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|
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.
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...
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 justice...you have just got to see them in the flesh.
|Grandala - Male|
|Grandala - Female|
|Grandala - Male|
|Plain Mountain Finch|
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!
|Plumbeous Water Redstart|