Sep 7, 2009

Sichuan Birdwatching - A trip to Wanglang

Sichuan bird guiding with Sid and Meggie Francis – - Chengdu the gateway to the birds of Sichuan.
We've just found a way to circumnavigate the China firewall which has been blocking us from putting pictures on our blog - and once again we can now publish illustrated articles onto this blog - that is untill the next trick from the censors.

We also have Sichuan birdwatching thread at birdforum - we hope birders can find some useful info in there, or use the thread to ask us questions about their Sichuan visit - you'll find it at -

Three-banded Rosefinch - this male is a pretty striking bird - we spotted him on one of the moss covered, primeval like conifer trees that are a feature of the forests at Wanglang. Like other Rosefinches it will respond to calls - this one being brought in by playing White-browed Rosefinch.

Well we tried to stay at home and complete some of those chores we've been promising ourselves to do for ages - but the temptation to get out and bird was far too strong - and being weak-willed...............................
Anyways it seemed a good time to take up north to check out Wanglang and Tangjiahe Panda reserves - and have a look at how the post-quake road mending is coming along.
Areas close to Wanglang were badly hit by the quake - and although the reserve itself is more or less untouched – access by road, when driving the most direct routes from Chengdu, were very badly affected. However, now you can make the journey to Wanglang in 8 hours - and although there are quite a few klm's of unsurfaced temporary road to negotiate - the birds at the end of the journey make all those bumps worthwhile.

Chesnut-headed Tesia - this is a warbler on stilts!!!! Tesia - are lumped under the title of Ground Warbler - being distinguished by short-tails and skulking behavior. But they can become very inquisitive when subjected to a bit of "phishing" - however getting that good shot almost needs an X-ray camera lens that can shoot through dense foliage. We found this bird off the normal paths - in a really dank and damp part of the forest.

Wanglang is a pretty friendly reserve - and it's not spoilt by being "over-touristicated." The basic accommodation is cheap - 60RMB/bed - but if you're into more plush living, there are wooden chalets that cater for a little more luxury. The restaurant is also pretty good for such an out of the way place.
But of course what makes this place is the habitat - nice rough tracks, which are drivable, take you into virgin like conifer forest. There are also walking trails - some being boardwalks - while others being paths into the denser parts of the forest. There are three main valleys to walk - and if you felt really fit – and had a few days to spare - you could walk to either Jiuzhaigou or Huanglong.
One of the best valleys - one we haven't fully explored - comes before you reach the hotel/workplace area (you have to cross the river) - this valley should give the best chance (and of course a rather slim one) for Giant Panda, with March being the best month for finding one.

Chinese Thrush - a shy endemic - which is not that difficult to find up in the Wanglang, Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong areas

Wanglang has an interesting bird list. Being a good site for Blue-eared Pheasant - they'll feed on the pastures that border onto the accommodation area. The best time to see them is when the grass is short - we had good views in early June - but now, during late summer, the grass is longer, so viewing is rather impaired. The only Blue-eared Pheasant we saw on this trip was a group of eight - in a forest area - that hustled their way quickly over the road - and sunk away into the invisibility of dense scrub.

Snowy-cheeked Laughingthrush - a very range-restricted endemic - this is a good tick. You can find these laughers in the bamboo that grows around the board-walk area at the end of the right-hand fork of the driving track.

We spent 3 nights at Wanglang - and then moved off to Tangjiahe - our next blog article will be about this reserve.

1 comment:

tim said...

Bird watching is an absolutely amazing activities you can enjoy all around the world.