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Sunday 15th June - Tuesday 8th July 2014
The Ultimate Tibet & Xinjiang tour to Qinghai, Xizang and the much less visited Xinjiang Provinces proved extremely successful, producing a fantastic range of Tibetan Plateau specialities, including every plateau endemic apart from the more or less currently inaccessible Sillem’s Mountain Finch, and included the much sought after Lord Derby’s Parakeet as well as Tibetan Eared Pheasant, Szechenyi’s Monal Partridge (or Buff-throated Partridge), Giant and Tibetan (or Kozlov’s) Babaxes, Brown-cheeked (or Prince Henri’s) Laughingthrush, Ground Tit (or Groundpecker), Tibetan (or Kozlov’s) Bunting, Tibetan (or Roborovski’s) Rosefinch and the strange Przevalski’s (or Pink-tailed) Finch, the sole member of its family. In addition, our brief visit to the deserts of Xinjiang yielded three important dry country birds with Biddulph’s Ground Jay, White-winged Woodpecker and Saxaul Sparrow. Add to these a number of highly desired, but more widespread species, like Blue and White Eared Pheasant, Tibetan and Himalayan Snowcock, Przevalski's, Daurian and Tibetan Partridges, Ibisbill, Tibetan and Pallas's Sandgrouse, the handsome Mongolian and gigantic Tibetan (Long-billed) Lark, Siberian and White-tailed Rubythroats, the very restricted range Przevalski's (or Ala Shan) Redstart and eight other Phoenicurus redstarts, Wallcreeper, Chinese and Przevalski's Nuthatch, Henderson's Ground Jay, six species of snowfinch and eight species of rosefinch and you are a long way to understanding why the tours to 'the Roof of the World' are so popular.
To the surprise of many participants, mammals are also well represented on this tour, and we had great views of Grey Wolf, Tibetan and Goitered Gazelle, Tibetan Antelope, Wild Yak, Blue Sheep, the attractive Kiang (or Tibetan Wild Ass), three species of pika, Tibetan Fox and many cute Himalayan Marmots. As well as these avian and mammalian highlights there is the privilege of travelling this remote part of China with its breathtakingly beautiful highland landscapes, the chance to see the fascinating lifestyles and cultures of the local peoples, and, of course, the great food. This new, extended itinerary, in its current format, involves some serious travelling by road. The main tour clocked 6504 kilometres, and after the SE Tibet extension the odometer showed a total of 7877 kilometres, which must be one of the highest totals on any Birdquest tour.