After having birded extensive portions of Sichuan previously, I returned for one month this spring with a twofold objective:
(1) The first ten days were invested into looking for four particular target birds at two sites: Laojun Shan in South Sichuan (Golden-fronted Fulvetta, Streaked Barwing, Sichuan Partridge) and Jiuzhaigou National Park (Rusty-throated Parrotbill). For the entire time of this first leg of my trip, I teamed up with Rob Hutchinson and James Eaton.
(2) The remainder of the time was spent touring all the major birding sites in Sichuan (most of which I had visited previously), with other interested folks as part of a birding trip of which I was the leader.
In the following, I will deal with both parts of this trip chronologically. Naturally, birders will be particularly keen to find out details about Laojun Shan and some of its species (such as the partridge and the fulvetta) that have remained difficult to see for so many years. But even the second part of this trip report (covering the standard sites) and some of its records should be of interest to birders intending to visit the area.
- As always, I would like to thank both Rob Owen Hutchinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and James Alexander Eaton (email@example.com) for the distinguished privilege of their company in the field. One can hardly imagine better birding companions.
- Dai Bo (Daifirstname.lastname@example.org) is greatly acknowledged for making it all happen at Laojun Shan. For the remainder of the trip, I am indebted to Liu Yu Xiang and Sam Yue for their great organizational talent, and to both Liu Yu Xiang and Ho Chun Xue for great company.
- Several people who visited Laojun Shan shortly before us kindly supplied us with information, most notably Nick Dymond, Bjorn Anderson, Jesper Hornskov and Simon Dowell.
1. Laojun Shan – 7-11 May 2005
As a holy Taoist mountain, Laojun Shan is privileged to retain a belt of intact (albeit secondary) forest in South Sichuan, an area that has been stripped completely bare of its immense biological wealth during the post-war Cultural Revolution. Thus, Laojun Shan constitutes one of the last refuges for some of the endemic bird species of the area. Our visit to Laojun Shan was geared at three particular species: Two of them (Golden-fronted Fulvetta and Sichuan Partridge) are narrowly restricted endemics to the subtropical forests of South Sichuan and neighbouring areas, and have become critically endangered with the destruction of their habitat. I had looked for these two in Huang Nian Shan just two years prior, but to my dismay all the broadleaf forest habitat at that site had just undergone complete logging (see trip report elsewhere on the internet). The third target species was Streaked Barwing, an old-growth specialist with a theoretically broad distribution in Yunnan, South Sichuan and Northern Indochina, but also with the important distinction that it doesn’t get seen any more these days: Its last sighting on Fan Si Pan in Vietnam must be decades ago, and people haven’t seen it in Emei Shan for a quite a bit (where it used to be picked up outside the breeding season); as for its supposed occurrence in Yunnan, I would be glad to find out more, but I am unaware of recent sightings.
News about the occurrence of these three species on Laojun Shan permeated to us early in 2005, when we found out that Chinese surveys under the leadership of Dai Bo had established the presence of these three species here. Then, we were lucky in that two different Western birding parties had just visited Laojun Shan a few weeks before us and readily shared their records with us (see their trip reports elsewhere on the internet): Nick Dymond came here in early April 2005, finding the partridge with no problem, though missing the fulvetta and barwing. Later that month, Bjorn Anderson and Jesper Hornskov went for a couple of days, seeing the partridge and having a magical encounter with the barwing, though the fulvetta eluded them.
It is essential to contact Dai Bo (in English) (Daiemail@example.com) to organize a visit to Laojun Shan. Dai Bo can obtain official permits from the relevant authorities in Chengdu and arrange for accommodation, transportation and a compulsory guide. Like so many other sites in China, this is not a place you can rough on your own by just showing up. There is absolutely no public transportation to the site, and anyone who wishes to enter without any pre-arranged permits will encounter majestic difficulties. Note that the permits and costs for daily transportation/accommodation are not especially cheap: To make sure you get a decent chance of finding all the targets, you should allow for at least three full days on the mountain (i.e. up to 5 days all in all), which may amount to US$ 200 or 300 (needless to say, this estimate is subject to fluctuation). It is recommended to come in a group, so at least some items on the price list will be shared. To further cut the price, you can travel all they way to Pingshan by public bus, which is just slightly slower than the private jeep that Dai Bo can arrange from Chengdu: Take a 6-8hr-bus to Yibin, where you will probably have to spend the night before going the remaining 2-3hr to Pingshan the following morning. At Pingshan, you will be awaited by the local forest wardens who will take you on a jeep ride to the base of Laojun Shan.
Bjorn Anderson’s trip report contains a useful hand-drawn map of Laojun Shan. Note that – depending on how early in the afternoon you get to the bottom (i.e. Er Yuan Ping Guesthouse) – you may not be allowed to carry on to get up to Lao Jun Guesthouse on the same day. We spent our first night at the bottom in Er Yuan Guesthouse. For the best chances of finding all three target species, stay at Lao Jun Guesthouse.
1.) Arguably the most desirable endemic at Laojun Shan is the Sichuan Partridge (though not my personal favourite). Despite (or precisely because of?) the general secondary nature of forest habitat at Laojun Shan, this bird is extremely common and one of the most characteristic voices to be heard. Don’t let that delude you, though, because – as with all partridges – it is by far not as easy to see. You will start hearing them right from the start of forest habitat at the bottom, and we had a few close encounters at Er Yuan Guesthouse though we failed to see them (there is also a pair of Chinese Bamboo-Partridge calling around here). The partridge gets slightly more common at the ridge top of Laojun Shan, and spending two days around here should get you at least a couple of useful sightings, among many glimpses. Personally, I had up to 10 sightings during our stay, though that certainly did not make me the record-holder (right, James?).
2.) The gaudy Streaked Barwing must be one of the most awesome feathered beings you can think of. It’s one of those cutia-type mid-sized birds (with a spectacular plumage pattern) that silently forage among epiphytes of ancient trees and can easily be overlooked from just a few meters – not unlike some species of Andean cotinga. We saw at least 2+2 individuals, but possibly up to 8, since we presumably re-sighted the last pair several times around the same area. They love old-growth forest, and most groves in Laojun Shan are secondary and not old enough, so the species is accordingly scarce. Presumably, you won’t find them below the stairway in the bottom bit of Laojun Shan, and probably also not along Ridge B (in Anderson’s map), which is characterized by extensive bamboo as well as poor and degraded ridge habitat for the most parts. The best stands of old growth are along the main ridge from the upper end of the stairway (“steep climb” on Anderson’s map) towards Lao Jun Guesthouse. The particular area to concentrate on is one third along here, where the degraded habitat around the stairway shifts into some obvious old-growth habitat at the top of a gentle side-valley that reaches up the slope from the north (left of the path as you walk towards Lao Jun Guesthouse), and anywhere a few hundred meters beyond here. The feeding pairs sometimes associated loosely with Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler and Rusty Laughinghthrush, the latter itself being a specialty that was commonly found along the main ridge trail.
3.) The biggest prize at Laojun Shan was doubtless the Golden-fronted Fulvetta, a denizen of pristine subtropical forest that has become incredibly rare. Our hopes of finding her were not that high, as two previous birding parties had missed her just weeks earlier, and even Dai Bo has just encountered her on two occasions within several years of fieldwork at Laojun. However, we saw pairs of this fulvetta on three occasions (19 and 6 hours apart) around the same general area as outlined above for the Streaked Barwing, and we believe that the quest for them can easily be optimized by looking in the right micro-habitat. They stayed in the undergrowth, sometimes bamboo, though they also ventured up on lower branches. The vicinity of gully-like old-growth stands seems to be prerequisite for their occurrence, though we never saw them actually foraging on such old trees. Bamboo around those same old tree stands was also inhabited by busy flocks of Golden-breasted and occasionally Streak-throated Fulvetta, sometimes mixing with Golden Parrotbills, but the Golden-fronted Fulvetta noticeably failed to associate with these species and was far outnumbered by them. It was a pleasant surprise to see that its clown-like plumage is accurately depicted in MacKinnon’s field guide, after Karen Phillipps had done an unusually poor job on most of the other fulvettas on that same plate.
