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Northeast Tibet Birding Report

5-20 August 2000

Jesper Hornskov

"If the population of China walked past you in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction."

This report covers the birds seen on an AviFauna journey in Qinghai Province, China, by A. Brown, D.I. Crawshaw, J.M. Daulne, D.T.H. Ford, N.J. Gardner, C.F.P. Goblet, G.I. Johansson, R.J. Johns, S.M. Johns, M. Kall, S.E. Svensson, P.C.G. Weibull & myself during late summer 2000.

I'd like to acknowledge the considerable stamina and high spirits of my companions - thank you for making the tour such good fun!

The following list is based on our daily log. The concept bird-days is used for convenience: it is the avian equivalent of man-hours - the daily totals added up to give a handy measure of relative abundance: a pair of Golden Eagles seen four days running equals eight bird-days.

Anyone interested in future trips to the area, or to other parts of China, can contact the author at

Bei Ling 3 Qu
Building no. 1, Apartment 3-402
Beidaihe 066100
Hebei Province
China
Phone/fax: +86 335 403 4587 E-mail: goodbird@public.qhptt.he.cn

JH/ Beidaihe, August 2000.

Species list

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

Four on the Koko Nor marsh on 6th.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus

c100 on the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th, and c10 at Dayematan on 9th.

Black-necked Grebe P. nigricollis

c50 on the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th.

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

15 at Koko Nor on 6th, and 25 over Heimahe at dawn on 8th.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Six on the Koko Nor marsh on 6th.

Black Stork Ciconia nigra

Two juveniles on the Koko Nor marsh on 6th.

Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus

17 on the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th was a surprise sighting.

Greylag Goose Anser anser

c15 on the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th.

Bar-headed Goose A. indicus

950+ at Heimahe on 6th was an impressive sight, as were c300 at Dayematan on 9th. Also seen en route on 8+15th.

Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea

c200 in the Koko Nor area on 6th, 40 en route on 8th, c1,000 at Dayematan on 9th, and 275+ en route on 15th.

Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope

5+ at the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th.

Gadwall A. strepera

At least two birds were present at the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th.

Mallard A. platyrhynchos

Five at Dayematan on 9th were the only seen.

Spot-billed Duck A. poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha (= Yellow-nibbed Duck A.(poecilorhyncha) zonorhyncha)

Two at Dayematan on 9th.

Northern Pintail A. acuta

20+ at Dayematan on 9th.

Garganey A. querquedula

Three at Heimahe on 6th, one at Gonghe on 8th, and nine at Dayematan on 9th.

Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina

100+ on the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th.

Common Pochard Aythya ferina

c50 on the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th.

Ferruginous Duck A. nyroca

Two were seen at close range in the Koko Nor lagoon/marsh area on 6th.

Tufted Duck A. fuligula

c30 in the Koko Nor lagoon area on 6th.

Goosander Mergus merganser

Two en route on 14th was the only sighting.

Black Kite Milvus migrans

c48 bird-days. Recorded on 11 dates with a daily max of c20 between Heimahe and Maduo on 8th.

Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus

31+ bird-days. Noted on ten dates. Most common in the Kanda Shan area, where up to six seen together was one of the highlights of the trip.

Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis

170+ bird-days. Noted daily 7-17th, with max c60 between Yushu and Nangqian on 10th.

Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus (aeruginosus) spilonotus

A juvenile was present at Heimahe in the afternoon of 6th.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk A. nisus

Single(s) in the Kanda Shan gorge area on 10+12+13th, and four juveniles in forest N of Xining on 18th.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo

One was seen with Black Kites at Nangqian on 11th (JH).

Upland Buzzard B. hemilasius

401+ bird-days. Noted on 11 dates, with best counts in Pika-rich country between Wenquan/Maduo and Yushu on 9th (170 birds) & 15th (205+ birds, of which 12 were dark morph, 65 rufous morph & 11 pale/whitish morph (PW)).

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos

11 bird-days. One in the Xiewu valley on 9th, and 1-3 daily S of Yushu & in the Kanda Shan area over 10-13th.

Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

12 bird-days. Recorded at Koko Nor, the ex-commune, Gonghe, near The Roadhouse, at Kanda Shan & N of Xining.

Eurasian Hobby F. subbuteo

One N of Xining on 18th (TF).

Saker F. cherrug

47 bird-days. Recorded on nine dates with up to 16+ in Pika-rich country on 15th.

