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Thursday 18th July - Saturday 10th August 2013
This was our latest Tibet tour ever in the summer period and also the first one to include a side trip to Xinjiang in far northwestern China. Going late in the season meant it was surprisingly warm and the wildflowers were simply awesome. Breeding activity was already well advanced and numerous juveniles were already on the wing, but in spite of less birdsong than usual we had a very successful trip with a fantastic range of Tibetan Plateau specialities, including every plateau endemic apart from the effectively inaccessible Sillem’s Mountain Finch, even including Lord Derby’s Parakeet (not a Birdquest lifer but a species we have not seen for some years), not to mention the likes of Tibetan Eared Pheasant, Szechenyi’s Monal Partridge (or Buff-throated Partridge), Giant and Kozlov’s (or Tibetan) Babaxes, Prince Henri’s (or Brown-cheeked) Laughingthrush, Groundpecker (or Ground Tit), Kozlov’s (or Tibetan) Bunting, Roborovski’s (or Tibetan) Rosefinch and the strange Przevalski’s (or Pink-tailed) Finch, the sole member of its family. Our pre-tour foray into Xinjiang included two totally contrasting environments: the harsh Taklimakan Desert and the elm-lined Tarim River on the one hand and the spruce forests, alpine shrubbery and high mountain peaks of the Tian Shan (or Tien Shan) mountains on the other. As well as the endemic Biddulph’s (or Xinjiang) Ground Jay, we encountered such good birds as Barbary Falcon, White-winged Woodpecker, Altai and Black-throated Accentors, Eversmann’s Redstart, Paddyfield Warbler, Azure Tit and Red-fronted (or Fire-fronted) Serin.