Jon Hornbuckle, Tough As Nails

Jon Hornbuckle saw 9,600 species of bird, more than anyone, ever. He was tough as nails. We were at Tangjiahe, Sichuan in May 2013. Our original five-man group was one short, but the park still wanted 10,000 yuan. Jon insisted on a prorated price of 8,000. The rep said no, and Jon said, “Tell her we’re leaving.” The rep gave in. Later, at the parking lot at the base of the mountain, the rep cheerfully announced that her boss had prepared a luncheon for us in a banquet hall nearby. “We’re not tourists,” Jon said.

We marched up the mountain, topping out at 2640 m (8,660 ft.). Jon matched us step for step. That night in the cabin, we were awakened by the hooting of Himalayan Owl Strix nivicolum. We searched with a flashlight but never saw the owl. Jon wouldn’t tick it; he had to see his birds. The next day, as I drove the team to Wolong, Jon said I was accelerating unnecessarily, and would I please stop wasting petrol?

At first, Jon’s intensity was intimidating; I had never met anyone so relentless in his pursuit of birds. As I got to know Jon, I discovered a softer side to the great lister. The world was his patch, and he explored it with the enthusiasm of a boy exploring the woods. To Jon, finding a new bird was like making a new friend.

In Xi’an I picked up Jon and his partners Dave Woodford and Phil Heath, the latter two world-class birders like Jon. We zoomed through Shaanxi and Sichuan on an itinerary that would have exhausted a much younger man. In the Qinling we ticked Blackthroat Calliope obscura, in Shaanxi we scored Crested Ibis Nipponia nippon, at Tangjiahe we found Przevalski’s Parrotbill Sinosuthora przewalskii, at Wolong we saw Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola, at Longcanggou we thrilled to Golden-fronted Fulvetta Alcippe variegaticeps, and at Xiningzhen we eked out Silver Oriole Oriolus mellianus.

After the trip, Jon and I maintained a friendly correspondence. He was among the first subscribers to shanghaibirding.com. On 6 July 2017, vacationing in the south of France, Jon was badly injured in a car accident. The accident damaged his memory, and he never recovered. Jon passed away on 19 Feb. 2018, age 74. He was a great birder, and he deserves to be remembered.

Did you know Jon? Tell your story by commenting below.

PHOTOS

Hornbuckle
Jon Hornbuckle photographing Grandala Grandala coelicolor, Balangshan, Sichuan, 22 May 2013. This photo shows Jon’s characteristic intensity. Even though we had just arrived at an elevation of 4480 m (14,690 ft.) and had not yet grown accustomed to the altitude, Jon saw the Grandala and bore down. (Craig Brelsford)
Hornbuckle with group
Jon (C) stands with members of the team at Foping, Shaanxi after ticking Blackthroat. I’m the man with the black cap. I could hardly believe my good luck to be serving as interpreter and driver for the world’s champion lister. Blackthroat was our first of many triumphs on a whirlwind 14-day expedition that saw us range from Xi’an to Yibin in southern Sichuan. Throughout the trip, I observed Jon closely, discovering a man whose toughness was matched only by his tender love for birds. The men to Jon’s right are (L-R) Dave Woodford and Phil Heath. Our guide at Foping, Mr. Gong, stands at Jon’s left. (Craig Brelsford)
Hornbuckle
Clockwise from top L: Jon (L) and Dave Woodford at Balangshan, Jon searching for Przevalski’s Parrotbill, and our team with the park staff at Tangjiahe. (Craig Brelsford)
Hornbuckle's birds
A master trip planner, Jon along with his partners devised an itinerary that netted us some of China’s most coveted birds. Top row: Golden-fronted Fulvetta Alcippe variegaticeps. Row 2, L-R: Blackthroat Calliope obscura, Crested Ibis Nipponia nippon. Row 3: Grey-hooded Parrotbill Sinosuthora zappeyi, Przevalski’s Parrotbill S. przewalskii. Row 4: Silver Oriole Oriolus mellianus, Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola. (Craig Brelsford)

Featured image: No human being has seen more species of bird than Jon Hornbuckle, shown here at Balangshan, Sichuan in May 2013. (Craig Brelsford)
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Rare Photos of Female Firethroat

On 5 June 2014 on the Old Erlang Road in Sichuan, I photographed female Firethroat Calliope pectardens. One of the least-known chats in the world, Firethroat is shy, the female particularly so, and photos of the female are rare.

