Wanted: Your Sound Recordings of Leaf Warblers

Per Alström, Trevor Price, and Pratap Singh are studying song evolution in the leaf warbler family (Phylloscopidae). To understand how different song traits have evolved, the scientists plan to analyze vocalizations of all the species of leaf warbler and map their song parameters and calls on their molecular phylogeny.

The team is analyzing whole songs of all the species for size of song repertoire and singing variety. They need long song recordings, particularly for species having large repertoires.

For each species, Alström, Price, and Singh need 10 long recordings. They lack material for the following species:

Sulphur-bellied Warbler Phylloscopus griseolus
Ijima’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus ijimae
Kolombangara Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus amoenus
Smoky Warbler Phylloscopus fuligiventer
Black-capped Woodland Warbler Phylloscopus herberti
Red-faced Woodland Warbler Phylloscopus laetus
Laura’s Woodland Warbler Phylloscopus laurae
Makira Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus makirensis
Plain Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus neglectus
Alpine Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus occisinensis
Timor Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus presbytes
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus
Sulawesi Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus sarasinorum
Siberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus (collybita) tristis
Yellow-breasted Warbler Phylloscopus montis
Brooks’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus subviridis
Hainan Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus hainanus
Two-barred Warbler Phylloscopus plumbeitarsus

Can you share your recordings of the species above?

Alström et al. prefer uncompressed WAV files but will accept mp3’s. Please make clear the species in your recording. Your contribution will be acknowledged in the publication the team is preparing.

Attach your sound-recordings to an email and send it to Alström, Price, and Singh:

Per Alström
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Per.Alstrom@slu.se

Trevor Price
Department of Ecology and Evolution
University of Chicago, USA
pricet@uchicago.edu

Pratap Singh
Wildlife Institute of India
Dehradun, India
pratapsingh6019@gmail.com

Featured image: An international team of scientists is calling on birders to provide sound-recordings of leaf warblers. Pictured here are five of the species for which recordings are needed. Clockwise from top L: Sulphur-bellied Warbler Phylloscopus griseolus, Alpine Leaf Warbler P. occisinensis, Smoky Warbler P. fuligiventer weigoldi, Pallas’s Leaf Warbler P. proregulus, and Hainan Leaf Warbler P. hainanus. (Craig Brelsford)
Reach us: info@shanghaibirding.com

Be notified every time we post. Send an
email with “Subscribe” as the subject to
info@shanghaibirding.com

Donate to Shanghai Birding!




Mysterious Yellow Wagtail at Cape Nanhui, Shanghai

Found at Shanghai’s Cape Nanhui on 1 May 2019: possible White-headed Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava leucocephala. The discovery by Haiming Zhao provoked excitement and uncertainty among Shanghai birders. Certain aspects of the wagtail, notably the pale mottling on its mantle, cast doubt on an identification of White-headed. “Those pale/odd-looking feathers are unusual for leucocephala,” said Gomboo Sundev, a bird-tour leader in Mongolia, where leucocephala breeds. “I have never seen such an individual of the subspecies in Mongolia” (in litt., 2019).

Beijing-based British birder Paul Holt also noted the anomaly: “I was surprised … by the Shanghai bird’s mottled mantle” (in litt., 2019). Per Alström, co-author of Pipits and Wagtails, called the pale feathers on the mantle and scapulars “puzzling” (in litt., 2 May 2019). Both experts noted the pale base to the lower mandible of the Shanghai wagtail, also unexpected in leucocephala.

Students of Yellow Wagtail will not be surprised by the uncertainty. The Yellow Wagtail complex is a “systematic conundrum”; the various subspecies of the complex often “defy separation under the biological species concept” (Tyler 2004, 689). Interbreeding of the various subspecies occurs “freely at overlap zones, producing fertile hybrids” (689), often making it the case that “the direct parentage of Yellow Wagtails cannot be deciphered” (725). There is furthermore the prospect of partial albinism, a phenomenon that can make other subspecies of Yellow Wagtail appear white-headed (Alström & Mild 2003, 80, 269, 282).

In the case of leucocephala, another reason for the uncertainty is the sheer lack of knowledge about the race, even among elite ornithologists. Holt describes White-headed Yellow Wagtail as a “poorly known subspecies” (2019); Alström says his experience with the race is limited to “a few specimens and only one live bird” (in litt., 7 May 2019); Sundev told me he has seen the subspecies only about a dozen times (2019). The lack of information forces even great birders such as Holt to speculate: “The million-dollar question is whether [the mottled mantle and pale basal half of the lower mandible of the Shanghai bird] fit within the range of variation in leucocephala, or are they suggestive or even indicative of less than thoroughbred genes?” (2019)

Why is so little known about leucocephala? The biggest reason is the remoteness of its breeding range. White-headed Yellow Wagtail breeds in sparsely populated northwestern Mongolia, at places such as Khar-Us Lake (48.083328, 92.541368) and Durgun Lake (47.673106, 93.451188) (Sundev 2019). Alström and Mild say the race breeds also in areas adjacent to northwestern Mongolia, such as the Tuva Republic of Russia and “probably … northernmost Xinjiang” (2003, 281). Even the wintering range is uncertain; Alström and Mild say leucocephala “probably winters mainly in India but the exact wintering grounds are not known” (281).

The verdict on the Shanghai wagtail? “I would say it is leucocephala,” Sundev said. Holt agreed: “I would think that these [a White-headed Yellow Wagtail found in Hong Kong in April and the Shanghai wagtail] are the first two records of leucocephala for the whole of eastern China.” Alström, however, was less than fully convinced: “I’m not aware of a leucocephala with such a pale-mottled mantle as the Shanghai bird—although I can’t say they don’t occur” (7 May 2019).

PHOTOS

wagtail
L: The unusual Yellow Wagtail seen at Cape Nanhui, Shanghai on 1 May 2019. Note the pale mottling on the mantle. R: White-headed Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava leucocephala, Mongolia. (L: Haiming Zhao; R: Gombobaatar Sundev)
wagtail
‘The encounter with the Western Yellow Wagtail was totally unexpected,’ said Shanghai birder Haiming Zhao, who discovered and photographed the bird. ‘The location where I found the bird is in a big area in Nanhui which has many trees newly planted. I came across this Western Yellow Wagtail when I went by this area searching for buntings. I was in my car looking at the ground 10-15 meters away to the left when I saw this special bird. Its bright gray head and yellow lower body were so eye-catching and had made it easily distinguished out there from a flock of eastern yellow wagtails on the ground’ (Zhao in litt., 2019). (Haiming Zhao)
wagtail
White-headed Yellow Wagtail on the breeding grounds in northwestern Mongolia. (Gombobaatar Sundev)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alström, P. (2019). Email to author, 2 May.

Alström, P. (2019). Email to author, 7 May.

Alström, P., Mild, K., & Zetterström, B. (2003). Pipits and Wagtails. Princeton University Press.

Holt, P. (2019). Messages to WeChat group Shanghai Birding, 1 May.

Sundev, G. (2019). Emails to author, 3 May.

Tyler, S.J. (2004). Family Motacillidae (Pipits and Wagtails). Pp. 689, 725 in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Christie, D.A. eds. (2004). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 9. Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Zhao, H. (2019). Text messages to author, 2 May.

Featured image: Mysterious Yellow Wagtail, possibly White-headed Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava leucocephala, Cape Nanhui, Shanghai, 1 May 2019. (Haiming Zhao)
Reach us: info@shanghaibirding.com

Be notified every time we post. Send an
email with “Subscribe” as the subject to
info@shanghaibirding.com

Donate to Shanghai Birding!




Per Alström Interviewed on Radio Beijing International

Per Alström
Per Alström

Whether they know it or not, all birders, Chinese or foreign, operating in China have been influenced by Per Alström. Radio Beijing International interviewed Per in November 2018. In the interview, Per talks about speciation, taxonomy, his early interest in birds, and his difficult and ground-breaking initial expeditions to China in the 1980s. Get to know this friendly giant of birding by listening to the interview below (23:56; 13 MB).

The image above shows some of the species that the Swedish ornithologist has either discovered or redefined. Clockwise from top left: Emei Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus emeiensis, Spotted Elachura Elachura formosa, Sichuan Bush Warbler Locustella chengi, and Alström’s Warbler Phylloscopus soror. (Per Alström)
Reach us: info@shanghaibirding.com

Be notified every time we post. Send an
email with “Subscribe” as the subject to
info@shanghaibirding.com

Donate to Shanghai Birding!




Kamchatka Leaf Warbler in Shanghai

Seen at Pudong’s Cape Nanhui on 4 June: Kamchatka Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus examinandus. Veteran British birder Michael Grunwell and I found our 4 Kamchatkas in Microforest 4 (30.953225, 121.959083), the largest of the tree plantations on the landward side of the sea wall. The species is an all-time first for the Shanghai eBird list.

Just after sunrise, Michael and I, as is our wont, were doing “drive-by birding”—creeping along the edge of the road, listening out for birds. Suddenly, I heard an unfamiliar sound.

My gut said, “Hard, loudTaiga Flycatcher?”

Taiga was not even close, of course. Note, however, what my gut was not saying: “Arctic Warbler,” a bird whose call I know well. This call was decidedly not an Arctic’s, though it soon dawned on us that we were hearing some type of leaf warbler.

To see why my gut did not say Arctic, compare my recordings of the tight “tzit” call of Arctic Warbler with the looser call of Kamchatka Leaf Warbler:

Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis, Jiangsu (32.560095, 121.041956), May (00:09; 1.9 MB)

Kamchatka Leaf Warbler P. examinandus, Microforest 4 (30.953225, 121.959083), Cape Nanhui, 4 June (00:25; 4.9 MB)

Michael and I skidded to a stop and poked our heads into the green tangle of locust trees. The call was being followed by a song. Only upon hearing the song did I think of Arctic Warbler. But here too, the song, though similar, was distinctive—wavier than the straight trill of Arctic. Look at the spectrograms below.

Spectrogram

The spectrogram above is of my recording 4 June of Kamchatka Leaf Warbler. Note the pattern: downward sweeps followed by an upward sweep. No one would liken that song to an insect’s. Below, the spectrogram of my recording of the song of Arctic Warbler. Note the straight, cricket-like trill.

Spectrogram

Here are the recordings whose spectrograms are shown above:

Arctic Warbler, Yikesama National Forest, Inner Mongolia (52.150833, 121.465639), July (01:00; 3.2 MB)

Kamchatka Leaf Warbler, Microforest 4, 4 June (00:48; 9.3 MB)

After hearing several song-call cycles, Michael, my more experienced partner, first said the words “Kamchatka Leaf Warbler.”

Michael has birded the Indonesian islands of Flores and Komodo, where Kamchatka Leaf Warbler winters. Michael said that, last winter, walking through the forests there, he heard dozens of times the call of P. examinandus.

“I know that call,” Michael said.

I whipped out my Olympus DM-650 voice recorder and recorded the calling and singing warbler. Meanwhile, we caught our first glimpse of the individual. It was clearly an “Arctic-type” leaf warbler.

What is an “Arctic-type” leaf warbler? An Arctic-type leaf warbler is a member of one of four closely related taxa divided among three species: Japanese Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus xanthodryas, Kamchatka Leaf Warbler P. examinandus, and Arctic Warbler P. borealis borealis and P. b. kennicotti.

map
Leaf-warbler expert and Shanghai Birding member Per Alström is the person most responsible for our current understanding of Arctic-type leaf warblers. Alström’s PDF, from which this page is taken, is a handy introduction to leaf warblers in China and is downloadable through shanghaibirding.com.

Arctic Warbler is by far the most widespread breeder in the complex. P. b. borealis breeds across northern Eurasia, from Scandinavia to northeast China and the Russian Far East. P. b. kennicotti breeds in western Alaska.

As their names suggest, Japanese Leaf Warbler breeds mainly in Japan (Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu), Kamchatka Leaf Warbler mainly in the southern Kamchatka Peninsula (as well as on Hokkaido and Sakhalin and in the Kuril Islands).

In 2010 Shanghai Birding member Per Alström et al. proposed the current way of viewing the Arctic-type warblers. Previously, the taxon examinandus was putative, not even reaching the subspecies level; Alström and his team showed that examinandus, with its distinctive song and call, merits recognition not as a subspecies of Arctic Warbler but as a species in its own right.

Of the three Arctic-type species, Japanese Leaf Warbler most stands out, being on average yellower than the two others. Arctic and Kamchatka look much more alike.

There are, however, some slight differences. Kamchatka is said to have a “marginally longer bill, tarsi and tail” than Arctic (del Hoyo & Collar). Sure enough, the Kamchatka I photographed is long-billed. Take a look below.

warblers
Arctic Warbler (top) and Kamchatka Leaf Warbler. Both birds show the classic features of Arctic-type warblers, among them a long supercilium that does not reach bill base, a dark smudge on the lower mandible, and mottled ear coverts. Kamchatka is said to be slightly greener on average than Arctic, a description that these photos do not contradict. The bill of Kamchatka is also marginally longer than Arctic’s, and in these profile shots one notes the longer bill of the Kamchatka and the stouter bill of the Arctic. I would not suggest basing an Arctic-Kamchatka ID on plumage and bare parts. Plumage and bare parts can, however, enhance the quality of a song- or call-based ID. Top: South Lock (30.860073, 121.909997), Cape Nanhui, 13 May. Bottom: Microforest 4 (30.953225, 121.959083), 4 June. (Craig Brelsford)

Michael and I heard our loudest song and calls during that first, early morning encounter. However, we heard Kamchatka calling throughout the day.

