by JESPER HORNSKOV
This report covers the birds seen on a journey in Qinghai Province, China, by R. Ferguson, A. Lamont, J.E. Richardson, T. & F. Serck-Hanssen, B. Soderlund & myself during late spring/ early summer 1999.
We assembled in Beijing, China's capital, in the course of 29th, and managed a bit of birdwatching during visits to the Summer Palace and to the gardens of hospital near our hotel. The next morning we flew to Lanzhou, Gansu, where our drivers were waiting with the 4WDs, and we were soon in Xining, Qinghai.
Starting early the next morning for the forests N of the town we reached habitat as the rain stopped, and while the clouds lifted had the first of many roadside cups of coffee . After lunch John spotted an Eagle Owl on a cliff above the road before we moved on to the next site; here we almost immediately found Przevalski's Nuthatch, and as evening approached also Crested Tit-warbler.
June 1st saw us leaving Xining for the main leg of the tour. After many stops we eventually reached the small town where we would spend the night - the hotel wasn't a cheerful place, and by grey morning it looked positively grim... We wasted no time leaving, continuing slowly S through wet snow, and again spent the day on the road.
The Banma area had not previously been visited by birdwatchers, and we were pleased to find extensive forest with healthy populations of gamebirds.
On 7th we headed W, breaking the long journey to watch Himalayan Griffons attack a skinned yak carcass, and to scrutinize our first Brandt's Mountain Finches & Guldenstadt's Redstarts. The latter were near a nomads' tent and the inhabitants came out to enquire about what we were doing... Scanning the distant flats we counted 115 Tibetan Gazelle (and two Kiang) before we arrived at Maduo where the coal stoves in our rooms were much appreciated.
We'd scarcely passed the uppermost bridge over the Huang He before we saw our first wolf close to the road, and soon we were watching five pairs of Black-necked Cranes on a vast wetland. Most of us had close-up views of a pair of Roborovski's Rosefinches a few stops later, and then the road dropped down to the Yangtze, crossed a bridge, and took us into Yushu, the main town in this part of the world.
In the evening we pioneered a huge restaurant close to our comfortable hotel - Bob became the first birder to celebrate his birthday in Yushu, with a highranking official, an old friend of our minder, sponsoring the really quite edible cake.
The activities of what must have been thousands of road workers slowed us considerably en route to Nangqian - birding stops had to be brief, and some of the drive's nine Lammergeiers were identified from the moving vehicles! Having checked in at a private lodge we after some dithering dove into a cave-like cafe for a bowl of noodles before retiring early.
We spent three whole days plus a morning exploring Kanda Shan - the weather held, and we all thoroughly enjoyed our stay in this remote part of the world!
As we headed N from Yushu in the morning of June 14 the weather changed - we only just managed to inspect a holy place on the edge of town before the rain started, and we abandoned the idea of some roadside scrub beyond the river... Later, post beef-and-mushroom, we spotted another couple of wolves, and got caught in weather watching what was very likely the same Roborovski's Rosefinches we'd seen on the drive down. No matter: we reached Wenquan as planned, with 260 Upland Buzzards logged, and a third wolf seen crossing the road in front of us.
Rain kept us in bed an extra two hours the next morning - noone complained! Er La pass - always demanding, always rewarding... we were undoubtedly the best acclimatized group to try the forbidding heights, and well back at the motel all we felt was happiness at having done it (and at having seen Tibetan Sandgrouse): there wasn't an altitude-induced headache between us!
Heading for Koko Nor well timed stops produced the best views of Mongolian Larks so far, and Desert Finch as a surprise. Later we laughed at a Yellow Bittern doing its vertical freeze skulking routine in grass barely an inch deep, and cheered when three Cranes soaring on the breeze could be identified as Demoiselles... however, the roadmenders got the last laugh as we jolted towards Heimahe in a cloud of dust, blinded by the low sun.
We had certainly earned a day away from our vehicles, though the rest we'd arguably also earned never really materialized - Przevalski's Rosefinch was deemed more important, and Trygve duly found us a pair above the small town where we spent three nights. The afternoon was spent on the shores of Koko Nor, watching Great Black-headed Gulls and swarms of Bar-headed Geese.
