Sichuan lies in the very heart of China and is situated on the eastern edge of the vast Tibetan Plateau. It is a huge province, the size of France and hosts the richest concentration of Chinese specialities and endemics in this vast country. There is a remarkable wealth of birdlife waiting in its rich evergreen and temperate forests, alpine meadows and mighty snow-capped mountains. China is a vast country and it is impossible to do justice to the amazing diversity of superb birds in one trip, so this tour concentrates on the mountainous province of Sichuan. Our specially designed shorter tour takes in the well-known sites of Longcanggou, Labahe, Erlang Shan and Balang Shan and provides the opportunity to see as many endemic and sough-after specialities as possible. With such enigmatic species as Temminck's Tragopan, Chinese Monal, Firethroat, Emei Shan Liocichla, Red-winged Laughingthrush and much more, all seen amidst some of the most spectacular mountainous scenery imaginable and you can see why this is such an exciting tour. We are also proud of the fact that this is the most competitively priced Sichuan tour available and provides excellent value for money.
Lady Amherst's Pheasant
Emei Shan Liocichla
Day 1 UK - Chengdu- 23rd June
Overnight direct flight with British Airways from London to Chengdu.
Day 2 Chengdu – Longcanggou
Following a morning arrival in Chengdu we will have some lunch before heading south towards Longcanggou. Along the way we will stop to look for Forest Wagtail, Tiger Shrike and Swinhoe's Minivet which we probably won't see elsewhere. Approaching the impressive forested hills below our lodge we have our first opportunity to see species such as Brown Dipper, Spotted & Slaty-backed Forktails, Chinese Blue Flycatcher and Yellow-bellied Tit amongst others. Night in Longcanggou.
Days 3 – 6 Longcanggou, Labahe & Erlang Shan
We will split our time between three of the finest mountain reserves in Sichuan over the following days in search of numerous key species. Longcanggou is a relatively new site that we have been visiting over the past couple of years and is particularly good for Temminck's Tragopan, White-bellied Redstart, White-browed Bush-robin, the extremely localised and endemic Emei Shan Liocichla, Black-faced and Elliott's Laughingthrushes, Grey-hooded and Great Parrotbills, Aberrant Bush-warbler, and both Kloss's and Emei Leaf-warblers amongst others. There are also chances of seeing Red Panda, as we did on our 2013 tour.
Labahe is a superb area that gives us opportunities to see practically everything that used to be possible at Wawu Shan, before its closure. We will have plenty of time to explore this 3000m mountain by means of a private track that takes you to a scenic boardwalk through moss-encrusted forest and a huge stand of bamboo. Our visit here gives us an outstanding chance of seeing the stunningly beautiful Temminck's Tragopan, as well as Lady Amherst's Pheasant. The mere fact that there isn't a public road to the top makes searching for the specialities a far more pleasant experience requiring a lot less effort! The terrain here consists of jagged mountain peaks, mixed coniferous-rhododendron forest, bamboo and evergreen broadleaf woodland and provides a spectacular setting for our search of Brown, Three-toed, Ashy-throated, Fulvous, Golden and Grey-headed Parrotbills, Rusty and Red-winged Laughingthrushes, Claudia's and Sichuan Leaf-warblers, as well as Buff-throated among 17 other phylloscopus warblers to be recorded here, 7 species of bush-warbler, Alstrom's, Bianchi's and Marten's Warblers, Grey-hooded Fulvetta and the near endemic Yellow-bellied Tit. Other special birds here are Chinese Blue Flycatcher, Chinese Song Thrush, Elliott's and Red-winged Laughingthrushes, White-collared Yuhina and Slaty Bunting. There are also a huge selection of other species, many of which range further west across the Himalayas including Crimson-breasted and White-backed Woodpeckers, Large and Whistling Hawk-cuckoos, Oriental and Lesser Cuckoos, Collared Owlet, Rufous-breasted Accentor, White-tailed Robin, White-browed Shortwing, White-bellied Redstart, Fujian and Vivid Niltavas, Scaly-breasted and Pygmy Wren-babblers, Blyth's Shrike-babbler, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Black-chinned Yuhina, Spotted Laughingthrush, Rufous-vented Tit, Gould's Sunbird, Japanese White-eye, both Dark-breasted and Dark-rumped Rosefinches and Grey-headed Bullfinch. On our last visit we even found the rare endemic Golden-fronted Fulvetta and Rufous-tailed Babbler.