Szechenyi's Monal Partridge Tetraophasis szechenyii

3+ heard (& one seen: CG) in the Kanda Shan gorge on 12th.

Tibetan Snowcock Tetraogallus tibetanus

Three heard (of which one seen: NG) on Kanda Shan on 10th, and eight seen at Er La pass on 16th.

Przevalski's Partridge Alectoris magna

At Xining Bei Shan six on 5th & 12 on 19th.

Daurian Partridge Perdix dauurica

20 at Gonghe on 17th & two heard at Xining Bei Shan on 19th.

Tibetan Partridge P. hodgsoniae

Four near Heimahe on 7th, and 2-c70 daily in the Kanda Shan area over 11-14th.

White Eared Pheasant Crossoptilon crossoptilon

c25 (incl. ten half-grown chicks) in the Kanda Shan gorge on 12th.

Common Pheasant Phasanius colchicus

At Xining Bei Shan eight adults w/ c15 chicks on 5th (and just one bird on 19th!); N of Xining two singletons on 18th.

Coot Fulica atra

Two pairs w/ c10 chicks at the Koko Nor marsh on 6th.

Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis

Noted on three dates: four adults w/ three chicks on 6th, eight adults (w/ two chicks on 9th) at Dayematan on both 9+15th, and an additional two adults very close to the road S of Maduo also on 15th.

Ibisbill Ibidorhyncha struthersii

15 bird-days. Particularly memorable was our first sightings: an adult w/ one juvenile N of Yushu performed in late-afternoon sunlight on 9th.

Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

Two at the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th.

Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum

One at the Koko Nor marsh on 6th.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

c5 at the Koko Nor lagoon/marsh area on 6th, singles at Gonghe on 8+17th, and one elsewhere en route on 8th.

Common Ringed Plover C. hiaticula

One at the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th (NG, PW). A most gripping record: the species has been seen on perhaps only a handful of previous occasions in Tibet - not realising this the observers, busy scrutinizing Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at the time, neglected to draw the bird to the attention of the rest of the group!

Kentish Plover C. alexandrinus

c200 in the Koko Nor area on 6th; c10 en route on 9th.

Mongolian Plover C. mongolus

c52 bird-days. Recorded on four dates, max c30 in the Koko Nor area on 6th & c15 at Dayematan/en route on 9th.

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva

Two adults at the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th & three overhead, giving Spotted Redshank-like calls, at Dayematan on 9th.

Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

c10 at the Koko Nor marsh on 6th.

Little Stint Calidris minuta

Singles at the Koko Nor lagoon & at Heimahe on 6th. The species outnumbers Red-necked Stint C. ruficollis by 30:1 in the Zaidam basin, not far W of Koko Nor (JH pers. obs.).

Temminck's Stint C. temminckii

50+ in the Koko Nor area on 6th, and ten at Dayematan on 9th.

Long-toed Stint C. subminuta

Six at the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th were duly ooh'd & aah'd by all members of the group.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper C. acuminata

Nine in the Koko Nor area on 6th fulfilled many dreams...

Curlew Sandpiper C. ferruginea

50+ in the Koko Nor area on 6th.

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago

Five at Koko Nor on 6th; two at Wenquan on 16th.

Pintail Snipe G. stenura

20+ at Koko Nor on 6th; one at Dayematan on 9th.

Swinhoe's Snipe G. megala

On 6th one at the Koko Nor lagoon & three at Heimahe.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

13 at the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th & 12 at Dayematan on 9th.

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Five at the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th.

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus

20 in the Koko Nor area on 6th & one en route on 15th.

Common Redshank T. totanus

245+ bird-days. Noted on nine dates, max c100 at Koko Nor on 6th & at Dayematan/en route on 9th - also recorded in the Mekong valley, at Wenquan & near Gonghe.

Marsh Sandpiper T. stagnatilis

c5 in the Koko Nor area on 6th & four en route on 8th.

Greenshank T. nebularia

c10 at Koko Nor on 6th, two at Dayematan on 9th & one at Gonghe on 17th.

Green Sandpiper T. ochropus

Eight bird-days. Singletons noted on five dates (incl. at the Ibisbill site on 9th & at Wenquan on 16th), and three were at Gonghe on 17th.

Wood Sandpiper T. glareola

125+ bird-days. Noted on five dates, max 80+ at Koko Nor on 6th.

