I left the rather tricky decision of whether to venture back up to the top of the mountain or head lower down until breakfast this morning. As we gathered at Tang’s cabin just before 6am it did seem that the cloud was higher than yesterday so took the gamble to head up to the top boardwalk and our decision was vindicated by the great view across to the surrounding mountain tops which were clearly visible.
We wasted no time in heading along the boardwalk and spent the whole morning in rather patient manner scouring the surrounding area. A slow start began with all of the usual warblers being seen including Sichuan Leaf-warbler, but a Buff-barred Warbler was new for us as it sang from a close pine tree, whilst a pair of Chestnut-bellied Rock-thrushes were present in the valley below us. A few Brown Parrotbills were present in the dense stand of bamboo that borders the whole boardwalk, but we were more intent on finding the apparently elusive fulvous variety which remained inconsiderately absent throughout the morning. However, when a Firethroat began singing nearby all of our attentions diverted to searching for this much-wanted cracker! In fact it took just a few seconds to find it perched on a low branch in a pine tree where it remained for ages. We set the scope up and enjoyed prolonged views of the whole bird and were able to appreciate the stunning plumage of this usually shy and skulking species that can be a very tricky bird to get a decent look at under normal circumstances.
Shortly afterwards a White-bellied Redstart began singing and knowing it would remain invisible in its bamboo home we took a narrow, muddy trail made by the Takins towards the bird. It was definitely a stubborn one but after some time it kindly hopped up onto some tree roots and began to sing for a little while before melting away.
The last bird of the morning was a mega, when a pair of Rufous-tailed Babblers were found skulking around a fallen tree but eventually showed reasonably well, even copulating at one stage right in front of us!
|Rufous-tailed Babbler - record shot!|
After a picnic lunch we walked back up to the top and as fortune would have it, came across a small group of Fulvous Parrotbills feeding beside the boardwalk. After several minutes of great views we left, seeing a brief Grey-hooded Fulvetta along the way before walking down the mountain road, getting decent looks at Bianchi’s Warbler and several more Spotted Nutcrackers before reaching the area where we had the liocichlas yesterday. There was no sign of them today, but a Fujian Niltava was a surprise and as we tried to relocate it following a Houdini act we came across a male Lady Amhert’s Pheasant to add to the nice views from earlier today. Several Elliot’s Laughingthrushes were seen, followed by a fine male Blue-fronted Redstart before we took a side trail. This proved to be a good move as we saw a pair of Chinese White-browed Rosefinches, another White-bellied Redstart showed well, as did a fabulous Chestnut-headed Tesia that sang its little heart out beside the track. I managed to get a few shots of it, but there was always a branch or leaf in front of it!!
But with dark clouds looming and a few spots of rain it seemed our day was over, but how wrong can you be? Very as it turned out when a Brown Bush-warbler responded pretty well to the ipod, and then a sprightly Fire-capped Tit was scoped as it visited its nesting hole. But the major surprise was a White-shouldered Startling found in a nearby tree which is apparently a late migrant and possibly the first record for this site.
With a very brief view of Black-faced Laughingthrush to add to our earlier sighting and another Grey-headed Bullfinch perched on top of a pine tree we then headed back down to the hotel in the jeeps. A spur of the moment decision to walk the final couple of kilometres turned out to be of almost divine intervention as within a couple of minutes we were face-to-face with an extremely territorial male Temminck’s Tragopan that came down the hill to get a closer look at us. He then proceeded to display aggressively by rapidly flapping his wings before moving from one prominent position to another above us before finally flying up into a tree. A female was also present but barely warranted a second glance, so mesmerised were we by this beautiful orange and blue apparition and found it hard to drag ourselves away, but we left them in peace and headed down for an early dinner.
|Temminck's Tragopan (female)|