Our new Shanghai record, combined with late-May and early-June records from nearby Zhejiang, suggests that in this region, once the wave of Arctics passes through around 15 May, Kamchatka Leaf Warbler may be the Arctic-type to look out for.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alström P., T. Saitoh, D. Williams, I. Nishiumi, Y. Shigeta, K. Ueda, M. Irestedt, M. Björklund & U. Olsson (2011). The Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis—three anciently separated cryptic species revealed. Ibis 153:395-410. Available at https://www.shanghaibirding.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Alstrom-et-al-2011-Arctic-Warblers-IBIS.pdf (accessed 8 Dec 2019).

Brelsford, C. (2017). eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S37369822. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird, Ithaca, New York, USA (accessed 24 Nov. 2019).

Shanghai Birding
Join Shanghai Birding for the very latest bird sightings in Shanghai.

Brelsford, Craig, moderator. Shanghai Birding, a WeChat group. Discussions with various birders, chief among them Hangzhou birder Cheng Qian, who had information about sightings of P. examinandus in Zhejiang. Beijing-based Swedish birder Jan-Erik Nilsén also provided timely advice. To join Shanghai Birding, in WeChat, friend Craig Brelsford (WeChat ID: craigbrelsford). In your friend request, please make it clear that you wish to join Shanghai Birding.

del Hoyo, J. & Collar, N. (2017). Kamchatka Leaf-warbler (Phylloscopus examinandus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/1343935 on 24 Nov. 2019).

Jackett, N. (25 Feb. 2016). First Kamchatka Leaf Warbler recorded for Australian Mainland. eBird Australia: https://ebird.org/content/australia/news/first-recorded-kamchatka-leaf-warbler-for-australian-mainland/. eBird, Ithaca, New York, USA. ebird.org (accessed 24 Nov. 2019).

Featured image: Kamchatka Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus examinandus. At Shanghai’s Cape Nanhui, birders Michael Grunwell and Craig Brelsford found the individual pictured here and three others. (Craig Brelsford)
Reach us: info@shanghaibirding.com

Be notified every time we post. Send an
email with “Subscribe” as the subject to
info@shanghaibirding.com

Donate to Shanghai Birding!




Comparing Blyth’s Pipit & Richard’s Pipit

With more and more birders operating in Shanghai, more and more vagrant birds are bound to be discovered. One possibility is Blyth’s Pipit Anthus godlewskii (photo above, L), a species similar to our familiar Richard’s Pipit A. richardi (R). Blyth’s breeds mainly in Mongolia, occurs on passage in central China, and winters mainly in India, so any records here would be of extralimitals. Let’s examine here how to separate the two pipits.

Comparison of pipits
Comparison of adult-type Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardisinensis‘ (1) and adult Blyth’s Pipit A. godlewskii (4). The population group A. r. ‘sinensis’ occurs in southeast China south of the Yangtze River. Structurally, ‘sinensis‘ is the smallest group in Richard’s, with proportions recalling Blyth’s. Note however the blackish centers to the median coverts (2, 3). In adult-type Richard’s (2), the centers are triangular and tinged rufous at the edges. In adult Blyth’s (3), the centers are squarish, less rufous-tinged, and more clear-cut. 1, 2: Cape Nanhui, December. 3, 4: Hulunbeier, Inner Mongolia, July. (Craig Brelsford)

The key to getting a Blyth’s in Shanghai is paying attention to the many Richard’s Pipit that we see in the area. Anthus richardi is more or less a passage migrant in the Shanghai area and is recorded here regularly in spring and autumn. Some are present in winter; Elaine Du and I had a “sinensis” last week, the ID’ing of which led to this post.

flight song
More views of Blyth’s Pipit performing flight song, Inner Mongolia, July. In Pipits and Wagtails, Shanghai Birding member Per Alström et al. write that in flight, Blyth’s Pipit ‘often recalls one of the smaller pipits rather than Richard’s’ (237). Note however that Anthus richardi ‘sinensis,’ a population group within Richard’s Pipit often found in Shanghai, is structurally similar to Blyth’s. (Craig Brelsford)

Richard’s “sinensis” is very similar to Blyth’s, being best told by song, which is rarely heard in the Shanghai area. According to Per Alström et al., whose book Pipits and Wagtails is the authority on Palearctic and Nearctic pipits, the song of Blyth’s is “very characteristic and completely different from [that] of Richard’s” (242). During a trip in July 2015 to the Inner Mongolian prefecture of Hulunbeier, one of the few places in China where Blyth’s breeds, I recorded the song.

Blyth’s Pipit, flight song, recorded 22 July 2015 at a point (48.767866, 116.834183) near Hulun Lake, Inner Mongolia (2.1 MB; 00:32)

The calls of the two species also differ, but less markedly. The flight call of Richard’s is a common bird sound in Shanghai during migration season. The call of Blyth’s is similar enough to “cause problems even for some veteran observers” (Alström et al. 244). For Shanghai birders, even those unfamiliar with Blyth’s, a “Richard’s” with a strange flight call is worth your attention. Listen for what Alström et al. describe as a call “less harsh, softer and more nasal” than Richard’s (244). For reference, review the flight call of Richard’s:

Richard’s Pipit, flight call, Dishui Lake, Shanghai, February (00:01; 852 KB)

Regarding plumage, the most reliable differentiator of Richard’s and Blyth’s is the pattern of the median coverts. In Blyth’s, a typical adult-type median covert will show well-defined, squarish black centers. In Richard’s, the adult-type median coverts are less clear-cut, rufous-tinged, and triangular. Note that the fresher the plumage, the more reliable this differentiator is.

Another less reliable criterion is structure. Shanghai birders will agree that the first impression a non-“sinensis” Richard’s usually gives is “large pipit.” Other pipits, such as Buff-bellied Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, and Olive-backed Pipit, give a “small pipit” impression.

Richard's Pipit
Richard’s Pipit, Jiangsu, September. Alström et al. urge care in ID’ing Blyth’s and Richard’s. Here, the median coverts of this Richard’s appear squarish, like Blyth’s (bottom R, inset). But note the date of the photo: September, a time of year when most Richard’s show worn plumage. ‘In worn plumage,’ the authors write, ‘the shape of the dark centres to the secondary coverts is generally less obviously different, and the pale tips can be much the same colour in both species’ (237). The ID of this Richard’s was derived from its call, a more constant characteristic, and not from the appearance of its median coverts, a more variable characteristic. (Craig Brelsford)

Alström et al. say, and I having seen Blyth’s can concur, that a birder viewing Blyth’s will get a “small pipit” impression: “The smaller size, lighter build and shorter tail,” the authors write, “are often most apparent in flight, when [Blyth’s] often recalls one of the smaller pipits rather than Richard’s.” Note also that the smaller size and shorter bill, tail, and hind claw of Blyth’s give that species a “better proportioned” look than the larger and heavier Richard’s (237).

The directions above should be seen as guidelines; individual Richard’s and Blyth’s may defy easy categorization, “sinensis” Richard’s even more so. Alström et al. caution against jumping the gun with your ID: “It is crucial to realise that in both species (especially Richard’s) appearance can vary considerably in one and the same individual depending on mood, weather, etc.,” they write. “Also, some Richard’s are structurally very like Blyth’s; this is especially true of southern Chinese Richard’s (‘sinensis’)” (237).

A record of Blyth’s Pipit in Shanghai would shoot to the top of the “Year’s Best” list. The stakes are high, so look diligently, and use caution. Good luck!

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alström, Per, Krister Mild & Bill Zetterström. Pipits and Wagtails. Princeton University Press, 2003. This landmark book, co-authored by Shanghai Birding member Per Alström, is my first reference on all things Motacillidae.

Brazil, Mark. Birds of East Asia. Princeton University Press, 2009. Serviceable descriptions of Blyth’s Pipit and Richard’s Pipit. Illustration of “sinensis.”

Svensson, Lars & Killian Mullarney & Dan Zetterström. Collins Bird Guide, 2nd ed. HarperCollins, 1999-2009. Outstanding illustrations of Richard’s Pipit and Blyth’s Pipit by Mullarney.
Reach us: info@shanghaibirding.com

Be notified every time we post. Send an
email with “Subscribe” as the subject to
info@shanghaibirding.com

Donate to Shanghai Birding!




Pale-legged Leaf Warbler & the Shanghai Big 5

The illustration above shows Shanghai’s Big 5 Leaf Warblers: Pale-legged Leaf Warbler (1), Arctic Warbler (2), Eastern Crowned Warbler (3), Pallas’s Leaf Warbler (4), and Yellow-browed Warbler (5). In this post, I tell you how to separate Pale-legged and its lookalike Sakhalin Leaf Warbler from the others.

Recently at Cape Nanhui, the birding hotspot in Pudong, my object of observation was Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, one of the Big 5 Leaf Warblers in Shanghai. In both spring and autumn, Phylloscopus tenellipes passes through Earth’s greatest city in considerable numbers. A lookalike species, Sakhalin Leaf Warbler P. borealoides, also has been noted in Shanghai.

In this post, I shall outline the difficulty of distinguishing Pale-legged Leaf Warbler from Sakhalin Leaf Warbler on anything but call and song, and I will show you some of the traits of “Pale-Sak” that set this species pair apart from other leaf warblers.

SONG CAN SAFELY SEPARATE PALE-LEGGED FROM SAKHALIN

Per's PDF
‘Almost identical’: that’s the judgment of leaf-warbler expert Per Alström on Pale-legged and Sakhalin Leaf Warbler (regarding their plumage and bare parts). The page shown here is No. 11 of a 40-page PDF on leaf warblers in China by Professor Alström. The PDF is a handy introduction to a difficult group and can be downloaded here (13 MB).

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler is safely separable from Sakhalin Leaf Warbler only by song and call. Every other trait of each can occur in the other. Numerous authorities confirm this. Swedish ornithologist Per Alström calls the two species “almost identical” and “virtually indistinguishable except by song” (Alström 2012). Mark Brazil says field separation of Pale-Sak is “uncertain,” and he warns readers to “beware light conditions” (2009). Clement writes that Pale-legged and Sakhalin are “very similar” and claims, dubiously, that the latter is distinguishable from the former “mainly by greener upperparts and lack of wingbars” (2006). Clements goes on to describe juvenile Pale-legged as being “more greenish on upperparts,” which begs the question of whether the greenish Pale-Sak one is observing is an adult Sakhalin or a juvenile Pale-legged. Moreover, a quick look at Oriental Bird Images shows many Sakhalin Leaf Warbler with wing bars.

Thankfully for us birders, the songs of the two species are distinctive and provide the basis for a safe ID. The song of Pale-legged, occasionally heard in Shanghai in May, is a cricket-like trill, that of Sakhalin a high-pitched, three-note whistle.

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, Boli County, Heilongjiang, June (02:00, 6.4 MB)

Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Zhongshan Park, Shanghai, May (00:36; 2.2 MB)

One day in May, I heard Pale-legged and Sakhalin singing together in Zhongshan Park—proof that Sakhalin passes through Shanghai. Usually, however, birders here are forced to perform the less than satisfying task of assigning the individuals they see to the category “Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler.”

Bottom line: In Shanghai, any Pale-Sak one sees is probably Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, the continental breeder, and not Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, the breeder from the eponymous Russian island plus Hokkaido and Honshu; but to claim certainty about any non-singing individual is the taxonomical version of Russian roulette.

DISTINGUISHING PALE-SAK FROM OTHER LEAF WARBLERS

The Pale-Sak species pair is readily distinguishable from other leaf warblers, in particular the other four members of Shanghai’s Big 5: Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus, Yellow-browed Warbler P. inornatus, Arctic Warbler P. borealis, and Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus.

Here are a few principles:

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler and Sakhalin Leaf Warbler are plain, mid-sized to large leaf warblers without even the hint of a coronal stripe.

Pale-legged/Sakhalin
Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler shows no trace of a crown stripe (Panel 1). Yellow-browed Warbler (2) usually shows a faint stripe. In Eastern Crowned Warbler (3) and Pallas’s Leaf Warbler (4), the stripe is prominent. (Craig Brelsford)

Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler has distinctive pink legs and a short bill with a black smudge on the lower mandible, which is pink at the base and tip.

warblers
Like Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, species in the Arctic Warbler Complex lack a crown stripe and usually show one or two wing bars. One way to distinguish birds from the two groups is by the color of the legs and bill. The legs (Panel 1) of Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler are distinctively pale and pink, in contrast to the brownish-yellow legs of the Arctic-type Warbler in 2. Likewise, the slightly shorter bill of Pale-legged/Sakhalin (3) shows a blackish upper mandible and pinkish lower mandible and cutting edge. The black smudge on the lower mandible does not reach the tip. The bill of Arctic-type Warbler (4) follows a similar pattern, but with brownish-yellow replacing pink. (Craig Brelsford)

Even on a fast-moving Pale-Sak in poor light, the pink of the bill and especially of the legs is readily seen. The distinctive pale color of these bare parts is a handy tool for distinguishing Pale-Sak from birds in the Arctic Warbler Complex, which like Pale-Sak lack a crown stripe and usually show one or two wing bars. (The Arctic Warbler Complex consists of Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis, Kamchatka Leaf Warbler P. examinandus, and Japanese Leaf Warbler P. xanthodryas. In Shanghai, Arctic Warbler is the most common of the three, migrating through Shanghai every spring and autumn.) The pink coloration also distinguishes Pale-Sak from Dusky Warbler P. fuscatus, an uncommon migrant and winter visitor in Shanghai, and the scarce passage migrant Two-barred Warbler P. plumbeitarsus.

Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler constantly pumps its tail.

tail
The tail of Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler pumps independently of other muscular actions. In panels 1-2, note that the tail pumps even as the warbler devours an insect. Panels 3-4 show the warbler motionless except for the up-and-down movement of the tail. Photos here and immediately below are of a single individual and were taken in September at Microforest 4 (30.953225, 121.959083), Cape Nanhui. (Craig Brelsford)

The tail-pumping of Pale-legged/Sakhalin is one of the most distinctive behavioral traits of the species pair. The steady movement usually occurs independently of other muscular actions and is slow enough for the eye to see. The tail-flicking of Arctic Warbler, by contrast, is more spasmodic and is often accompanied by wing-flicking.

Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler is often found on the lower, thicker branches of trees.

Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler
Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler on thick branch. More so than other leaf warblers, Pale-Sak is likely to be seen on leafless, thick branches low on the tree. (Craig Brelsford)

With its ability to forage along thick branches and not just glean from the underside of leaves, Pale-legged/Sakhalin can remind one of a nuthatch. Other species such as Arctic Warbler use the lower branches, but sustained observation shows Pale-Sak more often in those areas. Note: In May and June 2016, I studied Pale-legged Leaf Warbler on its breeding grounds in Heilongjiang. There, amid trees older and taller than one usually sees in Shanghai, I most often noted the species far above my head, in the mid-canopy.

A NOTE ON CALLS

Except for the mainly silent migrant Eastern Crowned Warbler, Shanghai’s Big 5 Leaf Warblers all call in both spring and autumn. The calls are distinctive. The metallic “tink” of Pale-Sak contrasts markedly with the “tzit” of Arctic Warbler, the “dweet” of Pallas’s Leaf Warbler, and the “sweet” of Yellow-browed Warbler.

Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Cape Nanhui, Shanghai, May (00:15; 1.4 MB)

Arctic Warbler, Jiangsu, May (00:09; 1.9 MB)

Pallas’s Leaf Warbler, Jiangsu, May (00:05; 1.6 MB)

Yellow-browed Warbler, Lesser Yangshan Island, Zhejiang, April (00:07; 1.7 MB)

UPDATE

Editor’s note: This post caught the attention of Philip D. Round, a professor at Mahidol University in Bangkok and an expert on leaf warblers. In an e-mail to me, Round writes that as discoveries are made and papers published, separating Pale-legged Leaf Warbler from Sakhalin Leaf Warbler on call may become more widespread. Separation on morphology, by contrast, will be much more difficult, though it may eventually turn out to be possible in the hand.

The following paragraphs are from Round’s e-mail to me:

“I enclose a paper that details the first records of both Kamchatka Leaf Warbler and Sakhalin Leaf Warbler from Thailand. [Editor’s note: the paper, “Addition of Kamchatka Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus examinandus and Sakhalin Leaf Warbler P. borealoides to Thailand’s Avifauna,” is available for download through shanghaibirding.com (708 KB).] This has been rather overtaken by events, as we have now caught into the hundreds of Sakhalin LW, mostly on spring passage, and quite a few more Kamchatka. I have an undergraduate student who has carried out DNA assay on about ten percent of all the Pale-legged and Sakhalin LW caught. For many of these we have also recorded call notes on release. When she comes back from overseas study in January 2017 I hope we’ll get a paper out which publishes details of call-note frequency and DNA results for this large sample, which should show the correlation between species and call-note frequency clearly. (Actually this is moderately and anecdotally well-known already. I think either Frank Lambert or Jonathan Martinez was the first to draw my attention to the difference, and it is mentioned by Yap et al. in BirdingASIA with reference to an overwintering Singapore bird.) [Note: Round is referring to Yap, Francis et al., “First wintering record of the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides in South-East Asia, with notes on vocalisations,” BirdingASIA 21 (2014): 76–81.]

“I am a bit less sanguine on finding means (other than by call frequency or song) to separate all birds. Even in the hand, it is by no means clear. We can pick out long-winged male Sakhalin, and short-winged female Pale-legged. But there is more overlap than previously realized, and most are in between. There don’t appear to be any 100% consistent wing-formula differences, and plumage and bare-part features, while somewhat indicative, are again less than 100% reliable—especially under field conditions. But probably we are missing something. The next thing to do is to apply PCA or some other multivariate analysis to figure out reliable means of separation of birds in the hand from our large sample, and also to use the information we have to figure out differences in the timing of passage of the two spp.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alström, P. (2012). Identification of Phylloscopus & Seicercus Warblers in China. Notes from presentation given to Beijing Birdwatching Society in November 2012. PDF downloadable here (13 MB). Click here for a 5 MB zip archive containing all 40 pages of the report in JPEG form. Those pages can be synced to your smartphone like photographs and consulted in the field. (Accessed: 8 Dec 2019)

Brazil, M. (2009). Birds of East Asia. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Clement, P. (2006). Family Sylviidae (Old World Warblers). Pp. 663-4 (Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, Sakhalin Leaf Warbler) in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Christie, D.A. eds. (2006). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 11. Old World Flycatchers to Old World Warblers. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Featured image: Shanghai’s Big 5 leaf warblers. (Craig Brelsford)
Reach us: info@shanghaibirding.com

Be notified every time we post. Send an
email with “Subscribe” as the subject to
info@shanghaibirding.com

Donate to Shanghai Birding!




Grey-crowned Warbler at Cape Nanhui, First Record for Shanghai

Grey-crowned Warbler
Grey-crowned Warbler, Cape Nanhui, 17 May. First record for Shanghai. (Craig Brelsford)

On the spectacular morning of 17 May at Cape Nanhui, the birding hotspot in Pudong, Kai Pflug and I achieved Shanghai’s first record of Grey-crowned Warbler Seicercus tephrocephalus.

The bird was singing, an amazing incongruity, the bright, sharp south-Chinese Seicercus sound in a tiny wood on the muddy Chinese coast. The golden warbler alighted on a branch for several seconds.

Grey-crowned Warbler is rarely seen this far east and is not covered in Mark Brazil’s Birds of East Asia. However the very good Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol. 11, which I can’t recommend enough to lovers of leaf warblers and golden spectacled warblers, has the info we need.

A monotypic species, S. tephrocephalus is said by HBW 11 to breed as close to Shanghai as Hubei. It is very similar in plumage and song to Martens’s Warbler S. omeiensis but unlike Martens’s has the eye-ring broken at rear. S. tephrocephalus is common to abundant in its normal range of south China and Southeast Asia, but it had never been recorded in Shanghai. The lack of records is probably owing not only to its scarcity but also to its difficulty in identification, particularly for birders unfamiliar with HBW 11.

report
One of the pages dedicated to Seicercus warblers. Taken from a well-known PDF created by Per Alström for a presentation he made to the Beijing Birdwatching Society in 2012. The PDF is downloadable through shanghaibirding.com either as a PDF or as jpegs contained in a zip folder for easy syncing to your smartphone.

Much of the wealth of info on Seicercus warblers in HBW 11 is the fruit of the research of Swedish ornithologist Per Alström, who wrote nearly all the Seicercus entries. Guangdong-based French birder Jonathan Martinez has also researched S. tephrocephalus and helped me with the ID of the Grey-crowned Warbler.

Here are the sound-recordings I made of Grey-crowned Warbler. The recordings and photos are of the same individual.

Grey-crowned Warbler 1/2, Cape Nanhui, Shanghai, 17 May (00:11; 1.2 MB)

Grey-crowned Warbler 2/2 (00:23; 1.7 MB)

After viewing the photos and listening to the recordings, Per wrote the following to the Shanghai Birding WeChat group:

“I agree with your id of Grey-crowned Warbler, mainly based on the song recording (songs and calls are by far the best ways to id Seicercus warblers). The photos look a bit off (e.g., eye-ring broken in front, which isn’t normally the case in any Seicercus, seemingly poorly marked lateral crown-stripes, no clear grey on crown [though that could be a photo effect], and dark-tipped lower mandible [only in Grey-cheeked W]).”

To sum up:

My research indicates, and Per Alström concurs: Grey-crowned Warbler Seicercus tephrocephalus

Grey-crowned has eye-ring broken at rear; my photos show eye-ring broken at rear. The songs I recorded most closely match the song of S. tephrocephalus.

Next-closest possibility: Martens’s Warbler (S. omeiensis)

Very similar to Grey-crowned Warbler but doesn’t have eye-ring broken at rear.

Also: Alström’s Warbler (S. soror); my recording has trills; distinctive song of Alström’s lacks trills. Bianchi’s Warbler (S. valentini) does not trill. White-spectacled Warbler (S. affinis intermedius) has eye-ring broken above eye, not behind.

Reach us: info@shanghaibirding.com

Be notified every time we post. Send an
email with “Subscribe” as the subject to
info@shanghaibirding.com

Donate to Shanghai Birding!




Sichuan & Yunnan, June 2014

HIGHLIGHTS

— Being among the first birders to visit Dulong Gorge, “The Last Green Valley in China,” in the far northwestern corner of Yunnan

— In collaboration with Per Alström, finding, photographing, and sound-recording Himalayan Thrush at the dramatic Salween-Irrawaddy Divide in the Gāolígòng Mountains

— On the Old Erlang Road in Sichuan, spotting, waiting out, and finally photographing a rare female Firethroat, as well as photographing and sound-recording a male

— Finding and photographing a pair of Fire-tailed Myzornis at the Salween-Irrawaddy Divide

— In Dulong Gorge, finding several species of bird with limited ranges in China, among them Black-eared Shrike-babbler, Lemon-rumped Warbler, Yellow-throated Fulvetta, Scaly Laughingthrush, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Streak-throated Barwing, Beautiful Sibia, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker, Fire-tailed Sunbird, and Scarlet Finch

— Noting 193 species of bird (see list below)

Fire-breasted Flowerpecker
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker Dicaeum ignipectus, Dulong Gorge, Yunnan. Elev. 2430 m. 16 June. (Craig Brelsford)

ITINERARY (all dates 2014)

31 May: Chéngdū (成都)
01-02 June: Old Erlang Road/Lúdìng (泸定)
03 June: Kāngdìng (康定)
04 June: Old Erlang Road/Lúdìng
05 June: Lóngcānggōu (龙苍沟)
06 June: Chéngdū
07-10 June: Éméishān (峨眉山)
11 June: en route to NW Yunnan
12 June: Gòngshān (贡山)
13-19 June: Dulong Gorge
20 June: Gòngshān
21 June: Dàlǐ (大理)
22 June: Chéngdū

Jon Gallagher guides Craig Brelsford
Jon Gallagher guides driver Craig Brelsford along difficult stretch of Gongshan-Dulong Road, 13 June. (Huáng Xiǎo Ān [黄小安])
THE TRIP

Sat. 31 May 2014
Chéngdū (成都), Sichuan

My flight from Shanghai arrived at 20:00 at Chéngdū. My partner Huáng Xiǎo Ān (黄小安) picked me up at the airport. Xiǎo Ān lives in Beijing. Later that night, Jon Gallagher arrived. Jon was born in England and is a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Maryland. This trip would be our second together; in 2013, the three of us birded in Qinghai.

Sun. 1 June 2014
Lúdìng (泸定)

Today I drove our rented Chevrolet Captiva to the Lǎo Chuān Zàng Lù (老川藏路), known in English as the Old Erlang Road. The road, no longer in regular use because of the new Èrláng Shān tunnels, lies between Yǎ’ān (雅安) and Kāngdìng (康定). The Old Erlang Road dips off the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau; the eastern side of the road is soggy and foggy; the western side, higher and drier. The contrast in vegetation and climate is stark and immediately noticeable. I’ve yet to see a place that more dramatically shows the contrast between wet eastern China and arid western China. Our top bird, found on the eastern side, was Chestnut-headed Tesia. Phylloscopus and Seicercus warblers were singing everywhere, giving me the easier IDs that I have been dreaming about. The most conspicuous leaf warbler was Claudia’s Leaf Warbler. Also common: Sichuan Leaf Warbler. I sound-recorded and photographed a Seicercus warbler; the recording of the voice was crucial in my ID’ing the bird as a Martens’s Warbler. Here are three recordings I made today:

Chestnut-headed Tesia (00:19; 1.1 MB)

Claudia’s Leaf Warbler (00:56; 1.7 MB)

Black-faced Laughingthrush (00:38; 1.4 MB)

Claudia's Leaf Warbler
Claudia’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus claudiae, Old Erlang Road, Sichuan. Elev. 2760 m. 1 June. (Craig Brelsford)

We drove to Lúdìng (泸定), the nearest city, 30 km from the western end of the Old Erlang Road.

