Bird Watching in China
China is a vast and productive land. Our China birding tours showcase the region’s many special and spectacular species, including numerous endemics and near endemics, as well as birds that are otherwise difficult to see elsewhere.
Our Southeast China in Spring tour targets some of Asia’s rarest species, drawing the attention of even those with already impressive Asia and world lists. Seldom visited by western birders, we shall embark on a short, but action packed adventure beginning at the Minjiang Estuary, Fuzhou before moving our way slowly to Shanghai visiting the hot spots of Emei Feng, Wuyuan and Rudong en route. We hit the ground running searching for the Critically Endangered Chinese Crested Tern at the Minjiang Estuary and the very skulky White-necklaced Partridge in Fuzhou itself. We move north east to Emei Feng, to find one of the world’s rarest pheasants, Cabot’s Tragopan and Spotted Elachura, now placed in its own family. Moving further north, we make a stop in Wuyuan for the recently discovered Blue-crowned (Courtois’s) Laughingthrush, of which perhaps 200 individuals still exist. Our final mega target for the tour is the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, which fattens up on the mud flats near Rudong before making its final flight to breed in Russia. Aside from the big draw card species, we shall collect a host of migrant passerines and other sought after species including Elliot’s Pheasants, Nordmann’s Greenshank, Saunder’s Gull, Fujian Fulvetta, Hartert’s Warbler, Siberian Blue Robin, Red-flanked Bluetail, Siberian Thrush, Pallas’s Reed Buntings and a bevy of Phylloscopus warblers.
Our short Reeves’s Pheasant & Crested Ibis extension to the southern most country of Henan Province is dedicated to finding a handful of incredibly range restricted and endangered species. Departing Shanghai, we fly to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China before taking a bullet train north to Xinyang and transferring to our guesthouse near Dongzhai Nature Reserve. Our time here will be spent at specially constructed blinds, the core forest zone, Ling Shan mountain and the marshes surrounding Xinyang searching for Reeves’s Pheasant, Crested Ibis and Fairy Pitta. A fine supporting cast that includes Narcissus and Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Masked Laughingthrush, Tristram’s Bunting, Rufous-faced Warbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler and a host of migrant warblers shall keep us royally entertained during our search for the priority targets.
Our China in Winter birding tour concentrates on the south-east of this huge nation and offers a rich kaleidoscope of impressive and localised bird specialities, including several of the world’s most spectacular cranes. Foremost among these, poetically referred to as ‘the birds of heaven’, will be the elegant Siberian Crane, one of the rarest cranes on Earth. During this China birding tour we will also be looking for an impressive supporting cast of exciting birds, including the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, which has recently been found to winter in this area, the rare Scaly-sided Merganser, thousands of Swan Geese, Falcated Duck, Baikal Teal, Oriental Stork, Saunders’s Gull, Reed Parrotbill, Pied Falconet, Elliot’s Pheasant and possibly even the rare Swinhoe’s Crake!
Sichuan Province showcases China’s finest and most rewarding birding hotspots and we will explore some of the most pristine and remote regions for the many special breeding residents. We will search a variety of habitats ranging from moss-draped, broad-leaved and coniferous forests and extensive hillsides covered with bamboo, to the vast alpine meadows and scrubby slopes of the Tibetan Plateau. The scenery on this tour is truly spectacular with amazing panoramic views of forest-clad mountains and snow-capped peaks throughout the tour. Pheasants are of particular interest and we will be on the lookout for an astonishing ten species! These include White Eared and Blue Eared, Golden, Koklass, Blood and Lady Amherst’s Pheasants, Temminck’s Tragopan and Chinese Monal. The supporting cast includes an astonishing ten species of Parrotbill that include Great, Three-toed, Spectacled, Ashy-throated, Grey-hooded, Fulvous, Golden and Przevalski’s Parrotbills, as well as Verreaux’s Monal-Partridge, Tibetan and Snow Partridges, Tibetan Snowcock, the rare Pere David’s Owl, Chinese Grouse, Wallcreeper, Snow Pigeon, stately Black-necked Crane, Darjeeling and Black Woodpeckers, range-restricted Emei Shan Liocichla, Pere David’s Tit, the recently described Sichuan Treecreeper, spectacular Firethroat, White-browed and Crested Tit-Warblers, Przevalski’s and Chinese Nuthatches, Sichuan Jay, stunning Grandala and an amazing selection of laughingthrushes, warblers, snowfinches and rosefinches. We may even encounter the endemic and monotypic Przevalski’s Finch (Pinktail) and the unique and bizarre Ibisbill. Fascinating cultures, dramatic and breath-taking landscapes, plus a bounty of exceptional and beautiful birds all make for one of the most rewarding birding experiences in all of Asia.
Located in south-western China, Yunnan Province has recorded over 770 bird species, including several species that are restricted to this tiny area of southern China and neighboring northern Myanmar and remote north-east India, ranking first in China in terms of total bird species. Yunnan has a varied climate ranging from subtropical forests in the hills and lowlands to cool temperate forests in the higher mountains. Highlights include Lady Amherst’s and Mrs. Hume’s Pheasants, Yunnan and Giant Nuthatches, Red-tailed and the rare and endangered White-speckled Laughingthrushes, superb Scarlet-faced Liocichla, Chinese Babax, Chinese and Black-breasted Thrushes, Rusty-capped, Yellow-throated, Spectacled and Yunnan Fulvetta, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Black-headed Greenfinch, Beautiful and Black-headed Sibia, Chinese Blue Flycatcher, Black-streaked Scimitar Babbler, Godlewski’s Bunting, Black-bibbed Tit and the extremely localized and unique Rufous-tailed Babbler (Moupinia).
Our Qinghai and Tibetan Plateau tour showcases China’s remote, seemingly endless and scenically spectacular Tibetan Plateau and targets every single Tibetan speciality and much more! Commencing in Qinghai Province, we explore some of north-eastern Tibet’s most pristine and remote regions for its many breeding residents and northern migrants. Targets include the superb Blue Eared Pheasant, Chinese Grouse, elegant Black-necked Crane, Tibetan and Pallas’s Sandgrouses, Himalayan Snowcock, Henderson’s Ground Jay, Wallcreeper, Przevalski’s (Ala Shan) Redstart, Crested Tit-Warbler, Gansu Leaf Warbler, Ground Tit, an assortment of rosefinches (including Tibetan and Great) and six species of snowfinches, as well as the unique and beautiful Przevalski’s Finch and Ibisbill (both placed in their own monotypic families). We then make our way as far south as Nangqian where we search the extensive coniferous forests, gorges and scrub-covered slopes for specialities like White Eared Pheasant, Szechenyi’s Monal-Partridge, Tibetan Snowcock, Tibetan Partridge, Tibetan Bunting and Tibetan Babax amongst many other range-restricted and habitat-specific avian delights before returning to Xining. Fascinating cultures, dramatic and breathtaking landscapes, plus a bounty of exceptional birds all make this tour one of the most rewarding birding experiences that Asia has to offer!
Our exciting Lhasa extension takes us to one of the least visited ‘cities’ on our planet. Here we have the very rare opportunity of exploring this ancient city and its surrounds – all of which was previously off-limits to foreigners – for some very special birds, not to mention the wealth of traditional arts and crafts for which this region is so very famous. On the bird front, our primary targets include such specials as Tibetan Eared Pheasant, Giant Babax and Tibetan Blackbird, along with more widespread yet no less exciting species as the beautiful Tibetan Partridge, Tibetan Snowcock, Japanese Tit and unique Ibisbill.