4.) The largest personal disappointment was my inability to see Oriental Scops Owl despite investing many hours over three nights in its search, and despite having an individual call from a tree in close proximity every night. This is all the more disappointing since the birds here have a vocalization distinctly different from recordings from northern Thailand that I had with me. Standing near the summit, they were calling from all over the place, though it was hard to get close to them. One individual near the guesthouse invariably called from a dense tree that obstructed views. Yet they CAN be seen, as was vividly illustrated by both my travel companions, one of whom briefly got up at 3.00am to spot the owl, while I was spending the best part of the night out in the rain seeing nothing (right, James?). The only other owl was Collared Owlet (seen once).
5.) Among notable non-passerines, other galliforms included a male decollatus Common Pheasant near the summit clearing and Temminck’s Tragopan, which was heard daily, though not quite as easy to see. One male was observed in full courtship display with inflated pouches. Woodpeckers were represented by one Speckled Piculet (in a mixed flock), one Crimson-breasted and one Darjeeling Woodpecker. Three Oriental Honey-Buzzards were spotted soaring over. Most other non-passerines were only sighted few times but heard much more often, such as Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon (seen twice), Great Barbet (seen once), Large Hawk-Cuckoo (seen often), Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo (heard once) and Himalayan Cuckoo (seen several times).
6.) Warblers came in many forms and colors, though their diversity was much less than what Anderson et al had seen weeks before, presumably because migration peak was long over. The only bush-warbler was Brownish-flanked (though common everywhere). A few single silent Sichuan Leaf Warblers (Phylloscopus forresti, the eastern split-off from Lemon-rumped Warbler) were noted. Large-billed Leaf-Warbler was common by ear, especially in proximity to the steeper bits down the ridge, though not seen often. The most prominent Phylloscopus at this site is “Kloss’s Warbler” (P. ogilviegranti), a recent eastern split from White-tailed Leaf-Warbler based on DNA studies by Olsson and colleagues. We commonly found it at lower elevations (esp. below the stairs), its song constituting a repetition of vocal motifs of 3-5 elements of scrambled character, quite unlike the single- or double-repeated motifs of Blyth’s (=Claudia’s) Warbler. On the ridge itself, I also had a couple of questionable records of silent warblers that resembled Blyth’s Leaf-Warbler in appearance, though the failure to hear them sing makes me reluctant to claim them as Claudia’s Warbler (P. claudiae, the new Sichuan split-off of the Blyth’s complex). Note that Jesper Hornskov seems to have recorded Claudia’s Warbler at Laojun Shan (see Anderson’s trip report), but that probably refers to migrants.
7.) Throw the dice, and for each mountain in China you will get a different composition of Seicercus warblers. Here in Laojun Shan, the common one at lower elevations (below the stairs) seems to be White-spectacled Warbler (S. affinis), by far the most melodious and pleasing songster among all of them. Its rich song phrases include delightful trills preceded by repetitive up-down motifs. Its two call types include one agitated level trill and a melodious three-to-four-note all-round call. Even though elevationally separated from its upper neighbour, I had one White-spectacled in gully-like growth along the main ridge trail high above all others. The distinct Chestnut-crowned Warbler can also be found at lower elevations on Laojun Shan, though it may require some searching. Then, from the lower stairs upwards, White-spectacled Warbler is replaced by “Martens’s Warbler” (Seicercus omeiensis), a recently described species. Martens’s Warbler is virtually the only Seicercus above the stairs and along the ridge, apart from occasional strays (one such stray being a lone Bianchi’s Warbler – presumably on migration – that I taped along the highest bits of the main ridge trail in direct vicinity to Martens’s Warblers; another stray being the afore-mentioned single White-spectacled Warbler above its expected range). Martens’s Warblers’ songs are repetitions of simple abrupt motifs, with more strident trills that lack melodious quality. Their calls are usually just a single “chup” or “chep”, but it can be rendered as a series of quickly-repeated “dzick-dzick-dzick-dzick” if agitated. Contrary to Anderson’s trip report, the common Seicercus species along the ridge of Laojun Shan is NOT “Foothill Warbler” (=Gray-crowned Warbler) (Seicercus tephrocephalus) which – despite their near-identical songs – has a different call from Martens’s Warbler.
8.) Laughingthrushes abounded, and not just the afore-mentioned Rusty: Two flocks of White-throated Laughingthrush were encountered below the stairs. I had at least two Spotted Laughingthrushes coming in to the garbage dump at Lao Jun Guesthouse. Elliot’s Laughingthrush was confined to the higher bits along the ridge trail, where it was twice seen and twice more heard. Red-winged Laughingthrush was possibly one of the commonest species on the mountain, oftentimes mega-shy and hard to glimpse well, though sometimes coming right out in the open. The endemic Emei Liocichla was reasonably common all over, perhaps sligtly more so lower down. Other good timaliids included Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler (twice seen), Pygmy Wren-Babbler (once seen, heard a lot), Rufous-capped Babbler (daily), Red-billed Leiothrix (very common), Blue-winged Minla (very common), Red-tailed Minla (daily), White-browed Shrike-Babbler (commonly heard, occasionally seen), Gray-cheeked Fulvetta (seen twice below stairs), Black-headed Sibia (common along ridge), Stripe-throated Yuhina (seen once) and White-collared Yuhina (several).
9.) Remaining passerines included 3 sightings of Eurasian Jays and Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, many Gray-headed Canary-Flycatchers, White-tailed Robin (seen 1, heard many), Snowy-browed Flycatcher (one male seen, many heard), Slaty-blue Flycatcher (seen twice, many heard), Yellow-browed Tit (a few sightings), many Green-backed Tits, one Mountain Bulbul, 2-3 Chestnut-flanked White-eyes, 2-3 Rufous-breasted Accentors, as well as one Eurasian Blackbird, Barn Swallow and Great Tit in degraded habitat.
Jiuzhaigou National Park – 13-16 May 2005
Though having birded Jiuzhaigou before (see trip report elsewhere on the internet) and though I knew I was going to come back to Jiuzhaigou just three weeks later as a tour guide (see section 2), I opted to accompany my two companions Rob Hutchinson and James Eaton on a quick gap-filler excursion to this place to look for Rusty-throated Parrotbill just before the start of my official tour. Information on logistics and birding stake-outs for Jiuzhaigou can be found in the below account in section (2) of this report, as well as in my previous trip report to this area and in numerous on-line trip reports written by others.
Rusty-throated Parrotbill presently seems to be one of the most difficult Chinese birds to see. Jiuzhaigou is the only place where it has definitely been recorded in the 20th century (Red Data Book Birdlife International), up until at least 1995, but after that records ceased, though birding activity doubtless increased. Small parties were often noted around the higher parts of the park, in thick bamboo stands near the so-called Primeval Forest. Various sources have reported a massive bamboo die-off at Primeval Forest in the 90ies, so the parrotbill might have vanished with the bamboo.
Rob and James had an inkling that the parrotbill might still be within accessible distance of the car park at Primeval Forest, because on their previous visit Rob had found extensive bamboo stands on tucked-away hill sides that may have been overlooked by birders in the past. We spent two days trying our best to cover some of these hill sides (though many more remain unsurveyed), particularly on the right-hand slope as you approach the car-park, and beyond the stream that runs parallel to the visitors’ path leading down the road. The hill sides around here yielded widely scattered patches of bamboo, some of them just the area of a room, others up to 150x150m. However, our searches proved fruitless, and it can be suspected that even the bamboo patches we found were not sufficient to sustain a parrotbill population. Future searchers may want to extend their radius even further, or start looking at sites in Gansu where the species was historically found.
Some time was spent in the lovely Kezegou side valley (a few KM up Long Lake Road) where Sichuan Treecreeper was discovered two years ago: The birds were still present in the same territory at the lower parts of the steep-hill bit along the path, with both Eurasian and Bar-tailed Treecreeper hanging out in direct vicinity to them. Quite amazing, really, how such similar species manage to partition their resources on the same individual trees! Towards the timberline along Kezegou Trail, at least two male Blue Eared-Pheasants made an impressive appearance, whereas two Verreaux’ Monal-Partridges only granted brief non-tickable views in the fog while vocalizing around. Back on the way down, crystal-clear ribbons of water cascading down the valley provided a suitable stop-over for bringing levels of cleanliness back up to average. The rough and basic nature life-style of the previous week had exerted a heavy toll on the personal hygiene of the more rustically-minded amongst us. Thus, with our nobs fully cleansed, we proceeded down to the base of Kezegou Trail, where we were surprised to hear up to three different Rufous-headed Robins this early in the season, with one individual showing extremely well.