The photo above shows an adult female and not a first-summer male, as a first-summer male would have white flashes at the base of the tail (Round & Clement 2015, 86). We eliminate Firethroat’s sister species, Blackthroat Calliope obscura, on the basis of range (Blackthroat breeds farther north) and by the presence at the height of breeding season of male Firethroat in the area where I photographed the female. Note the legs, darker than the pale-legged female Indian Blue Robin Larvivora brunnea (Collar 2005, 747).

To acquire my shots, I spent parts of four days in a tent, my portable photo blind. The female first appeared on Day 2, but the definitive images came only in the final minutes of the final day. My partners, Huáng Xiǎo Ān (黄小安) and Jon Gallagher, commiserated with me at first and rejoiced with me at last, and for their cooperation I am grateful.

I embargoed the photos nearly five years before publishing them today. I held back because I was hoping to write a photographic field guide to the birds of China, and I was saving my most valuable photos for the guide.

The Old Erlang Road is an ideal birding location. The road, which used to be part of the Sichuan-Tibet highway but has been superseded by a tunnel, remains in serviceable condition. The lush forests are a stronghold not just for Firethroat but also for many other sought-after birds, among them Lady Amherst’s Pheasant Chrysolophus amherstiae and Streaked Barwing Actinodura souliei.

MAP & PHOTOS

Range of Firethroat
Firethroat breeds in the mountains of central China, as well as in southeastern Tibet and adjacent Arunachal Pradesh, India. The non-breeding range is poorly understood. There are records of Firethroat from Bangladesh, northeastern India, northern Burma, and northern Thailand (Alström et al. 2013, 96; Bunkhwamdi et al. 2015). Old Erlang Road is in central Sichuan, the heart of Firethroat’s breeding range. (Wikipedia/Craig Brelsford)
Firethroat habitat
I found the female at the bend in the road center-left. Her mate was engaged in a song-duel with another male on the opposite side of the road. Firethroat were singing at various other places along the Old Erlang Road, suggesting an appreciable presence of the species there. Coordinates of this site: 29.854737, 102.259133. Elevation: 2740 m (8,980 ft.). (Craig Brelsford)
Firethroat setup
For four days I sat in my tent with my 600 mm f/4 lens jutting out. I was aware that I was making a major investment in a single species and that as a result I would miss other species on a road rich in birds. I reasoned that any birder could get a good haul there, but that it would be a service to birding to produce the definitive image of a rarely photographed species. (Craig Brelsford)
Firethroat
This photo, taken 3 June, records the moment when I first beheld female Firethroat. Note the olive-brown upperparts, with an intriguing dash of slate on the back and scapulars; the rusty-buff flanks and undertail coverts; the lack of white in the tail; the white lower abdomen; and the plumbeous legs. This shot represented progress, but I wanted more. (Craig Brelsford)
Firethroat
By 4 June, I had spent three days in the tent. Despite the enticement of the mealworms, the female could not bring herself to move beyond the periphery of the setup. (Craig Brelsford)
Firethroat
Firethroat Calliope pectardens, adult female, 5 June 2014. In the final minutes of my fourth and final day, I achieved this perfect profile shot. (Craig Brelsford)
Firethroat
Here’s another profile shot, this time of the left side. Note the slaty-blue hues on the breast-sides and abdomen. (Craig Brelsford)
Firethroat
Compared to its sister species Blackthroat Calliope obscura, female Firethroat (above) is presumed to have ‘a paler, more contrasting throat, slightly warmer or more prominently rufous-tinged tail and paler, warmer, more buff (less deeply brown-washed) breast and flanks’ (Round & Clement 2015, 86). (Craig Brelsford)
Firethroat
This male was almost certainly the mate of our female above. Note the slaty plumage from crown to rump, brownish-black wings, black face and neck-sides, white neck-patch, and white flashes on the base of the tail feathers. ‘This male is a first-summer,’ writes Per Alström. ‘First-summer males actually look like adult males except for browner remiges, primary coverts, alula and sometimes some (outer) greater coverts’ (in litt., 2019). (Craig Brelsford)
Firethroat
As the days wore on, the male grew more and more at ease around my setup, often lingering for a minute or two before darting back into the undergrowth. (Craig Brelsford)
Firethroat
On Sichuan’s Old Erlang Road in the first week of June 2014, at the height of breeding season, this male Firethroat was in the company of a female and singing powerfully. (Listen here to my sound-recording [2 MB; 01:18].) The elevation was 2740 m (8,980 ft.). I heard other Firethroat singing at altitudes as low as 2450 m (8,040 ft.). Most published descriptions of Firethroat have the altitudinal limit of the breeding range no lower than 2700 m (8,860 ft.). (Craig Brelsford)
Calliope chats
Calliope is a genus of East Asian chats known for the powerful songs of the males and cryptic coloring of the females and for their fondness for dense, damp undergrowth. The genus comprises Firethroat and four other species, three of which are pictured here. The type species and the one most familiar to birders is Siberian Rubythroat Calliope calliope, male top L, female top R. Blackthroat C. obscura (bottom L) is the species most closely related to Firethroat and one about which even less is known than Firethroat. It breeds in central China mostly north of Firethroat’s range. Chinese Rubythroat C. tschebaiewi (bottom R) breeds on the Tibetan Plateau in high-altitude thickets and scrub. Chinese Rubythroat was formerly considered conspecific with Himalayan Rubythroat C. pectoralis, not pictured. (Craig Brelsford)
Birds of Old Erlang Road
A ribbon connecting the Sichuan Basin and the Tibetan Plateau, Old Erlang Road is an outstanding birding location. The lush montane habitat supports an astonishing variety of birds, among them Claudia’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus claudiae (top) and Sichuan Leaf Warbler P. forresti (center L), two of the 10 species of Phylloscopus recorded along the road. Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides (bottom R) and Ashy-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora alphonsiana (bottom L) are two of the many species on Old Erlang Road rare or absent on the adjacent Tibetan Plateau. (Craig Brelsford)

