Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Balangshan to Mengbishan

For a travelling day we did quite well with a bunch of good birds found along the way. 

The spectacular scenery of Balangshan this morning

Our route took us above the mist and low cloud

We even had breakfast in the hotel at 6am before setting off up into the mist enshrouded slopes of Balangshan, travelling through the new tunnel that saved us a lot of time and making our first stop above Rilong. 

We birded this road....

Here, we walked down the road and in the lovely morning sunshine found lots of Pink-rumped Rosefinches, as well as our first Sichuan Tit and Tibetan Serin

Sichuan Tit

Other roadside birds here included Black-browed Tit, Hume’s Leaf Warbler, Grey-headed Bullfinch, Sichuan Leaf Warbler and others. Our route took us through spectacular deep-sided river valleys and gorges and birds seen en-route included Black-capped Kingfisher, Grey-backed Shrikes, Eurasian Crag Martins, and near a small town a flock of Salim Ali’s Swifts flew around.

Black-browed Tit

Our next stop overlooking a fast-flowing river and tall crags all around was noteworthy as we enjoyed scope views of the usually tricky Black-streaked Scimitar-Babbler, a pair of which were calling back at my iPod for several minutes. We also located a Wallcreeper, Hodgson’s Redstart and had a pair of Hill Pigeons whizzed past us.

Our driver was obviously on a mission today and we reached our usual lunch stop at a small restaurant pretty much on time despite having to travel a lot further than in previous years. And we made Mengbishan Pass around 3.30pm only to find dark grey skies converging and the distant sound of thunder rapidly approaching. However, not to be perturbed we made the best of things and almost immediately found a flock that contained our first Streaked Rosefinches in company with Chinese Beautiful and Chinese White-browed Rosefinches. They flew away all too quickly but we managed to relocate the Streaked Rosefinches again a short while later. Unbelievably we also found several Verreaux’s Monal-Partridges quite easily and saw at least 3 Blood Pheasants quietly feeding out in the open. We drove lower after this but unfortunately the bad weather closed in around us and we had heavy snow and sleet, which curtailed any further birding and we could only hope the situation improves tomorrow.

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