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

c27 bird-days. Noted on eight dates, max c15 at Koko Nor on 6th.

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

One en route on 8th.

Great Black-headed Gull Larus ichthyaetus

c175 at Koko Nor on 6th, two over Rubber Mt. the next day, and c10-20 en route on 8+9+15th.

Brown-headed Gull L. brunnicephalus

103+ bird-days. Noted on four dates, max c50 at Koko Nor on 6th.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo

106+ bird-days. 1-c50 were recorded on ten dates.

White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus

Three at the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th.

Pallas's Sandgrouse Syrrhaptes paradoxus

20+ in desert W of Koko Nor on 7th.

Tibetan Sandgrouse S. tibetanus

A pair at Er La pass on 16th were 'scoped at close range by all members of the group.

Blue Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris

c275 bird-days. Noted on 13 dates, max 100+ in the Kanda Shan/Mekong valley area on 13th.

Snow Pigeon Columba leuconota

20 bird-days. 2-5 were noted daily S of Yushu over 10-14th, incl. one on an engraved rock in gorge torrent at Kanda Shan on 13th.

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto

One at the ex-commune on 7th (MK).

Oriental Turtle Dove S. orientalis

2+ in forest N of Xining on 18th.

Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus

17 bird-days. 1-4 were noted on eight dates.

Little Owl Athene noctua

27 bird-days. 1-10 were noted on eight dates, with four birds at the ex-commune wadi on 7th being especially obliging.

Common Swift Apus apus

c240 bird-days. Particularly numerous at Gonghe (incl. c100 on 8th); scarce S of Yushu (just 13 in total over 10-14th).

Fork-tailed Swift A. pacificus

205+ bird-days. Noted on 9 dates, max 120+ on 6th (valleys W & S of Xining + Koko Nor area).

Hoopoe Upopa epops

137+ bird-days. Up to c30 were noted daily except on 19th.

Long-billed Calandra Lark Melanocorypha maxima

75+ bird-days.

Mongolian Lark M. mongolica

15 in the Koko Nor area on 6th, and 3-4 en route on 17th.

Hume's Short-toed Lark Calandrella acutirostris

c50 at Koko Nor on 6th, c20 at Dayematan on 9th, and 5-10 en route on both 14+15th.

Asian Short-toed Lark C. (rufescens) cheleensis

c20 W of Koko Nor on 7th, 1-2 at Gonghe on 8+17th, and two near Desert Temple also on 17th.

Crested Lark Galerida cristata

4-5 birds were seen on both visits to the species distributional enclave at Gonghe.

Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula

Common at Koko Nor & (especially) S of Yushu: seen most days.

Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris

Not systematically recorded: seen daily, often in large numbers.

Pale Sand Martin Riparia (riparia) diluta

420+ bird-days. Noted on eight dates, mainly in high country from Koko Nor S to the Yangtze. Daily max 100+ at Koko Nor on 6th. Russian grounds for treating diluta as a valid species perfectly sound (E C Dickinson pers. com. to JH), and this arrangement is thus followed here.

Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris

c85 bird-days. Up to to c25 birds were recorded on ten dates. Repeated sightings at close range provided us with a welcome opportunity to thoroughly familiarize ourselves with this sturdy flier.

Barn Swallow H. rustica

11 bird-days. Noted at the Koko Nor lagoon (two birds on 6th), Nangqian (six birds on 13th) & en route.

Red-rumped Swallow H. daurica

c62 bird-days in Qinghai, almost exclusively in the far S (where c50 between Nangqian and Yushu suggested the onset of autumn). Also recorded in Beijing on 5+19th.

Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus

c140 bird-days. Recorded on nine dates - most frequent in gorge country around & S of Yushu (best count c40 en route on 10th), but also noted near Koko Nor on 7th and at The Gully on 17th.

Richard's Pipit Anthus richardi

24 bird-days. Noted at Koko Nor, the ex-commune, Gonghe (on both 8+17th), at Dayematan, at Xining Bei Shan (on 19th) & occasionally en route (8+17th).

Blyth's Pipit A. godlewskii

2+ at Wenquan on 16th, one near The Temple en route on 17th, and one at Xining Bei Shan on 19th. Although none were seen well there was general agreement that any contact with this species could prove valuable viz-a-viz vagrant hunting in W Europe!

Olive-backed Pipit A. hodgsoni

2-20+ noted daily in the Kanda Shan area over 11-13th, and five N of Xining on 18th.

