Our 7th Sichuan tour began in Chengdu with a walk around the nearby park where we picked up Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-browed Laughingthrush, Chinese Blackbird, numerous Chinese (Light-vented) Bulbuls, Black-throated Bushtits and Plumbeous Water-Redstart. It took a while to find Vinous-throated Parrotbill, but as we were waiting for this bird to appear a female Slaty-blue Flycatcher appeared – such a surprising find, but it is migration time after all. A seicercus warbler was also seen but not reliably identified as it wasn’t calling – it definitely wasn’t a Grey-crowned and I suspect it may well have been a rather out-of-place Alstrom’s Warbler….. maybe….
So after breakfast we left on the 2 hour drive to our first proper birding stop near Ya’an. A quick stop at a service station along the way had some nice habitat and a pair of Swinhoe’s Minivets showed really well at eye-level, whilst Rufous-capped Babbler circled us a few times. From here it didn’t take us much longer to get to our birding site along a river and here we had repeated close looks at Rufous-faced Warbler, along with some confiding Ashy-throated Parrotbills, Collared Finchbills, Black Bulbuls, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, White-rumped Munia, Red-billed Blue Magpie, and some superb close views of a pair of Black Bazas.
|Rufous-faced Warbler was very common|
Lunch at the nearby restaurant followed and then a shopping expedition for the next 3 full days at Longcanggou turned into a serious exercise in phaffing before we eventually left Ya’an at 3pm and drove to Longcanggou. I mean, how long can it take a bunch of guys to get some food for the next 4 breakfasts & lunches....?
Eventually we reached the approach rod to Longcanggou and checked out a few spots on the drive up to the lodge which gave us crippling views of Sulphur-breasted Warbler singing by the roadside. There was also Grey Bushchat and a pair of Russet Sparrows on the drive up as well.
And we eventually reached our base for the next four nights around 4.45pm and enjoyed a nice couple of hours birding along the road. We began with a close Brown-flanked Bush-Warbler, followed a cracking Yellow-throated Bunting singing on the telegraph wires, a Little Bunting, Large Hawk-Cuckoo, a pair of Black-naped Orioles, Long-tailed Minivet, Grey-backed Shrike, and an extremely confiding Kloss’s Leaf-Warbler that flew down to the bush next to us and proceeded to sing its heart out – it was almost too close to focus on!
As usual, Chinese Bamboo-Partridge just called from the fields without being seen and we’d have to give that another try later.