It felt like a good omen for today when we had a Grey Nightjar right beside our coach just before first light. And then we began our drive for Lady Amherst Pheasant along the Old Erlang Road, which took a couple of attempts but eventually everyone had views of an immature male and a couple of females at various points along the road. A Koklass Pheasant frozen at the side of the road was a first for me here and definitely a surprise. With the sun hitting the lower slopes there was more bird activity and when an unfamiliar song emanated from the slope above us I recorded the call and played it back. What appeared after a lengthy battle was like a bolt out of the blue. A fulvetta appeared which I assumed would be White-browed Fulvetta, but the narrower white supercilium, prominent black line above it and the rich chestnut crown leading onto the forecrown meant it was a Rusty-capped Fulvetta – a pretty scarce bird in Sichuan.
|Another perfect day in Sichuan|
Following this we had our picnic breakfast and walked for about an hour, with Pink-rumped Rosefinch being the best bird, although several Elegant Buntings, Slaty-backed Flycatcher and a pair of Streak-breasted Scimitar-babblers were rather nice as well. Suddenly a Firethroat began calling and this individual proved to be very confiding and over the next ten minutes we were treated to an amazing encounter with this much-wanted species. And what a stunner it is..! Meanwhile, overhead 3 Black Bazas and a Himalayan Buzzard were seen, plus we also had Grey Bushchat, Daurian Redstart and other common species.
|This stunning Firethroat posed brilliantly today|
Moving higher we encountered more and more Spotted Nutcrackers, and in fact I have never seen so many here. A walk into the conifer forest got us some great views of White-browed Fulvettas, Grey-crested Tit, Black-browed Bushtit, and other previously seen species. Following this we spent some time around the abandoned buildings where a female Russet Sparrow, Grey-headed Bullfinch and White-winged Grosbeak were present. And our first Rosy Pipit was spotted by Jeff as we drove higher.
Following our noodle lunch we walked up into the alpine pastures but found things to be very quiet and the only real bird of note was our first Rufous-breasted Accentor, so we drove lower and had really nice views of Long-tailed Rosefinch of the henrici race – a potential future split.