The whole park was sprinkled with migrant Northern Spotted Bush Warblers on their way to Siberia giving their distinctive song, with possibly ten individuals heard and a few seen. Notably, their southern kin appeared absent from the park, at least vocally. Two Tickell’s Leaf Warblers near the entrance and two Dusky Warblers might have been on migration likewise, while all other warblers slowly seemed to be getting ready for the annual breeding business (following species seen): Yellowish-bellied Bush; Hume’s; Yellow-streaked down at low elevations; Buff-barred up high; Sichuan Leaf Warbler (=the Lemon-rumped split P. forresti); Large-billed Leaf; “Claudia’s Warbler” (=the Blyth’s split P. claudiae) in the valleys; and only very few Chinese Leaf Warblers as compared with the month of June. In terms of Seicercus warblers, Bianchi’s Warbler (S. valentini) is largely dominant in the park, but a couple of “Foothill Warblers” (=Gray-crowned Warblers) (S. tephrocephalus) (characterized by their distinct double call “chu-du”) were noted at their usual hang-out at the edge of the village clearing in Zechawa.
Up in the large yet birdless bamboo patches at Primeval Forest, two male Blood Pheasants and a hen provided some relief from frustration. Long-tailed Thrush vocalized widely up here but required effort to be seen. One Chinese Thrush was also encountered in the process. Common Pheasant were regular at the edge of the village clearing in Zechawa. Other species seen include Mallard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, White-throated Needletail, Pacific Swift, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Gray-backed Shrike, Jay, Spotted Nutcracker, Large-billed Crow, Long-tailed Minivet, Eurasian Blackbird, Chestnut Thrush, Orange-flanked Bush-Robin, Indian Blue Robin; White-throated, Daurian, Blue-fronted and White-bellied Redstart; White-capped and Plumbeous Water-Redstart; Rufous-gorgeted (1) and Slaty-backed Flycatcher; Eurasian and Chinese Nuthatch; Coal, Yellow-bellied, Gray-crested, Great, Green-backed, Rufous-vented and the rare Sooty Tit; Crag and Asian House Martin; Barn Swallow, Goldcrest, one Barred Laughingthrush in degraded habitat by the entrance, Elliot’s Laughingthrush, Winter Wren, one Pygmy Wren Babbler; Gray Wagtail; White Wagtail mostly of the race alboides, with the occasional leucopsis sprinkled in; single fly-by individuals of Rosy Pipit; Olive-backed Pipit, Maroon-backed Accentor; noisy flocks of Tibetan Siskin; White-browed Rosefinch, Gray-headed Bullfinch and White-winged Grosbeak. On the other hand, I only heard Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Eurasian Cuckoo, Himalayan Cuckoo, Himalayan Wood-Owl and Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler. A few Yellow-billed Choughs were seen on the bus ride near Songpan.
2. Sichuan AVES TOUR 18 May – 9 June 2005
Sichuan is doubtless one of the most fascinating bird regions in the Eastern Palearctic, and a hotspot for pheasants, laughingthrushes, warblers, parrotbills and many other groups that are high on the agenda of traveling birdwatchers. After studying the region’s avifauna for considerable time, we finally organized our first Aves Tour to Sichuan in the spring of 2005. As with all Aves Tours, a small group size ensured an unforgettable birding experience, with sightings of some of the rarest and most enigmatic birds of Asia. Our “trip harvest” was exceptional, with 11 galliforms (pheasants and allies), eight parrotbills, 32 warblers and great looks at virtually all 13 laughingthrush species that can reasonably be expected in the area, apart from many other specialties. All in all, our trip total fell just barely short of 250 species, plus an additional 12 species heard only.
The first morning saw us rise early before a brief sortie into Du Fu’s Cottage Gardens in downtown Chengdu, where we received a taste of the Red Basin’s lowland avifauna. During the trip, many more early-morning starts ensued, though none of them would be accompanied by such mild and pleasant weather conditions as this one. Bird activity was high after dawn, and necks soon grew stiff as we scanned busy canopy parties of warblers and Black-throated Tits in some of the more impressive groves. Among them, we found such delights as the rare Swinhoe’s Minivet, late migrant Asian Brown Flycatchers, 3-4 Arctic Warblers on their way north, and heaps of Greenish Warblers (which – by the way – were to become a common sight during the trip). Among the busy aggregations, we also detected our first Chestnut-flanked and Japanese White-eyes, though in separate flocks.
The lush gardens constitute a wonderful oasis in a sea of concrete, providing easy views of Vinous-throated Parrotbill, White-browed Laughingthrush, Chinese Bulbul, Spotted Dove, Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, the colourful Rufous-faced Warbler and Eurasian Blackbirds, here of a much shier and bigger race that differs distinctly in vocalization and may soon be known as Chinese Blackbird. Loudly vocal Hwameis are openly displayed in their cages by proud owners, and the occasional wild bird makes you wonder about its provenance. Luckily, we later spotted this species again at Emei in its uncontested wild form.
The lake adjacent to the park was not just a popular hang-out for young couples in love, but also for nine Little Egrets, three Black-crowned Night-Herons, White-breasted Waterhen, Common Sandpiper, Common Ringed Plover and our first Chinese Pond Heron of the trip. We spotted a handful of spectacular Yellow-billed Grosbeaks, migrant Brown Shrikes, several Long-tailed Shrikes, a pair of Plain Prinias and an Oriental Reed Warbler as we gradually covered more and more ground around the nicely-revegetated lakeside.
Other birds encountered here carried the distinct flavour of back home, such as a Common Kingfisher as well as our first Common Cuckoos, Tree Sparrows, Red-rumped Swallows and White Wagtails of the trip (though the latter are of the markedly exotic race alboides).
We had to make do with a few hours at Du Fu, as we boarded our bus, following the lure of Mt Emei, one of Buddhism’s four Holy Mountains, and – owing to its religious significance – one of the last bastions of primary forest habitat in heavily-logged Sichuan. We would spend the following five nights at Mt Emei, each at a different elevation so as to take in as much of its rich birdlife as possible.
The first day we walked around the frosty Golden Summit with its perpetual cloud cover and permanent bad weather. Aggressively glowing Golden Bush Robins, confiding Aberrant Bush-Warblers, Vinaceous Rosefinches of untold beauty, a Lesser Cuckoo, Chestnut Thrushes, Bianchi’s Warblers (the first in a long series of altitudinally segregating Seicercus warblers), Elliot’s Laughingthrushes, White-collared Yuhinas, Streak-throated Fulvettas, Buff-barred Warblers, Winter Wrens, Olive-backed Pipits, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Gray-headed Bullfinch and White-bellied Redstarts were a worthy compensation for wet clothes and shivering limbs around here, though all of them would be recorded again during our trip. What would not be recorded again was a group of Buff-throated Warblers and a pair of Blanford’s Rosefinch feeding unobtrusively in the bushes…
In what turned out to be one of the most memorable observations of the trip, we attracted a Northern Spotted Bush Warbler to tape, a migrant on its way to Siberia, where it breeds in allopatry from the local Southern Spotted Bush-Warbler. Its voice and its underpart coloration are distinctly different from the local species. And how fortunate we were to appreciate these differences, because as it turned out, we heard and observed both species within just a few hundred meters of each other, not more than fifteen minutes apart.
We experienced a quick turn-over in the bird community on our descent towards the Monastery at the Elephant Bathing Pool: Still pretty high up, we discerned our first Green-backed and Coal Tits – the latter here of the completely dissimilar and crested subspecies aemodius, which (as DNA studies have it) may actually be closer genetically to the western Himalayan Spot-winged Tit.
The trip’s first Eurasian Jays, Red-billed Blue Magpies and Large-billed Crows attested to the great corvid diversity on Emei. Recent studies of the vocalizations of the crow confirm that at least three species-level taxa exist on mainland Asia, with the two different forms we encountered on our trip (colonorum and tibetosinensis) belonging to the new East Asian species Corvus japonensis.
Warblers came in exciting diversity: “Forrest’s Warblers” flitted through fir needles everywhere; note that I just came up with this vernacular name for Phylloscopus forresti, which was recently split from Lemon-rumped as per DNA and vocalizations. “Claudia’s Warblers” were not uncommon either (here again DNA shows Phylloscopus claudiae needs to be split from Blyth’s P. reguloides, but where are the English names in those publications?). “Martens’s Warblers” (Seicercus omeiensis) (which I here named after one of their describers) suddenly replaced Bianchi’s Warblers below the summit.
