Xuanzhong Temple in Shanxi is the best-known place in the world to view Brown Eared PheasantCrossoptilon mantchuricum. A recent visit by British birder Mark Havenhand (see comment below) stimulated me to update my report about my trip to Xuanzhong. Have you been to Xuanzhong? Help birders by leaving a comment below. — Craig Brelsford
I went to Xuanzhong Temple in December and January to photograph Brown Eared PheasantCrossoptilon mantchuricum.
The temple in central Shanxi, China sits in a gorge at an elevation of 1000 m (3,280 ft.). The hills are covered with trees that the locals call baishu (cypress). The setting is picturesque.
The air was bitterly cold; as low as -20°C (-4°F). Bright sunshine made the days cheerful. The temple flock of Brown Eared Pheasant appeared every day.
Elaine Du and I caught an 8 a.m. flight from Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai to Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi. From Taiyuan Airport, we drove our rental car west about an hour through Jiaocheng to Xuanzhong Temple (37.563877, 112.078460).
In the following days I noted other taxa representative of north-central China: Chinese NuthatchSitta villosa villosa, Eurasian NuthatchS. europaea sinensis, Songar TitPoecile montanus stoetzneri, Coal TitPeriparus ater pekinensis, and Beijing BabblerRhopophilus pekinensis.
Many birders balk at ticking semi-wild birds, but if you want an easy tick of Brown Eared Pheasant, then Xuanzhong Temple is the place to go. Note that both Mark Havenhand and I had wild Brown Eared Pheasant far from the temple on the road between Xuanzhong and Jiaocheng.
MAP AND PHOTOS
BirdLife International 2016. Crossoptilon mantchuricum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22679299A92809690. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22679299A92809690.en. (Accessed: 30 Aug 2020)
Craig Brelsford is the founder of shanghaibirding.com. Brelsford lived in Shanghai from 2007 to 2018. Now back home in Florida, Brelsford maintains close ties to the Shanghai birding community and continues his enthusiastic development of this website. When Brelsford departed China, he was the top-ranked eBirder in that country, having noted more than 930 species. Brelsford was also the top-ranked eBirder in Shanghai, with more than 320 species. Brelsford’s photos of birds have won various awards and been published in books and periodicals and on websites all over the world. Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, published in its entirety on this website, is the most Shanghai-centric field guide ever written. Brelsford is a graduate of the University of Florida and earned a master's in business administration at the University of Liege, Belgium.
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4 thoughts on “Brown Eared Pheasant at Xuanzhong Temple, Shanxi”
In January 2020 we flew to Taiyuan and took a taxi to Jiaocheng (300RMB) staying at the 7 Days Inn (130RMB). Jiaocheng is a Tier 3 city, heavily polluted but we ate very well there. Next day we arrived at Xuanzhong Temple at 8.30, spotting Azure-winged Magpie and Grey Headed Woodpecker at the valley bottom. 2 Brown Eared Pheasants were immediately visible with a 3rd “wild” one spotted on the hillside. These birds made the trip worthwhile. We were the only visitors present and the stillness is amazing. In the temple were Red-billed Blue Magpie and Coal Tit. I heard nuthatches but could not see them. Higher up in the trees were a large flock of Eurasian Siskin as well as a single Grey-capped Greenfinch. On the ridgetop were Spotted Nutcracker with 4 Red-billed Chough. Returning we stopped at the car park after ca. 2 km and saw 3 Plain Laughingthrush. Common Kestrel and Oriental Magpie were at the valley floor. The valley had many birds calling. I am sure with more time many more species would be observed.
Amazing photos Craig, cant wait to see your book complete.
Beautiful photos. A pleasure to see. I also enjoyed the photo of the temple. Gave context. Excellent work!
Nice to see this site presented here… we visited in 2012.
There is plenty of accommodation in the nearby town, and all the Taxi drivers know where the Temple is.