Either for rarity value, excellent views or simply a group favourite:

  • Hill Partridge
  • Rufous-throated Partridge
  • Mountain Bamboo-Partridge
  • Kalij Pheasant
  • Mrs Hume’s Pheasant
  • Grey Peacock-Pheasant
  • Jerdon’s Baza
  • Bonelli’s Eagle
  • Ibisbill
  • Greater Painted Snipe
  • Large Hawk-Cuckoo
  • Brown Wood Owl
  • Cook’s Swift
  • Crested Kingfisher
  • Blue-eared Barbet
  • White-browed Piculet
  • Rufous-bellied Woodpecker
  • Pale-headed Woodpecker
  • Bay Woodpecker
  • Greater Yellownape
  • Great Slaty Woodpecker
  • Long-tailed Broadbill
  • Silver-breasted Broadbill
  • Blue-naped Pitta
  • Rusty-naped Pitta
  • Slender-billed Oriole
  • Common Green Magpie
  • Pygmy Cupwing
  • Black-faced Warbler
  • Grey-bellied Tesia
  • Chestnut-headed Tesia
  • Chinese Leaf Warbler
  • Black-streaked Scimitar-Babbler
  • Red-billed Scimitar-Babbler
  • Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler
  • Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler
  • Grey-bellied Wren-Babbler
  • Large Scimitar-Babbler
  • Rusty-capped Fulvetta
  • Rusty-capped Fulvetta
  • Yunnan Fulvetta
  • Spectacled Fulvetta
  • Streaked Wren-Babbler
  • White-hooded Babbler
  • Buff-breasted Babbler
  • Spot-breasted Laughingthrush
  • Moustached Laughingthrush
  • Black-throated Laughingthrush
  • Grey-sided Laughingthrush
  • Blue-winged Laughingthrush
  • Scaly Laughingthrush
  • Assam Laughingthrush
  • Red-tailed Laughingthrush
  • Rufous-backed Sibia
  • Grey Sibia
  • Black-headed Sibia
  • Spectacled Fulvetta
  • Pale-billed Parrotbill
  • Rufous-headed Parrotbill
  • Grey-headed Parrotbill
  • Spot-breasted Parrotbill
  • Spotted Elachura
  • Yunnan Nuthatch
  • Giant Nuthatch
  • Spot-winged Starling
  • Burmese Myna
  • Himalayan Thrush
  • Long-tailed Thrush
  • Scaly Thrush
  • Chinese Thrush
  • Himalayan Shortwing
  • Siberian Rubythroat
  • Spotted Forktail
  • Hodgson’s Redstart
  • Brown Dipper
  • Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker
  • Scarlet Finch
  • Tibetan Serin
  • Black-headed Greenfinch
  • Godlewski’s Bunting


Our second visit to Yunnan provided another mouth-watering selection of crippling Asian specialities. Building on the popularity of the hides at Baihualing we altered our itinerary from last year to visit another set of hides at Hongbenghe. And what an awesome place this proved to be as we saw Grey Peacock-Pheasant, Rusty-naped and Blue-naped Pitta, Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler, Spot-breasted and Grey-sided Laughingthrushes, and a group of Silver-breasted Broadbills amongst others at point-blank range. The ‘regular’ hides at Baihualing were even better than last year with Mrs Hume’s Pheasant, Himalayan and Scaly Thrushes, Grey-sided Wren-Babbler and Moustached Laughingthrush being the highlights. Other crowd pleasers here including Mountain Bamboo-Partridge, the amazing Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler, daily sightings of the stunning Red-tailed Laughingthrush and Scarlet Finch. Also new this year during our exploration were a fantastic pair of Ibisbill, Brown Dipper, Crested Kingfisher, Great Slaty Woodpecker,  a gang of spectacular Collared Falconets, Black-throated Laughingthrush, White-browed Scimitar-Babbler, Crested Bunting and Spot-winged Starling amongst others. Just have a read of the tour diary below to see what else is on offer…….

