Oct 30, 2010

Autumn trips to Wolong and Balang - Sichuan birds

With all the road problems caused by the combination of residual earthquake damage and the heavy rains of the summer - it's good to report that our drier autumn weather has once again made Wolong and Balang Pass fairly easy destinations to reach via the quick route from Chengdu - the road that passes through Dujiangyan. In fact, if you're lucky, then its possible to get to Wolong Town with a 3 hour drive. Give 5 hours and you could be looking down on the clouds, while basking in the alpine sun on top of the 4,600m Balang pass.

Of course under that cloud cover things can be a little less bright. This was the situation just a couple of day's ago when we were guiding Duncan Macdonald and Pieter Wessels of Wildsounds. But after an initial morning of being frustrated by mist, on the second, we were lucky enough to get a couple of male roadside Chinese Monal. The chill of the snow was certainly effectively countered by the thrill of getting so close to these stunning birds. That pic was taken by Pieter.
Other gamebirds encountered included The usual Koklass Pheasant, Rufous-throated Partridge, Snow Partridge and Tibetan Snowcock (I'm afraid mostly heard rather than seen). However this autumn there were no signs of White-eared Pheasant up at Balang or Golden Pheasant or Temminck's Tragopan at Wolong - these birds were much easier to find during the summer.

Lots of other birds about - here's a great shot of White-browed Tit Warbler. Meggie managed to capture that red eye - which gives this bird a bit of a sinister look!!!!

As ever lots of Alpine Accentor up on high rocky areas of the pass.

Down in the valleys closer to Wolong we got close to this Black-faced Laughingthrush.

Late October also saw a few passage migrants still hanging about in the warmer valley bottoms - here's a female Golden Bush Robin.

And it wasn't only birds - here's a Chinese Goral that was found close to the entrance of Denghsheng Valley. Other mammals included Blue Sheep, Short-tailed Macaques and Mountain Weasel.

And here's Meggie - while the clouds roll past at over 4,500m - displaying an alarming new fashion trend. High altitude Wellington boots!!!!!!!