|Nat making the most of our spare clothes!|
|Snazzy Flask - with the customary Pandas!|
Finally we got to the Monal site and as soon as we got out the car we could hear a male calling. It was a wonderful call which rolled around the valley and seemed to last forever. After about fifteen minutes we could not locate the bird but Zeng had found 9 White-eared Pheasant up on the higher slopes of the valley. I then decided to have a wander and as I turned round to walk away from Zeng and my brother a Monal flew right over my head from behind me and landed up on the valley. I had good scope views for about 5 mins before it slunk into the undergrowth and was not seen again. It was heard calling to the other bird which was higher up the slope. Also from this viewpoint we had nice scope views of a pair of Tibetan Snowcock as they displayed on the craggy rocks on top of the mountain.
At Wolong we chose to head along the path of the reserve that ran east to west rather than doing the circular route as this took you down into the valley which would have meant an awkward climb back up. Soon enough we found a number of birds with lots of Green-backed Tits and a probable Red-flanked Bluetail but it vanished before we could get our bins on it.
A showy Little Bunting was feeding down near the river feeding at all times which suggested it may well have been a migrant which was confirmed by our guide Zeng. We wandered around for a bit looking for Red Panda but we failed to find any. I did however find a White-winged Grosbeak which was another new bird for me.
Finally we headed to a small copse behind some houses which Zeng knew held Golden Pheasant. Here we also added a few stunning birds including an endemic in the form of 6 Slaty Bunting. We also saw a pair of Short-billed Minivet, a single male Daurian Redstart and two Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher. And Zeng managed to bag us a Golden Pheasant too!
|Short-billed Minivet - Female|
|Short-billed Minivet - Male|
After this fantastic de-tour we started to head back for Chengdu and the Qingcheng Mountains. Not once whilst in the area could you forget the absolute devastation that was caused by the huge earthquake that hit this area in 2008. There were constant reminders as we passed the epicentre and it was astonishing how far the devastation spread. Below are just a couple of the many photo's which really made the enormity of the quake hit home.
After a bumpy 3-hour ride we eventually arrived at Qingcheng and settled down for dinner. We also arranged to meet Sid, Meggy and Saker here and go out for a bit of owling after dinner. Whilst eating we could heard Collared Owlet the entire time!
Once out of the lit area we quickly heard a Grey Nightjar which called and flew around above us but at all times remained very very difficult to catch in the torchlight. We heard several more Collared Owlet and another Grey Nightjar but best of all was the Himalayan Owl that I heard and then we got responding to tape. A fantastic end to a truly unforgettable day.