Mon. 2 June 2014
Lúdìng

Walking alone up the Old Erlang Road, at an elevation of about 2730 m, I heard robins singing. Within minutes, I had found a male Firethroat. Two males apparently have territories on either side of the Old Erlang Road. Firethroat is listed as near-threatened by the IUCN. Near the highest point on the Old Erlang Road, we ran into Frank Lambert, who was leading a tour. We led Frank’s group back to our Firethroat spot. A few members of Frank’s tour were so happy to see the Firethroat, they had tears in their eyes. I recorded the beautiful song of Firethroat (01:18; 2 MB):

Firethroat
Firethroat Calliope pectardens, Old Erlang Road, Sichuan. Elev. 2760 m. 5 June 2014. (Craig Brelsford)

Tues. 3 June 2014
Kāngdìng (康定)

Raining this morning. At the “tree-lined avenue” on the west side of the Old Erlang Road (elev.: 2450 m), I saw Lady Amherst’s Pheasant. Cuckoos were singing from every tall tree. Large Hawk-Cuckoo were most commonly heard, followed by Lesser Cuckoo, Common Cuckoo, and Himalayan Cuckoo.

Large Hawk-Cuckoo (00:34; 1.3 MB)

Lesser Cuckoo (00:16; 1 MB)

Jon and I took a long walk along the road. We found another pair of Firethroat at about 2450 m above sea level. In the afternoon, we drove to Kāngdìng.

Wed. 4 June 2014
Lúdìng

We spent the morning at a site 5 km from Kāngdìng dedicated to photographing wild pheasants. The site is owned by Liào Kāng Lín (廖康林; +86 135-4147-1963, +86 836-2823096). Mr. Liào charges 80 yuan per photographer per day. A stay at his house costs 40 yuan per night. Cooked meals are available. Our time at Mr. Liào’s place was not very successful. We viewed only one gamebird, a Lady Amherst’s Pheasant (male), and it left after only a few seconds. Mr. Liào said the best time to come is March. While there, I recorded the local Alpine Leaf Warbler (00:41; 1.4 MB):

After finishing at Mr. Liào’s place, we drove back to the Old Erlang Road, where we caught a tantalizing glimpse of the female Firethroat. We drove back to Lúdìng, where we spent the night.

Slaty-blue Flycatcher
Slaty-blue Flycatcher Ficedula tricolor, Old Erlang Road, Sichuan. Elev. 2760 m. 3 June 2014. (Craig Brelsford)

Thurs. 5 June 2014
Lóngcānggōu (龙苍沟)

It took some work, but today on the Old Erlang Road I managed to capture clear shots of a female Firethroat. Photographing the female is a much greater challenge than photographing the male. The female is silent, much unlike the songster the male, and very shy. Special thanks to Jon and Xiǎo Ān for agreeing to give another morning to the female Firethroat (I’m happy to report that they too saw and photographed the female). As I continue to capture images for my photo field guide, I am striving to get shots of the most elusive species. The female Firethroat is a big step forward. Also attracted to our setup was a female Slaty-blue Flycatcher. In the afternoon, we drove to Lóngcānggōu (龙苍沟). We stayed at Hǔlín Shānzhuāng (虎林山庄; +86 189-8162-4444). There, a power surge occurred, destroying the battery charger for my camera, the power adapter of my Apple MacBook Pro, and other items.

Before that disaster occurred, we took a walk in the forest, where I recorded the haunting, hoopoe-like call of Himalayan Cuckoo (01:31; 2.2 MB):

Fri. 6 June 2014
Chéngdū

Early this morning, a rock ripped apart the oil pan (U.K.: sump) of our rented Chevy Captiva. We were driving into the wilderness area at Lóngcānggōu. We hit a bump, but the bump didn’t seem especially serious. I was shocked to see oil running over the ground. A tow truck from Yǎ’ān came to rescue us. We were taken to a Chevrolet dealership outside Yǎ’ān. We rented a Volkswagen Passat from an agency in Yǎ’ān and drove to Chéngdū.

Sat. 7 June 2014
Éméishān (峨眉山)

We visited the camera center in Chéngdū, where I bought a new battery charger. Our next stop was the Apple store, where Xiǎo Ān and I replaced our power adapters. We then drove to Éméishān (峨眉山).

Sun. 8 June 2014
Éméishān

Drizzled all day. In the early morning, we walked uphill from our hotel below the lower terminus of the cable car. Already there were many tourists, disturbing the few birds that we could see. We walked down the road from the cable car. On this road, there were fewer people. We found Bianchi’s Warbler. After lunch, we drove downhill to get below the fog. There are few safe places to stop along the busy road. The best place is at 1540 m, where a dirt road meets the main, paved road. If you’re driving uphill on the paved road, look for a road turning off to your right. The road is a few hundred meters uphill from the “32” sign. We spent an hour walking along the dirt road before rain forced us back to the Passat. Driving back up, we discovered another good spot within walking distance of the complex of hotels where we’re staying. This place is a ski area. Local workers live in some of the buildings. A walkway leads from a parking lot uphill past the slope and through a small forested area to a second parking lot above. Because few tourists go there, the ski area is quiet, and with its clearings and trails is highly birdable. In the forested part of the walkway near the upper parking lot, we saw Golden Parrotbill. We named the forested part the Magic Walkway.

Golden Parrotbill
Golden Parrotbill Suthora verreauxi, Emeishan, Sichuan. Elev. 1570 m. 11 June 2014. (Craig Brelsford)

Mon. 9 June 2014
Éméishān

Rain and fog all day. The team stayed in. No birding. In spite of our recent run of bad luck, we are still laughing, still having fun.

Tues. 10 June 2014
Éméishān

This morning, the sky was clearer and it was no longer raining. Jon and Xiǎo Ān took the cable car to the Golden Summit. They saw little, as the upper reaches of the mountain were foggy. Feeling weak, I slept in. Later, I felt better and walked alone to the Magic Walkway. I found at least 2 Chestnut-headed Tesia, Grey-hooded Fulvetta, Golden Parrotbill, and a first for me, White-bellied Redstart. Large-billed Leaf Warbler were singing everywhere. Here are two recordings made today.

Large-billed Leaf Warbler (01:27; 2.2 MB)

White-bellied Redstart (00:27; 1.2 MB)

White-bellied Redstart
White-bellied Redstart Luscinia phaenicuroides, Emeishan, Sichuan. Elev. 2390 m. 10 June 2014. (Craig Brelsford)

The temperature was around 10, very chilly. At the restaurant at our hotel, we ran into German birder Kai Pflug. Kai lives in Shanghai. I’d been communicating with Kai by e-mail for months but hadn’t met him until this chance encounter.

Wed. 11 June 2014
Along the S217 in Yunnan

We awoke at Éméishān to fog and drizzle. We went to the Magic Walkway. We found the White-bellied Redstart again and heard others singing. I recorded Martens’s Warbler. We received word from the Chevy dealership that the Captiva had been repaired. We drove down to the side road at 1540 m (the road we’d discovered on 8 June). There, visibility was excellent; there was no rain and no fog. We walked in and took the fork right. We found Rufous-capped Babbler. I made a good recording of the well-known call from close range (00:59; 1.7 MB):

Heading back toward the fork, we found a flock of Golden Parrotbill. Also in the area were Green-backed Tit, Red-billed Blue Magpie, and 3 Grey Treepie. A White-throated Needletail zipped by. We drove on the newly opened G93 to Yǎ’ān. Along the nearly empty freeway, I heard Indian Cuckoo. At the Chevy dealership, we finished up the paperwork on the Captiva, transferred our stuff from the Passat to the Captiva, and, after dinner in a restaurant down the road from the dealership, headed south. Our destination: Yunnan and Dulong Gorge. I drove for hours, mostly on the G5, the major freeway. A steady stream of Red Bull kept me awake. In Yunnan, we left the G5 and took the S217 to the G56. Somewhere along the S217, I became sleepy and pulled over. I slept for 90 minutes then continued driving.

Thurs. 12 June 2014
Gòngshān (贡山), Yunnan

Stopped at Gòngshān (贡山)! Dúlóng will have to wait till tomorrow. Despite not reaching Dulong Gorge, and despite 36 hours of nearly non-stop driving from Éméishān to Gòngshān, our mood is upbeat. One reason: the amazing 300 km odyssey through the Salween Gorge. In Chinese, the Salween is called the Angry (怒 [nù]) River because of its churning rapids, so readily seen in the gorge. But to the thousands of people living along its banks, the Salween is like a member of the family, a constant, nurturing presence. The S228 is the other lifeline of the communities here, the only route in and out and in many places the only flat surface. Sunning dogs, running children, toothless old men bearing loads, wrinkled old women chatting—all on the road. Our progress was often slowed to a snail’s pace. And the scenery! The higher one drives up the gorge, the greener the mountainsides.

Fire-tailed Myzornis
Fire-tailed Myzornis Myzornis pyrrhoura, Salween-Irrawaddy Divide (above Dulong Gorge), Yunnan, China. Elev. 3375 m. 13 June 2014. (Craig Brelsford)

Fri. 13 June 2014
Kǒngdāng (孔当)

We’re in Kǒngdāng, the major town here along the Dúlóng River (Dúlóng Jiāng [独龙江]). Kǒngdāng has no gas station—in fact, there isn’t one in this entire valley, a remote place bordering Burma and Tibet. Gòngshān, 300 km from the G56, is one step removed from normal China; this valley is yet another step beyond. The natives of this valley, the Dúlóng people, number about 7,000 and until recently were totally cut off from the outside world. There are still a few old women with tattooed faces, a tradition that arose from the fear that the neighboring Tibetans would invade and steal the women. I’ve been to 31 of China’s provincial-level entities and seen few places as strange and breathtaking as Dúlóng. We are staying at Dàpíng Bīnguǎn (大平宾馆; reach Mr. Huáng at +86 139-8869-6984; reach his wife at +86 157-0885-2602). Today, on the ridge dividing the Irrawaddy and Salween basins, at an elevation of 3270 m, our team found a pair of Fire-tailed Myzornis. A Golden Bush Robin caught our attention. We also found perhaps two species of what is still officially known as Plain-backed Thrush (Zoothera mollissima). The man who is studying the Plain-backed Thrush complex, none other than Per Alström, met us just below the Salween-Irrawaddy Divide. Per was with his partners, Zhào Chāo (赵超) and Zhào Jiàn (赵健). We talked for about an hour. Using the hood of Per’s jeep as a desk, Per and I opened our MacBooks, and Per copied over to me a recording he’d made of a bird in the Plain-backed Thrush complex. Per’s generosity inspired me. Per said, “I only have photos of thrushes I’ve captured. It would be good to have photos of the thrushes in their natural environment.” “I’ll do everything I can to get those photos,” I said.

Brelsford (L), Gallagher, Alström
THE MEETING IN THE WILDERNESS: Craig Brelsford (L), Jon Gallagher, and Per Alström (R), above the Dulong Gorge in remote northwestern Yunnan, 13 June 2014. Photo by Huáng Xiǎo Ān (黄小安).

Sat. 14 June 2014
Kǒngdāng

Rain and fog this morning grounded us until 09:00. The three of us worked our way from Kǒngdāng (elev.: 1500 m) to a bridge on the Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road (2200 m). Here, the skies brightened, and old-growth, moss-covered trees on either side of the road seemed promising habitat for our target bird, Beautiful Nuthatch. We found none today, but those old trees proved productive, yielding Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker eating mistletoe berries, two pairs of Black-eared Shrike-babbler, Streak-throated Barwing, a male Scarlet Finch, and dazzling Yellow-cheeked Tit. Outside Qinghai and Xinjiang, I have not seen such vast expanses of unspoiled nature in China as I’ve seen in Dulong Gorge.

Scarlet Finch
Scarlet Finch Carpodacus sipahi, Dulong Gorge, Yunnan. Elev. 2430 m. 16 June 2014. Even far away, as here, the blood-red male commands attention. In China, Scarlet Finch is resident in southern and southeastern Tibet and western Yunnan. Nikon D3S, 600 mm, F/8, 1/250, ISO 2500. (Craig Brelsford)

Sun. 15 June 2014
Kǒngdāng

With good photography out of the question because of the rain, I turned Dulong Gorge into my classroom, with Jon Gallagher and Huáng Xiǎo Ān as my classmates. We spent the day building up our Dúlóng list and gaining familiarity with the more common birds we were finding. Through the fog we found several Yunnan specialties, among them Rusty-fronted Barwing. We also continued our search for Beautiful Nuthatch and Cachar Wedge-billed Babbler.

Davison's Leaf Warbler
Davison’s Leaf Warbler, Dulong Gorge, Yunnan, 15 June 2014. The four images displayed together here were taken within the space of two seconds. Note the double wing flick in panel bottom left. (Craig Brelsford)

On Friday, during our Meeting in the Wilderness, Per Alström told me to be on the lookout for Davison’s Leaf Warbler. In this far-flung part of Yunnan, Davison’s is the leaf warbler with the “double wing flick”; in other parts of China, the closely related Kloss’s Leaf Warbler is the double wing flicker. Today, during a break in the rain, we found Davison’s Leaf Warbler.

Mon. 16 June 2014
Kǒngdāng

Day 4 of our Dúlóng Expedition found my team in the high country again, up to the Dúlóng end of the new tunnel on the Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road (2850 m). Amid the constant drizzle, we persevered. Among our hard-won gems were Rusty-flanked Treecreeper and Manipur Fulvetta. When the rain let up briefly at 18:00, the birds came out in great numbers, as if it were dawn. The star of that bird wave was a male Scarlet Finch sitting proudly atop the highest tree.