Yunnan Nuthatch


Everyone had arrived in Kunming a day early, so our group assembled this morning at breakfast before heading out on the 3 hour drive to Chuxiong and our next hotel. We were able to check in at 11.30am before walking around the corner to a restaurant for lunch, before driving 40 minutes up to our first birding site of Zixi Shan. The weather was a trifle worrying as it was raining and the pattern for the afternoon was one of us repeatedly retreating to the bus to shelter from heavy showers. But in between we saw some really good birds, beginning with a large flock of Olive-backed Pipits feeding beside the road. We began walking from here and around the first corner found a pair of Yunnan Nuthatches calling from the top of a bare tree. Wow! We followed this with Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Grey Bushchat, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch Buff-throated Warbler, at least 4 Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babblers, Ashy Drongo, and 3 Blyth’s Shrike-Babblers. A Giant Nuthatch was heard calling in the distance but we just couldn’t locate it. With mist and more rain moving in we decided to drive to another spot in the hopes of better weather, but we just couldn’t escape the rubbish weather. But the good birds kept on coming with several Black-headed Sibias, Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker, Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Chinese Thrush, Japanese and Green-backed Tits, Great Spotted Woodpecker, a flock of Black-throated Bushtits were joined by a few Black-browed Bushtits, and a Japanese White-eye appeared. We walked a little further along the road and came across an Orange-bellied Leafbird, followed by a sizeable group of White-browed Laughingthrushes, and whilst watching them a Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler showed reasonably well.

Spectacled Fulvetta

Day 2   ZI XI SHAN

Watching it rain ‘cats and dogs’ from the hotel lobby at 7am this morning I wasn’t feeling too hopeful, but as luck would have it within an hour of arriving at our favourite spot on Zixi Shan we had blue sky overhead. A male Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush greeted our arrival, as well as our friendly neighbourhood Chinese Thrush at the same spot we saw it at yesterday. Black-headed Sibias were everywhere and thoroughly enjoying the sunshine, as were Blue-fronted Redstart and a cracking Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker. Our first Russet Sparrows were scoped before things got really tasty when a Giant Nuthatch began calling nearby and pretty quickly we had a pair teed up in the scope. What a bird this is! Walking to get a closer look resulted in a pair of Godlewski’s Buntings showing nicely, along with Mountain Bulbuls and a few Japanese White-eyes. A pair of skulking Spectacled Fulvettas showed to most of the group, but a gang of Yunnan Fulvettas posed nicely alongside a pair of Rufous-capped Babblers, Buff-barred Warbler and a pair of Rufous-breasted Accentors were a great find by Mark.

Following this productive session we walked a different trail and came across our first White-collared Yuhinas, followed by a magical little spell with a group of Spectacled Fulvettas numbering at least 5 birds, being joined by several Rusty-capped Fulvettas just a couple of metres below us. A fantastic Mrs Gould’s Sunbird gave point-blank views at the same spot and Oriental White-eye and another Blue-fronted Redstart was also in the vicinity. Walking on we found a group of Olive-backed Pipits and another Godlewski’s Bunting before bumping into several mixed species flocks. The first one held both Blue-winged and Red-tailed Minlas, the next a large gathering of Black-throated Bushtits and a Pallas’s Warbler. More Yunnan Fulvettas appeared, as did  White-bellied Erpornis, some showy Chestnut-vented Nuthatches and a female Blyth’s Shrike-Babbler.

Lunch at the little restaurant was surprisingly good, which was more than could be said about our walk along the road in near gale force conditions. Giving up here was an easy decision to make and we drove to another spot where Yunnan Nuthatch was positively common, and we also saw a pair of Buff-throated Warblers, Pallas’s Warbler and Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler.

The next hour or so was pointless as we birded some open areas with only a Daurian Redstart to show for our efforts, but eventually we hit gold from a viewpoint across fields, a pool and some reeds. Pride of place went to the pair of Spot-breasted Parrotbillsparading around below us, but Alpine Leaf Warbler, Brown-flanked Bush-Warbler and several Crested Buntings were not far behind in terms of appeal. There were also Common Kingfisher, Plumbeous and White-capped Water Redstarts, groups of Scaly-breasted Munias, Eurasian Tree Sparrows, White-browed Laughingthrush, Hill Prinia and Eastern Stonechat. A pretty successful day in all.

Mrs Gould's Sunbird


This was just a travel day as we drove to the hill village of Baihualing – the mecca for rare birds in Yunnan. Along the way we passed some amazing scenery but birds were few and far between with Ruddy Shelduck, Eurasian Crag Martin and Red-rumped Swallow being the order of the day. On arrival in Baihualing at 5.30pm we had a quick walk around the corner of the hotel and saw Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler, Blue-fronted Redstart, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, and a brief Daurian Redstart. I spent the evening trying to organise entry to the hides that dot the hillside, which wasn’t easy as more and more bird photographers are visiting now and you have to be flexible over which hide and when you can be fitted in. But we had a plan and I was very excited to see how it would pan out.

