Oct 5, 2008

Laba He Forest Park

Last week we had a guest with limited birding time – who we planned to guide around the famous birding site of Wawu Mountain. At first the weather looked okay - but by afternoon everything had closed in and a quick change of plan was needed!

Cute White-collared Yuhinas are very common birds of Laba He

Luckily close-by we have a have one wonderful back-up Site – the Laba He Forest park – whose large area includes some prime birding habitat (using country roads you make this place in 2 to 3 hours from Wawu – on the motorway it's 4 hours from Chengdu).
This site is also a good place to see animals – and includes Panda habitat. Of course you stand very little chance of seeing a Panda – you will see Samba Deer, and there are very good chances of seeing troops of Short-tailed Macaque monkeys or even high altitude grazers such as Takin.

A Short-tailed Macaque - deep in thought.This is the big dominant male of the troupe

Of course there is wealth of bird life including Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, Temminck’s Tragopan and Streaked Barwing. Our birding was tough on this last trip – and although we got our Lady A and Tragapon – other birds were disappointing but they included Spotted Nutcracker and Red-billed Magpie, Bay woodpecker, Speckled Wood Pigeon and dazzling Golden-breasted Fulvetta. However no Barwing, and none of the birds we’ve seen on former visits such as Brown Parrotbill, Barred and Spotted Laughingthrushes, not even the normally common Elliot’s Laughingthrush wanted to show!!!

Here's Elliot's Laughingthrush from another trip earlier on in the year.

To get to see some of the animals the park has constructed boardwalks and viewing platforms, and there are many miles of trail – that take you up to altitudes where you can walk within primary forest and get to scope onto alpine pastures. Of course these features are also great for bird watching.
Accommodation is also good – it includes a luxury hotel – Chalet accommodation – a cheaper hotel –and even camping sites that’s out on the trail. You can get decent accommodation here for 200RMB/night – although I think anyone who demands real 5 star treatment will be disappointed.

One of the board walks - this one has mesh to give grip when wet - others don't and can be very slippy!!!

What is really great about this place is that its quiet – not the throngs of noisy local tourists that often spoil more famous sights that birders often visit in Sichuan (Emei and Jiuzhaigou come to mind here). This place is still one of those hidden gems that can make a Sichuan holiday so unique and rewarding.

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