Rosy Pipit A. roseatus

22 bird-days. Noted at Koko Nor lagoon, Heimahe, Rubber Mt., Kanda Shan & Heka pass.

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava

Five at the Koko Nor marsh on 6th. Adults pursued by food-begging juveniles where territorial birds seen in June may have been first proof of successful breeding in Tibet.

Citrine Wagtail M. citreola

c129 bird-days. Noted on 11 dates at Koko Nor, ex-commune, Gonghe, Dayematan, S of Yushu (incl. c30 en route on 10th), Wenquan, The Gully, at Xining Bei Shan, as well at various roadside stops en route.

White Wagtail M. alba

188+ bird-days. Noted on 12 dates in valleys W of Xining, at ex-commune, Gonghe, Wenquan, Yushu, the Mekong valley & en route. In the far S birds showed the characters of M. a. alboides, while M. a. leucopsis was seen at Koko Nor & in the Xining area.

White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus

Eight bird-days. At least two birds belonged to the dark-throated morph (S of Yushu on 8th; The Gully on 17th). Although sometimes reported, it is highly doubtful that Brown Dipper C. pallasii occurs in the area visited on this trip. All-dark individuals most easily separated from C. pallasii if paired-up with white-throated birds.

Rufous-browed Accentor Prunella strophiata

14 bird-days: singles at Rubber Mt. & Kanda Shan gorge, two at Kanda Shan pass (on 14th), and ten N of Xining on 18th.

Brown Accentor P. fulvescens

36 bird-days. This unobtrusive species was noted on nine dates at Xining Bei Shan (incl. a pair at nest on 5th), Rubber Mt., Gonghe, Kanda Shan gorge, Wenquan & The Gully.

Robin Accentor P. rubeculoides

c54 bird-days. Noted at Rubber Mt. (c20 on 7th), Heka pass, Kanda Shan, Er La pass, Wenquan & The Gully.

Alpine Accentor P. collaris

A total of c10 on Kanda Shan on 11+14th, and three on Bayankala pass on 15th.

Siberian Rubythroat Luscinia calliope

c15 N of Xining on 18th.

Himalayan Rubythroat L. pectoralis

Noted only on Kanda Shan with one on 11th & 8+ on 14th.

Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus

Two were seen briefly N of Xining on 18th.

Przevalski's Redstart Phoenicurus alashanicus

Prolonged searching for this superb endemic near Koko Nor on 7th was eventually rewarded with fine views of a family party of four.

Black Redstart P. ochruros

240+ bird-days. Quite common mainly in loess country and on the high plateau N of the Yangtze, with 5-45 logged on nine dates at Xining Bei Shan, Koko Nor, Gonghe, Wenquan, The Gully & en route. S of the Yangtze 47 were recorded mainly en route.

Hodgson's Redstart P. hodgsoni

c42 bird-days. Seen daily from Yushu south over 9-14th, with a daily max of 14 on 13th (Kanda Shan gorge + Mekong valley + Nangqian town). Elsewhere only a female w/ two juveniles N of Xining on 18th.

Blue-fronted Redstart P. frontalis

c85 bird-days. Noted near Koko Nor, at Kanda Shan (daily max 30 on 12th), Bayankala pass, Er La pass, Wenquan, The Gully & N of Xining.

White-throated Redstart P. schisticeps

15-20 daily at Kanda Shan gorge over 12-13th, and eight N of Xining on 18th.

Guldenstadt's Redstart P. erythrogaster

32 bird-days. Recorded on six dates near Wenquan, at Bayankala pass (max c10 on 15th) & at The Gully.

River Chat Chaimarrornis leucocephalus

37+ bird-days. Three seen en route in valleys W of Xining on 6th; otherwise only noted S of Yushu with 3+-10 birds daily over 10-14th.

Plumbeous Redstart Rhyacornis fuliginosus

Two in valley W of Xining on 6th (DC, TF), and two en route in the Xiewu valley on 9th.

Stonechat Saxicola torquata

Six on Rubber Mt. on 7th, five near Yushu on 9th, and one en route on 10th.

Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina

15 in the Koko Nor area on 6th, ten in desert W of Koko Nor the next day, an impressive 67 en route on 8th (a count which would undoubtedly have been much lower if noodles had been served immediately prior to our departure from Gonghe!) but "only" 21 along the same stretch of road on 17th.

