Highlights from our summer in Qinghai, 2016. Clockwise from top L: Tibetan Lynx, Henderson's Ground Jay, dunes in Wulan County, and Tibetan Partridge. Craig Brelsford.

Qinghai, June-August 2016: Introduction

“Qinghai, June-August 2016” contains an introduction plus six parts.

Introduction: A Summer in Qinghai
Part 1: Weeks 1 & 2
Part 2: Weeks 3 & 4
Part 3: Weeks 5 & 6
Part 4: Week 7
Part 5: Week 8
Part 6: Facts & Figures

This report is part of a series on Craig Brelsford’s birding trips in Qinghai. Other reports:

Qinghai & Gansu, July 2014
Qinghai, July-August 2013

Who Are We?

Elaine Du (L) and Craig Brelsford, Eling Lake, Qinghai, 3 July 2016.
Elaine Du and Craig Brelsford, Eling Lake, Qinghai, 3 July 2016. (Craig Brelsford)

Who Are We?

Craig Brelsford lived in Shanghai from 2007 to 2018. When he departed China in January 2018, Craig was the top-ranked eBirder in that country, having noted 932 species, as well as the top-ranked eBirder in Shanghai (323 species). A 1993 graduate of the University of Florida, Craig was an award-winning newspaper editor in the United States for 10 years. In 2002, he earned a master’s in business administration from the University of Liege in Belgium.

Elaine Du is from Boli, Heilongjiang and has a master’s degree in food science and engineering from the Harbin Institute of Technology. When she departed China in February 2018, Elaine was the highest-ranked woman eBirder in China, with more than 730 species on her list, and was second only to Craig on the all-time eBird lists for Shanghai and Heilongjiang. Elaine’s Chinese name is Dù Lián Róng (杜连荣).

Craig and Elaine live in Debary, Florida with their son, Tiny.


Map of Qinghai showing the eight prefectural-level divisions. With just 5.6 million inhabitants in an area larger than Texas, Qinghai is a vast, sparsely populated province. Map courtesy Wikipedia.
A province in NW China, Qinghai is three times larger than the United Kingdom and slightly larger than Texas. The Yellow, Yangtze, and Mekong rivers rise in the sparsely populated province, which lies almost entirely on the Tibetan Plateau. From 26 June to 21 Aug. 2016, Elaine Du and Craig Brelsford explored this vast domain, birding in seven of the eight prefectures and finding 195 species of bird. (Wikipedia/Craig Brelsford)

Elaine Du and I birded Qinghai from 26 June to 21 Aug. 2016. We noted 195 species of bird, but the highlight was a mammal: Tibetan Lynx in Yushu Prefecture on 14 July. We spent the first month with Michael Grunwell and Jan-Erik Nilsén, covering the eastern and southern parts of the vast province. We noted Tibetan Plateau birds such as White Eared Pheasant, Ibisbill, Black-necked Crane, White-browed Tit, Grandala, Przevalski’s Redstart, and Red-fronted Rosefinch. In the second month Elaine and I explored northern Qinghai, discovering at previously unknown locations Tibetan Snowcock, Przevalski’s Partridge, Tibetan Sandgrouse, and Gansu Leaf Warbler. I became one of the few foreign birders to visit remote Hala Lake (38.267875, 97.575430), where we recorded Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper, and Lake Xiligou (36.838594, 98.462896), where we found Mongolian Goitered Gazelle. At a site in the Dulan Mountains, Elaine and I spied a trio of Tibetan Wolf. The 57-day expedition saw us drive 8054 km (5,005 miles) and visit seven of the eight prefectures of Qinghai.


Tibetan Partridge, 5 July 2016. Craig Brelsford.
Tibetan Partridge Perdix hodgsoniae inhabit the grounds of Kanda Nunnery (32.291641, 96.512173) in Nangqian County. We found Tibetan Partridge at Baizha Nature Reserve (31.882305, 96.556738), also in Nangqian County, as well as along the X308 on both sides of Dagela Pass (32.514573, 97.209993). I took this photo 5 July 2016 at the nunnery. (Craig Brelsford)

