We were on-site at daybreak and scanning some craggy cliffs beside the road during breakfast. Things were a little slow to start but there were plenty of birds here with both Bar-headed Goose and Ruddy Shelduck seemingly nesting on the cliffs here, Himalayan Griffons perched and waiting for the sun, a Black-eared Kite flew by, Godlewski’s Bunting, Common Rosefinch, Rock Sparrows, Black-winged Snowfinches and others. It took a while but when the sun suddenly broke over the hills there was an instant buzz of activity and suddenly Frank picked up a bird in flight and got my attention and sure enough there was a pair of Spotted Great Rosefinches feeding beside the road! Wow! As soon as everyone had got a view they flew off but within half an hour we had relocated them and we had stunning views as they fed beside a nearby river. What a bird!
|Spotted Great Rosefinch|
There was also a fine male Pink-rumped Rosefinch feeding not too far away, but it was dwarfed by its larger and more special cousin. We also saw another Ibisbill land on the opposite bank as well. Non avian highlight was a cute Glover’s Pika feeding amongst the rocks.
|The changing face of Tibetan Plateau scenery|
|A little later and the sun was out...|
Moving on, the scenery became even more spectacular if that is at all possible and by the end of the day I had scenery-overload! We travelled across a wide open plain with more Tibetan Gazelles and Saker Falcon seen, to a high snow-covered pass and down into a spectacular gorge with huge snow-capped peaks and craggy cliffs. Wasn’t sure what to expect here but it was a very pleasant place to scan the surroundings and we picked up a few Golden Eagles, Upland Buzzard, two different Lammergeiers, White-winged Redstart and some Blue Sheep.
Moving lower we hit pay-dirt, as first of all there was Greenish Warbler and White-throated Dipper. Then in a small meadow above the road we found several Snow Pigeons feeding quietly. Then a male Streaked Rosefinch was found, followed by more Pink-rumped Rosefinches, both of which were very confiding. More Ground-Tits were here as well, plus Tibetan Wagtail, a brief Yellow Wagtail seemed out of place, and some huge looking Marmots. We spent quite a while watching the Rosefinches, which was fortunate as a pair of Red-fronted Rosefinches flew in and fed below our group.
Dragging ourselves away from this delightful valley we stopped for lunch in a small restaurant before heading to a very scenic gorge and seeing Daurian Jackdaw and Salim Ali’s Swifts, passing yet more stunning scenery. We did see a pair of White Eared-Pheasants here, but nothing else new. Although Tibetan Partridges were very confiding, and there was White-throated and Hodgson’s Redstarts, White-capped River-chat, many Elliot’s Laughingthrushes, and Chinese White-browed Rosefinch.
So by the end of the day we had seen a very cool 6 species of Rosefinch – mania indeed!