Monday, 2 June 2014

Erlang Shan

A 5.30am departure saw us arriving at Erlang Shan shortly after sunrise and we began driving up in search of Lady Amherst’s Pheasant. Well we found two females and a couple of immature males, plus Peter B saw a male briefly as well. Success! Then we drove back down and spent some time in the dry scrubby slopes which were home to Brown-breasted Bulbuls and Collared Finchbills. A singing male Indian Blue Robin here was something of a surprise, as was a couple of Grey-crowned Warblers on territory here and a Grey Bushchat was another surprise. Even more surprising was a Chinese Song Thrush singing right out in the open from the top of a bush near the road. A few Chestnut Thrushes, Daurian Redstarts and Yellow-streaked Warblers were more expected but still very nice, whilst our main targets of Chinese Babax and Black-streaked Scimitar-babbler took more work to find. A flock of Tibetan Siskin flew by as well and turned out to be the only sighting of the tour!

Firethroat - one of the best birds of the tour.
Firethroat - wow..!!

Highlight of the morning was undoubtedly this cracking Firethroat that showed superbly well in some low bushes beside the road and we spent a memorable quarter of an hour watching it. A drive further up resulted in a pair of Grey-headed Bullfinches and a couple of Spotted Nutcrackers before we decided to drive back down and around to the other side of the mountain.

Drove up the other side of the mountain and it certainly lived up to its reputation as the wet side as we had low cloud and miserable drizzle for the first hour or so. Had lunch way up the mountain and our first White-capped river-chat before driving on a little further but the road was deteriorating quickly and all we saw was a Rosy Pipit so turned around and headed down. I didn’t really know if we would see anything at all in these conditions but as luck would have it the rain stopped and so we began walking and saw a number of new trip birds. A male Slaty-blue Flycatcher was a good find, but when a burst of owlet call resulted in a Sooty Tit joining a mega-number of warblers, well it certainly got our pulses racing. In fact there was an incredible number of warblers all around us: Sichuan Leaf, Buff-barred, Claudia’s and Ashy-throated

Scaly-breasted Wren-babbler now split as Chinese Wren-babbler.....

Then a Scaly-breasted Wren-babbler sang and we walked back up the hill and had mind-blowing views of a pair just a few metres away. Seems this is actually now split by IOC as Chinese Wren-babbler.........  Another couple of owlet sessions resulted in many previously seen species, including this fine male Gould’s Sunbird. A male Slaty Bunting also put in a very welcome and unexpected appearance as well to continue our excellent run of great sightings today.

Gould's Sunbird
Collared Owlet

Ended the day with a perched Collared Owlet and a Little Forktail posing nicely beside a waterfall. We even reached the hotel at a reasonable time, just a shame there wasn’t any electricity for a few hours..!

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