Thursday, 16 May 2013

CHINA - Day 8 - Balang

We got picked up by our guide for the next few days Zeng Zhang from our hostel in Chengdu at 5.00am. After which we jumped into his vehicle, loaded up all the gear and headed off to the mountains. This was going to be fantastic...I have never had a guide before and I was looking forward to using his expertise.

White-capped Water Redstart
Soon enough we were entering the mountain range and started picking up some new birds. The first bird I saw was this stunning male White-capped Water Redstart. As it turned out they were in fact a very common species in the mountains and were saw them all the way along the river. We also saw a couple of Red-billed Blue Magpies too which I had been surprised not to see by now.

As we started to climb into the mountains from about 2500m we started to encounter snow. The scenery from here on in was breath-taking and you could have stopped every 50yds to take more pictures. The most amazing thing about being up here was there was no noise whatsoever. It was completely silent except for the birds...incredible. We also came across a huge flock of Alpine Chough which also had a few Large-billed Crows mixed in too.

Alpine Chough

As we climbed higher and higher eventually reaching 4800m I have never been so pleased we were in a proper Chinese all-terrain vehicle which would look after us no matter how treacherous the roads became...

Or not...!

Once at the top the scenery was once again stunning and there was deep snow in all directions. There was a funny sense which I had not experienced before of nearly getting sunburn from the heat of the April sunshine on your face to the ice which developed on any part of your body which was in the shade!

At the top of the mountain we got out to have a good look round and you suddenly realised how hard it was to breathe at this altitude. Once we got out of the useless car we straight away heard birds calling. Further investigation found a roving flock of c20 Grandala. This was in my top five birds to see on this trip so I was well chuffed. They showed really well and were continually calling to one and other. The photo's just can't do birds like this have just got to see them in the flesh.

Grandala - Male

Grandala - Female

Grandala - Male
After getting our fill of these stunning birds we started to look for a few other bits. We managed to find Plain Mountain Finch, Rosy Pipit and a few Alpine Accentors whilst at the summit.

Rosy Pipit

Plain Mountain Finch

Alpine Accentor
Once at the summit we head over the pass itself and down into the valley below where we stopped for lunch and Zeng had a kip whilst me and my brother explored some of the forested hillside. The little town we stopped in was completely random yet incredibly busy considering we hadn't seen another human for over three hours!

We managed to find several decent bits here including another endemic. This time an Elliot's Laughingthrush which was again skulky and difficult to photograph. Less difficult to photograph however was the male White-throated Redstart which say obligingly on a roadside twig for ages!

Elliot's Laughingthrush

White-throated Redstart
It was then getting towards late afternoon so we needed to head back over the pass to try and find somewhere to stay the night. Luckily Zeng had several contacts and we were able to find somewhere to stay. Once we had this sorted we checked out a few spots on the way back which produced some nice birds including a lovely male Plumbous Water Redstart, a Blue-fronted Redstart and one last endemic...20+ Yellow-bellied Tits.

Plumbeous Water Redstart
Yellow-bellied Tit

Blue-fronted Redstart

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.