Himalayan Thrush


We visited two hides and spent the whole of the day up on the mountain. See the below list of birds seen at each hide, but its difficult to describe the excitement of seeing so many birds at each location as the views are so good and everything is so close. For instance, if you’ve seen Great Barbet before then you know it’s a great bird but to see it here at such close quarters with the light so perfect is a whole new experience. So when a gang of Red-tailed Laughingthrushes comes in to feed, and that’s a bird everyone wants to see, the excitement is palpable amongst the group. Seeing Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler anywhere is tough, but at a feeding station here, well you just couldn’t imagine the mind-blowing views! The same with Mountain Bamboo-Partridge….



Hide No 35:

  1. 3 Rufous-throated Partridge
  2. 4 Mountain Bamboo-Partridge
  3. 1 Great Barbet
  4. 8+ Ashy Drongo
  5. 6+ Crested Finchbill
  6. 9 Red-vented Bulbul
  7. 10+ Flavescent Bulbul
  8. 2 Hill Prinia
  9. 4 Black-streaked Scimitar-Babblers
  10. 2 Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babblers
  11. 1 Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler
  12. Rufous-capped Babbler
  13. 10+ Rusty-capped Fulvetta
  14. 15+ Yunnan Fulvetta
  15. 5+ Blue-winged Laughingthrush
  16. 3 Scaly Laughingthrush
  17. 6+ Assam Laughingthrush
  18. 12+ Red-tailed Laughingthrush
  19. 3+ Blue-winged Minla
  20. 5 Scarlet-faced Liocichla
  21. 9+ Rusty-fronted Barwing
  22. 8 Red-billed Leiothrix
  23. 14+ Black-headed Sibia
  24. 10+ Beautiful Sibia
  25. 3 Whiskered Yuhina
  26. 1 Long-tailed Thrush
  27. 10+ Black-breasted Thrush
  28. 10+ Grey-winged Blackbird
  29. 1 Eyebrowed Thrush
  30. 1 Himalayan Shortwing
  31. 1 Himalayan Bluetail
  32. 1 Golden Bush-Robin
  33. 2 Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher
  34. 3 Large Niltava
  35. 1 Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush
  36. 2 Grey Bushchat
  37. Mrs Gould’s Sunbird

The more secluded hide in the afternoon produced a number of widespread species but seeing the ‘new’
Himalayan Thrush so well was a real privilege and not something that many people get to observe as good as this.

Hide No 27:

  1. 3 Wedge-tailed Green-Pigeon
  2. 2 Great Barbet
  3. 2 Golden-throated Barbet
  4. 2 White-bellied Erpornis
  5. 1 Ashy Drongo
  6. 2 Green-backed Tit
  7. 2 Yellow-cheeked Tit
  8. 3 Buff-barred Warbler
  9. Ashy-throated Warbler
  10. 1 Chestnut-crowned Warbler
  11. 2 Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babblers
  12. 2 Grey-throated Babbler
  13. 5 Rufous-capped Babbler
  14. 1 Golden Babbler
  15. 8+ Rusty-capped Fulvetta
  16. 20+ Yunnan Fulvetta
  17. 15+ Red-tailed Laughingthrush
  18. 7+ Blue-winged Minla
  19. 7+ Bar-throated Minla
  20. 13+ Red-tailed Minla
  21. 5 Rusty-fronted Barwing
  22. 8+ Black-headed Sibia
  23. 20+ Beautiful Sibia
  24. 3 Whiskered Yuhina
  25. 4 Chestnut-vented Nuthatch
  26. 1 Himalayan Thrush
  27. 1 Long-tailed Thrush
  28. 2 Himalayan Bluetail
  29. 3 Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher
  30. 3 Large Niltava

Walking between hides after a field lunch was rather productive with 2
Lammergeiers, Himalayan Griffon, 2 Bonelli’s Eagles, Davison’s, Hume’s and Sichuan Leaf-Warblers and a flock of Black Bulbuls.

Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler


We visited Hide No 33 this morning, that’s the famous Scarlet Finch hide. It’s a walk of approx. 800m down into the valley and boy what a morning we had from 8am – 1.30pm with stand-out highlights being 2 female Scarlet Finches that were almost the first birds we saw, a superb and stonking White’s Thrush and a pair of Slender-billed Scimitar-Babblers. Again, the sheer number, variety and volume of birds was breath-taking.





