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Sunday 12th June - Sunday 3rd July 2011

Hannu Jännes

This year’s tour to Tibet was again extremely successful, this despite the fact that our planned four day visit to the Lhasa area at the conclusion of the tour, could not take place as permissions for the visit were withdrawn by the authorities. In place of Lhasa we made an improvised visit to the world famous Wolong Reserve in Sichuan. This caused us to miss the three special birds of the Lhasa region, but we were amply compensated by a very good selection of Sichuan birds and other wildlife. In all we recorded 205 bird species in Qinghai , and added 36 more in Sichuan scoring, 241 species in total. In Qinghai province we were successful with all of the important target birds including such highly desirable species as the stunning male Przevalski’s Finch (Pink-tailed Rosefinch) seen in songflight, a clear choice for ‘the bird of the trip’, singing Kozlov’s Buntings at their awesome high altitude breeding grounds, an obligingly behaving group of Széchenyi’s Monal Partridge at Beizha forest, many White Eared Pheasants, a pair of Severtzov’s Grouse, two Tibetan Sandgrouse on a desolate mountain top, a handsome Henderson’s Ground Jay near Chaka, very confiding Kozlov’s Babaxes near Nanqien, several photogenic Tibetan Partridges, really mind-blowing views of Przevalski’s (or Ala Shan) Redstart, several close-up Crested Tit-warblers and a beautiful pair of Roborovski’s Rosefinches on a stony mountain slope at 4500 meters. In addition we added a number of stunning key species including Snow Partridge, Chinese Monal, Koklass Pheasant, Grandala, Firethroat and Slaty Bunting to our list at Wolong in Sichuan. A brief summation of our bird list shows that we scored a total of 15 gamebirds, seven species of larks, seven species of Phoenicurus redstarts, six species of snowfinches, 11 species of leaf warblers, 12 species of rosefinches and six species of buntings during our three week adventure! To the surprise of many participants, mammals are also well represented on this tour, and we had great views of a Grey Wolf, Tibetan Gazelle, Blue Sheep, Chinese Ghoral, the attractive Kiang (or Tibetan Wild Ass), three species of pika, Tibetan Fox, Himalayan Weasel and many cute Himalayan Marmots in Qinghai. In Sichuan we added a Hog Badger and a marvellous Asiatic Black Bear (a lifer for all of us) to our list. Add to these highlights the privilege travelling in this remote part of China with it’s breathtakingly beautiful highland landscapes, the chance to see the fascinating lifestyles and cultures of the local peoples, and, of course, the (mostly) great food.