Nov 22, 2010

Streaked Barwing and White-browed Bush Robin on the Old Erlang Road - Sichuan birds

One of our Barwings - a truly handsome bird

Just back from a quick trip to the Old Erlang Road, where we got 'his and hers' Streaked Barwing. The Barwing day started with a little discussion on where to bird - which resulted in a split up where me and Meggie did different sections. On my part of the trail I ran into a group of three, very showy, Streaked Barwing - and cursed our luck that Meggie wasn't present with her camera. But when I later met up with her she was beaming over having found another pair of Barwing lower down. The birds were feeding off what I presume were insects or grubs in the moss that covers tree trunks and branches. Meggie followed her birds for about 5 minutes.

One my Streaked Barwings - showing how ridiculously easy they were. The picture was taken using 17-85mm zoom - hardly a mainstream birder's lens!!!!!!!!!!

During this trip we also ran into another good bird - a male White-browed Bush Robin but in some very misty conditions. The bird made a show when we called in a Tit/Goldcrest flock. This was close to the very top of the pass - from where we could hear Koklass Pheasant calling in the distance.

On the way home we got an unexpected bird - a Juv. White-tailed Eagle sitting in a riverside tree that could be seen on the busy Chengdu to Kangding G318 road.

And that cloud and mist, that you often find in these mountains, it make birding a bit difficult - but boy can you find some great photo opportunities when this stuff is rolling in while the sun is breaking through the clouds. This is magical Sichuan at its best.

Whose eaten my porridge - is this Mummy or Daddy bear???? Certainly wouldn't like to be Goldilocks when this guy gets back home for dinner - those claws look a little sharp.

Erlang mountain used belong to the bottom of the sea. There are lots of Fossils to be found on this track - here's a huge chunk of coral. At this point point, that's close to the top of the track, you can also find sea shells.

Nov 16, 2010

Red Pandas at Wawu - Sichuan birds

A nice study of the first Red Panda we saw on day two - up on a tree sunning itself in the early morning sun.

We're just back from the second part of our trip with Duncan and Pieter from Wildsounds - this time together with Nigel Goodgame (this guy goes into a gyrating dance every time he gets a lifer),
Anyways they had just come back from a Giant Panda trip - where after crawling and clamoring up the steep sided bamboo mountains of Foping, Shaanxi, they'd all seen their Bear - so now we were after the main target in Sichuan - Red Panda.

Wawu Mountain is about the easiest site for Red Pandas around here - its already shown for us with three earlier groups. – but the weather, namely the infamous Wawu mists, can make this a difficult location.
Our project got under way with a clear morning and on day one a Red Panda was spotted – but frustratingly only by Meggie!!!!!!!
We now had an area where we knew where a Panda was present – but there was a touch of nervous tension in the air – since staking out the area after the initial sighting gave nothing and by mid-afternoon a mist had fallen making further watching impossible.
Next morning – we woke, after a night that had seen some very heavy rain, highly relieved by the sight of clear skies. We watched the area of Meggie’s sighting, and around 9 am the Panda politely came into view to give, for around 10 minutes, an uninterrupted look at this stunning animal. It was seen in a small tree, into which it had probably climbed with the intention of warming up. When first viewed the Panda had ice on one of its ears - but that soon melted away as it thawed out in the rising morning sun.

Soon after Nigel found two more Pandas – which seemed to include a juv. Needless to say this brought on yet another dance!!!!!!

The Red Panda pair - this is the first time we've seen two Pandas together.

Other good stuff for our visitors were the Lady A’s and the Temminck’s Tragopan seen during “chicken-run” on the park access road. But here we also had a few nervous tinges – since Lady A, surprisingly almost all male, were numerous, while after about 6 runs there wasn’t a Tragopan in sight. Luckily this changed on the very last run. Done in a light mist and drizzly rain - weather conditions that often induce chickens to abandon the wet forest floor for the firmer feel of a road and roadside blocks – we suddenly bumped into 6 Tragopan, including one fine male which gave us some prolonged views. 10 minutes later the mist closed in – we were very lucky!!!!!

Lady A scuttles into the safety of scrub - the usual view of this stunning bird

The male Temminck's Tragopan who decided to pose - falling mist, rain and shooting through the windscreen didn't help this shot taken by Pieter.

Parrotbills also showed nicely on this trip - and Grey-hooded, sometimes a hard to find bird, was very easy at the correct locations.

Grey-hooded Parrotbill - people watching from the top of a bamboo stem.

Golden Parrotbill were also not that difficult in the bamboo at the middle sections of the access road. These hyperactive creatures are a great looking bird.

And one of the Parrotbills the wildsounds guys needed for their list - Brown. They already had the very similar Three-toed from Foping - and after a toe count of were happy that 3 front toes + 1 back toe meant a 101% positive ID for this lifer.