Left the hotel at 5.30am and drove 30kms to the start of our Snowcock walk, however as we ate our packed breakfast the rain that had been threatening came in and we decided it was pointless to make a long hike up a mountain. So instead we drove back past Chaka and on for another 70kms to the start of another trail. This one is usually driveable for 4 kms to the base of the mountains, but as there had been a lot of rain the track had become a thick, glutonous, sticky, slidy, undriveable skislope.
|Gearing up for the muddy walk 4kms to the base of the mountains - great..!|
So we had to make the painfully, strength-sapping walk up to the valley where A La Shan Redstart resides. And boy it was a tough walk up as the track was so muddy and slippery, but we made it despite the constant steady drizzle and cool conditions. Once we entered the redstarts favourite, Juniper dotted valley we found ourselves in low cloud and visibility was poor. Am I painting a good picture here..?
|Thick mist in the redstarts favourite valley - but it's out there somewhere|
You know I didn’t believe there was any point being here, but was also aware that you never know what will happen. And sure enough as we sheltered from the rain underneath a large tree, Steven our additional local guide called from the gloom that he had found it! Holy cow! We skidded our way down to his position and unbelievably there was a pair of stunning redstarts feeding some 20 metres above us on a grassy slope – still in the low cloud but we didn’t care. Oh boy, you can imagine the elation we all felt and well done Steven.
|The Holy Grail....... A La Shan Redstart|
Apart from a nice Pine Bunting we didn’t see another bird up here so headed straight down to the coach.
|Try walking on 3 inches of glutinous mud, carrying a scope & tripod for 4 kms......|
We drove back towards Chaka, seeing White-throated Dipper & Goosander, and stopped for coffee before walking out into the desert where we found many Asian Short-toed Larks, Isabelline Shrike, Desert Wheatear and another Henderson’s Ground-Jay.
Our last stop in the early evening was just south of Chaka where another walk out into the grassland produced a flyby Mongolian Lark, Tibetan Lark, Tibetan Wagtail & more Twite. Plus another Woolly Hare.
This is usually a hot, dry, desert-type area but this freaky wet weather is really unpleasant and sitting in a restaurant in a fleece sipping room temperature beer is not what we were expecting....!