Wednesday, 26 June 2013

It's a Pere David's Owl....!

After yesterdays mega tick I was quite looking forward to a relatively calm day but this was not to be the case. We arrived at the far side of Gongangglin Forest just after sunrise and set about our Chinese Grouse hunt and after waiting at a clearing for a while we got distracted by a singing Long-tailed Thrush which didn’t perform as we would have liked. So at that point we split into smaller ‘teams’ and headed in different directions. A few of us searched for thrushes but only had Tibetan Siskin and a few other common species, but as we got back to the coach for breakfast Keith was waiting and offering me his camcorder to see what he’d just filmed. Well, after the shock of seeing a Pere David’s Owl staring back at me from his viewing screen we literally legged it to the last known spot with his wife, Lynne, leading us to the correct spot. Fortunately a few others were there already looking for grouse – and then the beast called, a deep double-hoot. Must admit I had the old shakey-hand syndrome as the bird continued to call for half an hour and I fired off a few notes from the I-pod but it just called back. Finally it flew and gave us a glimpse of this mythical forest-ghost. Well, it gave us the runaround and eventually flew off up the hill and out of sight, but continued to call. I wasn’t for giving up and after a protracted and exhausting trek up a steep slope we had it perched next to a tree trunk, but looking through bushes so no clear shot. What a relief! So we headed back to the coach for breakfast, but one person had been missing throughout all this. So I dragged Russell back up the hill and into the forest where the bird was still calling at 10am (!) and within a matter of seconds we had the beastie close by on a bare branch right in front of us – time to celebrate this ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ bird with clenched fist and a little dance…! Definitely bird of the trip for me…!

Pere David's Owl

 So we then said goodbye to 3 of our team before heading off to Jiuzhaigou where a few Spectacled Fulvettas were a good addition to our list before an early night.

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