21 June 2010

Sichuan, China EMEI SHAN (May 2010)

Next stop on our tour of China's well-named "heavenly kingdom" (i.e. Sichuan) was one of the holiest sites in all of China: EMEI SHAN. While Buddhist pilgrims headed to "Crouching Tiger Temple" we checked out Chinese Hwamei, flashy Fork-tailed Sunbirds, fiery Flame-breasted Flowerpeckers, gigantic Great Barbets, and this super Slaty-backed Forktail (photo).

16 June 2010

Sichuan, China: CHENGDU (May 2010)

Now I am free from Chinese censorship, I am back in the real world (of Facebook and blogging-that is real is it not?!)...So I can update some highlights from my recent China tour.

We began in "the biggest city no one has ever heard" of, CHENGDU. With perhaps as many as 11 million people in it, that is quite an achievement! We ventured first into the Panda Breeding Center, our only real chance at seeing Giant Pandas, that were of course crunching on fresh sticks of bamboo (bottom photo). Birds in the grounds included the extravagant Asian Paradise-Flycatcher, "subdued" Oriental Greenfinch, odd Rufous-faced Warbler, and a mixed flock of very cute Vinous-throated and Ashy-throated Parrotbills. That included these sweet juvenile Vinous-throateds (top photo).

An afternoon trip to the former home of a famous Tang Dynasty poet,
Du Fu's Thatched Cottage, brought us crowds of amorous lovers around the lakeside, some interesting signs (middle photo), and a hulking Chinese Grosbeak.