Pied Wheatear O. pleschanka

Noted only at Xining Bei Shan: two on 5th & 7+ on 19th.

Desert Wheatear O. deserti

c20 W of Koko Nor on 7th, and 15-20 at Gonghe on both 8+17th.

Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis

At Gonghe four on 8th & two on 17th; at Xining Bei Shan one on 19th.

Kessler's Thrush Turdus kessleri

52+ bird-days. Seen daily from Xiewu south; best place Kanda Shan gorge where up to 16+ were recorded.

Southern Spotted Bush Warbler Bradypterus thoracicus

One heard N of Xining on 18th.

[Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola

A bird which was undoubtedly this species was seen very briefly at the Koko Nor lagoon on 6th (DC, RJ).]

Desert Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia minula margelanica

Three were seen near Gonghe on 17th.

Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides

Common in the Kanda Shan gorge (c50 daily over 12-13th) & N of Xining (35+ on 18th), with just five noted en route S of Yushu on 10+14th.

Lemon-rumped Warbler P. chloronotus

5-10 daily in the Kanda Shan gorge over 12-13th.

Gansu Leaf Warbler P. kansuensis

c50 N of Xining on 18th.

Chinese Leaf Warbler P. sichuanensis

One heard N of Xining on 18th (JH).

Hume's Leaf Warbler P. humei mandelli

c40 N of Xining on 18th.

Yellow-streaked Warbler P. armandii

Up to five noted in the Kanda Shan gorge over 12-13th, 15+ N of Xining on 18th & one at Xining Bei Shan on 19th.

Dusky Warbler P. fuscatus

c15 near Koko Nor on 7th, two in the Kanda Shan gorge on 12th & - most memorably - two perched up, in the same field of view as a Siberian Rubythroat and up to two Yellow-streaked Warblers, N of Xining on 18th.

Tickell's Leaf Warbler P. offinis

195+ bird-days. Noted near Koko Nor, in the Kanda Shan area (ten on 11th & c50 daily over 12-14th), The Gully, and N of Xining.

Buff-throated Leaf Warbler P. subaffinis

Two were at Kanda Shan pass on 14th (JH). Perhaps only the second record for Qinghai, the first being from Xiewu valley (September 1995: JH pers.obs.).

Goldcrest Regulus regulus

30+ N of Xining on 18th were the only noted on the trip.

Stoliczka's Tit-warbler Leptopoecile sophiae

95+ bird-days. Noted near Koko Nor on 7th, en route S of Yushu on 10th, in the Kanda Shan area (5-30 daily over 11-14th), and N of Xining on 18th (25 birds). During the breeding season a retiring bird of high altitude scrub.

Crested Tit-warbler L. elegans

75+ N of Xining on 18th surpassed even our most reckless expectations: video'd and scrutinized at down to 3 m in crisp, early-morning sunlight!

Kozlov's Babax Babax koslowi

c11 bird-days. Seen extremely well in the Kanda Shan gorge on 13th (and briefly also on 12th). Usually very secretive during the breeding season, so we were fortunate to come across an unwary pair attending a still short-tailed & ditto -billed juvenile.

Pere David's Laughingthrush Garrulax davidi

On 5th one a Xining Bei Shan & two in the grounds of our hotel; on 18th c5 N of Xining.

Giant Laughingthrush G. maximus

c26 bird-days. 1-15 were noted daily in the Kanda Shan gorge over 11-13th.

Elliot's Laughingthrush G. elliotii

6+-c30 in the Kanda Shan gorge over 11-13th, and c15 N of Xining on 18th.

Chinese Fulvetta Alcippe striaticollis

One was in Kanda Shan gorge on 12th.

White-browed Tit Parus superciliosus

32+ bird-days. Recorded at Rubber Mt., en route to Nangqian on 10th, and daily in the Kanda Shan area over 11-14th (max 12 on 12th).

Songar Tit P. songarus

10-15 daily at Kanda Shan gorge over 12-13th, and 20+ N of Xining on 18th.

Rufous-vented Tit P. rubidiventris

One in Kanda Shan gorge on 12 (CG) & c20 N of Xining on 18th.

Great Tit P. major

Two in valley W of Xining on 6th, and seven in forest N of Xining on 18th.

Chinese Nuthatch Sitta villosa

Seven in forest N of Xining on 18th may have torpedo'd rumours that the species is in decline...