Moreover, Ashy-throated Warbler, Russet Bush Warbler and Gray-cheeked Fulvetta were welcome additions. Besides, we pinned down our trip’s first Brownish-flanked Bush-Warblers, Large-billed Leaf-Warblers, Emei Liocichlas (a bird that somehow didn’t want to grant nice views on this tour), Red-billed Leiothrix, Long-tailed Minivets, Blue Whistling-Thrushes, Plumbeous Water-Redstart, Rufous-gorgeted and Verditer Flycatchers, Pacific Swifts, Asian House Martins, Gray Wagtails and Mrs Gould’s Sunbirds.
The excellent fir forest and cliffs around the boreal enclave of Xixiang Monastery kept us busy with a couple of Brown Bullfinches, Darjeeling Woodpecker, a male Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush, 3-4 brilliant male Vivid Niltavas and our first Himalayan Cuckoo, a recent split from the more familiar migratory Oriental Cuckoo of Northern Asia. Other delights around here included hordes of echo-locating Himalayan Swiftlets returning to their cave, beautifully melodious White-spectacled Warblers (the third down in the elevational Seicercus chain) and attractive Yellow-browed Tits – always well-liked and one of my trip favourites, though we saw them a few times again.
Gray-headed Canary Flycatchers, which modern studies remove from their flycatcher kin and place in its own family close to the tits, were seen here for the first time, and so were Slaty-blue Flycatchers, which never afforded more than a glimpse, though we would record them again and again during our trip. A shy White-tailed Robin was enticed into view with tape playback.
Below Xixiang and towards Wannian Monastery, the atmosphere became markedly subtropical: A spectacular landscape of gorges and cliffs resonated with the sweet notes of iridescent Chinese Blue-Flycatchers, as we had lucky views of the rare and recently described Emei Leaf-Warbler. An “Ogilviegranti’s Warbler”, another recent split in Phylloscopus warblers, showed well and sang its characteristic song. It used to be subsumed under the White-tailed Leaf-Warbler P. davisoni, until DNA studies showed that populations from Sichuan south to Vietnam and east to Fujian should be split off as P. ogilviegranti. As with most other recent splits, the authors forgot to recommend an English name, so poor tour leaders like myself have to resort to their own unimaginative literary outpourings. The same applies to what I like to term as “Alstrom’s Warbler” Seicercus soror, here named after one of its describers, though one field-guide author is known to have come up with the considerably less appealing name Plain-tailed Warbler. We saw quite a few individuals of this lowest of all Seicercus species on Emei, which is of much less vocal appeal than its uphill neighbor (White-spectacled Warbler S. affinis).
We had an exquisite run at all the mid- and low-elevation laughingthrushes below Xixiang: Most precious were three different great sightings of the rarely encountered and elusive Moustached Laughingthrush (involving at least 4 individuals). But two Rusty, one Red-winged and one Spotted Laughingthrush would also contribute to a great skulker show (though the latter two surfaced again at other sites).
Lush forest down here teemed with exotic birdlife such as Great Barbets, Gray Treepies, Hair-crested Drongos, Rufous-capped Babbler, Black Bulbul, the rare Dusky Fulvetta, the highly sought-after Golden and Gray-headed Parrotbill, Black-chinned Yuhina, Sulphur-breasted and Chestnut-crowned Warblers and our first Yellow-bellied Tits.
Finally, a morning was invested into park-like secondary growth around the Monastery of the Lurking Tiger at the foot of Mt Emei, where our expectations were far exceeded by the sighting of a beautiful male migrant Tiger Shrike. A Chinese Bamboo-Partridge showed well as it nosily reacted to tape. Those who headed back to hotel early missed it, but two more individuals were seen en route from the vehicle later that day. Another highlight around here was a co-operative Brown-breasted Flycatcher in a quaint streamside setting, where a lone Slaty-backed Forktail ended our bad forktail spell that had been characterized by a complete absence of this beautiful genus owing to new trail construction along the lower stretches of the mountain. Local gardens sported Collared Finchbills, a Red-whiskered Bulbul, Fire-breasted Flowerpeckers, a Fork-tailed Sunbird and Ashy-throated Parrotbills. Emei Town provided views of our trip’s first minor Great Tits, Barn Swallows, House Swifts and Oriental Magpie Robins.
A bumpy bus ride along little-known country roads then took us to Wawu Shan, a recently explored table mountain whose steep slopes have spared it the axe that most of its mountain neighbours have had to endure during China’s Cultural Revolution. Nowadays, the magic fir forest on its level top can be accessed by cable car and explored along well-maintained boardwalks. Things started off extremely well even before we boarded the cable car when we sighted a magnificent male Lady Amherst’s Pheasant that crossed the road in front of our vehicle.
The plateau forest teemed with birds. We soon obtained views of the species that elevated Wawu to ornithological fame: the peculiar Sichuan Treecreeper, first seen here in the wild only a few years ago and ocurring side by side with its more widespread sister, the Eurasian Treecreeper. In fact, we managed to hear and see both treecreepers in the same groves. Otherwise, our very successful day walk yielded more good species than we could have hoped for, incl. brilliant views of such skulkers as Yellowish-bellied, Brown and Gray-sided Bush-Warbler, Black-faced Laughingthrush, a spectacular parrotbill harvest comprising the locally endemic Gray-hooded Parrotbill, the enigmatic Fulvous Parrotbill, a shy Brown Parrotbill and our first Great Parrotbills, besides Dark-sided Flycatcher, Stripe-throated Yuhina, as well as our first Ferruginous Flycatcher, Rufous-vented Tits and Gray-crested Tits of the trip. A lone Tickell’s Leaf Warbler must have been on passage, as it breeds much further north and at higher elevation (where we later encountered it again at other sites). Additional birds seen at Wawu included the first of a number of Large Hawk-Cuckoos (finally – after hearing so many of them).
Next was Sawan Village (with Crested Myna, Gray-capped Greenfinch and Brown-breasted Bulbul en route), the ever-expanding park centre of Wolong Panda Reserve. Sawan has dramatically changed its face over only two years that we have been watching, as Chinese officials seek to make it fit for 2008’s Olympic hordes of international tourists. Fortunately, the average visitor doesn’t venture far beyond the comfort of their hotel surroundings and – possibly – the Panda Breeding Centre, such that most of the secondary habitat within walking distance of town has remained in decent shape. A walk along ill-defined trails in regrown forest above the village turned into the stalking pursuit of a calling male Golden Pheasant, of which most of us eventually obtained brilliant – albeit short – views. Despite its uncharismatic look, the forest around here did reward us with a few fine songbirds, foremost among which were our first Indian Blue Robins, Slaty Buntings and Rufous-bellied Niltavas of the trip. Light birding around the town itself bestowed White-throated Needletail and our first Daurian Redstarts and Common Rosefinches onto our trip-lists…
From Sawan, we hiked up a steep but manageable slope into the next valley and into another world. Wuyipeng Research Station, our abode for the next two nights, was built in this valley by Georg Schaller, the famous panda researcher, and has since housed numerous naturalists that wish to explore the fairy-like forest and its diverse fauna. Birding was tough up here, with many specialties skulking, but hard work rewarded us with extended views of Wuyipeng’s galliform grail, a stunning male Temminck’s Tragopan (two more were glimpsed).
Other specialty birds that eventually afforded good views included a party of the extremely restricted Pere David’s Tit (which we managed to see again in Jiuzhaigou), a cryptic Scaly-breasted Wren-Babbler, a female White-browed Bush-Robin, a few inquisitive Barred Laughingthrushes, a small group of the awesome Green Shrike-Babbler, a Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, noisy Golden-breasted Fulvettas as well as White-backed and Gray-headed Woodpecker. The path that connects Wuyipeng with civilization is more degraded, but offered surprisingly good birding this time, with close and lasting encounters of several male singing Firethroats, Chinese Leaf Warblers (which – after having been double-described– have recently re-gained their proper scientific name Phylloscopus yunnanensis), Spotted Nutcracker, and the observation of a mixed tit flock that included our best-ever views of Fire-capped and Sooty Tits as they foraged, not in the neck-straining heights of the canopy, but on baby conifers downslope.