Greylag Goose
Bar-headed Goose
Mute Swan
Ruddy Shelduck
Common Shelduck
Northern Shoveler
Red-crested Pochard
Common Pochard
Ferruginous Duck
Tufted Duck
Common Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Przevalski’s Partridge
Tibetan Snowcock
Common Pheasant
White Eared Pheasant
Tibetan Partridge
Great Crested Grebe
Black-necked Grebe
Black Stork
Great Cormorant
Grey Heron
Great Egret
Eastern Cattle Egret
Bearded Vulture
Himalayan Vulture
Steppe Eagle
Golden Eagle
Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Northern Goshawk
Black Kite
Himalayan Buzzard
Upland Buzzard
Water Rail
Eurasian Coot
Black-necked Crane
Black-winged Stilt
Pied Avocet
Grey Plover
Lesser Sand Plover
Kentish Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Black-tailed Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Curlew Sandpiper
Temminck’s Stint
Little Stint
Common Sandpiper
Common Greenshank
Wood Sandpiper
Common Redshank
Brown-headed Gull
Pallas’s Gull
Common Tern
Tibetan Sandgrouse
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove)
Hill Pigeon
Snow Pigeon
Oriental Turtle Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Spotted Dove
Common Cuckoo
Eurasian Eagle-Owl
Little Owl
Common Swift
Salim Ali’s Swift
Eurasian Hoopoe
Eurasian Wryneck
Crimson-breasted Woodpecker
Black Woodpecker
Grey-headed Woodpecker
Common Kestrel
Eurasian Hobby
Saker Falcon
Long-tailed Minivet
Tiger Shrike
Isabelline Shrike
Grey-backed Shrike
Chinese Grey Shrike
Black Drongo
Azure-winged Magpie
Eurasian Magpie
Henderson’s Ground Jay
Red-billed Chough
Alpine Chough
Daurian Jackdaw
Carrion Crow
Large-billed Crow
Northern Raven
Horned Lark
Greater Short-toed Lark
Hume’s Short-toed Lark
Tibetan Lark
Mongolian Lark
Asian Short-toed Lark
Oriental Skylark
Crested Lark
Pale Martin
Eurasian Crag Martin
Barn Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
Asian House Martin
Rufous-vented Tit
Grey Crested Tit
White-browed Tit
Willow Tit
Sichuan Tit
Ground Tit
Japanese Tit
White-browed Tit-Warbler
Dusky Warbler
Alpine Leaf Warbler
Yellow-streaked Warbler
Buff-barred Warbler
Gansu Leaf Warbler
Lemon-rumped Warbler
Sichuan Leaf Warbler
Greenish Warbler
Large-billed Leaf Warbler
Desert Whitethroat
Tarim Babbler
Giant Laughingthrush
Plain Laughingthrush
Tibetan Babax
Elliot’s Laughingthrush
Eurasian Wren
Chinese Nuthatch
Eurasian Treecreeper
Chestnut Thrush
Kessler’s Thrush
Chinese Thrush
Dark-sided Flycatcher
Chinese Rubythroat
Siberian Rubythroat
Slaty-backed Flycatcher
Blue-fronted Redstart
Plumbeous Water Redstart
White-capped Redstart
Przevalski’s Redstart
Hodgson’s Redstart
White-throated Redstart
Güldenstädt’s Redstart
Black Redstart
Common Rock Thrush
Siberian Stonechat
Desert Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear
White-throated Dipper
Brown Dipper
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Rock Sparrow
Henri’s Snowfinch
Tibetan Snowfinch
White-rumped Snowfinch
Pere David’s Snowfinch
Rufous-necked Snowfinch
Blanford’s Snowfinch
Alpine Accentor
Robin Accentor
Rufous-breasted Accentor
Brown Accentor
Maroon-backed Accentor
Citrine Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
White Wagtail
Richard’s Pipit
Rosy Pipit
Olive-backed Pipit
Water Pipit
Przevalski’s Finch
Plain Mountain Finch
Brandt’s Mountain Finch
Grey-headed Bullfinch
Blanford’s Rosefinch
Common Rosefinch
Himalayan Beautiful Rosefinch
Pink-rumped Rosefinch
Chinese White-browed Rosefinch
Tibetan Rosefinch
Streaked Rosefinch
Great Rosefinch
Red-fronted Rosefinch
Grey-capped Greenfinch
White-winged Grosbeak
Pine Bunting
Tibetan Bunting
Godlewski’s Bunting


Glover's Pika, Yushu Prefecture, 4 July 2016.
We noted Glover’s Pika Ochotona gloveri in Nangqian County and Yushu County in southern Qinghai. I photographed this individual 4 July 2016 near Yushu-Jiegu at an elevation of 3700 m. Glover’s Pika is endemic to the eastern Tibetan Plateau. (Craig Brelsford)

Tibetan Macaque
Plateau Pika
Glover’s Pika
Woolly Hare
Himalayan Marmot
Mongolian Five-toed Jerboa
Chinese Zokor
Bactrian Camel
Siberian Roe Deer
Sichuan Deer
White-lipped Deer
Blue Sheep
Tibetan Gazelle
Mongolian Goitered Gazelle
Tibetan Wild Ass (Kiang)
Pallas’s Cat
Tibetan Lynx
Tibetan Wolf
Red Fox
Tibetan Fox
Mountain Weasel

Featured image: Highlights from our summer in Qinghai, 2016. Clockwise from top L: Tibetan Lynx, Henderson’s Ground Jay, dunes in Wulan County, and Tibetan Partridge. (Craig Brelsford)

Next: Part 1

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