Hide No 33

  1. Banded Bay Cuckoo
  2. 2 Great Barbet
  3. 3 Greater Yellownape
  4. 1 Bay Woodpecker
  5. 30+ Long-tailed Broadbills
  6. 3 White-bellied Erpornis
  7. 1 Bronzed Drongo
  8. 4 Yellow-cheeked Tits
  9. 2+ green-backed Tits
  10. 24+ Striated Bulbuls
  11. 5+ Mountain Bulbuls
  12. 1 Buff-barred Warbler
  13. 1 Sichuan Leaf Warbler
  14. 2 Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler
  15. 2 Grey-throated Babbler
  16. 5+ Rufous-capped Babbler
  17. 2 Golden Babbler
  18. 30+ Yunnan Fulvetta
  19. 2 Blue-winged Laughingthrush
  20. 45+ Red-tailed Laughingthrush
  21. 50+ Blue-winged Minla
  22. 7+ Scarlet-faced Liocichla
  23. 12+ Rusty-fronted Barwing
  24. 35+ Silver-eared Mesia
  25. 5 Black-headed Sibia
  26. 11+ Beautiful Sibia
  27. 5 Whiskered Yuhina
  28. 35+ Oriental White-eye
  29. 6+ Chestnut-vented Nuthatch
  30. 1 White’s Thrush
  31. 7 Black-breasted Thrush
  32. 12+ Grey-winged Blackbird
  33. 2 Rufous-bellied Niltava
  34. 1 Small Niltava
  35. 5+ Large Niltava
  36. 4 Himalayan Bluetail
  37. 1 Blue Whistling Thrush
  38. 2+ Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher
  39. 2 Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush
  40. 2 Scarlet Finch

We literally had to tear ourselves away as we all wanted to see a male Scarlet Finch but we’d already booked Hide No 77 for the afternoon. The highlights from this more open setting was a great little Chestnut-headed Tesia, 3 species of barbet side-by-side, a few Long-tailed Sibias, Chestnut Thrush, another Long-tailed Thrush and a very obliging Streaked Spiderhunter.

Hide No 77

  1. 4 Rufous-throated Partridge
  2. 2 Great Barbet
  3. 4 Golden-throated Barbet
  4. 1 Blue-throated Barbet
  5. 3 Ashy Drongo
  6. 2 Yellow-cheeked Tits
  7. 1 Chestnut-headed Tesia
  8. 2 Buff-barred Warbler
  9. 2 Hill Prinia
  10. 4+ Rufous-capped Babbler
  11. 9+ Rusty-capped Fulvetta
  12. 20+ Yunnan Fulvetta
  13. 25+ Red-tailed Laughingthrush
  14. 12+ Blue-winged Minla
  15. 4 Scarlet-faced Liocichla
  16. 10+ Rusty-fronted Barwing
  17. 9+ Silver-eared Mesia
  18. 7+ Black-headed Sibia
  19. 10+ Beautiful Sibia
  20. 4 Long-tailed Sibia
  21. 3+ Whiskered Yuhina
  22. 5+ Chestnut-vented Nuthatch
  23. 1 Long-tailed Thrush
  24. 4 Black-breasted Thrush
  25. 1 Chestnut Thrush
  26. 3+ Large Niltava
  27. 6+ Himalayan Bluetail
  28. 3+ Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher
  29. 2 Orange-bellied Leafbird
  30. 2 Black-throated Sunbird
  31. 1 Streaked Spiderhunter


Mrs Hume's Pheasant


Hide No 11 is the highest feeding station on the mountain and the main targets were Hill Partridge and White-gorgeted Flycatcher, both of which we scored, but the latter is a really scarce bird in these parts. The weather was rainy and cold, so the best place to be was in a hide this morning.







Hide No 11

  1. 5 Hill Partridge
  2. 4 Rufous-throated Partridge
  3. 1 Mountain Hawk-Eagle
  4. 2 Golden-throated Barbet
  5. 1 Blyth’s Shrike-Babbler
  6. 1 White-throated Fantail
  7. 3 Green-backed Tit
  8. 4 Yellow-cheeked Tit
  9. 3 Mountain Bulbul
  10. 1 Buff-barred Warbler
  11. 1 Sichuan Leaf Warbler
  12. 6+ Grey-throated Babbler
  13. 10+ Rufous-capped Babbler
  14. 8+ Rusty-capped Fulvetta
  15. 27+ Yunnan Fulvetta
  16. 30+ Red-tailed Laughingthrush
  17. 5 Blue-winged Minla
  18. 5 Scarlet-faced Liocichla
  19. 15+ Rusty-fronted Barwing
  20. 8+ Black-headed Sibia
  21. 6+ Beautiful Sibia
  22. 5 Chestnut-vented Nuthatch
  23. 2 Long-tailed Thrush
  24. 5 Black-breasted Thrush
  25. 3 Grey-winged Blackbird
  26. 1 White-gorgeted Flycatcher
  27. 6 Large Niltava
  28. 7 Himalayan Bluetail
  29. 5+ Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher
  30. 1 Mrs Gould’s Sunbird
  31. 1 White Wagtail


In the afternoon we went lower down to Hide No 37 where there were two megas – Hume’s Pheasant and Moustached Laughingthrush.