After our descent from Wuyipeng, we prepared for a series of three days that we would spend around the lofty heights of Balang Shan while remaining based in Sawan Village. The pass around Balang Shan – at 4600m – is one of the few spots on earth where one gets the opportunity to search for high-mountain specialties from the comfort of a road. To the dismay of our helpful bus driver, we would get up in the wee hours of morning to make sure we reach the target area at dawn. This strategy paid well as we had unforgettable views of an overhead Wood Snipe in tornado display. Wood Snipes are active during the first 15min of daylight, going cryptic for the remainder of the day, and have become quite rare around Balang Shan in the past few years. We were all the more pleased when the individual alighted on the ground only 10 meters from one of us and could be observed for over a minute.
The air gets thin up around the pass, so not all of us came along on an uphill stroll to 4700m where we scoped a family party of six Snow Partridge. However, a snow storm the following morning pushed many alpine species down by a few hundred meters, so all of us were treated to excellent roadside views of one naïve and very tame Snow Partridge as well as two distant Tibetan Snowcock. The pass area itself was home to a total count of 4 male and 4 female Grandalas, the males donning their improbably luminescent breeding plumage, as well as sturdy Red-fronted Rosefinches, Snow Pigeons, Plain and the invariably scarcer Brandt’s Mountain-Finch, both Yellow-billed and Red-billed Choughs and Alpine Accentor. A little further down, White-throated Dipper, Blue-fronted Redstart and Rosy Pipit came much to our delight.
A demanding two hours’ hike up some side-valley to timberline vegetation easily produced a family of at least 8 White Eared-Pheasants, but the hoped-for Chinese Monal would keep our suspense up and running till – at the last moment – a stunning male was finally spotted on a not-too-distant hillside. This would remain the bird of the trip for some of us.
A few species, such as Himalayan Griffon, Gray-backed Shrike, White-capped Water-Redstart, Black Drongo, White-winged Grosbeak and even Giant Laughingthrush and Kessler’s Thrush were spotted at Balang Shan for the first time but would be seen again during the remainder of the trip (the latter singing from house roofs in Hongyuan!).
A longer bus ride (featuring Kestrel, a male pandoo Blue Rock Thrush and our first Crag Martins, Black-eared Kites and Common Buzzards) then took us to the drier valleys around Maerkang, where good primeval coniferous forest persists along a newly-constructed road. Habitat quality became instantly apparent when we sighted two male Blood Pheasants and two male Koklass Pheasants right beside the road within minutes after getting out of the vehicle. Another major surprise was a couple of male singing Firethroats (one seen), which we did not really expect at this site. A clear stream had a pair of unobtrusive White-crowned Forktail feeding along its bank. Recent DNA studies show that the local subspecies sinensis is clearly distinct from its southern Indochinese neighbour, and may well merit species status in the future. After missing this forktail at Emei, we were particularly relieved to find them here. Soon, we also added a pair of the shy and scarce Crested Tit-Warblers, stunningly elaborate Pink-rumped Rosefinches, a surprise female Rufous-bellied Woodpecker (that no-one had really expected), Chinese Thrush, Oriental Turtle Dove and our first Slaty-backed Flycatchers, Hume’s Warblers, Goldcrests, White-throated Redstarts, Tibetan Siskins, Three-banded and White-browed Rosefinches as well as Orange-flanked Bush Robins to our list.
A most welcome sighting involved a Willow Tit of the genetically distinct local taxon weigoldicus, which – in the past – was separated from the common European species as part of the Central Asian “Songar Tit”. New DNA research reveals that real Songar Tits (ssp. songarus from Uigur/Kazakhstan) and even Weigold’s northern neighbour affinis are actually very close to Europe’s Willow Tits, whereas weigoldicus, and really only weigoldicus itself, is spectacularly different. Who knows whether future birders will come to call it Weigold’s Tit, but “Sichuan Willow Tit” will do for our present purposes.
As we emerged from the rocky valleys of Maerkang onto the Tibetan Plateau of Hongyuan, the landscape opened up and the avifauna changed drastically. Various stops in bushy country at the plateau’s rim yielded our first Common Pheasant, Common Stonechat and Hodgson’s Redstart (all three of which we were to see again later on in Jiuzhaigou), Black-billed Magpie and – most rewardingly – shy Pere David’s Laughingthrushes and smart White-browed Tits. More Great Tits were spotted, though this time of the noticeably larger ssp. tibetanus.
The windswept plains themselves required a couple of longer strolls and attentive searching from the vehicle before they yielded their best species to our inquisitive binoculars, such as a handful of Tibetan Larks among the commoner Oriental Skylarks and Horned Larks, as well as flocks of Twite, lone Upland Buzzards and Common Raven. A family group of Hume’s Groundpeckers was discovered along the bank of the road as one distantly-scoped individual flew towards us and led us to its kin. This attractive and most lovely species has long posed a taxonomic puzzle to pre-DNA ornithologists, but will now be better known to future birders under the name Hume’s Ground-“Tit”. Little Tibetan villages along the way provided vegetation for such species as Azure-winged Magpies, Daurian Jackdaw and the red-bellied race rufiventris of our familiar Black Redstart.
The wide open plains featured extensive wetlands, where we were eventually treated to an impressive total of 13 highly-sought Black-necked Cranes, besides Graylag Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Common Redshank, a Common Tern of the race tibetana, Cattle Egret, and Citrine Wagtails of the black-backed race calcarata, which – if preliminary results from DNA studies are to be believed – are highly distinctive and should be split from the lighter-backed races further west. Hongyuan Town itself is a peculiar mix of Tibetan and Han on a vast and flat grassy plateau, with exotic vegetation that harboured such oddities as Great Spotted Woodpecker and House Sparrow. The latter is as yet unrecorded from this area and constitutes a major range extension from its next known breeding grounds in Western Qinghai.
Our final port of call was Jiuzhaigou, a vast national park of exceeding natural beauty in Sichuan’s far north, whose improbable water formations have to be seen to be believed. Though poor weather spoiled much of our stay, we still managed to connect with most of the species that were on our target list for this site, plus a few that had eluded us at previous sites. Some heavy rain and thick fog didn’t detract us from spending some time around a high pass before the gates of the national park, where some pink-rumped Beautiful Rosefinches provided a welcome contrast to the arguably much more beautiful Pink-rumped Rosefinch we had earlier seen at Maerkang. Moreover, we managed to obtain unforgettable close-range views of a large family of Blood Pheasant and Crested Tit-Warbler, both specialties that we had seen earlier at Maerkang, though by far not under such favourable conditions.
Inside the park itself, all eyes were on Rufous-headed Robin, the park’s big avian prize, which came in to tape – though views remained poorer than some of us would have hoped. Other trip-list additions around lower elevations at Jiuzhaigou were Collared Owlet and Pygmy Wren-Babbler (both seen reasonably well after hearing them a lot elsewhere), Mallard, both Eurasian and Chinese Nuthatches, Yellow-streaked Warbler and – to complement a truly outstanding trip harvest of the genus Seicercus – Gray-crowned Warblers (S. tephrocephalus) at the village clearing. Further up, Golden Eagle and Maroon-backed Accentor made their debut. A brilliant Sukachev’s Laughinghtrush was the highlight for Jiuzhaigou and brought our trip’s sampling of laughingthrushes to completion.
