A BIRDING BLOG -
hong kong AND
hong kong AND
SICHUAN, CHINA 1-15 JUNE 2019 (5)
In the late afternoon of 10 June, we headed on to our next destination, arriving at the modern town of Luding at 7.30 pm. We set out at 5.00 am the next day for Erlangshan, a short distance away. However, it was a relatively slow journey as one side of the road was under repair and we were driving against convoys of lorries heading in the opposite direction to us. We turned off onto the old Erlangshan road at 6.40 am and began birding. We had a number of good birds along the road including Rufous-tailed Babbler, Spotted Nutcracker, Chinese Thrush, Sharpe’s Rosefinch, Firethroat, Chinese Cupwing and Chestnut-headed Tesia, as well as several calling Lady Amherst’s Pheasants . We heard Black-streaked Scimitar Babbler but could not entice it out into the open. Unfortunately, at one section before the top, the road became too rough for our two-wheel drive vehicle, so we had to walk up to an area of bamboo that can be productive for parrotbills. We saw two Black-faced Laughingthrushes, a pair of Golden Bush Robins and both Rosy and Olive-backed Pipits, but there was no sign of any parrotbills. We drove back down the mountain at 4.00 pm only to find a long tailback of lorries as the road was now closed until early evening. To pass the time, we drove a little way back up the mountain and managed to find a solitary Barred Laughingthrush, a species that – like the parrotbills – had eluded us earlier.
The morning of the 12th was wet and cloudy, so we decided not to explore the other side of Erlangshan as we had planned but head straight to Longcanggou. We arrived there at 8.30 am and drove up a picturesque steep-sided valley different to the main area usually visited by birders. There were a number of new birds for the trip, including at least 11 White-throated Needletails, a Himalayan Swiftlet, three Black Bazas, a juvenile Crested Honey Buzzard, several Hair-crested Drongos, several Buffy Laughingthrushes, a White-backed Woodpecker, a Chinese Blue Flycatcher and singing Alstrom’s, Kloss’s and Emei Leaf Warblers.
We checked into our hotel just outside the park. Four Ashy-throated Parrotbills were in the bushes near the buildings. Later in the afternoon, we went to the lower level of the main birding valley in search of Sichuan Bush Warbler. We heard it singing readily enough, but it took a while for us to get semi-decent views of the bird itself.
Longcanggou is basically a wide forested valley between 1400 and 2400 metres in elevation. One side of the river is a scenic area open to the public; the other side is off-limits to the general public and the access gates are usually locked. Birding groups can make special arrangements to access this private area. The road, rough in places but passable, goes through dense mixed forest up into more open forest and to an area of bamboo forest (although there is bamboo all along the road). The upper area houses a Panda re-introduction scheme and is inaccessible to everyone.
We spent 13th & 14th June walking up and down the road, largely between the upper and middle sections. Highlights were Golden Parrotbills on both days, and two Brown Parrotbills on 13th. Disappointingly, however, we heard Great Parrotbill on both days, but did not see it, and were unable to link up with Grey-hooded and Three-toed Parrotbills at all. We heard three Emei Shan Liocichlas on 12th but did not see any of them.
Longcanggou is known for its rainfall. The 13th was clear but it rained all day on 14th and on the morning of the 15th. This was insufficient to curtail our birdwatching but it did mean that I didn’t use my camera on those days. On 14th, in the early morning, we explored a rough, dead-end track off to the left eight kilometres before the Panda base. This track (and the adjacent main access road) proved very good for Temminck’s Tragopans. We had a total of six males, four females and six chicks there. Nearer the summit, in the enveloping mist, we eventually had a decent view of an inquisitive Emei Shan Liocichla. The final rare endemic of the day was a Golden-fronted Fulvetta found by Summer in the public section of the scenic area in the late afternoon.
On the morning of 15th, again in the rain, we walked the road down the valley we had visited on 12th. Additional species we found were ten Black-chinned Yuhinas and a Little Forktail. We then drove back to Chengdu airport so I could catch my afternoon flight back to Hong Kong.
With special thanks to Summer.
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