Our last special site is Erlang Shan where Lady Amherst's Pheasant, Firethroat, Brown-breasted Bulbul, Black-streaked Scimitar-babbler, Barred Laughingthrush, Chinese Babax, Streaked Barwing, Chinese Leaf-warbler and Godlewski's Bunting can be found. We will stay at conveniently located lodges/hotels, very close to all of the birding sites.
Days 7 – 9 Erlang Shan - Wolong – Balang Shan
We'll have an early morning excursion for any species still needed before our route takes us up through the bird-rich Balang Shan mountain range where the road reaches its highest point at the 4500m pass and is the right habitat zone for Tibetan Snowcock, Snow Partridge, Chinese Monal, Snow Pigeon, Grandala, Alpine and Red-billed Choughs, Alpine Accentor, Red-fronted Rosefinch and Brandt's Mountain-finch. We will spend 2 full days around the fabulous Balang Shan beginning at daybreak as the rare Wood Snipe displays over the hillsides covered in azalea-scrub. The endemic White Eared-Pheasant forages unobtrusively, Firethroats reside in the bamboo thickets, and both Koklass and Golden Pheasants hide in the undergrowth. Other species here include Lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, White-throated Needletail, Crimson-breasted woodpecker, Rosy and Olive-backed Pipits, White-tailed Rubythroat, Indian Blue Robin, White-browed Bush-robin, White-browed Tit-warbler, White-throated and Daurian Redstarts, Kessler's and Chestnut Thrushes, Spotted Bush-warbler, Alpine and Chinese Leaf-warblers, Barred Laughingthrush, White-browed Fulvetta, White-collared Yuhina, Grey-crested and Fire-capped Tits, Chestnut-flanked White-eye, Spotted Nutcracker, White-winged and Collared Grosbeaks, Maroon-backed Accentor, Slaty Bunting, Plain Mountain-Finch, and Dark-breasted, Pink-rumped, Chinese Beautiful and Streaked Rosefinches. Nights at Rilong.
Day 10 Balang Shan – Chengdu If we still need any species there's a final opportunity to return to Balang Shan before leaving the wetter alpine zone and heading back to Chengdu. Nights at Chengdu.
Day 11 Chengdu – End of Tour- 3rd July
We have some time to check out a nearby park in search of a few species we may not see elsewhere on the tour. In particular we shall look for the endemic Chinese Bulbul and Chinese Blackbird, as well as Rufous-faced Warbler, Vinous-throated Parrotbill, White-browed Laughingthrush, Oriental Greenfinch, Crested Myna, Yellow-billed Grosbeak, and both Red-billed and White-cheeked Starlings.Then we will transfer to the airport and our return flights to the UK, where we should arrive in the late afternoon & the end of the tour.
Group size:Minimum for tour to go ahead 4 and maximum 8.
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals including picnic lunches where necessary, bottled water, snacks, all entrance fees, transport throughout, and services of local guides and leaders.
Not included:International airfare with British Airways, insurance, visa fee, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation:The hotels used during this tour range from standard to good, all with en-suite facilities. We will stay in the best available lodges/guest houses as close to the birding sites as possible.
Tour Code: This is a relatively adventurous tour as we will spend a lot of the tour birding between 2,700m - 4,200m, although this is mainly from roads. Any climbing will be done very slowly. Some long drives are necessary but the roads are mainly paved now and our minibus/coaster is both comfortable and well maintained. The weather is variable at this time of year, but expect it to be quite warm around Chengdu, ranging to cold with possible snow showers in higher areas. Rain is possible in the mountains. Please note that we may well amend the tour itinerary to include some new sites for this tour, and hopefully find more birds!