Birding trip report Sichuan, China 26 May – 9 June 2011
John van der Woude -
Bird photos
See also:  report and species list   -   photos of birding sites   -   other photos

Kessler's Thrush male in Balang pass. We had some small groups here and on our way to Ruoergai. During the breeding season, groups of males forage on the grasslands while the females are on the nest.

Grandala with its electric blue colour. Balang pass, and later more near Ruoergai.

Alpine Accentor, Balang pass. Probably subspecies tibetana.

Red-fronted Rosefinch, Balang pass. This wil be subspecies longirostris (the bill is rather large indeed). This is the highest breeding bird species of Eurasia.

Sichuan Tit Poecile weigoldicus, a split from Willow/Songar Tit.

White-browed Rosefinch, easily detectable by its weird goat-like calls. These calls are unique for this subspecies femininus.  Hence this is now Chinese White-browed Rosefinch Carpodacus dubius: femininus together with two other subspecies.

Collared Grosbeak near Balang pass.

Chinese Monal, the main prize of Balang pass. We got it in the first five minutes already. We were very lucky with this, although we also deliberately went straight from Chengdu to this area as the weather was still good so we would have good visibility, essential for detecting these pheasants higher up the slopes of the mountain. And indeed, if we had come one day later we would have been in the mist!

Snow Partridge on the mountain crest of Balang

Firethroat, singing at just 1 m above our heads along the Wuyipeng trail above Wolong. This is a stereo recording of its song, mixed with several other birds around.

Grey-headed Bullfinch, male at the quarry track W of Juizhaigou, and a pair at Baxi valley.

Godlewski's Bunting well lit by the snow cover along the road from JZ to Ruoergai. Several seen along the roads.

Elliott's Laughingthrush was a common bird to hear but mostly not as easy to see as here.

Plain Laughingtrhush on our way to Ruoergai.

Siberian Stonechat was not common.

Hodgson's Redstart female near Ruoergai, and male (below) in Baxi valley.

Giant Laughingthrush in the narrow side valley of Baxi valley

Hodgson's Treecreeper, with its distinctive song, in Baxi valley. We also got Sichuan Treecreeper, in Wawu, also with a very distinctive song.

One of the highlights of our Sichuan trip. Sichuan Jay is a top wish-list species, if only because it is closely related to Siberian Jay but has a much smaller range and is not easy to find. We saw it only at the last possible moment after a long search (well, 2 hours or so; birders have taken days to see it) along the road through the coniferous forest above Baxi.

Oriental Turtle-dove

Blood Pheasants in Baxi valley. Not easy to find but also not very furtive.

Blue Eared Pheasant in Baxi valley

The suehchanensis subspecies of Common Pheasant:no collar, and much darker overall.

Siberian Roedeer near Ruoergai. Wikipedia says: the crest of the Caucasus mountain range is the sharp boundary between European en Siberian Roedeer.

Upland Buzzard on dry grassland near Ruoergai.

Himalayan Griffon coming soon after the lady had butchered a yak. Of course, the vultures had just to wait for the scrapnels and were chased off. See also at Other photos.

Brown Shrike, subspecies lucionensis near Ruoergai

Daurian (or Purple-backed) Starling in the outskirts of Ruoergai town. Male, while the female sat on top of their nest pole. The male brought a meters long cassette tape to the nest site. this bird was a surprise for our guide Sid, he had not even seen it before in Sichuan.

Tibetan Lark showed well, in song and display flights, at the border of Flower lake. There seemed to be a local concentration of these impressive birds, it is the largest lark of Eurasia. This is a recording of its song in a circular display flight high in the air.

On our way to the Yellow River, from Ruoergai, we passed rather wet grasslands, with several Black-necked Cranes (although we saw these elsewhere too), and several Citrine Wagtails (subspecies calcarata).

Himalayan Griffon

Hobby in this treeless area means probably that it is still on migration

Upland Buzzard

Ruddy Shelduck

Green-backed Tit along the road south to Pingwu.

Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher in Pingwu town forest park. This is a recording of the song of this bird, with the trilling song of Rufous-faced Warbler in the background.

Elegant (or Yellow-throated) Bunting at a side track on our way to Wawu. We birded quite some of these side tracks (with success), as we didn't want to arrive early in Wawu as it was a Sunday and also a public holiday. And indeed, when we arrived in late afternoon in Wawu, it was still very busy. The next days were very quiet instead and gave us ample birding opportunities along the road in Wawu park.

Chinese Sparrowhawk after an unsuccessful hunt, also somewhere along the road to Wawu.

Often we saw cuckoos on wires along the road. there are quite a few similar looking cuckoo species here, but this one was calling so we knew for certain it was Lesser Cuckoo. This is a recording of a Lesser Cuckoo song, not from this place but from a few days later, in Wawu top forest.

Great Parrotbill in Wawu top forest, sunbathing!

On one of our last days we finally saw White-bellied Redstart, at Sid's stake-out in Wawu. This is a recording of its song at this spot (see the bill on the photo).

Spotted Laughingthrush showed well at eye level along Wawu road

Chinese Babax was also a species that only showed well at the end of the trip. This is a recording of the calls at the birds of the photo.

Long-billed Plover was on our wish-list and we easily saw it from the bridge of Huangya, on our way back to Chengdu.

See also:  report and species list   -   photos of birding sites   -   other photos