The road workers were scarcely out of bed by the time we reached the desert, and we'd barely had the first sip of coffee before some Henderson's Ground Jays appeared. Excellent views were obtained also of Pallas's Sandgrouse and Blanford's Snowfinch, and after lunch a search at the secret site for Przevalski's Redstart eventually paid off.
We left Koko Nor behind before midday, opting for an early return to Xining. Over lunch we said goodbye to Angus and Bob - they continued to Lanzhou to fly to Beijing and beyond the following day (which the rest of us spent sightseeing and resting).
On 21st the road E of Xining was busy with brightly dressed village women travelling to some festival or market, packed into any contraption capable of moving them along - we stopped on a minor pass to photograph them as they struggled up in clouds of black exhaust. Later we also spent time photographing the spectacular Huang He gorge as we approached Mengda.
We stayed three nights in a simple forest lodge, enjoying some of the best (and unquestionably the most relaxed) birdwatching on the trip in an area of spruce and mixed forest by a pretty lake.
On 24th we returned to Xining, and the following day saw some lovely Sinai Rosefinches on the nearby eroded hills before flying E for Beijing Roast Duck in China's capital on the eve of our departure.
The following list is based on our daily log. The concept bird-days is used for convenience: it is the avian equivalent of man-hours - the daily totals added up to give a handy measure of relative abundance: a pair of Golden Eagles seen four days running equals eight bird-days.
Anyone interested in future trips to the area, or to other parts of China, can contact the author at
Bei Ling Lu 4 Duan no. 1
Phone/fax: +86 335 403 4587 E-mail: email@example.com
Finally I'd like to acknowledge the considerable stamina and high spirits of my companions - thank you for making the tour such good fun!
Beidaihe, September 1999.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Ten at Summer Palace, Beijing, on 29 May.
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
27+ at colony S of Maduo on 8th and 14th; present at colony at the Koko Nor lagoon on 16th and 18th (65 birds counted on the latter occasion).
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
One on the Huang He on 2nd, and c400 at Heimahe on 17th.
Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis
One at Summer Palace, Beijing on 29 May; two at Koko Nor on 16th.
Apparently the first record for the Tibetan plateau: not included by Vaurie (1972) or Cheng (1987).
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
c40 at Summer Palace, Beijing, on 29 May, and one immature at E end of Koko Nor on 16th.
A vagrant to Tibet: not included for the region by Vaurie (1972) or Cheng (1987), but singles have been recorded at Golmud and Xining (JH pers. obs.).
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Seven on the Mekong at Nangqian on 11th were possibly the first recorded in Qinghai Province.
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus
One at Summer Palace, Beijing, on 29 May; three at Nangqian on 11th.
Apparently only a vagrant to Qinghai (Cheng 1987).
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
One at Summer Palace, Beijing, on 29 May; one at E end of Koko Nor on 19th.
Neither Vaurie (1972) nor Cheng (1987) recorded the species for Tibet.
Great Egret E. alba
Recorded only at the E end of Koko Nor: four on 16th, and six on 19th.
Fairly scarce but regular in N Qinghai where suitable habitat exists (JH pers.obs.).
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Two flying upstream along Huang He on 1st; 3-4 on both visits to E end of Koko Nor.
Black Stork Ciconia nigra
A flock of seven en route on 2nd (JR).
Oriental White Stork C. boyciana
Four en route to Beijing airport on 30th (RF, AL).
A surprising record of an endangered species...
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
One at E end of Koko Nor on 16th and 19th.
A scarce but probably regular visitor to N Tibet.
Greylag Goose A. anser
12-15 noted on both visits to E end of Koko Nor - also 4-5 at Heimahe on 17th.
Bar-headed Goose A. indicus
One on the Huang He on 2nd, up to c100 seen most days on the high plateau, at E end of Koko Nor 200+ on 16th and 50 on 19th... counts which were rather overshadowed by a spectacular c2,500 on the Koko Nor meadows at Heimahe on 17th.
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
Recorded on ten days, max 300+ daily at Koko Nor.
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
One at Summer Palace, Beijing, on 29 May - in Qinghai two S of Maduo on 8th, one at E end of Koko Nor on 16th, and five there on 19th.
Gadwall A. strepera
Three at E end of Koko Nor on 19th.
Common Teal A. crecca
Eight at E end of Koko Nor on 19th.