WANT TO GO?

China Dreams Tour (www.chinadreamstour.com) runs trips to Old Erlang Road and other hotspots in Sichuan. Book your trip by clicking on the image below.

Ad for China Dreams Tour, Sichuan tours

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alström, Per. (2019). Email to author, 16 May.

Alström, Per; Song, Gang; Zhang, Ruiying; Gao, Xuebin; Holt, Paul I.; Olsson, Urban; Lei, Fumin (2013). Taxonomic status of Blackthroat Calliope obscura and Firethroat C. pectardens. Forktail 29, pp. 94–99. Available at https://www.shanghaibirding.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Alstrom-et-al.-2013-Blackthroat-and-Firethroat-taxonomy-FORKTAIL.pdf (accessed: 17 Nov 2019).

Brelsford, C. (2014). Sichuan & Yunnan, June 2014 (https://www.shanghaibirding.com/sichuan-yunnan/). Post to shanghaibirding.com, published 26 Jan. 2016 (accessed: 17 Nov 2019).

Brelsford, C. (2017). Wuyipeng and My Progress As a Birder (https://www.shanghaibirding.com/wuyipeng/). Post to shanghaibirding.com, published 17 July 2017 (accessed: 17 Nov 2019).

Bunkhwamdi, W.; Manawattana, S.; Kanjanavanit, R.; Round, P. D. (2015). A photographic record of Firethroat Calliope pectardens wintering in northern Thailand with a reassessment of a specimen record of Blackthroat C. obscura. BirdingASIA 24, pp. 37-42. Available at
https://www.shanghaibirding.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Firethroat-BA24.pdf (accessed: 17 Nov 2019).

