The 9th May was our arrival day in Chengdu and our multi-national group had flown in from the USA, South Africa and the UK, with Martin, Lia & Peter B arriving a couple of days ago – and getting lucky with Chinese Bamboo-partridge already! Once everyone had assembled we visited one of the city parks for a couple of hours, and over the noise of music and people dancing ( ! ) we found a few birds that are unlikely during the rest of the tour. Pride of place went to a pair of Yellow-billed (Chinese) Grosbeaks giving good views in the canopy above us. It seemed to me that Chinese Blackbirds were more numerous than ever, whilst we found several flocks of Black-throated Tits, Vinous-throated Parrotbills and White-browed Laughingthrushes. A Taiga Flycatcher is rather unusual here and a few members of the group managed to get onto it before it disappeared, and there was also Black-crowned Night-heron and Little Egret here as well. An Eurasian Spoonbill flying over the hotel was particularly bizarre as well, but it is migration time and just a shame we couldn’t nail a canopy dwelling phylloscopus warbler in the park – bet it was something good! But this was just the first of many unusual sightings we were to experience over the course of the next few weeks. We ended the day with a fine evening meal in a nearby restaurant and then early to bed for the big kick-off tomorrow.