Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Day of the Panda

We took just over an hour to drive up to the parking place in Loncanggou Forest Park, and it was a long and bumpy journey. But our 5am departure was worth it, as we found ourselves in bush-warbler heaven – well for some of us anyway! But when you consider we had Aberrant, Grey-sided, Brown and Yellowish-bellied Bush-warblers this morning, followed by Russet and Brownish-flanked in the afternoon then, yes, it was quite good! However, bird of the day was not a bird at all, but after only walking uphill for maybe ten minutes we were eye-balling a wonderful Red Panda sat in a Rhododendron tree. 

Red Panda

How unbelievable was this and even I was excited at this ‘non-bird’…. Anyway, continuing higher we took the whole morning to get from 2400m up to around 2800m and the highest point of the trail, which passed through fantastic habitat with wide valleys choked in bushes and bamboo. We got cracking on our warblers as well today with several Sichuan Leaf-warblers, followed by Ashy-throated and Buff-barred Warblers

Sichuan Leaf-warbler

At one bamboo choked gulley we had a lovely Grey-hooded Fulvetta and also got views of White-bellied Redstart as well. At the marsh at the top of the pass we had amazing encounter with a Spotted Bush-warbler, whilst Brown Parrotbill only showed briefly. 

Longcanggou - great habitat

A Red-winged Laughingthrush was a good find, amongst the commoner Black-faced and Elliott’s Laughingthrushes. Also seen during our walk up to the top were Lesser, Oriental and Common Hawk Cuckoo and it made a change to actually see them rather than just hear their noise.

Spotted Bush-warbler

Driving down around 3pm we made an urgent stop when we spotted something beside the road, and unbelievably it was a female Temminck’s Tragopan with 4 young chicks walking up the bank beside us. Wow! 

Temminck's Tragopan (female)

Then we walked a side path and had a great hour with, first of all, an unexpected White-browed Bush-robin, followed by a flurry of activity prompted by my owlet tape. A cracking male Gould’s Sunbird came in to investigate, along with Short-billed Minivet, several warblers, a pair of Yellow-browed Tits and some other common species. So that was our day, apart from seeing both Grey-backed and Long-tailed Shrikes and a convoy of White-throated Needletails overhead. Both Collared and Oriental Scops-owls were calling tonight, but not responsive.

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