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China: Sichuan ~Women-Only~

A short but comprehensive tour taking in all the key birding sites of Sichuan in search of the many endemics and specialties. From the high Tibetan Plateau to the forested valleys below, expect some superb pheasants: Blood Pheasant, Chinese Monal, Lady Amherst's Pheasant, Temminck's Tragopan, Blue Eared Pheasant, Koklass Pheasant, Golden Pheasant, and Snow Partridge to name just a few! At this time of year the stunningly scenic region is full of breeding passerines like Grandala, Red-winged Laughingthrush, Great Parrotbill, White-browed Tit Warbler, the monotypic Przevalski’s Finch (Pinktail), plus so many robins, warblers, rosefinches, and buntings.

Next dates

20 May - 3 June 2025

Tour length: 15 days

Group size limit: 7

Leaders:

Donna Belder and Bella Zhang

Spaces available

Despite travel to China sometimes being viewed with trepidation, foreign bird tours to the country have been running successfully in 2024. Participants experienced no issues obtaining visas, ground logistics are running smoothly, and the birding is excellent!

Day 1: Arrivals into Chengdu International Airport (CTU).

Day 2: Before driving north in the mountains, we will make an early morning visit to a park east of Chengdu, where we stand good chances to find our first specialties like Chinese Blackbird, Light-vented Bulbul, Vinous-throated Parrotbill, White-browed Laughingthrush, Yellow-billed Grosbeak, White-cheeked Starling plus many more. We will spend the rest of the day driving to the fantastic Jiuzhai Valley National Park for a two-night stay.

Day 3: Exploring various stretches of the beautiful Jiuzhai Valley, we should encounter many Sichuan specialties today. We’ll hope to find Snowy-cheeked Laughingthrush, Sichuan and Rufous-vented Tits, Crested Tit-Warbler, Chinese Fulvetta, Blue-fronted and White-throated Redstarts, Rufous-breasted and Maroon-backed Accentors, Pink-rumped Rosefinch, Siberian Rubythroat or White-winged Grosbeak. We’ll also spend time studying the numerous Phylloscopus warblers, like Sichuan Leaf, Claudia’s Leaf, Large-billed Leaf, Hume’s or Buff-barred Warblers. This is also our first chance for the rare “Per David’s” Ural Owl.

Day 4: After some final birding in Jiuzhai, we’ll make our way to the Tibetan plateau for a three-night stay in Ruoergai.

Day 5-6: Two full days of birding the Tibetan Plateau around Roeurgai, where we hope to cross path with Black-necked Cranes, Tibetan Partridge, Upland Buzzard, the monotypic Przevalski’s Finch (or Pinktail), but also other fantastic Tibetan specialties like the huge Tibetan Lark, Ground Tit, Tibetan, Rufous-necked and White-rumped Snowfinches, Chinese Grey Shrike, White-browed Tit-Warbler. We will also have time to visit the high elevation forests of Baxi, where we could find Chinese Grouse, Verreaux’s Partridge, Blue Eared Pheasant, Per David’s, Giant and Snowy-cheeked Laughingthrushes, Sichuan Jay, White-backed Thrush, White-browed and Japanese Tits, amongst many others.

Day 7: After some final birding, we will head south towards Maerkang, our destination for the next two nights. We will make stops en-route, including more time to look for Przevalski’s Finch if needed.

Day 8: The entire day will be spent birding the coniferous forests of Mengbishan, where we will be hoping for White Eared Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Koklass Pheasant, Verreaux’s Partridge, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Giant Laughingthrush, Chinese Babax, Sichuan Jay, a vast array of Rosefinches (including Chinese White-browed, Pink-rumped, Beautiful and Common), plus Przevalski’s Nuthatch, Sichuan Leaf Warbler, White-winged Grosbeak, and Collared Grosbeak.

Day 9: Following an early morning birding session, transfer to Wolong National Nature Reserve for three nights.

Day 10-11: We will have two days of birding at Wolong, from the lower coniferous forests all the way up to the high alpine meadows. All surrounded by tremendous landscapes and snow-capped peaks towering above 5000m! At the highest elevation we can reach by road (Balangshan Pass at 4500m), we stand good chances to locate some of the most fantastic Phasianidae, including Chinese Monal, Snow Partridge, Tibetan Snowcock, and more chances for White Eared Pheasant. Some exciting passerines include Chinese Rubythroat, Grandala, Golden Bush Robin, Brandt’s and Plain Mountain Finches, White-browed Tit-Warbler, Alpine Accentor, Dark-breasted and Red-fronted Rosefinches. Other birds should include Bearded Vulture, Himalayan Griffon, Snow Pigeon and Alpine Chough. Lower down in the forest lives a different array of birds, like the amazing Golden Pheasant, Black-streaked and Barred Laughingthrushes, the stupendous Firethroat, Slaty Bunting, and Chinese Thrush, amongst many others.

Day 12: After some last birding at Wolong, we transfer to Longcanggou for three nights, where we can start birding in the late afternoon.

Day 13-14: Once again, Phasianidae will be high on our wish-lists at Loncanggou Forest Park, and we’ll make a special effort in order to observe Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, Temminck’s Tragopan, and Chinese Bamboo Partridge. Passerines are much in evidence here with a number of restricted-range endemics and near-endemics. Amongst others, we’ll be looking for the endemic Gold-fronted Fulvetta, Streaked Barwing, Emei Liocichla, Red-winged and Buffy Laughingthrushes, Ashy-throated, Golden and the scarce Grey-hooded Parrotbills, Sichuan Treecreeper, Kloss’s Leaf, Marten’s and Alstrom’s Warblers, and Fujian Niltava.

Day 15: After a morning transfer from Loncanggou, the tour ends this afternoon at Chengdu International Airport (CTU) in time for evening flights.

Tour details

MAIN TOUR 2025
Cost:
$ 4,800
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 500

It is important to note that this tour includes all transfers to and from CTU, so participants will not need to navigate this somewhat confusing city themselves!

Accommodation: Comfortable hotels throughout, but note several days of long drives.

Walking difficulty: Mostly easy roadside birding and short forest trails, though note that some high altitudes are involved.

Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.