Localities and their abbreviations:
- Du Fu Cottage Gardens Du Fu
- Emei Shan Emei
- Wawu Shan Wawu
- Sawan and surroundings Sawan
- Wuyipeng Research Station Wuy
- Balang Shan Pass BS
- forest at Maerkang MK
- open habitats around Hongyuan HY
- Jiuzhaigou National Park JZG
Information for Laojun Shan will always be more detailed since this is one of the first trip reports about this site; numbers reported as follows:
1 male = 1,0
1 female = 0,1
2 males, 3 females = 2,3
seen on 1 occasion = 1x
6 birds seen on 1 occ. and 1 bird on a 2nd occ. = 6+1
1. Snow Partridge (Lerwa lerwa): BS 6+1
2. Tibetan Snowcock (Tetraogallus tibetanus): 2 BS
3. Sichuan Partridge – Arborophila rufipectus: Laojun Shan, almost 10 sightings, vocalizing commonly
4. Chinese Bamboo-Partridge (Bambusicola thoracica thoracica): 2 Emei, 1 Wawu, [1 pair heard Laojun Shan]
5. Blood Pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus): 2,0 MK; 5,1 at pass between Songpan and JZG; 2,1 JZG
6. Temminck’s Tragopan (Tragopan temminckii): 3,0 Wuy; 1,0 in display Laojun Shan, with many more heard; [heard Emei]
7. Koklass Pheasant (Pucrasia macrolopha ruficollis): 2,0 MK; [BS heard]
8. Chinese Monal (Lophophorus lhuysii): 1,0 BS
9. White Eared-Pheasant – Crossoptilon crossoptilon: min 8 BS
10. Blue Eared-Pheasant – Crossoptilon auritum: 2,0 JZG
11. Common Pheasant – Phasianus colchicus: (suehschanensis) 1 male HY, many JZG; (decollatus) 1 male Laojun Shan
12. Golden Pheasant – Chrysolophus pictus: 1,0 Sawan
13. Lady Amherst’s Pheasant – Chrysolophus amherstiae: 1,0 Wawu; [Emei heard]
14. Graylag Goose – Anser anser: 1 HY
15. Ruddy Shelduck – Tadorna ferruginea: ca 7 HY
16. Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos: JZG
17. Speckled Piculet – Picumnus innominatus chinensis: Laojun Shan 1
18. Crimson-breasted Woodpecker – Dendrocopos cathpharius pernyii: 1 Laojun Shan
19. Rufous-bellied Woodpecker – Dendrocopos hyperythrus: 0,1 MK
20. Darjeeling Woodpecker – Dendrocopos darjellensis: 1 Emei, 2 Wawu, 1 Laojun Shan
21. White-backed Woodpecker – Dendrocopos leucotos: 0,1 Wuy
22. Great Spotted Woodpecker – Dendrocopos major: 1 HY; JZG
23. Gray-headed Woodpecker – Picus canus: 1,0 Wuy
24. Great Barbet – Megalaima virens: 3 Emei; 1 Laojun Shan (plus many heard)
25. Common Kingfisher – Alcedo atthis: Du Fu 1
26. Large Hawk-Cuckoo – Hierococcyx sparverioides: Wawu, BS, Laojun Shan, [heard elsewhere]
27. Common Cuckoo – Cuculus canorus: Du Fu, HY, [heard Emei, JZG]
28. Himalayan Cuckoo – Cuculus saturatus: Emei, Wawu, Wuy, Laojun Shan, [JZG heard]
29. Lesser Cuckoo – Cuculus poliocephalus: Emei, [heard Wawu, BS, JZG]
30. Himalayan Swiftlet – Collocalia brevirostris: Emei, Wawu
31. White-throated Needletail – Hirundapus caudacutus: Sawan, JZG
32. Pacific Swift – Apus pacificus: Emei, Sawan, HY, JZG
33. House Swift – Apus nipalensis: Emei, MK
34. Collared Owlet – Glaucidium brodiei: 1 JZG, 1 Laojun Shan (many heard); [heard Emei, Wuy]
35. Snow Pigeon – Columba leuconota: BS
36. Oriental Turtle Dove – Streptopelia orientalis orientalis: 1 MK
37. Spotted Dove – Streptopelia chinensis: Du Fu
38. Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon – Treron sphenura: 2 Laojun Shan (many heard), [heard Emei]
39. Black-necked Crane – Grus nigricollis: 13 HY
40. White-breasted Waterhen – Amaurornis phoenicurus: Du Fu
41. Wood Snipe – Gallinago nemoricola: 1 BS [second individual heard]
42. Common Redshank – Tringa totanus: HY
43. Common Sandpiper – Actitis hypoleucos: Du Fu
44. Common Ringed Plover – Charadrius hitaicula: Du Fu
45. Common Tern – Sterna hirundo tibetana: 1 HY
46. Black-eared Kite – Milvus lineatus: HY, MK
47. Himalayan Griffon – Gyps himalayensis: BS, MK, HY
48. Oriental Honey-Buzzard – Pernis ptilorhynchus: 3 Laojun Shan
49. Common Buzzard – Buteo buteo: MK min 1; JZG
50. Upland Buzzard – Buteo hemilasius: 2 HY
51. Golden Eagle – Aquila chrysaetos: 1 JZG
52. Kestrel – Falco tinnunculus: 1 past BS; JZG
53. Little Egret – Egretta garzetta: 9 Du Fu, several en route
54. Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis: 2 HY (not seen by leader)
55. Chinese Pond Heron – Ardeola bacchus: 1 Du Fu, several en route
56. Black-crowned Night-Heron – Nycticorax nycticorax: 3 Du Fu
57. Tiger Shrike – Lanius tigrinus: 1,0 Emei
58. Brown Shrike – Lanius cristatus: Du Fu
59. Long-tailed Shrike – Lanius schach schach: Du Fu, 1 en route
60. Gray-backed Shrike – Lanius tephronotus: BS, MK, HY, JZG
61. Eurasian Jay – Garrulus glandarius sinensis: JZG, Emei, BS; Laojun Shan 3x; several en route
62. Red-billed Blue Magpie – Urocissa erythrorhyncha: Emei, Sawan
63. Azure-winged Magpie – Cyanopica cyanus: 6-10 HY
64. Gray Treepie – Dendrocitta formosae: Emei
65. Black-billed Magpie – Pica pica bottanensis: HY
66. Hume’s Groundpecker – Pseudopodoces humilis: HY 8-10
67. Spotted Nutcracker – Nucifraga caryocatactes macella: Wuy, JZG
68. Red-billed Chough – Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax: BS
69. Yellow-billed Chough – Pyrrhocorax graculus: BS, Songpan
70. Daurian Jackdaw – Corvus dauuricus: HY, Songpan
71. Large-billed Crow – Corvus japonensis (ssp tibetosinensis and presumably colonorum): Emei, BS, MK, HY, JZG
72. Common Raven – Corvus corax tibetanus: HY
73. Swinhoe’s Minivet – Pericrocotus cantonensis: Du Fu 1-2
74. Long-tailed Minivet – Pericrocotus ethologus: Emei, Wawu, Wuy, BS, MK, JZG
75. Black Drongo – Dicrurus macrocercus: BS, HY
76. Hair-crested Drongo – Dicrurus hottentottus: Emei
77. White-throated Dipper – Cinclus cinclus przewalksii: BS 2
78. Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush – Monticola rufiventris: 1,0 Emei
79. Blue Rock Thrush – Monticola solitarius pandoo: 1,0 past BS
80. Blue Whistling-Thrush – Myophonus caeruleus caeruleus: Emei, Wawu, Sawan, MK
81. Long-tailed Thrush – Zoothera dixoni: Jiuzhaigou (many singing, a few seen); [heard MK]
82. Eurasian Blackbird – Turdus merula (mandarinus/intermedia): Du Fu, JZG, en route
83. Chestnut Thrush – Turdus rubrocanus: Emei, Sawan, Wuy, Maerkang, JZG
84. Kessler’s Thrush – Turdus kessleri: BS, HY
85. Chinese Thrush – Turdus mupinensis: MK 1, JZG 1
86. Dark-sided Flycatcher – Muscicapa sibirica: Wawu
87. Asian Brown Flycatcher – Muscicapa dauurica: 1-2 Du Fu, 3 Emei
88. Brown-breasted Flycatcher – Muscicapa mutti: 1 Emei
89. Ferruginous Flycatcher – Muscicapa ferruginea: Wawu, Sawan
90. Slaty-backed Flycatcher – Ficedula hodgsonii: MK, JZG
91. Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher – Ficedula strophiata: Emei, Wawu, Wuy, JZG
92. Slaty-blue Flycatcher – Ficedula tricolor: 2x Laojun Shan (heard many); Emei, Wuy, [heard Wawu, MK, JZG]