Collar, N.J. (2005). Family Turdidae (Thrushes). Pp. 747-9 (Firethroat, Indian Blue Robin, Black-throated Blue Robin) in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Christie, D.A. eds. (2005). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 10. Cuckoo-shrikes to Thrushes. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Round, P. & Clement, P. (2015). Firethroat Calliope pectardens and Blackthroat C. obscura: notes on winter plumages and habitats. BirdingASIA 23, pp. 84-87. Available at https://www.shanghaibirding.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Firethroat-Blackthroat.pdf (accessed: 17 Nov 2019).

REVISIONS

1. On 16 May 2019, observation by Per Alström added to caption to photo of male Firethroat.

Featured photo: Firethroat Calliope pectardens, rare photo of adult female, Old Erlang Road, Sichuan, China, 5 June 2014. Nikon D3S and Nikkor 600mm f/4 lens, 1/200, f6.3, ISO 4000. This photo and all the photos in this post copyright © 2014-2019 by Craig Brelsford. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use of the photos in this post is strictly prohibited. Send requests to info@shanghaibirding.com. (Craig Brelsford)
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Wuyipeng and My Progress As a Birder

Wuyipeng Field Monitoring Station is one of the best birding sites in China. Set in thick forest 550 m (1,800 ft.) above the Shaotang River Valley at an elevation of 2570 m (8,430 ft.), the abandoned panda research station near Wolong, Sichuan is reachable only by foot. The steep climb and complex avifauna intimidate the young birder—but challenge and fulfill the experienced birder.

I know, for I have been both. In July 2010 I made my first visit to Wuyipeng. I was a new birder, alone and untrained. Wuyipeng overwhelmed me. When I returned in 2017, I had seven years of study under my belt, I was with my mentor Michael Grunwell, and we hardly missed a bird.

In 2010 I was hooked on bird photography. I carried to the top my equipment, all 10.5 kg (23 lbs.) of it. At the time, I had only one way of intensely experiencing a bird—by photographing it. Photography was my sole pathway to intensity because, at the time, I knew little about birds.

Two types of habitat predominate around Wuyipeng. The first (top) is secondary mixed hardwood-conifer. Among the species we noted in this habitat were Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus, Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis, Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus, Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes, and Chestnut Thrush Turdus rubrocanus. The second habitat (bottom) is bamboo. Among the species we saw here were Chestnut-headed Tesia Cettia castaneocoronata, Aberrant Bush Warbler Horornis flavolivaceus, and Golden-breasted Fulvetta Lioparus chrysotis. (Craig Brelsford)
Two types of habitat predominate around the station. Top: mixed hardwood-conifer. Among the species we noted in this habitat were Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus, Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis, Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus, and Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes. Bottom: bamboo. Here we found Chestnut-headed Tesia Cettia castaneocoronata, Aberrant Bush Warbler Horornis flavolivaceus, and Golden-breasted Fulvetta Lioparus chrysotis. (Craig Brelsford)

The more I learned about birds, the less obsessed I became with photographing them. I developed new ways of relating to birds—observing them closely, studying their habitats, recording their voices, and writing about them.

And crucially, by 2017 I had made friends with birders who know more than I about birds. Michael Grunwell is one of them. Michael has been building his life list since he was a teen-ager in the 1970s. Michael not only knows birds, but he also knows how to know birds.

Like your mother at the grocery store, Michael arrives at a site with a shopping list—his target species. He has read up on the species he wants and knows what to look for.

For example: Michael and I arrive at a creek deep in the forest. “Creekside habo!” I say to Michael. “What’s your target?”

“Play Chinese Wren-babbler,” Michael says.

I pull out my iPhone and find a recording of Chinese Cupwing that I downloaded from xeno-canto.org. I Bluetooth it through my speaker, and within seconds I get a response.

Chinese Cupwing Pnoepyga mutica, along stream (30.991680, 103.160400) near Wuyipeng Field Monitoring Station, Wolong, Sichuan. Elev. 2570 m (8,430 ft.). 20 May 2017 (00:03; 1.7 MB)

Had my birding skills remained at the level of 2010, and had I not partly assimilated Michael’s birding style, then I would have missed Chinese Cupwing and many other species. I would have been bored, for in the dark, lush forest, photo opportunities are few (and in any case, this time I wisely decided not to lug my camera up the hill). Because I had progressed beyond photography, I was highly stimulated and had a sense of control. It was a great feeling.

