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.

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