93. Snowy-browed Flycatcher – Ficedula hyperythra hyperythra: 1,0 Laojun Shan (heard many)
94. Verditer Flycatcher – Eumyias thalassina: Wawu, Emei
95. Rufous-bellied Niltava – Niltava sundara: Sawan, Wuy, JZG
96. Vivid Niltava – Niltava vivida: 3-4 males Emei
97. Chinese Blue-Flycatcher – Cyornis glaucicomans: Emei
98. Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher – Culicicapa ceylonensis: Emei, JZG, Sawan, Laojun Shan (common)
99. Rufous-headed Robin – Luscinia ruficeps: JZG
100. Firethroat – Luscinia pectardens: Wuy, MK
101. Indian Blue Robin – Luscinia brunnea: Sawan, Wuy, JZG
102. Orange-flanked Bush Robin – Tarsiger cyanurus rufilatus: MK, JZG
103. Golden Bush Robin – Tarsiger chrysaeus: Emei, Wawu
104. White-browed Bush-Robin – Tarsiger indicus: 0,1 Wuy
105. Oriental Magpie Robin – Copsychus saularis: Emei, Du Fu
106. Black Redstart – Phoenicurus ochrurus rufiventris: HY
107. Hodgson’s Redstart – Phoenicurus hodgsoni: MK surroundings, JZG
108. White-throated Redstart – Phoenicurus schisticeps: MK, HY, JZG
109. Daurian Redstart – Phoenicurus auroreus: Sawan, MK, JZG
110. Blue-fronted Redstart – Phoenicurus frontalis: BS, JZG
111. White-capped Water-Redstart – Chaimarrornis leucocephalus: BS, MK, JZG
112. Plumbeous Water-Redstart – Rhyacornis fuliginosus: Sawan, Emei, MK, JZG
113. White-bellied Redstart – Hodgsonius phaenicuroides: Emei, Wawu, JZG
114. White-tailed Robin – Myiomela leucura: Emei; Laojun Shan 1 (many heard)
115. Grandala – Grandala coelicolor: BS 4,4
116. Slaty-backed Forktail – Enicurus schistaceus: Emei 1
117. White-crowned Forktail – Enicurus leschenaulti sinensis: 2 MK
118. Common Stonechat – Saxicola rubicola przevalksii: HY, pass between Songpan and JZG
119. Crested Mynah – Acridotheres cristatellus: 1 en route at Dayi; Du Fu 1
120. Eurasian Nuthatch – Sitta europaea sinensis: JZG
121. Chestnut-vented Nuthatch – Sitta nagaensis: Wuy 1
122. Chinese Nuthatch – Sitta villosa: JZG
123. Eurasian Treecreeper – Certhia familiaris khamensis: Wawu, MK, pass between Songpan and JZG; JZG
124. Sichuan Treecreeper – Certhia tianquanensis: Wawu, JZG
125. Bar-tailed Treecreeper – Certhia himalayana: JZG
126. Winter Wren – Troglodytes troglodytes: Emei, MK, JZG
127. Fire-capped Tit – Cephalopyrus flammiceps: Wuy
128. “Sichuan” Willow Tit – Parus weigoldicus: 1 MK
129. White-browed Tit – Parus superciliosus: HY
130. Pere David’s Tit – Parus davidi: Wuy, JZG
131. Rufous-vented Tit – Parus rubidiventris: Wawu, BS, MK, JZG
132. “Coal Tit” – Parus (ater) aemodius: Wawu, Emei, Wuy, JZG
133. Yellow-bellied Tit – Parus venustulus: Emei, Wuy, JZG
134. Gray-crested Tit – Parus dichrous: Wawu, Wuy, MK, JZG
135. Great Tit – Parus major (ssp. minor+tibetanus): 1 at bottom Laojun Shan, Emei, HY, JZG, en route past BS
136. Green-backed Tit – Parus monticolus: Emei, Sawan, JZG, Wawu; common Laojun Shan
137. Yellow-browed Tit – Sylviparus modestus: Emei, Wawu, Wuy; a few Laojun Shan
138. Black-throated Tit – Aegithalos concinnus: Du Fu, Emei
139. Sooty Tit – Aegithalos fuliginosus: Wuy, JZG
140. Eurasian Crag Martin – Hirundo rupestris: MK, JZG, en route
141. Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica: JZG, Emei, en route near Wawu; 1 at bottom of Laojun Shan
142. Red-rumped Swallow – Hirundo daurica: Du Fu, Emei, Wawu
143. Asian House Martin – Delichon dasypus: Emei, BS, MK, JZG
144. Goldcrest – Regulus regulus yunnanensis: MK, pass between JZG and Songpan; JZG
145. Collared Finchbill – Spizixos semitorques: Emei, en route
146. Red-whiskered Bulbul – Pycnonotus jocosus: Emei
147. Brown-breasted Bulbul – Pycnonotus xanthorrhous: en route near Wawu Shan
148. Chinese Bulbul – Pycnonotus sinensis: Emei, Du Fu
149. Black Bulbul – Hypsipetes leucocephalus leucothorax: Emei
150. Mountain Bulbul – Hypsipetes mcclellandii similis: 1 Laojun Shan
151. Plain Prinia – Prinia inornata: Du Fu 2
152. Chestnut-flanked White-eye – Zosterops erythropleurus: 1 Wawu; Du Fu; 2-3 Laojun Shan
153. Japanese White-eye – Zosterops japonicus: Du Fu, Emei
154. Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler – Cettia fortipes: Emei; common at Laojun Shan; [heard Wawu, Wuy]
155. Aberrant Bush-Warbler – Cettia flavolivacea: Emei, Wawu, [heard MK]
156. Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler – Cettia acanthizoides: Wawu, JZG; [heard Emei, Wuy, MK, JZG]
157. Gray-sided Bush-Warbler – Cettia brunnifrons: Wawu, [heard BS]
158. Southern Spotted Bush Warbler – Bradypterus thoracicus przevalskii: Emei, Wawu, [heard in BS]
159. Northern Spotted Bush Warbler – Bradypterus suschkini: Emei 1; JZG ca 10 singing, a few of which seen
160. Brown Bush-Warbler – Bradypterus luteoventris: Wawu
161. Russet Bush Warbler – Bradypterus mandelli melanorhynchus: Emei
162. Oriental Reed Warbler – Acrocephalus orientalis: 1 Du Fu
163. Crested Tit-Warbler – Leptopoecile elegans: pass between Songpan and JZG; MK
164. Tickell’s Leaf-Warbler – Phylloscopus affinis: 1 Wawu; BS, MK, JZG
165. Buff-throated Warbler – Phylloscpus subaffinis: Emei
166. Dusky Warbler – Phylloscopus fuscatus: JZG 2
167. Yellow-streaked Warbler – Phylloscopus armandii: JZG
168. Buff-barred Warbler – Phylloscopus pulcher: Emei, Wawu, MK, JZG, [heard BS]
169. Ashy-throated Warbler – Phylloscopus maculipennis: Emei
170. “Forrest’s” Warbler – Phylloscopus forresti (formerly: chloronotus): Emei, Wawu, Wuy, MK, JZG; few non-singing ind’s in Laojun Shan
171. Chinese Leaf Warbler – Phylloscopus yunnanensis: Wuy, JZG
172. Hume’s Warbler – Phylloscopus humei: MK, JZG
173. Arctic Warbler – Phylloscopus borealis: 3-4 Du Fu
174. Greenish Warbler – Phylloscopus trochiloides trochiloides: Emei, Du Fu, Wawu, Sawan, Wuy, BS, MK, JZG
175. Large-billed Leaf-Wabler – Phylloscopus magnirostris: Emei, Wawu, Sawan, Wuy, MK, JZG; Laojun Shan
176. Emei Leaf Warbler – Phylloscopus emeiensis: Emei, [heard Wawu]
177. “Claudia’s” Warbler – Phylloscopus claudiae (formerly reguloides): Emei, Sawan, Wuy, MK, JZG, [heard Wawu]
178. “Ogilviegranti’s” Warbler – Phylloscopus ogilviegranti disturbans (formerly davisoni): Emei 1; very common in Laojun Shan
179. Sulphur-breasted Warbler – Phylloscopus ricketti: Emei
180. Bianchi’s Warbler – Seicercus valentini valentini: Emei, Wawu, Wuy, MK, JZG; 1 Laojun Shan; [heard BS]
181. “Martens’s Warbler” – Seicercus omeiensis: Emei; common Laojun Shan; [heard Wawu]
182. White-spectacled Warbler – Seicercus affinis: Emei, common Laojun Shan
183. “Alstrom’s Warbler” (=Plain-tailed Warbler) – Seicercus soror: Emei
184. Gray-crowned Warbler – Seicercus tephrocephalus: JZG; birds in Sawan possibly this species or S. omeiensis, recordings will be analyzed shortly
