Monday, 25 May 2015

Emei Feng

Set off down the mountain in search of galliformes at 5am but only managed in seeing a few Silver Pheasants feeding on a slope above the road. So we turned around and drove back up as I was very keen to find Spotted Elachura (formerly Spotted Wren-babbler), a monotypic family following a recent taxonomic change. 

Emei Feng

The weather was much better today, definitely clearer and there was plenty of birdsong in the valley below, but a strong wind wasn’t helpful. Anyway, after playing the call at a few promising gulleys we had decided to walk back to the bus as a heavy shower hit us, but just then the Elachura began calling and eventually everyone had what can only be described as mind-blowing views as it sang below us. 

Spotted Elachura

We then spent the next couple of hours along one particular semi-sheltered stretch of road as birds kept appearing and we scored with Bay Woodpecker, Lesser Cuckoo, Great Barbet and White-crowned Forktail, as well as getting fine views of Chestnut-crowned and Rufous-faced Warblers again. We walked further up the road after breakfast and came across another flock of Black-chinned Yuhinas, along with Yellow-cheeked Tit and our first Mountain Bulbul.

Black-chinned Yuhina

Then we drove right up as far as we could and walked up to the top of the mountain some 3 kilometres away seeing a female Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush along the way. Despite the mist we enjoyed fine views of Buff-throated Warbler and a few close Brown Bush-Warblers, as well as great looks and our best views ever of White-spectacled Warbler again. 

Brown Bush-Warbler was confiding today...

White-spectacled Warbler..... With yellow spectacles....

At a small wood at the summit we found a flock of Indochinese Yuhinas, Rufous-capped Babblers and a pair of Chestnut Bulbuls. So we walked back down to the bus and after lunch wandered down the road, finding a pair of lovely Blyth’s Shrike-Babblers that gave repeated close views. With the mist descending we decided to walk the next stretch of road that is particularly favoured by tragopans but only found another Silver Pheasant, but this one was up a tree!

Blyth's Shrike-Babbler (male)

It was about now that heavy rain set in and curtailed our birding for an hour, so we sat on the bus to wait it out. At 3.30pm we decided to drive lower in search of Elliot’s Pheasant once more. A good move as the weather was better down here and after some searching and staking out known feeding sites we stumbled across a female Elliot’s Pheasant that almost eluded us had it not been for some clever work by Mike. We also saw 20+ Mandarin Ducks, a flock of Black-throated Bushtits, Slaty-backed Forktail, Brown Dipper and Striated Heron before reaching our usual restaurant for dinner. The journey up the mountain in the dark resulted in two owls flying across the road. The first was large and could well have been Brown Wood Owl and the second smaller bird was a scops-owl species, but neither could be relocated or were calling and in the strong winds what would you expect right?

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