17 June 2013

Tasty Tragopans...CHINA (28 May)

This was to be the first landmark, red-letter day of the tour. We arrived at the Tiger Forest Resort in Loncanggou the evening before, where I swapped notes with another tour leader on site-Nick Bray-he was interested in our Barred Laughingthrush and Lady A news from Erlangshan, his next destination and I was, of course, interested in his tragopan news in particular from Longcanggou. Nick described an area where we had seen some females recently, and although not enthused about females, we had little choice but to try this spot on this morning. On arriving at the area, I soon realised this was almost the same spot where I had seen a spanking male on my scouting trip with Frank here last year. As we climbed out of the van, I glanced downslope, only to lock eyes with a male Temminck's Tragopan! It was looking alert, and by the time the rest of the group had got off the bus it had managed to slink back into the obscurity of the bamboo, where just a few hints of its red plumage could be made out. 
With most of the group having missed it, I tried the recording, at which point this splendid male came marching out of the bamboo onto the open slope, where it remained, looking immaculate and alert for 5 minutes, allowing scope views, and being completely tolerant of our loud exclamations at its extraordinary appearance. Another male, and a couple of females were noted closeby too, and by the end of the morning with some parties of chicks seen, we had amassed up to 10 individual tragopans, my personal best day count! The photos alongside may be poor, although hopefully even these show that the bird was NOT.

The remainder of the morning was spent working our way up to a marsh higher up, which offered, we hoped more special birds, notably parrotbills...

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