This was the day of the big hike up the mountain for Tibetan Sandgrouse and we set off early from the hotel, but still had time for a spot of breakfast in a nearby restaurant first. Up at the pass we were soon off and heading upwards amidst a winter wonderland landscape of snow covered hills and mountains all around – in fact it had snowed heavily overnight and was even more scenic than when we drove over the pass yesterday. Our acclimatisation had worked well over the past week and everyone did very well on this tough climb, but a nice male Roberovski’s (Tibetan) Rosefinch certainly helped as it perched on a small rock looking down on us – a key species here. There were a few birds around, including our first Plain Mountain-finch, but otherwise much the same as yesterday so up we hiked. It only took a little over 90 minutes to reach the top but it was hard going at times and the layer of snow didn’t really help. But boy the scenery all around was amazing!
|Er La Shan. You get the picture.... Snow, mountains, freezing temperature, near-mythical birds...|
|Our first Tibetan Sandgrouse at around 4850m|
|Another pair of sandgrouse...|
|Tibetan Sandgrouse in flight....|
Walking down towards the road we had a flock of Brandt’s Mountain-finches, Robin Accentors and other species, including a confiding Woolly Hare - and i must say it was a huge relief to finally climb aboard the coach after such a strenuous walk.
We stopped in town for a late noodle lunch before driving the next 200kms of tedious, road work infested craziness….. Not far from our destination of Maduo we watched in amazement as a Wolf attacked a flock of sheep, killing one and maiming another before running across the road in front of us and joining the other three members of his pack. Wow!
|Its a Wolf.....!!|
It seemed a good area for mammals as we’d already had Kiang (Tibetan Wild Ass) and Tibetan Gazelle as well amidst a more typical Tibetan Plateau scene of wide open horizons and rolling hills. Upland Buzzards were everywhere and a Saker was nice too!