Rusty-flanked Treecreeper
Rusty-flanked Treecreeper Certhia nipalensis, Dulong Gorge, Yunnan. Elev. 2730 m. 16 June 2014. This species occurs in the central and eastern Himalayas, its range in China limited to southeastern Tibet and northwestern Yunnan (west of Salween River). (Craig Brelsford)

Tues. 17 June 2014
Kǒngdāng

Jon, Xiǎo Ān, and I continued our search for birds expected in this region but not confirmed. Glorious, rain-free weather did not make birding any easier, but it did allow us to enjoy expansive views across the valley.

Yellow-throated Fulvetta
Yellow-throated Fulvetta Alcippe cinerea, Dulong Gorge. Elev. 1570 m. 18 June 2014. (Craig Brelsford)

Wed. 18 June 2014
Kǒngdāng

We set our sights on finding Yellow-throated Fulvetta. It is a noisy, active bird, usually in small parties. Its limited range in China includes southeast Tibet and northwest Yunnan. At first glance, one may mistake it for a leaf warbler or bush warbler, but this species and its congeners in Alcippe belong firmly to the ground babblers (Pellorneidae). We quickly found one at the bridge near Pǔ Wàng Kǎ (普旺卡), south of Kǒngdāng. The rain came once again. Amid the steady shower, we got close to a Slaty-bellied Tesia (00:04; 852 KB).

Thurs. 19 June 2014
Kǒngdāng

Our final full day in Dulong Gorge saw less rain. We found another Slaty-bellied Tesia, and near Kǒngdāng we found a scraggly Brown Shrike. We parked near the river and studied the stream closely. Few birds rely on the turbulent, nutrient-poor water of the Dúlóng River. We saw a single Common Kingfisher.

Himalayan Thrush
Himalayan Thrush Zoothera salimalii, Irrawaddy-Salween Divide, above Dulong Gorge, Yunnan, China, 20 June 2014. Elev. 3375 m. (Craig Brelsford)

Fri. 20 June 2014
Gòngshān

Today, a week after meeting Per Alström and his partners, my team was back at the Salween-Irrawaddy Divide. I was mindful of Per’s desire to get “natural” images of a “Plain-backed Thrush.” During a rare break in the rain, I stepped out and played the song Per had transferred to me on 13 June. After a few minutes, a “Plain-backed Thrush” called back. The thrush perched just 15 m from me, singing powerfully. What a rush! I took dozens of photos and made three good recordings. Afterward, I texted Per: “We got your thrush! This morning, my team was on the Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road, on the Dúlóng side of the Hēipǔ (黑普) Tunnel (the high tunnel), just up the road from where our teams ran into each other. Rain was falling steadily, & there was much fog. During a break in the rain, I stepped out of the car and walked downhill, playing the recording that you shared with me. Within seconds, a hearty response. Then the rain started falling very hard, and the fog grew thick, and I had to run back to the Captiva. Half an hour later, there was another break in the weather, & I tried again. After a few minutes, my jaw dropped: a ‘Plain-backed Thrush’! The bird was singing powerfully in response to the recording. For 15 minutes, the thrush did circles around me, circles that as the bird grew used to me were getting tighter and tighter. The thrush perched just 15 m from me. I whipped out my pocket recorder and made 3 good recordings. Finally, a Nissan Paladin arrived, carrying a team of Beijing journalists who’d invited us to dinner last night down at Kǒngdāng! I had no choice but to greet them. By the time the journalists moved on, the thrush had moved off, and the rain had started again. Jon, Xiǎo Ān, and I lingered for an hour on the Dúlóng side of the Divide, but the rain never stopped. We drove through the tunnel to the Salween side and spent another hour there. The rain let up some, and I went out and played your Dúlóng recording. I got no response. When you generously lent me your recording, Per, you said that you’d like to see some photos of ‘Plain-backed Thrushes’ in their natural state, as opposed to captured birds photographed in the hand. Well, here they are. With these photos and the recordings I made, we should have little trouble determining to which of the new ‘Plain-backed Thrush’ taxa the individual I met belongs.” Later, Per wrote back, having seen my photos and listened to my recordings. He said he had little trouble determining to which of the new “Plain-backed Thrush” taxa the individual I met belongs. However, as Per’s work on the complex hasn’t been published yet, Per has asked me to temporarily refer to my bird by the currently recognized binomial, Zoothera mollissima. What a pleasure it was to find that “Plain-backed Thrush,” and at such a remote, thrilling location! What a pleasure it has been working with Per. As we drove through the mountains, we saw local people picking zhúyè cài (竹叶菜). We arrived in Gòngshān just before dark.

Himalayan Thrush
Himalayan Thrush, above Dulong Gorge, 20 June 2014. Note the somewhat rufous-toned upper surface, dark lower lores and subocular/moustachial area, lack of distinct dark patch on rear ear-coverts, entirely dark lower mandible, and pale pinkish legs. (Craig Brelsford)

UPDATE, 26 JAN 2016: The bird I found on 20 June 2014 is Himalayan Thrush Zoothera salimalii. Earlier this month, Per and his team published an article in which they make known that what was once thought to be one species (Plain-backed Thrush Z. mollissima) is actually three species, and perhaps four. The three species identified by Per and his team are Himalayan Thrush Z. salimalii, which is completely new to science; Sichuan Thrush Z. griseiceps, formerly Z. m. griseiceps, now given species status; and Alpine Thrush Z. mollissima (in the wake of the new discoveries, “Alpine Thrush” replaces the former name “Plain-backed Thrush”). A fourth putative taxon, “Yunnan Thrush,” requires further study. Here are the three recordings that I achieved of Himalayan Thrush on 20 June 2014:

(00:25; 1.2 MB)

(01:25; 2.2 MB)

(00:45; 1.5 MB)

Sat. 21 June 2014
Dàlǐ (大理)

We drove all day on the S228 through the Salween Gorge. Arrived after nightfall in Dàlǐ (大理).

Sun. 22 June 2014
Chéngdū

We drove from Dàlǐ to Chéngdū. Along the S217 in Yunnan, we did some roadside birding in a semi-arid region south of Shuǐrén (水仁). There, I saw my first-ever Crested Bunting. We drove through another big rainstorm and hobbled into Chéngdū well after dark. It was another exhausting drive, but Dulong Gorge was worth our sacrifices. I’d lived nearly seven years in China before seeing such expansive, little-touched forest. I’m calling Dulong Gorge “The Last Green Valley in China”—last in space (the “last” valley in northwestern Yunnan before Burma) and last in time (one by one, the other formerly rich valleys in China have succumbed to the harsh hand of man; Dulong Gorge remains rich, pure, pristine). I know that “The Last Green Valley in China” is an exaggeration; there are other well-preserved valleys in China. The point of my poetic license is to underline the environmental disaster unfolding in China and to highlight the value of Dúlóng.

Mon. 23 June 2014
Shanghai

We split up, Xiǎo Ān returning to Beijing, Jon to Maryland, and I to Shanghai.

L-R: Gallagher, Huáng (黄), Brelsford
L-R: Jon Gallagher, Huáng Xiǎo Ān (黄小安), & Craig Brelsford on Dulong River, elev. 1420 m. 19 June 2014. (Craig Brelsford)

BIRDS NOTED IN SICHUAN AND YUNNAN, JUNE 2014

For taxonomy and English names, my first reference is the IOC World Bird List. I noted 193 species, representing 12 orders and 45 families.

Galliformes: Phasianidae

Temminck’s Tragopan
红腹角雉 (hóngfù jiǎozhì)
Tragopan temminckii

3 (1 seen, 2 heard) on Old Erlang Road (1750 m) on 2014-06-02

Lady Amherst’s Pheasant
白腹锦鸡 (báifù jǐnjī)
Chrysolophus amherstiae

3-4 each day on Old Erlang Road (2300-2500 m) on 2014-06-02 & 2014-06-03
1 male at Liào Kāng Lín’s place (2590 m) on 2014-06-04
1 heard at Lóngcānggōu (1200 m) on 2014-06-06
1 heard at Éméishān (1830 m) on 2014-06-08

Pelecaniformes: Ardeidae

Eastern Cattle Egret
牛背鹭 (niúbèi lù)
Bubulcus coromandus

Few seen en route

Little Egret
白鹭 (báilù)
Egretta garzetta

Several along G5 near Xīchāng (西昌), Sichuan on 2014-06-22

Accipitriformes: Accipitridae

Black-winged Kite
黑翅鸢 (hēichì yuān)
Elanus caeruleus

1 along G5 near Xīchāng (西昌), Sichuan on 2014-06-22

Mountain Hawk-Eagle
鹰雕 (yīngdiāo)
Nisaetus nipalensis

1 on Dúlóng side of Salween-Irrawaddy Divide (3260 m) on 2014-06-13

Golden Eagle
金鵰 (jīn diāo)
Aquila chrysaetos

1 on S318 between Yǎ’ān (雅安) & Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-01

Chinese Sparrowhawk
赤腹鹰 (chìfù yīng)
Accipiter soloensis

1 on Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-01

Eurasian Sparrowhawk
雀鹰 (quèyīng)
Accipiter nisus

5 in Dulong Gorge on 2014-06-18

Upland Buzzard
大鵟 (dà kuáng)
Buteo hemilasius

1 on Old Erlang Road (2600 m) on 2014-06-03

Columbiformes: Columbidae

Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove)
原鸽 (yuángē)
Columba livia

Common around towns, even in Dulong Gorge

Speckled Wood Pigeon
点斑林鸽 (diǎnbān língē)
Columba hodgsonii

6 at Éméishān (2750 m) on 2014-06-10
5 in Dulong Gorge (1820 m) on 2014-06-16
1 in Dulong Gorge (1740 m) on 2014-06-17

Oriental Turtle Dove
山斑鸠 (shān bānjiū)
Streptopelia orientalis

2 at Kāngdìng (康定), Sichuan on 2014-06-04

Red Turtle Dove
火斑鸠 (huǒ bānjiū)
Streptopelia tranquebarica

2 on Old Erlang Road (2980 m) on 2014-06-02
Along S228 in lower Salween Gorge on 2014-06-12

Pin-tailed Green Pigeon
针尾绿鸠 (zhēnwěi lǜjiū)
Treron apicauda

1 in Dulong Gorge (1820 m) on 2014-06-16

Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon
楔尾绿鸠 (xiēwěi lǜjiū)
Treron sphenurus

3 in Dulong Gorge (1620 m) on 2014-06-19

Cuculiformes: Cuculidae

Asian Koel
噪鹃 (zàojuān)
Eudynamys scolopaceus

1 heard at Lóngcānggōu (1500 m) on 2014-06-05
1 heard in Dulong Gorge (2430 m) on 2014-06-17
1 heard in Dulong Gorge (1620 m) on 2014-06-19

Large Hawk-Cuckoo
鹰鹃 (yīngjuān)
Hierococcyx sparverioides

Frequently recorded on Old Erlang Road, at Éméishān, & in Dulong Gorge

Lesser Cuckoo
小杜鹃 (xiǎo dùjuān)
Cuculus poliocephalus

Frequently recorded on Old Erlang Road, at Éméishān, & in Dulong Gorge

Indian Cuckoo
四声杜鹃 (sìshēng dùjuān)
Cuculus micropterus

1 beside G93 60 km N of Yǎ’ān (雅安), Sichuan (470 m) on 2014-06-11

Himalayan Cuckoo
中杜鹃 (zhōng dùjuān)
Cuculus saturatus

Recorded on Old Erlang Road 2014-06-01 & 2014-06-03
3 at Lóngcānggōu (1500 m) on 2014-06-05

Common Cuckoo
大杜鹃 (dà dùjuān)
Cuculus canorus

Frequently recorded on Old Erlang Road, at Éméishān, & in Dulong Gorge

Strigiformes: Strigidae

Himalayan Owl
灰林鸮 (huī línxiāo)
Strix nivicolum

1 heard at Éméishān on 2014-06-08
1 on Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road (1700 m) on 2014-06-13

Caprimulgiformes: Caprimulgidae

nightjar sp.
?夜鹰 (? yèyīng)
Caprimulgus sp.

