Trip report: Sichuan, China (May – June 2006) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Sam Woods, Keith Barnes and Iain Campbell.

China is a truly fascinating part of Asia – for birding, and also for its interesting history and unique culture. This tour took in some great scenery from the wide open, grassy plains of the Tibetan Plateau to the hulking, snow-capped mountain peaks around Balang Shan. Along with the great scenery there were obviously some great birds – not least among these some beautiful Asian Pheasants that are always a big draw for many birders visiting this exciting birding region. The breathtaking male Golden Pheasant that perched in the open for everyone on one of the first days of the tour was an undoubted highlight; although some people would opt for the Chinese Monal watched displaying in the shadow of the mighty Balang Shan mountain as a more worthy highlight; while others may say that that the beautifully adorned male Lady Amherst’s Pheasants seen several times on the flanks of Wawu Shan were much better. Either way you look at it, many birds on the tour were stunning and highly cooperative. Having run a tour there shortly before this one we had some good up-to-the-minute information on some key species, allowing us to get a respectable total of almost 270 birds seen on the tour, including some real rarities. Like the gorgeous male Rufous-headed Robin, (the undeniable bird of the trip for some), that sat in the open on a quiet forest trail in the visually stunning Jiuzhaigou National Park; a beautiful male Firethroat that posed fantastically for photos in the Wolong reserve near the beginning of the tour; although the comical nature and great character of the Hume’s Groundpecker up on the windswept Tibetan Plateau was also memorable; as was the brilliant male Temminck’s Tragopan that perched in full view for everyone to appreciate the incredible beauty of this horned pheasant near to the Wuyipeng Panda Research station. All in all it was a really great tour, for the scenery, the birds and the superb Chinese cuisine that this region is rightfully internationally famous for.

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