19 July 2013

The Pull of the Far East...(19 July)

OK, so tonight I leave for the Far East once more; so after a month at home in Ecuador (where I managed to pick up a lifer Stygian Owl-see below-despite almost no birding through illness), I am heading back to the Orient, though this time to "new shores": Sulawesi and Halmahera in Indonesia

As I never really finished off my China blogging (because of illness), here are some highlights from my final time in China in June...

We spent the end of the China tour in the vast, under-populated, province of Qinghai. In just a few days there we racked up a total of six different snowfinches (Blanford's, Henri's, White-rumped, Black-winged, Rufous-necked, and Pere David's Snowfinches), including all six in one morning! Along with this stellar cast, we picked up Qinghai's most famous avian resident: Przevalski's Rosefinch, which is in its own family of the same name. The short scrubby slope where it was found also yielded Brown Accentor and Robin Accentors

Up near Rubber Mountains Pass we found a nesting pair of White-winged Redstart, while on the Gobi Desert-like plains of Chaka beyond, we found the striking Mongolian Ground-Jay, which was as interesting in flight as it was on the ground, with its spectacular pied wing pattern. These flats also yielded double figures of Pallas's Sandgrouse one morning, as party after party passed low overhead. A little further afield, on the far side of Chaka, we birded a craggy valley, which was exceptional for partridges, producing three different species: Przevalski's, Tibetan and Daurian Partridges, as well as Wallcreeper, a spanking breeding male Pine Bunting, and a solitary Himalayan Snowcock. Back on the Tibetan Plateau we admired Bar-headed Geese in good numbers, a Tibetan Fox terrorising a pika colony, and a roadside Little Owl that had chosen to nest in a road sign.

We returned to the city of Xining for a final night, afterwhich John, Ken, and I (who were heading out on later flights), birded a mountain overlooking the city (Beishan). This was a superb morning's birding, with nearly half a dozen or so Pale Rosefinches found around the deserted farm buildings, lots of Ring-necked Pheasants "crowed" from the hillsides, and Meadow Buntings seemed to pop up from every bush, (a lifebird no less). We also came upon a couple of pairs of Pere David's Laughingthrushes too. A great time to end my recent tour of China. I am already missing the food of both Sichuan (which is rightly world famous), and Qinghai (which is strangely not famous at all), and, of course, the birds; I hope I am back again next spring!

Reports to come from Asia again, very soon...

1 comment:

John Holmes said...

Great Qinghai birds.... get well soon.