We left Chengdu at 6am the following morning and drove towards the town of Ya’an and headed to a nice little area beside a river for our first birding stop. We’d already had lots of rain overnight and during our 2 hour journey, so I was pleased to see the weather clearing when we arrived. A quick scan of the river revealed Himalayan White Wagtail (alboides race), Plumbeous Water-redstart and a pair of Collared Finchbills perched on some telegraph wires. Walking down to the bridge and a group of Japanese White-eyes were found and there was a Forest Wagtail singing from some overhead power cables. We then spent a pleasant couple of hours birding along a trail at the edge of a small village and quickly found a very active couple of Brown-rumped (Swinhoe’s) Minivets in the tall trees. In fact we enjoyed repeated views of them during our time here, eventually seeing them perched rather than just flying around in a display flight. There were several Oriental Greenfinches here, although they were somewhat overshadowed by 3 male Yellow-rumped Flycatchers present. There was also several Asian Brown Flycatchers, which are transient migrants here and on their way to breeding grounds further north. A Rufous-faced Warbler was also much appreciated, as were some good views of Ashy-throated Parrotbills, whilst our first Brownish-flanked Bush-warbler put on a fine show. There was also Pacific and House Swifts, Sand Martin, and the white-headed form of Himalayan Black Bulbul as well.
Leaving here we had lunch across the river, and also had some very close views of a pair of Rufous-faced Warblers feeding some almost fully grown juveniles. Then we called into Ya’an to buy some fruit and bread for the next couple of days before driving another couple of hours to Longcanggou, seeing a group of Red-billed Blue Magpies along the way. We were staying in a brand new hotel, which was actually adjacent to where we stayed last year. However, this one has en-suite rooms – heaven!!
Some initial problems getting access into Longcanggou Forest Park enabled us to get great looks at Kloss’s Leaf-warbler, and then we drove to the mid-elevation level and began walking. Well we got all of 30 yards before a random piece of tape playing resulted in a pair of Golden Parrotbills coming straight in and giving mind-blowing views. Considering I missed them last year – not a bad start!
We also had a pair of Ultramarine Flycatchers, Pygmy Wren-babbler, Claudia’s Leaf-warbler, Buff-throated Warbler, Blue-winged Minla, Yellow-browed, Green-backed and Fire-capped Tits, and a splendid male Gould’s Sunbird.
Back at the lodge and just before dusk 3 groups of Chinese Bamboo-partridges began calling and we scoped a Large Hawk-Cuckoo perched on a metal tower.