Przevalski's Nuthatch S. leucopsis przewalskii

Four N of Xining on 18th vied with swarms of Crested Tit-warblers for our attention as the early morning sun warmed the dawn-chilled spruce forest - which of the two is most deserving of the tired epithet "jewel-like" suddenly became an irrelevance as we were experiencing birding which matched the very best any of us had ever had in Asia!

Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria

Nine bird-days. Noted at Huashixia on 8th, in a valley S of Yushu on 10th, daily in the Kanda Shan area over 11-14th (max three birds on 11th), and in The Gully.

Common Treecreeper Certhia familiaris

4+ in spruce forest N of Xining on 18th.

Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus

A pair w/ one juvenile at Gonghe on 17th was an unexpected breeding record (DC, MK), while one N of Xining the next day may been an early migrant.

Isabelline Shrike L. isabellinus

Five at the ex-commune on 7th.

Red-backed Shrike L. collurio

An adult male in The Gully on 17th was perhaps only the second recorded in Tibet E of Ladakh (the first was at Golmud, Zaidam, over 18-20 June 1992: JH pers.obs.). The species was not listed for Tibet by Vaurie (1972), and Cheng (1987) listed it for China only for Qinhe, NE Xinjiang, as a migrant (=vagrant?) - however, the species appears to be a not uncommon breeding bird in the Altai Mts. of N-most Xinjiang (JH pers.obs.).

Grey-backed Shrike L. tephronotus

141+ bird-days. Noted on 11 dates at Xining Bei Shan, Rubber Mt., Xiewu + Yushu valleys, along the Mekong (max count 42 on 13th: TF) & N of Xining.

Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus

5-10 were noted in Beijing on both 5+19th.

Common Magpie Pica pica

Two en route W of Xining on 6th, a nest found at Gonghe on 17th (SS), and heard N of Xining on 18th.

Tibetan Magpie P. (pica) bottanensis

31 bird-days. Noted daily S of Yushu during 10-14th, with best counts 12 at Kanda Shan gorge on 13th & ten at The Roadhouse the following day. Vaurie (1972, p.249) thought it "possible that more than one species is involved" in the Pica pica complex; and bottanensis certainly seems to merit species status.

Henderson's Ground Jay Podoces hendersoni

c5 seen superbly in desert W of Koko Nor on 7th justified the early start.

Hume's Ground-pecker Pseudopodoces humilis

465+ bird-days: common on the plateau.

Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus

Heard on Kanda Shan on 11th (JH).

Red-billed Chough P. pyrrhocorax

740+ bird-days. Recorded at Xining Bei Shan, near Koko Nor, at Heka pass, in valleys near & S of Yushu, in the Kanda Shan area (daily max 200+ on 12th), at Gonghe & N of Xining.

Daurian Jackdaw Corvus dauuricus

Eight en route on 6th was the only record.

Carrion Crow C. corone

c20 N of Xining on 18th.

Large-billed Crow C. macrorhynchos

Three en route on 16th, and c15 N of Xining on 18th.

Raven C. corax

45+ bird-days. Noted on nine dates, mainly en route over high country & in the Kanda Shan area.

Rose-coloured Starling Sturnus roseus

One 1st-year bird at Wenquan on 16th was an unexpected find. A rare bird in Tibet (though described by de Schauensee (1984)), puzzlingly and clearly in error, as a "resident in S Zaidam and in the Kunlun, and in the Sutlej valley in W Tibet"), with nine of just 11 bird-days recorded at Golmud (JH pers.obs.) being 2 August - 17 September.

Tree Sparrow Passer montanus

Not systematically recorded.

Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia

255+ bird-days. Noted at Koko Nor lagoon, at the ex-commune, Gonghe (max 90 on 17th), en route S of Yushu, in the Mekong valley & at Wenquan.

Blanford's Snowfinch Pyrgilauda blanfordi

c35 W of Koko Nor on 7th & 8+ en route on 15+17th.

Rufous-necked Snowfinch P. ruficollis

c310 bird-days. Recorded mainly en route on the plateau, but also at Rubber Mt (c20 on 7th), at Wenquan (c20 on 16th) & at Er La pass (c20 on 16th).

Pere David's Snowfinch P. davidiana

20+ at Koko Nor on 6th.

White-rumped Snowfinch P. taczanowskii

c70 bird-days. Fairly common on the plateau.

