The alarm wakes me at 4.45am and I can hear the rain outside – oh no..!! That’s all we need as I’ve booked 2 local vehicles to take us up to the highest point of Longcanggou that it is possible to drive. Well, it is a bumpy, muddy drive and one of our vehicles gets stuck for a while in a particularly treacherous spot, but it doesn’t take too long to dig it out and we are on our way again.
|The track into Longcanggou is almost impassable in places...|
Nearing the end of our drive we screech to a halt as a female Temminck’s Tragopan is walking along the track in front of us. All of a sudden the male flies down from the bank above and walks across in front of us, before walking back again and out of sight. He’s not on view for more than a minute but the stunning plumage is etched into our minds forever and what a relief I feel as this is such a huge target sighting.
With that done we park up and have breakfast and then begin the truly awful walk up to the pass some 5 kilometres away. It’s awful as this park is literally being raped with a road widening scheme and we tramp through several inches (often more) of gloopy soft mud all of the way.
|Despite the mud, the birding is still great...|
|Golden Bush-Robin showed really well...|
It’s not fun but we are keen to explore the higher areas and on the way up see Grey-capped Pygmy and Darjeeling Woodpeckers, Buff-barred and Sichuan Leaf-Warblers, Hodgson’s Treecreeper, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Fire-capped Tit, a pair of Great Parrotbills, a stunning Golden Bush-Robin, a couple views of White-bellied Redstart, several Elliot’s Laughingthrushes, and we also hear a Chestnut-headed Tesia.
|Great habitat here....|
Meanwhile, Lesser Cuckoo and Large Hawk-Cuckoo provide a constant accompaniment to our trek.
|Elliot's Laughingthrush is common here...|
Once at the pass I’m very saddened to see the lovely little marsh totally destroyed and digging machinery (and more mud) present. Yet a Spotted Bush-Warbler shows very well, as does a Buff-throated Warbler, and we get a brief view of a Red-winged Laughingthrush as it flies across in front of us.
|This Spotted Bush-Warbler was very inquisitive...|
|A confiding Buff-throated Warbler|
|This used to be a marsh....|
We continue walking for a kilometre down the other side but find nothing new although the habitat is superb still. The walk back down is enlivened by Brown Parrotbill, Black-faced Laughingthrush, Bianchi’s Warbler, the distinctive local race of Eurasian Wren, but a White-browed Shortwing remains just a voice in the dense vegetation.
|Brown Parrotbill was seen several times|
|Eurasian Wren - looking a little different.....?|
It is a huge relief to reach the vehicles at 3pm and really enjoy our egg fried rice lunch before driving lower. We decide to try and get better views of Red-winged Laughingthrush but only succeed in hearing at least three different individuals, although a Mountain Hawk-Eagle flies over.
|Huge swathes of bamboo can be found here....|
So we drive back to the hotel – well until one of our cars gets stuck well and truly in a quagmire of a track. Leaving it here we walk down and get brief views of singing Martens’s and Grey-crowned Warblers before the vehicle is finally free and we reach the hotel at 6.15pm for a well deserved hot shower and to clean our walking boots that have several layers of mud encrusted around them!