Hide No 37

  1. 1 Mrs Hume’s Pheasant
  2. 5 Blyth’s Shrike-Babbler
  3. 1 Crested Finchbill
  4. 4 Flavescent Bulbul
  5. 2 Black-streaked Scimitar-Babbler
  6. 2 Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler
  7. 12+ Rusty-capped Fulvetta
  8. 10+ Yunnan Fulvetta
  9. 2 Moustached Laughingthrush
  10. 4 Scarlet-faced Liocichla
  11. 19+ Silver-eared Mesia
  12. 8+ Black-headed Sibia
  13. 4 Whiskered Yuhina
  14. 4+ Black-breasted Thrush
  15. 2 Grey-winged Blackbird
  16. 3 Large Niltava
  17. 2 Himalayan Bluetail
  18. 1 Golden Bush-Robin
  19. 1 Daurian Redstart
  20. 1 Blue-fronted Redstart
  21. 2 Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush
  22. 2 Grey Bushchat
  23. 2 Orange-bellied Leafbird
  24. 1 Mrs Gould’s Sunbird
Grey-bellied Wren-Babbler


We spent the morning birding the higher elevations and walked quite a way into the Gaoligongshan National Park. The day got off to a flier with crippling views of Grey-bellied Wren-Babbler from a feeding station. There wasn’t a hide, so we just stood in the open watching this crippling endemic feeding at the edge of the forest some 3 metres away from us. Amazing! There was also a Grey-capped Woodpecker nearby, along with some Mountain Bulbuls, Blue-fronted Redstart, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher and other common species. The track up into the mountains went through great forest, but just as last year, bird activity was slow and over the course of the next 3 hours the only new birds were Hume’s Treecreeper, a flock of Black-faced Warblers, Chinese Leaf Warbler and a large group of Yellow-browed Tits.

Following lunch back at the hotel we drove for around 3 hours to a nice hotel at Tengchong.

Large Hawk-Cuckoo


Spent the morning on Leifengshan, where we found ourselves at 7.45am waiting for sunrise! Walking up to the top of the mountain along the road was enlivened by Scaly Thrush, Slender-billed and Maroon Orioles and stacks of previously seen species. About three-quarters of the way up we found a cracking Rufous-bellied Woodpecker beside the road, along with a Black-headed Greenfinch singing away from the top of a pine tree, as well as a flock of Ashy Bulbuls. At the summit a Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Collared Owlet & Pygmy Cupwing were seen but a flock of 100+ Tibetan Serins was quite a sight and sound. The feeding station was relatively quiet with Red-billed Leiothrix, Bar-throated Minla, Black-throated Bushtits and the serins and some common species being seen. So we left at 1.15 for the 4 hour drive to Nabang. En-route we made a random stop and saw a pair of Striated Swallows, with a pair of Black Eagles circling overhead. Approaching the town a Slaty-backed Forktail put in a brief appearance. Our hotel for the next 3 nights is rather basic but is the best in town and does have hot showers, although the hard beds weren’t to everyone’s liking!

Pale-headed Woodpecker

Day 9   NABANG

A great day started off at first light (almost 8am!) in the immediate vicinity of our parked bus, with a pair of White-crowned Forktails parading out in the open. Things then got really interesting when a Pale-headed Woodpecker began calling and after a tense game of hide and seek we were privileged to obtain repeated views of this true skulker – one of the hardest woodpeckers to catch sight of in Asia. The same spot produced Yellow-bellied Warbler, a large flock of Striated Yuhinas, and a pair of obliging Streaked Wren-Babblers.

We followed this by walking along a nice trail through amazing habitat and pretty quickly found the first of a couple groups of Red-billed Scimitar-Babblers, as well as Rufous-faced Warbler. White-crested Laughingthrushes called from a few places along our walk without revealing themselves, but we did see a few Mountain Imperial-Pigeons, a soaring Black Eagle, Speckled Piculet, Black-crested and White-throated Bulbuls, before things got quiet. However the return to our vehicle was enlivened by a brief appearance from a Grey-bellied Tesia, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker and a flock of Blyth’s Leaf-Warblers. Lunch was enlivened by a flock that held Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Blyth’s Leaf, Davison’s and Chestnut-crowned Warblers and a Velvet-fronted Nuthatch.