Mallard A. platyrhynchos
Ten at Summer Palace, Beijing, on 29 May; two at wetland near Maduo on 8th, and at E end of Koko Nor 30+ on 16th & 12 on 19th.
Spot-billed Duck A. poecilorhyncha
Two at E end of Koko Nor on 16th was the only record.
Northern Pintail A. acuta
2-3 seen on both visits to E end of Koko Nor.
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina
Seen daily in the Koko Nor area, max 160+ on 19th.
Common Pochard Aythya ferina
35 at E end of Koko Nor on 19th.
Ferruginous Duck A. nyroca
Superb views were obtained at E end of Koko Nor, four birds on 16th, seven on 19th...
Tufted Duck A. fuligula
Seven S of Maduo on 8th, 3-15 daily at Koko Nor.
Goosander Mergus merganser
Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus
Late migrants were seen over Dari on 2nd (four birds) and near Banma on 3rd (two birds) & 5th (one bird).
Black Kite Milvus migrans
Seen most days: 53-54 bird-days in total.
Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus
29 bird-days: noted on 12 dates, with a number of individuals frame-fillingly close.
Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis
142+ bird-days, incl. 18 at a yak carcass at Dari on 7th.
Black Vulture Aegypius monachus
2-3 S of Xining on 1st.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk A. nisus
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Five bird-days, all in the Banma area.
Upland Buzzard B. hemilasius
682 bird-days. Common on the plateau where Pikas are found: max 260 on the drive from Yushu to Wenquan on 14th, many of which were perched on telegraph poles.
Golden Eagle A. chrysaetos
22 bird-days. Mainly seen S of Yushu, where repeated sightings in the Kanda Shan area boosted our total.
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
A dark morph bird was near Gonghe on 16th.
Vaurie (1972) recorded the species for Changtang and Ladakh while Cheng (1987), ignoring this, listed it only for Xinjiang (as a breeder in Tien Shan and at Korla), and as a winter visitor/vagrant to E China (Lushun & Beijing). However, small numbers are regular on migration through E & C Qinghai (JH pers.obs.).
Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
16 well scattered individuals included one over Beijing on 29 May.
Eurasian Hobby F. subbuteo
Singles en route on 1st & 16th (near Gonghe).
Saker F. cherrug
53 bird-days included one at Laoye Shan on 31st.
Peregrine F. peregrinus
A juvenile female was in the Huang He gorge on 21st.
***[Barbary Falcon F. pelegrinoides
A juvenile falcon in the Huang He gorge on 21st was either this species or Peregrine.]
Severtzov's Grouse Bonasia sewerzowi
Near Banma one flushed on 3rd & a pair seen well on 6th (JR); at Mengda a female w/ nine chicks performed
on 23rd (T+FSH).
Verreaux's Monal Partridge Tetraophasis obscurus
12 bird-days near Banma over 4-6th. Performing well this was a main target species for the area.
Tibetan Snowcock Tetraogallus tibetanus
Superb, prolonged views of two on Kanda Shan on 12th, heard elsewhere in the area the next day, and three at Er La pass on 15th.
Przevalski's Partridge Alectoris magna
In the Huang He gorge two flushed on 21st (JH, BS), 3+ heard there on 24th, and 2-3 heard at Xining Beishan on 25th.
Daurian Partridge Perdix dauurica
Four at Laoye Shan on 31 May.
Tibetan Partridge P. hodgsoniae
Three near Banma on 7th, fairly common in the Kanda Shan area (daily max 16 on 10th), and 4-6 birds on two dates at Koko Nor.
Blood Pheasant Ithaginis cruentus
26+ bird-days near Banma. It was pleasing to find an unwary, healthy population of this lovely species.
White Eared Pheasant Crossoptilon crossoptilon
Seen very well (and heard) in the Kanda Shan area, 9+ on 10th, six on 12th.
Blue Eared Pheasant C. auritum
Two en route on 1st, fairly common near Banma (daily max 19 on 3rd), and at least three birds/groups heard regularly at Mengda over 21-24th.
Common Pheasant Phasanius colchicus
12-15 N of Xining on 31 May, one en route the following day, at least one in the Mengda area, and 4+ heard at Xining Beishan on 25th.
Coot Fulica atra
At E end of Koko Nor 40+ on 16th, and 10 on 19th.
Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis
33 bird-days involving 26 different individuals at wetland S of Maduo, en route to Nangqian from Yushu, and at Koko Nor. At the last site two downy young were noted on 19 June.
Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo
Three seen in flight at Koko Nor on 16th was a surprise sighting, the species being regular there only during two brief weeks each autumn.
Ibisbill Ibidorhyncha struthersii
18 bird-days: satisfying views were obtained both near Banma and along the Mekong at Nangqian.
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
One was at the E end of Koko Nor on 16th.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Three near Gonghe on 16th, and one at Koko Nor the following day.
Kentish Plover C. alexandrinus
Seen only at Koko Nor: 100 at Heimahe on 17th, 35 at E end of the lake on 19th.
Mongolian Plover C. mongolus
On the high plateau S of Maduo 4+ on 8th, five on 1th; at E end of Koko Nor four on 19th.
Greater Sand Plover C. leschenaultii
One at Heimahe on 17th (RF, JH) was the only record.
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
At E end of Koko Nor 5+ on 16th, two on 19th.
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Four at E end of Koko Nor on 19th (JR, BS).
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
One at E end of Koko Nor on 16th.
Common Redshank T. totanus
160+ bird-days: breeders present on plateau wetlands S of Maduo, en route to Nangqian, and at Koko Nor.
Wood Sandpiper T. glareola
A lingering migrant was S of Maduo on 8th.
Great Black-headed Gull Larus ichthyaetus
Two singletons along plateau rivers on 7+8th, and 100+ at Heimahe on 17th.
Brown-headed Gull L. brunnicephalus
Scattered groups totalling 125+ birds, and 150+ at Heimahe on 17th.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
25 S of Maduo on 8th, scattered singles elsewhere on the plateau & along the Mekong at Nangqian, and c20 daily at Koko Nor.
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
Three at E end of Koko Nor on 19th.
White-winged Black Tern C. leucopterus
Seen on both visits to E end of Koko Nor: four birds on 16th, five on 19th.
Pallas's Sandgrouse Syrrhaptes paradoxus
At least half a dozen in desert W of Koko Nor on 18th.
Tibetan Sandgrouse S. tibetanus
One in flight near Bayankala pass on 14th (BS) was the first modern record for that area; two seen well and heard calling at Er La pass on 15th appeared after some of us had already written off this enigmatic species... wonderfully well camouflaged, they lured our team photographer beyond the horizon as they daintily kept their distance.
Blue Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris
Seen daily except 18th - c1,025 bird-days in total, incl. c600 on 16th mainly along Koko Nor where many were feeding in fields.
Snow Pigeon Columba leuconota
Seen daily in the Kanda Shan area 10-13th, with max15-20 birds on 12th.
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Three en route from Lanzhou airport to Xining on 30 May, and 12-15 on the drives to and from Mengda on 21+24th.
Red Turtle Dove S. tranquebarica
Strays were seen near Banma on 5th, and in high country E of the town on 7th (five birds).
Oriental Turtle Dove S. orientalis
Three N of Xining on 31st, daily 2-5 near Banma, and 2+ daily at Mengda.
Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides
3+ heard daily at Mengda.
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus
4+ at Beijing on 29th.
Common Cuckoo C. canorus
c125 bird-days: seen or heard almost daily. 27 on wires E of Banma on 3rd may have included some late migrants downed by overnight rain.
Oriental Cuckoo C. saturatus
One heard daily at Mengda 21-24th.
Lesser Cuckoo C. poliocephalus
2-3 present at Mengda.
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo
One at Laoye Shan on 31 May, one flushed from deep grass at E end of Koko Nor on 16th, and two heard above Heimahe on 18th (BS).
Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata
One was seen extremely well at Summer Palace, Beijing, on 29th.
Little Owl Athene noctua
24 bird-days. Mostly on telegraph poles and on turf or stones piled at the roadside...
Common Swift Apus apus
500+ at Summer Palace, Beijing, on 29 May, 300+ en route to Xining from Lanzhou airport the next day, five N of Xining on 31st... then none seen until five at Wenquan on 15 June, and c10 near Gonghe on 16th. At E end of Koko Nor c250 on 16+19th, and finally singles in the Heimahe area & in desert W of Koko Nor on 17-18th.
Fork-tailed Swift A. pacificus
275+ bird-days. Small flocks seen most days.
