We left the hotel in the rain and headed one last time up into the mighty Balangshan where we headed for the monal site, arriving just before first light. The weather rapidly became clearer and the views across to the other mountains were very impressive indeed but our main focus was the hillside above the road where Tang had seen a Koklass Pheasant yesterday. There was nothing doing here and with a couple other tour group showing up we made a hasty retreat and walked along the road. What a good move this turned out to be as first a Giant Laughingthrush appeared and then we had amazing views of a Spotted Bush-warbler that responded vey aggressively and flew across the road a few times, perching right out in the open, calling away. Just around the corner we heard a Verreaux’s Monal-Partridge calling and spent some time trying to call it in, but when it was spotted on the top of the hill we finally realised it wasn’t close! The view in the scope was very nice and it remained calling for a long time, whilst further along the same ridge a female Chinese Monal was also seen. A Blue-fronted Redstart was bringing food into its small young in a nest beside the road and as we watched the fine male a Blood Pheasant began calling. This must have been one of the most responsive ever as it came straight in and showed very well, even running across the road twice.
Then a random bit of tape playing resulted in a superb male Golden Bush-robin flying in and perching right in front of us. A Himalayan Bluetail also put in an appearance, and a Chinese Fulvetta only showed briefly but we knew we’d see that later in the trip.
So moving further up the mountain we had fine looks at several Snow Partridges, giving much better views than before. And when a pair of Tibetan Snowcock were spotted as we drove higher, we knew we were having one of those special days you get once in a while! The pair of snowcocks jut fed on the grassy slope above us totally unconcerned by our presence and we soaked up the views, only getting distracted by another pair of Snow Partridges and a cracking male Streaked Rosefinch. Once down the other side of the mountain we made a few brief stops before checking out the traditional site where Wallcreepers nest and a fine adult male was feeding just 20 metres above the road as soon as we arrived.
|Wallcreeper - again|
However, a flock of 20+ Black-browed Tits here was something of a distraction and they were accompanied by a lone Sichuan Willow Tit.
|Black-browed tit - Hello!|
After lunch in Rilong we set out on the drive to Maerkang where would stay for the next three nights.