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China in winter:

9th - 27th February 2020

 

 

Leader: James Eaton

 
 
Max group size: 8

Day 1:
Arrival into Beijing International Airport. Night in Beijing.

Day 2:
Morning drive to Linggshan (4 hours). Afternoon birding the cold, snowbound slopes for Siberian Accentor, Pallas’s and Chinese Beautiful Rosefinches and other wintering migrants, which could also include Asian Rosy Finch. Night at Linggshan.

Day 3:
Full morning on-site, searching primarily for Siberian Accentor and rosefinches, before driving back to Beijing to connect with an early evening flight to Wuhan, followed by a 90-minute drive to Dongzhai National Nature Reserve. Night near Dongzhai NNR.

Day 4:
Full day birding inside Dongzhai NNR. Our primary focus here is to observe Reeves's Pheasant, possibly the finest Galliform! Using a feeding station we hope to see a male, though they can be elusive, even here. Two other targets here are the scarce and local Collared Crow, and reintroduced Crested Ibis.

Day 5:
Morning travelling through to Nanchang, and onto Poyang Lake for afternoon birding. Poyang is renowned for it's density of wintering waterbirds, and is the sole wintering area now for Siberian Crane. This is not our only target however, as Hooded and White-naped Cranes also winter here, along with Swan Goose, Oriental Stork, Brown Crake, Marsh Grassbird, Rustic, Ochre-rumped and Yellow-browed Buntings with slim chances of Baer’s Pochard and Lesser White-fronted Goose. Night near Poyang Lake.

Day 6:
Full day at Poyang Lake looking for all the species mentioned on the previous afternoon. Night at Poyang Lake.

Day 7:
Morning at Poyang Lake for any remaining species we may have before driving south to Wuyuan after lunch. Night in Wuyuan.

Day 8:
Main target here is Scaly-sided Merganser along the river that flows through Wuyuan - several of you might already have visited the town in May to see Courtois's Laughingthrush, which are hiding in the distant hills in the winter. Other possibilities here include Mandarin Duck, Moustached Laughingthrush, Brown Crake and Yellow-browed Bunting. In the afternoon we transfer to Nanchang and on to Sanya, situated on the south coast of tropical Hainan.

Day 9:
Following breakfast, we drive to Jianfengling (2-3 hours), arriving for lunch, followed by afternoon birding for our first Hainan endemics. Night at Jianfengling.

Days 10-11:
Two full days inside Jianfengling National Nature Reserve. Our targets here include the Hainan endemics; Hainan Leaf Warbler, ‘Swinhoe’s Laughingthrush’ – likely split from Black-throated, chance of Hainan Partridge and even slimmer chance of Hainan Peacock-pheasant. In addition to the endemics, we look for Chinese Barbet, Rufous-cheeked Laughingthrush, Yellow-billed Nuthatch and the Hainan races of Pale Blue Flycatcher and Fork-tailed Sunbird, both of which are quite distinct. Nights at Jianfengling.

Day 12:
Early morning flight from Sanya to Nanning then drive to Nonggang NNR (3-hour drive), possibly in time for some birding. Night outside Nonggang NNR.

Day 13:
A day inside Nonggang NNR in search of Nonggang Babbler, a species only described in 2008, known from just here and the surrounding limestone karst forest bordering Vietnam. Birding here is otherwise surprisingly quiet, other species can include White-winged Magpie, Limestone Leaf Warbler, Streaked Wren Babbler and Buff-breasted Babbler. We then drive back to Nanning (3 hours) in the evening. Night in Nanning.

Day 14:
Yet another flight (well, actually two!), this time to Yunnan province, arriving in Lijiang in the late evening. Night in Lijiang.

Day 15:
A full days birding in the scrub and conifers around the old town of Lijiang for an array of range-restricted species; Yunnan Nuthatch, Moupinia, Black-browed Bushtit, Brown-winged Parrotbill and Black-headed Greenfinch are the main targets, with slim chances of both Biet’s Laughingthrush, Lady Amherst’s Pheasant and Giant Nuthatch. Night in Lijiang.

Day 16:
A final morning birding around Lijiang then a long drive south to Gaoligongshan. Night at Gaoligongshan.

Days 17-18:
We have two full days birding at Gaoligongshan, we split our time between birding along the trails and spending time in photographic hides. The hides gives us outstanding views of a large variety of laughingtheushes including Red-tailed, Blue-winged, Scaly, Chestnut-crowned and Striated, as well as Rufous-throated and Hill Partridges, chance of Mrs Hume’s Pheasant and several other more familiar classic Asian montane species. Inside the forest, we should see a wide variety of species, but a few jewels in the crown are possible, including Gould’s Shortwing, Grey-bellied Wren Babbler, Cachar Wedge-billed Babbler and Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler. Nights at Gaoligongshan.

Day 19:
Drive to Baoshan to fly to Kunming to connect with International departures from Kunming International Airport.

 

Extensions

Please note: we will be offering two extensions, cost and confirmation depends on number of participants, please indicate to us if either are of interest:

Relict Gull
Day 1 of the tour would be devoted to visiting coastal mudflats a few hours from Beijing solely for this species. Departure would be pre-dawn, so either directly from airport, or you can arrive the previous evening.

Brown Eared Pheasant
As many birders have seen this species on a Spring visit to East China, we have excluded it from the main tour program. Those that are keen to see it (note: it is on our scheduled May East China tour), please let us know, as this would be post-tour, with the tour finishing evening Day 20 in Beijing.