185. Chestnut-crowned Warbler – Seicercus castaniceps: Emei; Laojun Shan
186. Rufous-faced Warbler – Abroscopus albogularis: 1 Du Fu, [heard Emei]
187. Pere David’s Laughingthrush – Garrulax davidi: HY
188. Sukachev’s Laughingthrush – Garrulax sukatschewi: JZG 1
189. Moustached Laughingthrush – Garrulax cineraceus: 2+1+1 Emei
190. Barred Laughingthrush – Garrulax lunulatus: Wuy, 1 JZG
191. Giant Laughingthrush – Garrulax maximus: BS, MK
192. Spotted Laughingthrush – Garrulax ocellatus: Wuy 2+1, Emei 1, Laojun Shan 2
193. Rusty Laughingthrush – Garrulax poecilorhynchus: Emei 2; common Laojun Shan
194. White-throated Laughingthrush – Garrulax albogularis: 2 flocks at Laojun Shan
195. Hwamei – Garrulax canorus: 2 Du Fu; Emei
196. White-browed Laughingthrush – Garrulax sannio: Du Fu
197. Elliot’s Laughingthrush – Garrulax elliotii: Emei, Wawu, Wuy, BS, MK, JZG; 2x Laojun Shan
198. Black-faced Laughingthrush – Garrulax affinis: Wawu
199. Red-winged Laughingthrush – Garrulax formosus: Emei, Wawu, Wuy; common Laojun Shan
200. Emei Liocichla – Liocichla omeiensis: Emei, Wawu; common Laojun Shan
201. Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler – Pomatorhinus ruficollis: 3 Du Fu; Emei; several Laojun Shan
202. Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler – Pomatorhinus erythrocnemis: 2x Laojun Shan, [heard Emei, JZG]
203. Scaly-breasted Wren-Babbler – Pnoepyga albiventer: Wuy 1
204. Pygmy Wren Babbler – Pnoepyga pusilla: JZG 1+1; Laojun Shan 1 (heard commonly); [heard Emei, Wuy]
205. Rufous-capped Babbler – Stachyris ruficeps: Emei; daily at Laojun Shan; [heard Wuy]
206. Red-billed Leiothrix – Leiothrix lutea: Emei, Wawu; common Laojun Shan
207. Blue-winged Minla – Minla cyanouroptera wingatei: Laojun Shan common
208. Red-tailed Minla – Minla ignotincta: Laojun Shan seen daily
209. Green Shrike-Babbler – Pteruthius xanthochlorus: Wuy 2-3
210. White-browed Shrike-Babbler – Pteruthius flaviscapis: Laojun Shan seen occasionally (heard commonly); [heard MK]
211. Golden-breasted Fulvetta – Alcippe chrysotis: Wuy; common Laojun Shan
212. Golden-fronted Fulvetta – Alcippe variegaticeps: 2+2+1 Laojun Shan
213. Streak-throated Fulvetta – Alcippe cinereiceps: Emei, Wawu, Wuy; Laojun Shan common
214. Dusky Fulvetta – Alcippe brunnea: Emei
215. Gray-cheeked Fulvetta – Alcippe morrisonia: Emei; 2x Laojun Shan
216. Streaked Barwing – Actinodura souliei souliei: Laojun Shan 2+2 seen several times, possibly involving more ind’s
217. Black-headed Sibia – Heterophasia desgodinsi: common Laojun Shan
218. Stripe-throated Yuhina – Yuhina gularis: Wawu; 1 Laojun Shan
219. White-collared Yuhina – Yuhina diademata: Emei, Wawu, Sawan; several Laojun Shan
220. Black-chinned Yuhina – Yuhina nigrimenta: Emei
221. Great Parrotbill – Conostoma oemodium: 2 Wawu, 1 Wuy
222. Brown Parrotbill – Paradoxornis unicolor: 1 Wawu
223. Gray-headed Parrotbill – Paradoxornis gularis: Emei
224. Vinous-throated Parrotbill – Paradoxornis webbianus: Du Fu
225. Ashy-throated Parrotbill – Paradoxornis alphonsianus: Emei
226. Golden Parrotbill – Paradoxornis verreauxi: Emei; common in suitable bamboo on Laojun Shan
227. Gray-hooded Parrotbill – Paradoxornis zappeyi: 2 Wawu
228. Fulvous Parrotbill – Paradoxornis fulvifrons: Wawu
229. Tibetan Lark – Melanocorypha maxima: HY ca 5
230. Oriental Skylark – Alauda gulgula: HY
231. Horned Lark – Eremophila alpestris: HY
232. Fire-breasted Flowerpecker – Dicaeum ignipectus: Emei
233. Mrs Gould’s Sunbird – Aethopyga gouldiae: Emei, Wuy; 3x Laojun Shan
234. Fork-tailed Sunbird – Aethopyga christinae: Emei
235. House Sparrow – Passer domesticus: HY (downtown)
236. Tree Sparrow – Passer montanus: common
237. White Wagtail – Motacilla alba: (alboides) Du Fu, Emei, Sawan, BS, MK, JZG; (leucopsis) JZG
238. Citrine Wagtail – Motacilla citreola calcarata: Hongyuan
239. Gray Wagtail – Motacilla cinerea: Emei, Wawu, Sawan, JZG
240. Olive-backed Pipit – Anthus hodgsoni: Emei, MK, JZG
241. Rosy Pipit – Anthus roseatus: BS, JZG
242. Alpine Accentor – Prunella collaris: BS
243. Rufous-breasted Accentor – Prunella strophiata: Emei, Wawu, BS; 2-3 Laojun Shan
244. Maroon-backed Accentor – Prunella immaculata: JZG
245. White-rumped Munia – Lonchura striata swinhoei: Du Fu, Emei
246. Gray-capped Greenfinch – Carduelis sinica: en route north of Wawu
247. Tibetan Siskin – Carduelis thibetana: MK, JZG
248. Twite – Carduelis flavirostris miniakensis: HY 30-50
249. Plain Mountain-Finch – Leucosticte nemoricola: BS
250. Brandt’s Mountain-Finch – Leucosticte brandti: BS
251. Blanford’s Rosefinch – Carpodacus rubescens: Emei
252. Common Rosefinch – Carpodacus erythrinus: Sawan, BS, MK
253. Beautiful Rosefinch – Carpodacus pulcherrimus: pass between Songpan and JZG
254. Pink-rumped Rosefinch – Carpodacus eos: Maerkang
255. Vinaceous Rosefinch – Carpodacus vinaceus: Emei, JZG; 1,1 Wawu
256. Three-banded Rosefinch – Carpodacus trifasciatus: Maerkang, JZG
257. White-browed Rosefinch – Carpodacus thura: MK, JZG, pass from Songpan to JZG
258. Red-fronted Rosefinch – Carpodacus puniceus: BS 0,3
259. Brown Bullfinch – Pyrrhula nipalensis ricketti: Emei 1-2
260. Gray-headed Bullfinch – Pyrrhula erythaca: Emei, Wuy, MK, JZG
261. Yellow-billed Grosbeak – Eophona migratoria sowerbyi: Du Fu ca 5
262. White-winged Grosbeak – Mycerobas carnipes: BS, MK, JZG, pass between Songpan and JZG
263. Slaty Bunting – Latoucheornis siemsseni: JZG, Sawan
264. Godlewski’s Bunting – Emberiza godlewskii: HY 1
Species unidentified to species level:
1. Aythya spec.: 2 HY (presumably Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca though not seen well enough, and Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula can – at least theoretically – not be excluded)
2. Accipiter spec.: 1 juv. Wuy (well-seen perched individual displayed all the characters of a juvenile Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis, though that species would be slightly too high and at the edge of its range here; possibility of aberrant Besra A. virgatus cannot be discarded)
Species heard only:
1. Verreaux’ Monal Partridge – Tetraophasis obscurus: JZG
2. Black Woodpecker – Drycopus martius: MK, JZG
3. Common Hoopoe – Upupa epops: HY
4. Hodgson’s Hawk-Cuckoo – Hierococcyx nisicolor: Emei, Wawu, Wuy, Laojun Shan
5. Asian Koel – Eudynamys scolopacea: Emei
6. Northern Boobook – Ninox japonica: Emei
7. Himalayan Wood-Owl – Strix nivicola: JZG
8. Oriental Scops Owl – Otus sunia stictonotus: Laojun Shan
9. Asian Barred Owlet – Glaucidium cuculoides: Emei
10. Gray Nightjar – Caprimulgus indicus: JZG
11. White-browed Shortwing – Brachypteryx montana: Wuy