Tibetan Snowfinch Montifringilla adamsii

32 bird-days. Recorded on six dates, with memorable views obtained near Wenquan & at The Gully.

Eurasian Snowfinch M. nivalis henrici

Recorded at & near Bayankala pass, and at Er La pass (c20 on 16th).

Oriental Greenfinch Carduelis sinica

Two at the ex-commune on 7th & four N of Xining on 18th.

Twite C. flavirostris

150+ bird-days. Noted on ten dates with a daily max of c50 en route from Nangqian to Yushu on 14th.

Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra

Two N of Xining on 18th.

Plain Mountain Finch Leucosticte nemoricola

133+ bird-days: one en route S of Yushu on 10th, at Kanda Shan 30+ on 11th & c100 on 14th, and at Er La pass two on 16th.

Brandt's Mountain Finch L. brandti

c68 bird-days. Recorded on five dates at Bayankala pass (max c20 on 9th), S of Yushu on 10th, on Kanda Shan on 11th (three birds), and at Er La pass (c30 on 16th).

Desert Finch Rhodospiza obsoleta

One at the ex-commune on 7th (JH, SJ).

Mongolian Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes mongolicus

Proved frustratingly difficult this summer, with the species eluding most of us despite a disproportionate amount of time spent searching: heard at ex-commune on 7th (NG, JH), seen at Gonghe on 8th (five birds: JMD) & again on 17th (two juveniles: DC, JH), and at Xining Bei Shan on 19th (two birds: DC, JH).

Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus

c42 bird-days. Recorded daily from Xiewu S during 9-15th, with up to 21+ in the Kanda Shan gorge/Mekong valley area on 13th.

Beautiful Rosefinch C. pulcherrimus

58+ bird-days. Noted on eight dates near Koko Nor, en route S of Yushu, daily at Kanda Shan (max c30 on 14th), at The Gully & N of Xining.

Pink-rumped Rosefinch C. eos

67+ bird-days. 5+ at roadside stop on 10th, c30 daily in Kanda Shan gorge over 12-13th, and two in the Mekong valley on 13th.

Sinai Rosefinch C. synoicus

Recorded only at Xining Bei Shan, with 16+ on 5th & c10 on 19th.

White-browed Rosefinch C. thura

One high on Kanda Shan on 11th, 15-30+ in Kanda Shan gorge on 12+13th, and c15 in spruce forest N of Xining on 18th.

Eastern Great Rosefinch C. rubicilloides

23 bird-days. Noted on six dates at Heka pass, in the Kanda Shan area, at Bayankala pass (one on 15th: AB) & - most memorably - eight (including an adult male 'scoped while singing in the early morning sun) in The Gully on 17th.

Great Rosefinch C. rubicilla

Five in The Gully on 17th provided a rare opportunity for direct, in-the-same-'scope-field-of-view comparison with the preceding species.

Red-breasted Rosefinch C. puniceus

Four at Kanda Shan on 11th. A bird of rocky summits, good at throwing its voice around - usually the hardest-to-get Rosefinch on the trip.

Roborovski's Rosefinch Kozlowia roborowskii

13 at Er La pass on 16th. Several confiding family groups scrutinized & video'd at point-blank range. Although the 1992 Birdquest group dipped this superb endemic is not uncommon in its preferred habitat.

Przevalski's Rosefinch Urocynchramus pylzowi

Five (two adult males, three female/juveniles) near Koko Nor on 7th, six on pass S of Yushu on 10th & two at Kanda Shan pass on 14th. A very retiring endemic.

White-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas carniceps

Three in valley S of Yushu on 10th, and 2-10+ daily in the Kanda Shan area over 11-13th.

Kozlov's Bunting Emberiza koslowi

11 birds in total on Kanda Shan.

Pine Bunting E. leucocephalos

One heard on Kanda Shan on 11th (JH).

Godlewski's Rock Bunting E. godlewskii

100+ bird-days. Recorded on 11 dates, max 25+ in the Kanda Shan gorge/Mekong valley area on both 12+13th.

Meadow Bunting E. cioides

3-4 noted at Xining Bei Shan on both 5+19th.

1999 Northeast Tibet Report by Jesper Hornskov, 29 May - 25 June

2000 Western China and Northeast Tibet Trip Report by Jon Hornbuckle & Jesper Hornskov, 21 May - 16 July


Copyright © 1992-2012 John Wall