For anyone with a sense of adventure, it is with an almost mystical regard that they look towards the Qinghai - Tibetan Plateau and the list of mouth-watering species that resides here. This isolated, high-altitude region has long held a certain fascination for birders and now, with ‘new’ areas opening up, we are pleased to present our take on the region, which surely holds some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. Our birding on ‘The Roof of the World’ as the Tibetan Plateau is widely known, begins around the mountains close to Xining before moving slowly up onto the Tibetan Plateau as we visit all of the prime sites to find those very special birds. Our tour is timed for the early summer period when the weather is at its mildest and bird activity is at its highest. Amongst the very impressive scenery of snow-capped mountains, high-altitude passes, hidden valleys and tumbling streams we will search for such charismatic and much-wanted species such as Szecheny's Monal-Partridge, Pink-tailed Finch, a species recently placed into its own family, Tibetan and Himalayan Snowcocks, Henderson’s Ground-Jay, Tibetan and Pallas's Sandgrouse, Pale and Roborovski's (Tibetan) Rosefinches, Kozlov’s Bunting, 6 species of Snowfinch, and a whole host of other endemic, scarce and localised species. To add to the main targets we will look for Daurian Partridge, White Eared-Pheasant, Severtzov's Grouse, Saker, Chinese Nuthatch, Siberian Bluetail, Tibetan Grey Shrike, White-browed Tit-Warbler, White-browed Tit, Smoky Warbler, Tibetan Snowfinch, Brown and Robin Accentors, Pine Bunting, and both Red-fronted and Streaked Rosefinches amongst others.
Our tour will also focus on the amazing mammals of the region, and in particular we will spend two full days searching a remote area for the Grey Ghost of the Mountains - Snow Leopard. With the help of local trackers and villagers we will have a reasonable chance of catching a glimpse of this apex predator, which in this region, has the highest density of Snow Leopards on the planet. Unlike other Tibet tours, we will go off the beaten track and visit Wild Yak Valley in search of truly wild Wild Yaks! Other mammalian possibilities include Pallas's Cat, Wolf, Lynx, Tibetan Antelope and Przewalski's Gazelle.
Just to add to this already incredible adventure we will cross some of the most remotest areas of the plateau on an overnight sleeper train bound for Lhasa, the historical capital of the Tibetan region. Our focus will be on the three main ornithological attractions to be found here, Tibetan Eared-Pheasant, Giant Babax and Prince Henri's Laughingthrush. This will be a thrilling climax to our Tibetan adventure and we have plenty of time to soak up the special atmosphere of this fabled city before we have to head back home. An optional extension to the far north-west of China and Xinjiang Province will see us explore the vast Taklamakan Desert where the near-mythical Biddulph's Ground-Jay resides, along with Central Asian specialities such as White-winged Woodpecker, Saxaul Sparrow and Tarim Babbler. A day in the Tien Shan Mountains will round off our visit as we search for Eversmann's Redstart, Fire-fronted Serin and Red-mantled Rosefinch amongst other species.