The difference in elevation between Jinjiapo (2020 m) and Wuyipeng (2570 m) is 550 m (1,810 ft.). The steep climb is a fromidable barrier and keeps out all but the most dedicated and fit birders. (Craig Brelsford)
The difference in elevation between the valley bottom (2020 m) and Wuyipeng (2570 m) is 550 m (1,800 ft.). The steep climb is a formidable barrier, keeping out all but the most dedicated birders. (Craig Brelsford)

Even a non-birder would feel good up there. Wuyipeng achieves a perfect balance: It is developed just enough to allow access, being one of the few places in the area with a good hiking trail; yet it remains a wilderness, for the steep climb is a formidable barrier, and visitors are few. In 2010 and again in 2017, we saw no one.

Making Wuyipeng even more interesting is the greater region of which it is a part. Sichuan and neighboring Yunnan are, ornithologically speaking, the Center of Asia. Himalaya, Indo-Malaya, Palearctica—like tectonic plates, the great eco-regions collide here. Various groups of birds, most notably the parrotbills, have their center of distribution in or near Sichuan (Robson).

Michael Grunwell at Wuyipeng. (Craig Brelsford)
Michael Grunwell viewing six species of tit amid the ruins of the Wuyipeng Field Monitoring Station. The multimillion-dollar panda research center was abandoned in the wake of the Wenchuan Earthquake of 2008. The station is one of the few open areas in the forest and is an outstanding place to view birds. (Craig Brelsford)

The avian diversity here is unmatched in the temperate world. During a bird wave at the station, a single tree held six species of tit: Fire-capped Tit Cephalopyrus flammiceps, Yellow-browed Tit Sylviparus modestus, Coal Tit Periparus ater, Yellow-bellied Tit Pardaliparus venustulus, Pere David’s Tit Poecile davidi, and Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus. That is half as many species of parid in a single tree as are found in the United States and Canada.

The mountain also yielded six members of a single genus, Phylloscopus: Chinese Leaf Warbler P. yunnanensis, Greenish Warbler P. trochiloides, Large-billed Leaf Warbler P. magnirostris, Claudia’s Leaf Warbler P. claudiae, Emei Leaf Warbler P. emeiensis, and Sichuan Leaf Warbler P. forresti.

We had Indian Blue Robin at Lama Temple as well as on the steep hillside leading to Wuyipeng. (Craig Brelsford)
At Lama Temple (31.029363, 103.166572), where I got these photos, as well as on the steep hillside leading to Wuyipeng, Michael and I thrilled to the song of Indian Blue Robin Larvivora brunnea. The song, described by Collar as ‘a sweet jumble of rapid trilling notes,’ is similar to the song of Siberian Blue Robin L. cyane, which I studied in Heilongjiang in 2016. Unlike the Siberian Blues I met, which invariably sang from thick cover close to the ground, the Indian Blues we found would often sing from perches high in the trees, as in the photos above. (Craig Brelsford)

We had Firethroat singing in thick undergrowth on the hillside, and just a few meters away a heart-stopping encounter with male Temminck’s Tragopan tiptoeing across the trail. Golden Pheasant called unseen, exquisite Indian Blue Robin and Chestnut-headed Tesia were singing, and Golden-breasted Fulvetta added color. We had a migrating flock of 40 Tibetan Serin.

We noted 49 species in all. Michael called 20 May 2017 one of his best birding days in his four years in China. I called it one of my best birding days, period.

Wuyipeng was the biggest but certainly not the only highlight of our four days, 18-21 May 2017, in the Wolong-Balangshan area. Michael and I covered altitudes between 2000 m and 4500 m on the 79-km stretch of the S303 between Wolong and Rilong. We noted 110 species.