1 in Dulong Gorge (1600 m) on 2014-06-17

Apodiformes: Apodidae

Himalayan Swiftlet
短嘴金丝燕 (duǎnzuǐ jīnsīyàn)
Aerodramus brevirostris

Small numbers regularly noted in Dulong Gorge from 2014-06-15 to 2014-06-20

White-throated Needletail
白喉针尾雨燕 (báihóu zhēnwěiyǔyàn)
Hirundapus caudacutus

1 at Éméishān (1540 m) on 2014-06-11

Pacific Swift
白腰雨燕 (báiyāoyǔyàn)
Apus pacificus

Noted at Éméishān (2450 m) on 2014-06-08

House Swift
小白腰雨燕 (xiǎo báiyāoyǔyàn)
Apus nipalensis

Frequently seen in lower Salween Gorge on 2014-06-12

Coraciiformes: Alcedinidae

Black-capped Kingfisher
蓝翡翠 (lán fěicuì)
Halcyon pileata

1 flying over G5 near Pānzhīhūa (攀枝花), Sichuan on 2014-06-22

Common Kingfisher
普通翠鸟 (pǔtōng cuìniǎo)
Alcedo atthis

1 along Dúlóng River (1450 m) on 2014-06-19

Bucerotiformes: Upupidae

Eurasian Hoopoe
戴胜 (dàishèng)
Upupa epops

1 on hotel roof at Dàlǐ (大理), Yunnan on 2014-06-22

Piciformes: Megalaimidae

Great Barbet
大拟啄木鸟 (dà nǐzhuómùniǎo)
Megalaima virens

1-3 each day in Dulong Gorge (2200-2700 m) from 2014-06-14 to 2014-06-19

Piciformes: Picidae

Rufous-bellied Woodpecker
棕腹啄木鸟 (zōngfù zhuómùniǎo)
Dendrocopos hyperythrus

1 in Dulong Gorge (3100 m) on 2014-06-20

Darjeeling Woodpecker
黄颈啄木鸟 (huángjǐng zhuómùniǎo)
Dendrocopos darjellensis

1 in Dulong Gorge (2400 m) on 2014-06-16
1 in Dulong Gorge (2410 m) on 2014-06-17

Bay Woodpecker
黄嘴栗啄木鸟 (huángzuǐ lìzhuómùniǎo)
Blythipicus pyrrhotis

1 heard in Dulong Gorge (2020 m) on 2014-06-15

Passeriformes: Campephagidae

Swinhoe’s Minivet
小灰山椒鸟 (xiǎo huīshānjiāoniǎo)
Pericrocotus cantonensis

2 at Éméishān (1300 m) on 2014-06-08

Long-tailed Minivet
长尾山椒鸟 (chángwěi shānjiāoniǎo)
Pericrocotus ethologus

Recorded on Old Erlang Road, at Éméishān, & in Dulong Gorge

Passeriformes: Laniidae

Brown Shrike
红尾伯劳 (hóngwěi bóláo)
Lanius cristatus

1 in Dulong Gorge (1600 m) on 2014-06-19

Grey-backed Shrike
灰背伯劳 (huībèi bóláo)
Lanius tephronotus

Recorded on Old Erlang Road, at Éméishān, & in Dulong Gorge as well as en route

Passeriformes: Vireonidae

Blyth’s Shrike-babbler
红翅䴗鹛 (hóngchì júméi)
Pteruthius aeralatus

2 in Dulong Gorge (2260 m) on 2014-06-15

Black-eared Shrike-babbler
栗喉䴗鹛 (lìhóu júméi)
Pteruthius melanotis

2 in Dulong Gorge (2280 m) on 2014-06-14
2 in Dulong Gorge (1460 m) on 2014-06-15
1 in Dulong Gorge (2390 m) on 2014-06-16

Passeriformes: Dicruridae

Black Drongo
黑卷尾 (hēi juǎnwěi)
Dicrurus macrocercus

Frequently noted, usually en route between sites

Ashy Drongo
灰卷尾 (huī juǎnwěi)
Dicrurus leucophaeus

Noted in Dulong Gorge (2100 m) on 2014-06-14

Passeriformes: Rhipiduridae

White-throated Fantail
白喉扇尾鹟 (báihóu shànwěiwēng)
Rhipidura albicollis

1 each day in Dulong Gorge (2390 m) on 2014-06-15 & 2014-06-16

Passeriformes: Corvidae

Eurasian Jay
松鸦 (sōngyā)
Garrulus glandarius

1 on Old Erlang Road (2300 m) on 2014-06-03

Red-billed Blue Magpie
红嘴蓝鹊 (hóngzuǐ lánquè)
Urocissa erythroryncha

1 at Éméishān (1540 m) on 2014-06-11

Grey Treepie
灰树鹊 (huī shùquè)
Dendrocitta formosae

3 at Éméishān (1540 m) on 2014-06-11

Spotted Nutcracker
星鸦 (xīng yā)
Nucifraga caryocatactes

1 on Old Erlang Road (2920 m) on 2014-06-02

Large-billed Crow
大嘴乌鸦 (dàzuǐ wūyā)
Corvus macrorhynchos

Frequently recorded on Old Erlang Road, at Éméishān, & in Dulong Gorge

Passeriformes: Stenostiridae

Yellow-bellied Fantail
黄腹扇尾鹟 (huángfù shànwěiwēng)
Chelidorhynx hypoxantha

1 in Dulong Gorge (2320 m) on 2014-06-14
1 in Dulong Gorge (2630 m) on 2014-06-16

Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher
方尾鹟 (fāngwěi wēng)
Culicicapa ceylonensis

Several at Lóngcānggōu (1200 m) on 2014-06-06
1 on Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road (2340 m) on 2014-06-20

Passeriformes: Paridae

Rufous-vented Tit
黑冠山雀 (hēiguān shānquè)
Periparus rubidiventris

1 at Éméishān (2850 m) on 2014-06-10
4 in Dulong Gorge (2400 m) on 2014-06-16

Coal Tit
煤山雀 (méi shānquè)
Periparus ater

1 on Old Erlang Road (2700 m) on 2014-06-03

Yellow-bellied Tit
黄腹山雀 (huángfù shānquè)
Pardaliparus venustulus

4 on Old Erlang Road (2770 m) on 2014-06-02
3 on Old Erlang Road (2500 m) on 2014-06-03
2 at Lóngcānggōu (1400 m) on 2014-06-06

Grey-crested Tit
褐冠山雀 (hèguān shānquè)
Lophophanes dichrous

1 at Éméishān (2850 m) on 2014-06-10

Black-bibbed Tit
黑喉山雀 (hēihóu shānquè)
Poecile hypermelaenus

2 in Dulong Gorge (2320 m) on 2014-06-14

Yellow-cheeked Tit
黄颊山雀 (huángjiá shānquè)
Machlolophus spilonotus

3-5 each day in Dulong Gorge (1800-2500 m) from 2014-06-14 to 2014-06-18

Japanese Tit
远东山雀 (yuǎndōng shānquè)
Parus minor

1 on Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-03

Green-backed Tit
绿背山雀 (lǜbèi shānquè)
Parus monticolus

1 at Éméishān (1540 m) on 2014-06-11
1 at Lóngcānggōu (1400 m) on 2014-06-06
2 in Dulong Gorge (2430 m) on 2014-06-16

Passeriformes: Pycnonotidae

Collared Finchbill
领雀嘴鹎 (lǐng quèzuǐbēi)
Spizixos semitorques

2 on S318 between Yǎ’ān (雅安) & Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-01
Several on Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-01
Several along G5 near Yǎ’ān (雅安), Sichuan on 2014-06-05

Striated Bulbul
纵纹绿鹎 (zòngwén lǜbēi)
Pycnonotus striatus

2 in Dulong Gorge (2220 m) on 2014-06-14
2 in Dulong Gorge (1450 m) on 2014-06-19

Black-crested Bulbul
黑冠黄鹎 (hēiguān huángbēi)
Pycnonotus flaviventris

1 along S228 in lower Salween Gorge on 2014-06-12

Red-whiskered Bulbul
红耳鹎 (hóng’ěr bēi)
Pycnonotus jocosus

Several along S228 in lower Salween Gorge on 2014-06-12
Several in Dulong Gorge (1820 m) on 2014-06-16
Several along S228 near Mekong River (1300 m) on 2014-06-21

Brown-breasted Bulbul
黄臀鹎 (huángtún bēi)
Pycnonotus xanthorrhous

Frequently recorded on Old Erlang Road, at Éméishān, & in Dulong Gorge

Red-vented Bulbul
黑喉红臀鹎 (hēihóu hóngtúnbēi)
Pycnonotus cafer

5 along S228 near Mekong River (1300 m) on 2014-06-21

Grey-eyed Bulbul
灰眼短脚鹎 (huīyǎn duǎnjiǎobēi)
Iole propinqua

1 along S228 in lower Salween Gorge on 2014-06-21

Black Bulbul
黑短脚鹎 (hēi duǎnjiǎobēi)
Hypsipetes leucocephalus

2 (white-headed form) each day at Éméishān (1540 m) on 2014-06-08 & 2014-06-11
15-30 each day in Dulong Gorge (1400-2900 m) from 2014-06-14 to 2014-06-20

Passeriformes: Hirundinidae

Sand Martin
崖沙燕 (yáshāyàn)
Riparia riparia

Several near Lóngcānggōu on 2014-06-05

Barn Swallow
家燕 (jiā yàn)
Hirundo rustica

Frequently noted

Asian House Martin
烟腹毛脚燕 (yānfù máojiǎoyàn)
Delichon dasypus

Frequently noted, even at high elevations, e.g., on Dúlóng side of Salween-Irrawaddy Divide (3260 m) on 2014-06-13

Red-rumped Swallow
金腰燕 (jīnyāo yàn)
Cecropis daurica

Frequently noted

Passeriformes: Pnoepygidae

Pygmy Cupwing
小鳞胸鹪鹛 (xiǎo línxiōngjiāoméi)
Pnoepyga pusilla

1 each day on Old Erlang Road (2450 m) on 2014-06-01 & 2014-06-02
2 in Dulong Gorge (2130 m) on 2014-06-14
1 in Dulong Gorge (1440 m) on 2014-06-15

Passeriformes: Cettiidae

Yellow-bellied Warbler
黄腹鹟莺 (huángfù wēngyīng)
Abroscopus superciliaris

1 on Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road (2800 m) on 2014-06-13

Rufous-faced Warbler
棕脸鹟莺 (zōngliǎn wēngyīng)
Abroscopus albogularis

1 in Dulong Gorge (2280 m) on 2014-06-14

Black-faced Warbler
黑脸鹟莺 (hēiliǎn wēngyīng)
Abroscopus schisticeps

1 in Dulong Gorge (2390 m) on 2014-06-15
1 in Dulong Gorge (2400 m) on 2014-06-16
2 in Dulong Gorge (2270 m) on 2014-06-17
1 in Dulong Gorge (2310 m) on 2014-06-17
2 in Dulong Gorge (2410 m) on 2014-06-17

Brown-flanked Bush Warbler
强脚树莺 (qiángjiǎo shùyīng)
Horornis fortipes

1 on Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-01
1 at Éméishān (2750 m) on 2014-06-10
1 in Dulong Gorge (1740 m) on 2014-06-17
1 in Dulong Gorge (1620 m) on 2014-06-19

Aberrant Bush Warbler
异色树莺 (yìsè shùyīng)
Horornis flavolivaceus

Noted Old Erlang Road (2500 m) on 2014-06-03
1 at Éméishān (2450 m) on 2014-06-08
1 at Éméishān (1330 m) on 2014-06-08
1 at Éméishān (2850 m) on 2014-06-10

Slaty-bellied Tesia
金冠地莺 (jīnguān dìyīng)
Tesia olivea

1 in Dulong Gorge (1450 m) on 2014-06-18
2 in Dulong Gorge (1400 m) on 2014-06-19

Chestnut-headed Tesia
栗头地莺 (lìtóu dìyīng)
Cettia castaneocoronata

1 on Old Erlang Road (2300 m) on 2014-06-01
2 at Éméishān (2390 m) on 2014-06-10

Passeriformes: Aegithalidae

Black-browed Bushtit
黑眉长尾山雀 (hēiméi chángwěishānquè)
Aegithalos bonvaloti

3 on Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-05
3 in Dulong Gorge (2480 m) on 2014-06-20
3 in Dulong Gorge (2190 m) on 2014-06-20

Sooty Bushtit
银脸长尾山雀 (yínliǎn chángwěishānquè)
Aegithalos fuliginosus

1 on Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-02

Passeriformes: Phylloscopidae

Alpine Leaf Warbler
华西柳莺 (huáxī liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus occisinensis

2 on Old Erlang Road (2480 m) on 2014-06-03
1 at Liào Kāng Lín’s place (2590 m) on 2014-06-04

Yellow-streaked Warbler
棕眉柳莺 (zōngméi liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus armandii

Noted on Old Erlang Road (2500 m) on 2014-06-02

Buff-barred Warbler
橙斑翅柳莺 (chéngbānchì liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus pulcher

1 at Éméishān (2450 m) on 2014-06-08

Ashy-throated Warbler
灰喉柳莺 (huīhóu liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus maculipennis

1 in Dulong Gorge (2390 m) on 2014-06-15
1 in Dulong Gorge (2650 m) on 2014-06-16

Lemon-rumped Warbler
淡黄腰柳莺 (dàn huángyāoliǔyīng)
Phylloscopus chloronotus

3 in Dulong Gorge (2700 m) on 2014-06-17

Greenish Warbler
暗绿柳莺 (àn lǜliǔyīng)
Phylloscopus trochiloides

Several at Éméishān (2450 m) on 2014-06-08

Large-billed Leaf Warbler
乌嘴柳莺 (wūzuǐ liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus magnirostris

3-7 each day at Éméishān (2390 m) on 2014-06-08, 2014-06-10, & 2014-06-11
2 (pair) in Dulong Gorge (2760 m) on 2014-06-17

Blyth’s Leaf Warbler
西南冠纹柳莺 (xīnán guānwénliǔyīng)
Phylloscopus reguloides

6 in Dulong Gorge (2390 m) on 2014-06-16
3 in Dulong Gorge (2270 m) on 2014-06-17
3 in Dulong Gorge (2310 m) on 2014-06-17

Claudia’s Leaf Warbler
冠纹柳莺 (guānwénliǔyīng)
Phylloscopus claudiae

5-15 each day on Old Erlang Road from 2014-06-01 to 2014-06-03 & on 2014-06-05
1-3 each day at Éméishān on 2014-06-08, 2014-06-10, & 2014-06-11
Seen in Dulong Gorge from 2014-06-14 to 2014-06-20