After a picnic lunch in the field we walked along the road seeing a flock of Grey-headed Parrotbills just before seeing a flock containing White-hooded Babblers, and both Pale-billed and Rufous-headed Parrotbills. Oh yes! Overhead we saw Crested Honey Buzzard, displaying Crested Goshawk and amazingly, a soaring Jerdon’s Baza. Further on there were groups of Black Bulbuls and Hair-crested Drongos feeding on flowering trees, as well as a nice Little Pied Flycatcher and a few Long-tailed Sibias.

We ended the day along the river where River & Red-wattled Lapwings, White-throated Kingfisher, a superb Crested Kingfisher, Green Bee-eater and Pied Bushchat were all new additions to our list. I must thank Vaughan Ashby from Birdfinders for letting me have access info to this river site. it was greatly appreciated by the whole group and led to us seeing quite a few great birds.

Pale-billed Parrotbill

Day 10   NABANG

I woke up wondering how we could top yesterday’s success, but as luck would have it I needn’t have worried. The more I do this job the luckier I get….!!. We staked out a patch of bamboo this morning and were eventually rewarded with a group of cracking White-hooded Babblers and Rufous-headed Parrotbills, both species giving much closer and better views than yesterday’s sighting. An unusual song then got my attention as it turned out to be a pair of Grey Sibias calling exactly like Drongo Cuckoo to my ears. Truly bizarre! We then walked for a short while and managed to see Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Rufous-backed Sibia,Grey Treepie, a group of White-crested Laughingthrushes, Puff-throated Babbler, both Scarlet and Short-billed Minivets,  and best of all a Yellow-vented Flowerpecker. Back at the same stand of bamboo, and amazingly this time a group of 6 Pale-billed Parrotbills appeared and were pretty close to us for a while. Luckily for a few of the group a Coral-billed Scimitar-Babblerappeared for a short while. Overhead we saw Black Eagle, displaying Crested Goshawk and Crested Honey Buzzard. Not a bad morning at all!

After lunch at a restaurant during which time we saw Cook’s and House Swifts, Eastern Jungle Crow and Olive-backed Pipitbefore heading back into the forest seeing a surprising Lesser Coucal and more expected Grey-backed Shrike en-route. It was much quieter this afternoon with previously seen species showing once again, such as Jerdon’s Baza, Striated Yuhina, Maroon Oriole, White-throated Bulbul and others. David spotted a pair of cracking Blue-bearded Bee-eaters, whilst Grey-eyed Bulbulwas also new. So we decided to return to the river as we still had an hour of daylight spare seeing Green Bee-eater and Ashy Woodswallow en-route. And it turned out be pretty productive with 2 Crested Kingfishers, Brown Dipper, Dusky Warbler, Common Tailorbird, Indian Spot-billed Duck, White-breasted Waterhen, Citrine Wagtail, Common Moorhen, Striated Grassbirdand Black-faced Bunting – most of which were new for our list.



We had the whole morning to bird the wonderful forests of Nabang, but not before returning to the river for one last look. We got there far too early in fact at 07:30am and it was pitch black so had our first cup of coffee of the day and our usual field breakfast. It was light by 8am (just) and we were off along the path scouring the flooded fields, creek and scrub for anything new. A pair of Green Sandpipers were new, and the Citrine Wagtail was in the same place as last night with a White Wagtail of the leucopsis race. Then a Siberian Rubythroat began calling and after a little patience we were rewarded with decent views of a young male perched in a bush. There were many Dusky Warblers around, a female Hodgson’s Redstart showed well, a group of perched Wire-tailed Swallows were scoped and we enjoyed fine looks at these before a male Greater Painted Snipe flew right past us. Just as we were trying to relocate this a group of mynas flew over and landed on the telegraph wires nearby, which was such a relief as there amongst the Great Mynas were a few Collared Mynas. Yes! Such a relief and a great bird! Flushed with our success we new we it was time to head into the forest but we just wanted to push our luck that little bit more and check the river one last time for Ibisbill. Well, of course we found them as luck was definitely on our side this morning as a pair were feeding in a different part of the river that we hadn’t been to before. Always a great bird to see and not even a lifer for any of us, but I think they caused the most excitement of the entire tour so far! Oh and I almost forgot the pair of Burmese Mynas (split from Vinous-breasted Myna) that landed nearby as well.

Leaving here we drove along the road and made frequent stops, which turned out to be very productive with a couple sightings of White-browed Piculet, White-crested Laughingthrush, Grey Sibia, a flock of Red-billed Scimitar-Babblers held a Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler that came in to check us out! Result! We saw flocks of Striated Yuhinas, and plenty of previously seen species before heading to our favourite restaurant for lunch and then the 3 hour drive to Hongbenghe.

