top of the mountain which was above the tree line and found it enshrouded in mist so we turned round and got the car to drop us off at the start of the tree line. We then proceeded to walk down the track to the top park gate birding on route. During this period it started to rain again however it did not effect our birding too much

Arrived at the park gate early afternoon rested for an hour sheltering from the rain before we got our car to take us back to the top and we proceeded to repeat our walk

Met the car at 19.00 and returned to the HQ for something to eat

Sunday 10th June

Set off at 04.00 to the top of the mountain and again on route at about KM 21 we flushed a Cabot’s Tragopan from the side of the road. We jumped out of the car and approached where it landed only to flush it and a chick down the side of the mountain. We got the car to drop us off at the top tree line and proceeded to bird the areas between KM 20 and 25. Not long after being dropped off we heard a strange call that could only be coming from a game bird. We managed to tape it and with playback it came closer but we could not see it so we climb down the steep hillside for about 20m to an area where there was not so much floor vegetation. We played the tape and very soon we managed to draw the bird in and were rewarded with excellent views of a Rickets-hill Partridge one of our target species. We proceeded to bird the best area in the hope of finding Short-tailed Parrot bill but to no avail however we managed to tape in a Spotted Wren Babbler another target bird. We met the car and got them to drop us off at the top gate and we proceeded to bird along the other road which descended into the valley. By now it had started to rain quite heavily however we still managed to find Plain-tailed Warbler singing in a stand of Bamboo. We returned to the HQ and then proceeded to walk out of the park along the river valley Eventually we gave up as heavy rain started to persist The car took us to the airport and we caught the 21.30 flight to Shenzhen. As the flight was late departing we arrived late in Shenzhen and although we caught a taxi to the boarder at Lo Wu we arrived at the boarder too late it had closed so we had to spend the night in a hotel in Shenzhen

Monday 11th June

Crossed the boarder first thing

All in all a very good trip

Reference Books (see a selection of Asia Guides available to buy online here) 

A Field Guide to the Birds of China — John Mackinnon and Karen Phillpps Although not the best field guide in the world it was sufficient for our needs

We could find no actual trip reports however we did speak to a couple of people who had visited the area in the past

Systematic List

Chinese Bamboo Partridge (Bambusicola thoracica)
1 between HQ and reserve gate 10 June

Rickets-hill Partridge (Arborophila gingica)
1 seen and 2 heard KM 22 10 June

Cabot’s Tragopan (Tragopan cabito)
1 female KM 22 9 June
1 female and one chick KM 20 10 June

Bay Woodpecker (Blythipictus pyrrhotis)
1 heard 10 June

Great Barbet (Megalaima virens)
2 Heard 9 June

Crested Kingfisher (Ceryle lugubris)
2 alongriver 24th February, 1 along the river 25th February (Mostly near the HQ)

Drongo Cuckoo (Surniclus lugubris)
1 heard KM 17-25 9 June

Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis)
1 HQ — Main gate 10 June

Lesser Cuckoo (Cuculus poliocephalus)
4 heard 9 June, 2 heard 10 June

Fork-tailed Swift (Apus pacificus)
1 km 17-25 9 June

Barred Cuckoo Dove (Macropygia unchall)
5 km 17-25 9 June

Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
2 km 17-25 10 June

Red-billed Blue Magpie (Urocissa erythrorhyncha)
6 HQ to top gate 9 June, 10 HQ to main gate 10 June

Grey Treepie (Dendrocissa formosae)
4 km 17-25 9 June

Grey -chinned Minivet (Pericrocotus solaris)
4, km 17-25, 9 June, 5 km 17 — 25 10 June

Violet Whistling Thrush (Myiophoneus caeruleus)
4 along river 10 June

Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)
2, km17-25, 9 June

Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush (Monticola rufiventris)
2 males 1 female Km 17-20, 9 June

Lesser Shortwing (Brachypteryx leucophrys)
10 heard km 17-25, 9 June
10 heard 1 seen km 17-25 10 June