Gamebirds of Balangshan. Clockwise from L: Snow Partridge, White Eared Pheasant, Blood Pheasant. (Craig Brelsford)
Gamebirds of Balangshan. Clockwise from L: Snow Partridge Lerwa lerwa, White Eared Pheasant Crossoptilon crossoptilon, and Blood Pheasant Ithaginis cruentus. We noted all three species on the trip, but these photos came from earlier in my birding career, when my chief focus was photography. The Snow Partridge I photographed 29 July 2010 above Balangshan Pass (30.9108, 102.8947), the White Eared Pheasant 7 Aug. 2011 at Pujie Temple (29.158287, 100.176267), and the Blood Pheasant 1 Aug. 2011 at Pamuling Temple (30.101555, 101.181815). All three locations are in Sichuan. (Craig Brelsford)

Gamebirds were richly represented. We noted eight species: Snow Partridge Lerwa lerwa, Verreaux’s Monal-Partridge Tetraophasis obscurus, Blood Pheasant Ithaginis cruentus, Temminck’s Tragopan Tragopan temminckii, Koklass Pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha, White Eared Pheasant Crossoptilon crossoptilon, Golden Pheasant Chrysolophus pictus, and Lady Amherst’s Pheasant C. amherstiae.

At the famous tunnel area (30.877921, 102.966226) we made only a half-hearted effort to see Chinese Monal, which Michael had seen before. Higher up, we looked for but missed Tibetan Snowcock.

To the list of the six leaf-warbler species from Wuyipeng we added Alpine Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus occisinensis, Buff-barred Warbler P. pulcher, and Hume’s Leaf Warbler P. humei, giving us a total of nine over the four days.

We found Collared Grosbeak and Sichuan Thrush along the S303, we spotted Grandala on the slopes at high altitude, and in the alpine scrub we found Sichuan Tit, Chinese Rubythroat, and Chinese Fulvetta.

Sichuan Thrush (Craig Brelsford)
Sichuan Thrush Zoothera griseiceps, Wolong-Balangshan Road (S303), 30.891258, 102.975770 (3380 m), 21 May 2017. This is the second member of the Plain-backed Thrush complex that I have photographed. In June 2014, in collaboration with Per Alström, I photographed Himalayan Thrush Z. salimalii at Dulong Gorge, Yunnan. (Craig Brelsford)

The route from Wolong over the Balangshan Pass to Rilong is a marvel, one of the great drives of China. The new Balangshan Tunnel reduces the driving distance between Wolong and Rilong from 96 km to 79 km.

A series of tunnels linking Wolong to the G213 and Chengdu has been completed, a monumental feat of engineering.

With the improvements in infrastructure, and with the continued expansion of the rental-car industry in China, Wuyipeng and Balangshan are now open to Shanghai birders with only a few days to spare, as was the case with Michael and me.

After a full workday 17 May, we flew that night from Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport to Chengdu. We picked up our car from Shenzhou, drove 125 km (three hours) to Wolong, and at daylight on 18 May were taking in the dawn chorus at Lama Temple.

We stayed at the clean Lín Huì Fàndiàn (临惠饭店, +86 153-5143-1887, +86 152-8151-1256). For our night on the Rilong side, I once again used Kāi Fù Shān Zhuāng (开富山庄, +86 150-8250-0382).

We birded half a day on 21 May before calling it a trip.

As Michael and I departed the mountains for Chengdu, zipping through the world-class tunnels, we reviewed the eventful past four days. I thought further back to 2010, when the road to Wolong was bumpy, dusty, and dangerous, and when I knew little about birds.

I have become a better birder. Wuyipeng and Balangshan have become easier places to bird. Progress is occurring, and on more front than one.

VIDEOS

Quiet moments in the forest near Wuyipeng.

In 2010, I carried my heavy equipment to the top. I was laughing even then.

SOUND RECORDINGS

Below, a selection of my sound-recordings from the Sichuan trip. For even more sound-recordings and photos, and for our day lists from Sichuan, please see the eBird citations in the Bibliography below.

Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus, Wuyipeng, 20 May 2017 (00:16; 1.5 MB)

Firethroat Calliope pectardens, trail to Wuyipeng, 20 May. 30.999205, 103.154595. (01:54; 6.1 MB)

Indian Blue Robin Larvivora brunnea, Lama Temple, 18 May (00:43; 2.5 MB)

Chestnut-headed Tesia Cettia castaneocoronata, Wuyipeng, 20 May (00:48; 3.5 MB)

Sichuan Thrush Zoothera griseiceps, along S303, 21 May. 30.891258, 102.975770. (00:04; 987 KB)

Martens’s Warbler Seicercus omeiensis, Lama Temple, 19 May (02:54; 8.6 MB)

LIST OF PLACE NAMES

Dawn, Wolong-Balangshan Road, 19 May 2017. (Craig Brelsford)
Dawn, tunnel area (30.877921, 102.966226), Wolong-Balangshan Road, 19 May 2017. As well as one of the best birding areas in temperate Asia, Wolong-Balangshan is a place of great natural beauty. (Craig Brelsford)

Balangshan Pass (Bālángshān Kǒu [八郎山口]): mountain divide & birding area, Sichuan. Elev. 4481 m (14,701 ft.). 30.9108, 102.8947.

Lama Monastery: see Lama Temple.

Lama Temple (Lǎma Sì [喇嘛寺]): birding site & place of worship, Wolong. Elev. 2230 m (7,320 ft.). 31.029363, 103.166572.

Rilong (Rìlóng Zhèn [日隆镇]) (30.9935765, 102.8299713): town W of Balangshan Pass on S303. Also known as Sìgūniángshān Zhèn.

Sìgūniángshān Zhèn (四姑娘山镇): another name for Rilong.

Wolong (Wòlóng Zhèn [卧龙镇]): town E of Balangshan Pass on S303. 31.0395827, 103.1984586.

Wuyipeng Field Monitoring Station (Zhōngguó Bǎohù Dàxióngmāo Yánjiū Zhōngxīn, Wǔyīpéng Yěwài Guāncházhàn [中国保护大熊猫研究中心, 五一棚野外观察站]): research center in thick forest near Wolong. Damaged & abandoned after Wenchuan Earthquake of 12 May 2008. Elev. 2570 m (8,430 ft.). 30.994128, 103.159845. Begin your walk at Jīnjiāpō (金家坡, 31.004395, 103.151987). Park your car at any of the local folks’ homes.

REFERENCES

Brelsford, C. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36952551. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [Web application]. eBird, Ithaca, New York, USA. (Accessed: July 15, 2017). Note: This is the first of five lists we made for 18 May 2017. This list covers Lama Monastery.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36954305. Note: This is list 2/5 for 18 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36954394. Note: List 3/5, 18 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36954414. Note: List 4/5, 18 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36954445. Note: List 5/5, 18 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36980196. Note: List 1/6, 19 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36980217. Note: List 2/6, 19 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36980192. Note: List 3/6, 19 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36979053. Note: List 4/6, 19 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36980247. Note: List 5/6, 19 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S36978948. Note: List 6/6, 19 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S37003578. Note: List of birds noted at Wuyipeng, 20 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S37021548. Note: List 1/5, 21 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S37022288. Note: List 2/5, 21 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S37026720. Note: List 3/5, 21 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S37029131. Note: List 4/5, 21 May 2017.

———. 2017. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S37081320. Note: List 5/5, 21 May 2017.

Collar, N.J. (2005). Family Turdidae (Thrushes). P. 748 (Indian Blue Robin) in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Christie, D.A. eds. (2005). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 10. Cuckoo-shrikes to Thrushes. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

eBird. 2017. eBird hotspot: Wuyipeng Research Station, Sichuan, CN: https://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L947367. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [Web application]. eBird, Ithaca, New York. (Accessed: July 15, 2017).