Once we reached Hornbill Valley we made a random stop to check out some activity and found the flowering bamboo hosted a large flock of Common Rosefinches. Further investigation produced Blue-eared and Coppersmith Barbets, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Black-hooded Oriole and a few White-rumped Munia. We were all impressed with the hotel at the end of the road and a quick check beside the river revealed Blue Rock Thrush, 2 Crested Kingfishers and a Black-breasted Thrush. I think everyone went to sleep vey excited about what we were going to see from the hides tomorrow.

Silver-breasted Broadbill


Difficult to put into words how good today was and when you tally up the best birds it reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Himalayas Most Wanted birds! We visited 3 different hides that were offering some mega birds and we began at 8am with Blue-naped Pitta. Oh yes! It took a little while but eventually it showed at the back of the feeding station on several occasions, one time perching out on a branch lying on the floor only to be spooked by something and it darted back into the gloom of the forest. But it did come out into the open for a few seconds and I fired off a quick record shot before it hit warp factor 10 back into the forest, never to be seen again.




Back-up birds at this hide were many although everything was shy but we still saw:

  1. 2 Kalij Pheasant
  2. 1 Common Emerald Dove
  3. 1 Blue-naped Pitta
  4. 2 Large Scimitar-Babbler
  5. 3 Red-billed Scimitar-Babbler
  6. 2 Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler
  7. 1 Spot-throated Babbler
  8. 1 Puff-throated Babbler
  9. 10+ Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush
  10. 1 Hill Blue Flycatcher
  11. 1 Chinese Blue Flycatcher
  12. 3 Large Niltava
  13. 2 White-tailed Robin
  14. 1 White-crowned Forktail
  15. 1 Little Pied Flycatcher
  16. White-throated Bulbul

The walk back up to the cars was memorable for a huge flock of Pin-tailed Green-Pigeons, with a few Thick-billed Green-Pigeons present amongst them, and best of all a Spot-winged Starling perched at the top of a massive fruiting tree.

We left here to go a short drive downhill to another hide that was offering Silver-breasted Broadbills and Grey Peacock-Pheasant. It was a longish walk down a steep slope but as soon as we arrived there were a few broadbills already perched right in front of the hide. Unfortunately not everyone had arrived and sure enough the broadbills flew away. We needn’t have worried as an hour later they re-emerged from the forest and spent ages around the feeding station. The peacock-pheasant never showed but a fine supporting cast was much appreciated:

  1. 1 Greater Yellownape
  2. 8 Silver-breasted Broadbill
  3. 1 Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
  4. 2 Common Green Magpie
  5. 15+ Red-vented Bulbul
  6. 4+ Flavescent Bulbul
  7. 10+ White-throated Bulbul
  8. 1 White-browed Scimitar-Babbler
  9. 4 Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler
  10. 5 White-crested Laughingthrush
  11. 14+ Black-throated Laughingthrush
  12. 1 Hill Blue Flycatcher
  13. 2 Rufous-bellied Niltava
  14. 1 Small Niltava
  15. 4 Large Niltava
  16. 4 White-tailed Robin
  17. 1 Blue Whistling-Thrush
  18. 1 Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher

We then left and went to the third hide of the day with Rufous-backed Sibia, Spot-breasted Laughingthrush, Grey-sided Laughingthrush and the much-wanted Grey Peacock-Pheasant being the key targets. All showed well but the peacock-pheasant left it to the last possible second to appear and just as we were about to leave at 6.15pm. Other birds seen here:

  1. 1 Grey Peacock-Pheasant
  2. 4 Spotted Dove
  3. 1 Black-naped Woodpecker
  4. 1 Ashy Drongo
  5. 2 Common Green Magpie
  6. 4 Grey Treepie
  7. 1 Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler
  8. 1 White-browed Scimitar-Babbler
  9. 3 Red-billed Scimitar-Babbler
  10. 9+ White-crested Laughingthrush
  11. 4 Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush
  12. 8+ Black-throated Laughingthrush
  13. 2 Grey-sided Laughingthrush
  14. 2 Spot-breasted Laughingthrush
  15. 1 Blue-winged Laughingthrush
  16. 12+ Red-tailed Laughingthrush
  17. 3 Scarlet-faced Liocichla
  18. 10+ Silver-eared Mesia
  19. 3+ Rufous-backed Sibia
  20. 2 Velvet-fronted Nuthatch
  21. 1 Hill Blue Flycatcher
  22. 2 Rufous-bellied Niltava
  23. 1 Small Niltava
  24. 2 Large Niltava
  25. 3 White-tailed Robin
  26. 2 Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush
  27. 2 Orange-bellied Leafbird

Driving back down the mountain this evening was punctuated with a stop to look at a roost of 8 Collared Falconets perched in the top of a leafless tree practically at eye-level from us. Wow!