Small Niltarva (Niltarva macgrigoriae)
2 heard, 1 seen km 17-20, 9 June
2 km 17-20 10 June

White-crowned Forktail (Enicurus leschenaulti)
1 km 17-25, 9 June

Grey Bushchat (Saxicola ferrea)
3 top gate 10 June

Chestnut-vented Nuthatch (Sitta nagaensis)
4 Km 17-25, 9 June

Coal Tit (Parus ater)
6, 9 June, 4 10 June km 17-25

Yellow-bellied Tit (Parus venustulus)
1 km 17-25, 10 June

Great Tit (Parus Major)
1 km 17-25, 10 June

Yellow-cheeked Tit (Parus spilonoyus)
8, km 17-25, 9 June
10, km 17-25 10 June

Yellow-browed Tit (Sylviparus modestus)
4, km 17-25, 9 June
1, km 17-25 10 June

Black-throated Tit (Aegithalos concinnus)
20, km17-25, 9 June

Asian House Martin (Delichon dasypus)
Small breeding colony nesting in rock face Km 17-25

Mountain Bulbul (Hypsipetes mcclellandii)
5 km 17-25, 9 June
8 Km 17-25 10 June

Collared Finchbill (Spizixos semitorques)
3 km 17-25, 10 June

Chestnut Bulbul (Hypsipetes castanonotus)
4 seen,6 heard Km 17-25,9 June

Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes leucocephalus)
5 km 17-25, 9 June

Yellow-bellied Bush Warbler (Prinia flaviventris)
A total of 4 heard each day 9-10 June

Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler (Cettia fortipes)
A total of up to 20 heard both days 9-10 June

Russet Bush Warbler (Bradypterus seebohmi)
1 km 17-25 10 June

[Sulphur-breasted Warbler (Phylloscopus ricketti)]
A total of 12 considered to be of this species based on current literature However recent studies indicate that identification of Southern China Phylloscopus Warblers may very complex and the full identification criteria is still to be established

Blyth’s Leaf warbler (Phylloscopus reguloides)
5 km 17-25, 9 June
5 km 17-25, 10 June

[White-tailed Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus davisoni)]
2 km 17-25 9 June
5 km 17-25 9 June
The above birds were considered to be this species However recent studies indicate that identification of Southern China Phylloscopus Warblers may very complex and the full identification criteria is still to be established

Plain-tailed Warbler (Seicercus soror)
1 in bamboo near top gate 10 June

Bianchi’s Warbler (Seicercus valentini)
Up to a total of 20 seen and heard 9 and 10 June mainly at higher elevations

Chestnut-crowned Warbler (Seicercus castaniceps)
10 km 17-25, 9 June
8, km 17-25 10 June

Pygmy Wren Babbler (Pnoepyga pusilla)
10 heard 9 June 2 heard 10 June km 17-25

Spotted Wren Babbler (Spelaeornis formosus)
1 km 20-25, 10 June

Rufus-capped Babbler (Stachyris ruficeps)
A total of 10 seen and heard 9 June

Pekin Robin (Leiothrix lutea)
20 km 17-25 9 June
10 km 17-25 10 June

White-browed Shrike Babbler (Pteruthius flaviscapis)
3 km 17-25, 9 June

Green Shrike Babbler (Ptercuthius xanthochlorus)
1 km 17-25, 9 June

Streaked-throated Fulvetta (Alcippe cinereiceps)
12 km 17-25 9 June
10 km 17-25 10 June

Grey-cheeked Fulvetta (Alcippe morrisonia)
4 km 17-25 10 June

Black-chinned Yuhina (Yuhina nigrimenta)
20 km 17-25 9 June
2 km 17-25 10 June

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
I HQ, 10 June

Richards Pipit (Anthus richardi)
1 top of mountain 9 June

Olive—backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni)
1 km 20 —25 9 June

Brown Bullfinch (Pyrrhula nipalensis)
2 km 17-25 9 June
6 km 17-25 10 June

G Talbot
2 Brandreth Road
E6 5QB
G Talbot e-mail gtalbot@netvigator.com