Davison’s Leaf Warbler
云南白斑尾柳莺 (yúnnán báibānwěiliǔyīng)
Phylloscopus davisoni

4 in Dulong Gorge (1870 m) on 2014-06-14

Kloss’s Leaf Warbler
白斑尾柳莺 (báibānwěiliǔyīng)
Phylloscopus ogilviegranti

1 at Éméishān (2450 m) on 2014-06-08
1 at Éméishān (2850 m) on 2014-06-10

Sichuan Leaf Warbler
四川柳莺 (sìchuān liǔyīng)
Phylloscopus forresti

7 on Old Erlang Road (2700 m) on 2014-06-01
3 at Éméishān (2450 m) on 2014-06-08
1 at Éméishān (2390 m) on 2014-06-10

Bianchi’s Warbler
比氏鹟莺 (bǐshì wēngyīng)
Seicercus valentini

3 at Éméishān (2450 m) on 2014-06-08
1 on Salween side of Salween-Irrawaddy Divide (3270 m) on 2014-06-13
1 on Dúlóng side of Salween-Irrawaddy Divide (3260 m) on 2014-06-13
1 on Salween side of Salween-Irrawaddy Divide (3260 m) on 2014-06-20

Martens’s Warbler
峨嵋鹟莺 (éméi wēngyīng)
Seicercus omeiensis

3 on Old Erlang Road (2450 m) on 2014-06-01
2 on Old Erlang Road (2450 m) on 2014-06-02

Alström’s Warbler
淡尾鹟莺 (dànwěi wēngyīng)
Seicercus soror

1 in Dulong Gorge (1450 m) on 2014-06-18

Chestnut-crowned Warbler
栗头鹟莺 (lìtóu wēngyīng)
Seicercus castaniceps

1 in Dulong Gorge (2280 m) on 2014-06-14
1 in Dulong Gorge (2260 m) on 2014-06-15
1 in Dulong Gorge (1820 m) on 2014-06-16
3 in Dulong Gorge (2700 m) on 2014-06-17
1 on Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road (2190 m) on 2014-06-20

White-spectacled Warbler
白眶鹟莺 (báikuàng wēngyīng)
Seicercus affinis

2 in Dulong Gorge (1440 m) on 2014-06-18
1 in Dulong Gorge (1400 m) on 2014-06-19

Passeriformes: Cisticolidae

Rufescent Prinia
暗冕鹪莺 (ànmiǎn jiāoyīng)
Prinia rufescens

1 along S228 in lower Salween Valley on 2014-06-21

Passeriformes: Timaliidae

Black-streaked Scimitar Babbler
斑胸钩嘴鹛 (bānxiōng gōuzuǐméi)
Pomatorhinus gravivox

4 on Old Erlang Road (2450 m) on 2014-06-03
2 at Liào Kāng Lín’s place (2590 m) on 2014-06-04

Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler
棕颈钩嘴鹛 (zōngjǐng gōuzuǐméi)
Pomatorhinus ruficollis

Several at Éméishān (1540 m) on 2014-06-08

Rufous-capped Babbler
(红头穗鹛 (hóngtóu suìméi)
Stachyridopsis ruficeps

4 at Éméishān (1540 m) on 2014-06-11

Passeriformes: Pellorneidae

Yellow-throated Fulvetta
黄喉雀鹛 (huánghóu quèméi)
Alcippe cinerea

1 in Dulong Gorge (1450 m) on 2014-06-18
7 in Dulong Gorge (1600 m) on 2014-06-18
3 in Dulong Gorge (1600 m) on 2014-06-19

Rufous-winged Fulvetta
栗头雀鹛 (lìtóu quèméi)
Alcippe castaneceps

4 in Dulong Gorge (2260 m) on 2014-06-15
2 in Dulong Gorge (2460 m) on 2014-06-15
2 in Dulong Gorge (1620 m) on 2014-06-19

Rusty-capped Fulvetta
褐胁雀鹛 (hèxié quèméi)
Alcippe dubia

2 in Dulong Gorge (2260 m) on 2014-06-15

Yunnan Fulvetta
灰头雀鹛 (huītóu quèméi)
Alcippe fratercula

3 in Dulong Gorge (2460 m) on 2014-06-15

Passeriformes: Leiothrichidae

Chinese Babax
矛纹草鹛 (máowén cǎoméi)
Babax lanceolatus

5 on Old Erlang Road (2500 m) on 2014-06-03
2 at Liào Kāng Lín’s place (2590 m) on 2014-06-04

Chinese Hwamei
画眉 (huàméi)
Garrulax canorus

2 at Éméishān (1540 m) on 2014-06-11

Grey Laughingthrush
褐胸噪鹛 (hèxiōng zàoméi)
Garrulax maesi

2 on Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-01

Barred Laughingthrush
斑背噪鹛 (bānbèi zàoméi)
Garrulax lunulatus

1 on Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-01
2 each day on Old Erlang Road (2600-2800 m) on 2014-06-02, 2014-06-03, & 2014-06-05

White-browed Laughingthrush
白颊噪鹛 (báijiá zàoméi)
Garrulax sannio

6 along road near airport in Chéngdū (成都), Sichuan on 2014-06-01
Around Yǎ’ān (雅安), Sichuan on 2014-06-06
5 along S228 near Mekong River (1300 m) on 2014-06-21

Scaly Laughingthrush
纯色噪鹛 (chúnsè zàoméi)
Trochalopteron subunicolor

1 below Salween-Irrawaddy Divide, Dúlóng side (3170 m) on 2014-06-13
1 in Dulong Gorge (1780 m) on 2014-06-14

Elliot’s Laughingthrush
橙翅噪鹛 (chéngchì zàoméi)
Trochalopteron elliotii

2 on Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-02
2 at Liào Kāng Lín’s place (2590 m) on 2014-06-04
2 at Éméishān (2850 m) on 2014-06-10

Black-faced Laughingthrush
黑顶噪鹛 (hēidǐng zàoméi)
Trochalopteron affine

1 on Old Erlang Road (2200 m) on 2014-06-01

Blue-winged Minla
蓝翅希鹛 (lánchì xīméi)
Minla cyanouroptera

3 at Éméishān (1540 m) on 2014-06-11

Red-tailed Minla
火尾希鹛 (huǒwěi xīméi)
Minla ignotincta

1 in Dulong Gorge (2310 m) on 2014-06-17

Emei Shan Liocichla
灰胸薮鹛 (huīxiōng sǒuméi)
Liocichla omeiensis

1 at Éméishān (1830 m) on 2014-06-08
1 at Éméishān (1540 m) on 2014-06-08

Rusty-fronted Barwing
锈额斑翅鹛 (xiù’é bānchìméi)
Actinodura egertoni

1 in Dulong Gorge (1460 m) on 2014-06-15

Streak-throated Barwing
纹胸斑翅鹛 (wénxiōng bānchìméi)
Actinodura waldeni

2 in Dulong Gorge (2280 m) on 2014-06-14
1 in Dulong Gorge (2430 m) on 2014-06-17

Red-billed Leiothrix
红嘴相思鸟 (hóngzuǐ xiāngsīniǎo)
Leiothrix lutea

Several at Lóngcānggōu (1200 m) on 2014-06-06
Several at Éméishān (2450 m) on 2014-06-08
Several at Éméishān (1540 m) on 2014-06-08

Beautiful Sibia
丽色奇鹛 (lìsè qíméi)
Heterophasia pulchella

8-20 each day in Dulong Gorge (1400-2800 m) from 2014-06-14 to 2014-06-20

Black-headed Sibia
黑顶奇鹛 (hēidǐng qíméi)
Heterophasia desgodinsi

1 in Dulong Gorge (2630 m) on 2014-06-16

Passeriformes: Sylviidae

Fire-tailed Myzornis
火尾绿鹛 (huǒwěi lǜméi)
Myzornis pyrrhoura

2 (pair) on Salween side of Salween-Irrawaddy Divide (3270 m) on 2014-06-13

Rufous-tailed Babbler
宝兴鹛雀 (bǎoxìng méiquè)
Moupinia poecilotis

4 along S228 in Salween Gorge (1770 m) on 2014-06-12

Chinese Fulvetta
高山雀鹛 (gāoshān quèméi)
Fulvetta striaticollis

1 on Old Erlang Road (2750 m) on 2014-06-02
3 at Éméishān (2350 m) on 2014-06-08

Grey-hooded Fulvetta
褐头雀鹛 (hètóu quèméi)
Fulvetta cinereiceps

3 on Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-02
3 at Éméishān (2850 m) on 2014-06-10

Manipur Fulvetta
印缅褐头雀鹛 (yìnmiǎn hètóuquèméi)
Fulvetta manipurensis

3 in Dulong Gorge (2400 m) on 2014-06-16

Ashy-throated Parrotbill
灰喉鸦雀 (huīhóu yāquè)
Sinosuthora alphonsiana

4 on Old Erlang Road (2300 m) on 2014-06-03

Brown-winged Parrotbill
褐翅鸦雀 (hèchì yāquè)
Sinosuthora brunnea

2 on Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road (2800 m) on 2014-06-13
1 on Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road (3100 m) on 2014-06-20
3 on Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road (3260 m) on 2014-06-20

Grey-hooded Parrotbill
暗色鸦雀 (ànsè yāquè)
Sinosuthora zappeyi

5 at Éméishān (2000 m) on 2014-06-08

Golden Parrotbill
金色鸦雀 (jīnsè yāquè)
Suthora verreauxi

3 at Éméishān (2390 m) on 2014-06-08
2 at Éméishān (2390 m) on 2014-06-10
6 at Éméishān (1540 m) on 2014-06-11

Grey-headed Parrotbill
灰头鸦雀 (huītóu yāquè)
Psittiparus gularis

1 along S228 near Mekong River (1300 m) on 2014-06-21

Passeriformes: Zosteropidae

Stripe-throated Yuhina
纹喉凤鹛 (wénhóu fèngméi)
Yuhina gularis

Recorded regularly in Dulong Gorge

White-collared Yuhina
白领凤鹛 (báilǐng fèngméi)
Yuhina diademata

Frequently recorded on Old Erlang Road, at Éméishān, & in Dulong Gorge

Rufous-vented Yuhina
棕肛凤鹛 (zōngāng fèngméi)
Yuhina occipitalis

1 in Dulong Gorge (2630 m) on 2014-06-16

Japanese White-eye
暗绿绣眼鸟 (ànlǜ xiùyǎnniǎo)
Zosterops japonicus

Several near Lóngcānggōu on 2014-06-05
Several along S228 in lower Salween Gorge on 2014-06-12
Dulong Gorge (1740 m) on 2014-06-17

Passeriformes: Troglodytidae

Eurasian Wren
鹪鹩 (jiāoliáo)
Troglodytes troglodytes

1 at Éméishān (1540 m) on 2014-06-11

Passeriformes: Sittidae

Chestnut-vented Nuthatch
栗臀䴓 (lìtún shī)
Sitta nagaensis

2 in Dulong Gorge (2210 m) on 2014-06-14
2 in Dulong Gorge (2220 m) on 2014-06-15

Passeriformes: Certhiidae

Rusty-flanked Treecreeper
锈红腹旋木雀 (xiùhóngfù xuánmùquè)
Certhia nipalensis

1 in Dulong Gorge (2640 m) on 2014-06-16

Passeriformes: Sturnidae

Crested Myna
八哥 (bāgē)
Acridotheres cristatellus

Seen in Yǎ’ān (雅安), Sichuan on 2014-06-06

Red-billed Starling
丝光椋鸟 (sīguāng liángniǎo)
Spodiopsar sericeus

1 along G5 near Yǎ’ān (雅安), Sichuan on 2014-06-05
2 on S217 S of Shuǐrén (水仁), Yunnan (1240 m) on 2014-06-22

Passeriformes: Turdidae

Himalayan Thrush
光背地鸫 (guāngbèi dìdōng)
Zoothera salimalii

1 on Dúlóng side of Salween-Irrawaddy Divide (3380 m) on 2014-06-20

Long-tailed Thrush
长尾地鸫 (chángwěi dìdōng)
Zoothera dixoni

1 on Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-02

Chinese Blackbird
乌鸫 (wū dōng)
Turdus mandarinus

1 seen en route

Chestnut Thrush
灰头鸫 (huītóu dōng)
Turdus rubrocanus

3-5 each day on Old Erlang Road (2710 m) from 2014-06-01 to 2014-06-03

Passeriformes: Muscicapidae

Oriental Magpie-Robin
鹊鸲 (quèqú)
Copsychus saularis

1 along S228 in lower Salween Gorge on 2014-06-12
1 along S228 in lower Salween Gorge on 2014-06-21

Dark-sided Flycatcher
乌鹟 (wū wēng)
Muscicapa sibirica

1 on Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road (2800 m) on 2014-06-13

Ferruginous Flycatcher
棕尾褐鹟 (zōngwěi hèwēng)
Muscicapa ferruginea

1 in Dulong Gorge (2290 m) on 2014-06-14

Large Niltava
大仙鹟 (dàxiānwēng)
Niltava grandis

1 male in Dulong Gorge (1870 m) on 2014-06-14
1 male in Dulong Gorge (1450 m) on 2014-06-18
1 male in Dulong Gorge (1600 m) on 2014-06-19
1 male in Dulong Gorge (1620 m) on 2014-06-19

Small Niltava
小仙鹟 (xiǎo xiānwēng)
Niltava macgrigoriae

1 female in Dulong Gorge (2020 m) on 2014-06-15
1 male in Dulong Gorge (1820 m) on 2014-06-16
1 male in Dulong Gorge (1740 m) on 2014-06-17

Verditer Flycatcher
铜蓝鹟 (tónglán wēng)
Eumyias thalassinus

1 in Dulong Gorge (2320 m) on 2014-06-16
1 on Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road, Salween side (2510 m) on 2014-06-10

White-bellied Redstart
白腹短翅鸲 (báifù duǎnchìqú)
Luscinia phaenicuroides

1-3 each day at Éméishān (2390 m) on 2014-06-10 & 2014-06-11

Firethroat
金胸歌鸲 (jīnxiōng gēqú)
Calliope pectardens

3 (pair plus 1 male singing unseen across the road) each day on Old Erlang Road (2730 m) from 2014-06-02 to 2014-06-05
2 (pair) on Old Erlang Road (2450 m) on 2014-06-03

Golden Bush Robin
金色林鸲 (jīnsè línqú)
Tarsiger chrysaeus

1 on Dúlóng side of Salween-Irrawaddy Divide (3260 m) on 2014-06-13
2 (pair) on Dúlóng side of Salween-Irrawaddy Divide (3260 m) on 2014-06-20

Little Forktail
小燕尾 (xiǎo yànwěi)
Enicurus scouleri

1 on Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-02
1 in Dulong Gorge (1870 m) on 2014-06-15

Forktail sp.
?燕尾 (? yànwěi)
Enicurus sp.