Rusty-naped Pitta


Spent a few hours in a hide this morning with highlights being a superb Rusty-naped Pitta and another Grey Peacock-Pheasant. A Lesser Yellownape came in with a pair of Greater Yellownapes and a pair of Black-naped Woodpeckers – in a feeding flock. Three woodpecker species together in a flock!!






The full list from this hide:

  1. 1 Grey Peacock-Pheasant
  2. 1 Common Emerald Dove
  3. 1 Rusty-naped Pitta
  4. 2 Black-naped Woodpeckers
  5. 1 Lesser Yellownape
  6. 2 Greater Yellownapes
  7. 2 Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
  8. 20+ Red-vented Bulbul
  9. 5+ Red-billed Scimitar-Babbler
  10. 5 Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler
  11. 2 Spot-throated Babbler
  12. 3 Puff-throated Babbler
  13. 10+ White-crested Laughingthrush
  14. 6+ Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush
  15. 7 Black-throated Laughingthrush
  16. 3 Grey-sided Laughingthrush
  17. 1 Blue-winged Laughingthrush
  18. 1 Hill Blue Flycatcher
  19. 1 Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher
  20. 1 Small Niltava
  21. 1 Rufous-bellied Niltava
  22. 3 Large Niltava
  23. 4 White-tailed Robin
  24. 1  White-crowned Forktail
  25. 1 Blue Whistling-Thrush

Leaving here we staked out yesterday’s fruiting tree for the starling a few of the group missed, but that failed to materialise but we still saw quite a few Pin-tailed Green-Pigeons and a Black Eagle. So after lunch we drove down the mountain scoping a cracking Great Slaty Woodpecker, 4 Blue-bearded Bee-eaters,  and another Collared Falconet and walked long the road but it was really warm and the only new birds were an Eastern Buzzard and Blue-winged Leafbird. So we drove to the hotel for an hour off and a cup of reviving coffee before driving back up Hornbill Valley to the viewing platform. Along the way we picked up our first Greater Flameback. From the viewpoint we saw 5 Oriental Pied Hornbills, Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Mountain Imperial-Pigeon, Green-billed Malkoha, Asian Fairy-Bluebird, Grey-backed Shrike, Striated Swallow, Yellow-bellied Warbler and Blue-winged Leafbird amongst others.

Rufous-backed Sibia showed well at the hides


A last morning in the fabulous Hornbill Valley saw us picking up a few new birds including Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Black-backed Forktail and Greenish Warbler. We also saw previously seen species such as Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, Striated Yuhina, Yellow-bellied Warbler, a flock of 11 Golden-fronted Leafbirds and a flock of 8 Blue-winged Leafbirds etc. We had lunch near the viewpoint before driving 3 hours to our next base at Ruili.

Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler showed very well on several days


This was the slowest day so far as we visited Moli Tropical Rainforest Park. New birds were Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Spotted Forktail, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike and it wasn’t until after lunch that we nailed pure gold in the form of a Spotted Elachura singing away from its perch above the path. We also saw White-crowned and Slaty-backed Forktails, 5 Silver-breasted Broadbills, Scarlet Minivet, Rufous-backed Sibia, Blyth’s Leaf-Warbler, White-bellied Erpornis, Maroon Oriole, Asian House Martin, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Grey-bellied Tesia, Streaked Wren-Babbler, Long-tailed Sibia, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush and Little Pied Flycatcher. We spent the afternoon at Moli reservoir where Great Crested Grebe, Little Cormorant, Pied Kingfisher, Rufous Woodpecker, Radde’s, Grey-crowned and Yellow-streaked Warblers were added to our list. We also saw Common Green Magpie, Yellow-browed Warbler and Olive-backed Pipit during our walk.

Common Green Magpie is a widespread Asian bird.


We began the day with a fine Brown Wood Owl in the spotlight before our last field breakfast of the trip. Once the sun was up we were treated to 5 species of woodpecker with Stripe-breasted and Bay being the highlights. A flock of over 30 Large Woodshrikes was quite a sight as we scanned an open area in the forest. Over the next few hours we saw many previously seen species in glorious sunshine to round off another wonderful Yunnan tour. All that was left was to return to Ruili for lunch before driving to the airport and our return flight to Kunming and the end of the tour.