We left ever so early this morning in light rain which I feared had fallen as snow on the mountain, but this wasn’t apparent until later as we drove over the pass in darkness. By the time we’d gotten to the Wood Snipe display area we had thick mist and steady rain – not conducive to lekking snipe. So we headed down to a quiet little trail after driving the road up and down for a bit to see if any pheasants were loitering on the verges. After a little battle a few of the group managed views of a female Golden Pheasant but the males only called back and didn’t budge an inch form their songposts way down the slope. But we did find several Chinese Fulvettas along here and heard White-browed Bush-robin and Firethroat.
Driving up I hoped the weather would clear so we stopped along the way for breakfast before continuing ever upwards in our search for more ‘chickens’. We finally reached a likely looking area and started to scan the surrounding scree slopes and high peaks all around. Flocks of Brandt’s Mountain-finches buzzed past us, whilst a few Plain Mountain-finches were around for comparison, and there were a few stonking Grandalas present which were far more confiding than yesterdays birds.
We quickly got on a pair of Snow Partridges high up the slope above us and watched them scuttle a little closer before stopping on a mossy boulder and calling back to the ipod. It took longer but we’d been hearing Tibetan Snowcock for ages before Granville spotted one perched on the skyline about half a kilometre away.
|Tibetan Snowcock - in the distance!|
As we admired this bird I spotted another two birds a lot closer and we spent quite a while soaking up the scope views – with one bird, presumably the male, calling from a boulder and giving walk away views. So we were on a roll, a chicken roll…. See what I did there..? Anyway, sort of buoyed by our success we headed higher to my stakeout for Red-fronted Rosefinch but as we pulled up at the spot it had snowed quite a lot and we found ourselves in low cloud with drizzle. Nice huh! So I couldn’t believe my eyes when I noticed some movement in the gloom and found a male Red-fronted Rosefinch feeding close by. In fact there was a pair present and we actually had decent views of these huge rosefinches, with several Alpine Accentors around as well.
Then we drove lower and parked up by the tunnel where we bumped into Per Alstrom again, and it was nice to enjoy scope views of a Hog Badger that John picked up as it fed on the hillside above us. Quite an extraordinary looking animal and one I’ve wanted to see for years. We spent a pleasant hour in the area notching Alpine Leaf-warbler, Dark-breasted Rosefinch, a very close Wallcreeper, a raucous gang of Giant Laughingthrushes, 2 Lammergeiers and Chinese White-browed Rosefinch.
So we left here and headed back over the pass before dropping down to an area of bushes beside the road where we enjoyed great views of 3 Blood Pheasants, the male calling back at us from a large boulder. A major bird for Trevor and with smiles all round we walked back to the waiting coach, having also notched up a pair of Pink-rumped Rosefinches as well.