2 immatures definitely not Little Forktail noted in Dulong Gorge (1440-1700 m) on 2014-06-17 & 2014-06-18

Blue Whistling Thrush
紫啸鸫 (zǐxiàodōng)
Myophonus caeruleus eugenei

5-10 each day in Dulong Gorge (1400-2800 m) from 2014-06-14 to 2014-06-19

Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher
橙胸姬鹟 (chéngxiōng jīwēng)
Ficedula strophiata

Regularly recorded at Éméishān & in Dulong Gorge

Little Pied Flycatcher
小斑姬鹟 (xiǎo bānjīwēng)
Ficedula westermanni

1 in Dulong Gorge (1790 m) on 2014-06-14
1 in Dulong Gorge (1400 m) on 2014-06-19

Slaty-blue Flycatcher
灰蓝姬鹟 (huīlán jīwēng)
Ficedula tricolor

1 female each day on Old Erlang Road (2730 m) on 2014-06-03 & 2014-06-05

Hodgson’s Redstart
黑喉红尾鸲 (hēihóu hóngwěiqú)
Phoenicurus hodgsoni

1 at Kāngdìng (康定), Sichuan on 2014-06-04

Daurian Redstart
北红尾鸲 (běi hóngwěiqú)
Phoenicurus auroreus

1 male on Old Erlang Road (2730 m) on 2014-06-03

Plumbeous Water Redstart
红尾水鸲 (hóngwěi shuǐqú)
Phoenicurus fuliginosus

10-25 each day along Dúlóng River (1400-1800 m) from 2014-06-14 to 2014-06-19

White-capped Redstart
白顶溪鸲 (báidǐng xīqú)
Phoenicurus leucocephalus

Common beside higher rivers & streams throughout

Blue Rock Thrush
蓝矶鸫 (lán jīdōng)
Monticola solitarius

Numerous along S228 in lower Salween Gorge on 2014-06-12
Along Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road on 2014-06-13

Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush
栗腹矶鸫 (lìfù jīdōng)
Monticola rufiventris

5-15 each day in Dulong Gorge (1400-2800 m) from 2014-06-14 to 2014-06-19

Siberian Stonechat
黑喉石鵖 (hēihóu shíjí)
Saxicola maurus

3 along S228 in lower Salween Gorge on 2014-06-12

Grey Bush Chat
灰林鵖 (huī línjí)
Saxicola ferreus

1 male on Old Erlang Road (2760 m) on 2014-06-03
2 in Dulong Gorge (1740 m) on 2014-06-17

Passeriformes: Dicaeidae

Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker
黄腹啄花鸟 (huángfù zhuóhuāniǎo)
Dicaeum melanoxanthum

2 (pair) in Dulong Gorge (2280 m) on 2014-06-14
1 male in Dulong Gorge (2390 m) on 2014-06-16

Fire-breasted Flowerpecker
红胸啄花鸟 (hóngxiōng zhuóhuāniǎo)
Dicaeum ignipectus

2 males in Dulong Gorge (2280 m) on 2014-06-14
2 (pair) in Dulong Gorge (2390 m) on 2014-06-16
1 male in Dulong Gorge (2270 m) on 2014-06-17
2 (pair) on Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road (2190 m) on 2014-06-20

Passeriformes: Nectariniidae

Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird
蓝喉太阳鸟 (lánhóu tàiyángniǎo)
Aethopyga gouldiae

Frequently recorded on Old Erlang Road, at Éméishān, & in Dulong Gorge

Green-tailed Sunbird
绿喉太阳鸟 (lǜhóu tàiyángniǎo)
Aethopyga nipalensis

Frequently recorded on Old Erlang Road, at Éméishān, & in Dulong Gorge

Black-throated Sunbird
黑胸太阳鸟 (hēixiōng tàiyángniǎo)
Aethopyga saturata

1 in Dulong Gorge (1410 m) on 2014-06-15

Fire-tailed Sunbird
火尾太阳鸟 (huǒwěi tàiyángniǎo)
Aethopyga ignicauda

3 (2 males, 1 female) on Salween side of Salween-Irrawaddy Divide (3270 m) on 2014-06-13

Passeriformes: Passeridae

Russet Sparrow
山麻雀 (shān máquè)
Passer rutilans

Noted on Old Erlang Road (2200 m) on 2014-06-01
3 in Dulong Gorge (1740 m) on 2014-06-17

Eurasian Tree Sparrow
树麻雀 (shù máquè)
Passer montanus

Common around most habitations; not recorded in Dulong Gorge

Passeriformes: Prunellidae

Rufous-breasted Accentor
棕胸岩鹨 (zōngxiōng yánliù)
Prunella strophiata

1 at Éméishān (2850 m) on 2014-06-10

Passeriformes: Motacillidae

Forest Wagtail
山鹡鸰 (shān jílíng)
Dendronanthus indicus

1 singing in back yard of restaurant near Yǎ’ān (雅安), Sichuan on 2014-06-06

Grey Wagtail
灰鹡鸰 (huī jílíng)
Motacilla cinerea

Frequently recorded on Old Erlang Road, at Éméishān, & in Dulong Gorge as well as en route

White Wagtail
白鹡鸰 (bái jílíng)
Motacilla alba

Frequently recorded on Old Erlang Road, at Éméishān, & in Dulong Gorge as well as en route

Olive-backed Pipit
树鹨 (shù liù)
Anthus hodgsoni

1 on Old Erlang Road on 2014-06-02
Singles in Dulong Gorge (1440-1460 m) on 2014-06-15

Passeriformes: Fringillidae

Spot-winged Grosbeak
斑翅拟蜡嘴雀 (bānchì nǐlàzuǐquè)
Mycerobas melanozanthos

2 (pair) on Old Erlang Road (2750 m) on 2014-06-02
1 on Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road (2340 m) on 2014-06-20

Grey-headed Bullfinch
灰头灰雀 (huītóu huīquè)
Pyrrhula erythaca

2 (pair) each day on Old Erlang Road (2750 m) on 2014-06-02 & 2014-06-05
2 (pair) at Éméishān (2450 m) on 2014-06-08
2 (pair) at Éméishān (2850 m) on 2014-06-10

Scarlet Finch
血雀 (xuě què)
Carpodacus sipahi

1 male in Dulong Gorge (2180 m) on 2014-06-14
1 male in Dulong Gorge (2390 m) on 2014-06-15
2 (pair) in Dulong Gorge (2390 m) on 2014-06-16
2 (pair) in Dulong Gorge (2430 m) on 2014-06-17
1 female in Dulong Gorge (2410 m) on 2014-06-17

Dark-rumped Rosefinch
棕朱雀 (zōng zhūquè)
Carpodacus edwardsii

1 at Éméishān (2850 m) on 2014-06-10

Vinaceous Rosefinch
酒红朱雀 (jiǔhóng zhūquè)
Carpodacus vinaceus

2 at Éméishān (2450 m) on 2014-06-08

Grey-capped Greenfinch
金翅雀 (jīnchìquè)
Chloris sinica

Several near Lóngcānggōu on 2014-06-05

Passeriformes: Emberizidae

Crested Bunting
凤头鹀 (fèngtóu wū)
Emberiza lathami

1 male on S217 S of Shuǐrén (水仁), Yunnan (1620 m) on 2014-06-22

Godlewski’s Bunting
戈氏岩鹀 (gēshì yánwū)
Emberiza godlewskii

1-2 each day on Old Erlang Road (2300-2500 m) on 2014-06-01, 2014-06-02, & 2014-06-03

Yellow-throated Bunting
黄喉鹀 (huánghóu wū)
Emberiza elegans

2-3 each day on Old Erlang Road (2300 m) on 2014-06-01 & 2014-06-03

Black-faced Bunting
灰头鹀 (huītóu wū)
Emberiza spodocephala

1 on Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road (2000 m) on 2014-06-13

Mammals

Northern Tree Shrew
北树鼩 (běi shùqú)
Tupaia belangeri

One seen foraging near a garbage bin at a gas station on G5 S of Yǎ’ān (雅安), Sichuan on 2014-06-22

PLACE NAMES

Dúlóng River, Dulong Gorge (Dúlóng Jiāng [独龙江]): valley and eponymous river in NW Yunnan; the valley borders Tibet and Burma; the Dúlóng River is part of the Irrawaddy Basin

Éméishān (峨眉山): nature reserve and holy Buddhist mountain in C Sichuan

Gāolígòng Mountains (Gāolígòngshān [高黎贡山]): mountain range in W Yunnan running N-S ca. 500 km and dividing the Salween and Irrawaddy River basins

Gongshan
Gongshan, a city on the Salween River in Yunnan, China. 13 June 2014. (Craig Brelsford)

Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road: road connecting Gòngshān (贡山) and Dulong Gorge

Irrawaddy River: major river of Burma; a small part of Irrawaddy Basin lies in China (Dúlóng River)

Liào Kāng Lín’s place: site dedicated to setup photography, specializing in gamebirds; 5 km from Kāngdìng (康定), Sichuan. Elev.: 2590 m

Lóngcānggōu (龙苍沟): nature reserve in C Sichuan

Old Erlang Road: former route of S318 on E edge of Tibetan Plateau in Sichuan between Yǎ’ān (雅安) and Kāngdìng (康定). The W end of the old road is about 30 km E of Lúdìng (泸定). The Old Erlang Road has been superseded by new tunnels but not completely abandoned. Known in Chinese as Lǎo Chuān Zàng Lù (老川藏路)

Salween-Irrawaddy Divide: in NW Yunnan, the ridgeline of the Gāolígòng Mountains separates the Salween and Irrawaddy basins; on the Gòngshān-Dúlóng Road, the Hēipǔ (黑普) Tunnel lies below the divide and joins the two basins

Salween River (Nùjiāng [怒江]): river rising on Tibetan Plateau, flowing through W Yunnan and into Burma, and emptying into Andaman Sea

Gallagher (L) and Brelsford
Jon Gallagher (L) and Craig Brelsford birding on Gongshan-Dulong Road, 16 June 2014. (Huáng Xiǎo Ān [黄小安]).
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Grimmett, R., Inskipp, C. & Inskipp, T. 2011. Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Christopher Helm, London. Consulted at home in Shanghai.

Harrap, S. & Quinn, D. 1995. Chickadees, Tits, Nuthatches, & Treecreepers. Princeton University Press, USA. This excellent book, though old, remains Craig’s first reference for all questions related to the families Certhiidae, Paridae, and Sittidae.

Lynx Edicions. The Internet Bird Collection. ibc.lynxeds.com

MacKinnon, John & Karen Phillipps. 2000. A Field Guide to the Birds of China. Oxford University Press. Flawed but indispensable.

Oriental Bird Club. Oriental Bird Images. orientalbirdimages.org. Consulted regularly at home.

Robson, C. 2005. Birds of Southeast Asia. Princeton University Press, Princeton, USA. Craig’s first reference in Dulong Gorge.

Xeno-Canto Foundation. Xeno-Canto: Bird Sounds from Around the World. xeno-canto.org. Craig has downloaded hundreds of calls from this Web site.

ACKNOWLEGEMENTS

Huáng Xiǎo Ān and Jonathan Gallagher are great teammates—unselfish, friendly, tough, and knowledgeable. Brian Ivon Jones first suggested Dulong Gorge to me. Per Alström gave us much good information about Dúlóng.

Featured image: Yellow-cheeked Tit Machlolophus spilonotus spilonotus, Dulong Valley, Yunnan, China. Elev. 2320 m. 14 June 2014. (Craig Brelsford)

Return to Explorations page
Reach us: info@shanghaibirding.com

Be notified every time we post. Send an
email with “Subscribe” as the subject to
info@shanghaibirding.com

Donate to Shanghai Birding!