Robson, C. (2006). Family Paradoxornithidae (Parrotbills). P. 292 in del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Christie, D.A. eds. (2006). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 12. Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

BIRDS NOTED IN SICHUAN, 18-21 MAY 2017 (110 SPECIES)

Blood Pheasant Ithaginis cruentus
Snow Partridge Lerwa lerwa
Verreaux’s Monal-Partridge Tetraophasis obscurus
Temminck’s Tragopan Tragopan temminckii
Golden Pheasant Chrysolophus pictus
Lady Amherst’s Pheasant C. amherstiae
White Eared Pheasant Crossoptilon crossoptilon
Koklass Pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha
Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus
Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus
Himalayan Vulture Gyps himalayensis
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove) Columba livia
Snow Pigeon C. leuconota
Speckled Wood Pigeon C. hodgsonii
Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides
Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus
Common Cuckoo C. canorus
Salim Ali’s Swift Apus salimalii
Great Barbet Psilopogon virens
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug
Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus
Grey-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythroryncha
Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus
Fire-capped Tit Cephalopyrus flammiceps
Yellow-browed Tit Sylviparus modestus
Coal Tit Periparus ater
Rufous-vented Tit P. rubidiventris
Yellow-bellied Tit P. venustulus
Pere David’s Tit Poecile davidi
Sichuan Tit P. weigoldicus
Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus
Black-browed Bushtit Aegithalos iouschistos
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch Sitta nagaensis
Hodgson’s Treecreeper Certhia hodgsoni
Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis
Chinese Cupwing Pnoepyga mutica
Pygmy Cupwing P. pusilla
Chestnut-headed Tesia Cettia castaneocoronata
Brown-flanked Bush Warbler Horornis fortipes
Yellow-bellied Bush Warbler H. acanthizoides
Aberrant Bush Warbler H. flavolivaceus
Alpine Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus occisinensis
Buff-barred Warbler P. pulcher
Sichuan Leaf Warbler P. forresti
Chinese Leaf Warbler P. yunnanensis
Hume’s Leaf Warbler P. humei
Greenish Warbler P. trochiloides
Large-billed Leaf Warbler P. magnirostris
Claudia’s Leaf Warbler P. claudiae
Emei Leaf Warbler P. emeiensis
Martens’s Warbler Seicercus omeiensis
Bianchi’s Warbler S. valentini
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyridopsis ruficeps
Black-streaked Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus gravivox
Chinese Babax Babax lanceolatus
Spotted Laughingthrush Garrulax ocellatus
Giant Laughingthrush G. maximus
Elliot’s Laughingthrush Trochalopteron elliotii
Golden-breasted Fulvetta Lioparus chrysotis
White-browed Fulvetta Fulvetta vinipectus
Chinese Fulvetta F. striaticollis
Grey-hooded Fulvetta F. cinereiceps
White-collared Yuhina Yuhina diademata
Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythropleurus
Sichuan Thrush Zoothera griseiceps
Chestnut Thrush Turdus rubrocanus
Fujian Niltava Niltava davidi
Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus
Indian Blue Robin Larvivora brunnea
Chinese Rubythroat Calliope tschebaiewi
Firethroat C. pectardens
Grandala Grandala coelicolor
Himalayan Bluetail Tarsiger rufilatus
Slaty-blue Flycatcher Ficedula tricolor
Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher F. strophiata
Blue-fronted Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis
Plumbeous Water Redstart P. fuliginosus
White-capped Redstart P. leucocephalus
Daurian Redstart P. auroreus
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae
Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris
Rufous-breasted Accentor P. strophiata
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
White Wagtail M. alba
Rosy Pipit Anthus roseatus
Olive-backed Pipit A. hodgsoni
Plain Mountain Finch Leucosticte nemoricola
Dark-breasted Rosefinch Carpodacus nipalensis
Common Rosefinch C. erythrinus
Pink-rumped Rosefinch C. waltoni
Vinaceous Rosefinch C. vinaceus
Sharpe’s Rosefinch C. verreauxii
Chinese White-browed Rosefinch C. dubius
Twite Carduelis flavirostris
Tibetan Serin Spinus thibetanus
Collared Grosbeak Mycerobas affinis
Slaty Bunting Emberiza siemsseni

Featured image: Themes from Wuyipeng, 20 May 2017. Clockwise from top L: Craig Brelsford in sea of bamboo; male Firethroat Calliope pectardens (photo from Old Erlang Road, Sichuan, 5 June 2014); sign at Wuyipeng Field Monitoring Station; rich forest near station. (Craig Brelsford)
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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)

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