Hoopoe Upopa epops
c125 bird-days. Particularly common near roadside cliffs just S of Yushu and along the Mekong at Nangqian.
Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus
1+ at Summer Palace, Beijing, on 29 May, four in total near Banma, and one en route back to Xining from Mengda on 24th.
Black Woodpecker Dryocupus martius
Three heard near Banma.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus major
One at Summer Palace, Beijing, on 29 May, one en route on 1 June, five in the Banma area, and several at Mengda over 21-24th.
Long-billed Calandra Lark Melanocorypha maxima
130+ bird-days. Seen most days on the plateau with a daily max of 40+ at Heimahe on 17th.
Mongolian Lark M. mongolica
11 S of Guide on 1st were on the fringe of the species' known range; a further thirteen birds near Heka and at Koko Nor over 16-19th were notable for the fine views obtained.
Hume's Short-toed Lark Calandrella acutirostris
Two at wetland S of Maduo on 8th, 2-20 daily at Koko Nor.
Asian Short-toed Lark C. (rufescens) cheleensis
One near Gonghe on 16th, 20+ at edge of cultivation W of Koko Nor on 18th.
Crested Lark Galerida cristata
One near Guide on 1st, another close to Gonghe on 16th, and two in desert W of Koko Nor on 18th.
Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula
355+ bird-days is probably an underestimate: common to abundant on the plateau...
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris
600+ bird-days: common on the plateau.
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
160+ bird-days: seen on the plateau where suitable breeding sites exist.
Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris
Barn Swallow H. rustica
Red-rumped Swallow H. daurica
c5 in Beijing on 29 May. In Qinghai only seen on the drive between Yushu and Nangqian: 13 on 9th, 15 on 13th.
Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus
c190 bird-days - seen almost daily, max c75 in the Kanda Shan gorge on 9th.
Richard's Pipit Anthus richardi
Ten N of Xining on 31 May, three on the drive S the next day, but then none until we reached Heka on 16th - 2-3 daily in the Koko Nor area included 1-2 song-flighting birds at the E end of the lake. Two were on a pass en route to Mengda a 21st, and a final single was seen at Beishan on 25th.
Olive-backed Pipit A. hodgsoni
33-34 bird-days: fairly widespread though not common, with a daily max of 10 at Kanda Shan gorge on 10th.
Rosy Pipit A. roseatus
c26 bird-days. Seen at high altitude near Banma on 6th, in the Kanda Shan area, at Heimahe, and on high pass en route to Mengda on 21st.
Water Pipit A. spinoletta
One at the high pass on 21st.
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Two at E end of Koko Nor on 19th (BS).
Citrine Wagtail M. citreola
61 bird-days. The first of the trip were seen when we descended from the plateau towards Yushu on 8th - subsequently the species proved fairly common along the road between Yushu and Nangqian (25 on 9th, 17 on 13th), with further sightings near Gonghe, at Koko Nor, and en route back to Xining from Mengda on 24th.
White Wagtail M. alba
Seen daily except W of Koko Nor on 18th - c210 bird-days in total. In the far S birds showed the characters of M. a. alboides, while M. a. leucopsis was seen at Koko Nor, in the Xining area, and at Mengda.
Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus
Near Banma 4+ on 3rd, 3+ on 5th; at Mengda daily sightings of max five included juveniles.
White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Two en route on 1st, daily 1-3 near Banma, and three at Mengda on 23rd.
Rufous-browed Accentor P. strophiata
c54 bird-days. Seen mainly near Banma, in the Kanda Shan area, and at Heimahe.
Brown Accentor P. fulvescens
This unobtrusive species was seen near Yushu on 8th (BS), at Heimahe (4+ on 17th, one on 18th), and at Xining Beishan (one on 25th).
Robin Accentor P. rubeculoides
Alpine Accentor P. collaris
Fairly common in the Kanda Shan area (c20 birds seen over 11-12th), less so at Er La pass (just four on 15th).
Siberian Rubythroat Luscinia calliope
20 N of Xining on 31 May, one en route the next day, three between Xining and Mengda, and 3+ present around
the lodge at Mengda.
Himalayan Rubythroat L. pectoralis
Three near Banma on 6th, 17-18 birds in the Kanda Shan area over 10-13th, and four near Heimahe on 17-18th.
An even more striking species than its northern namesake - spotting a songster remained a thrill.
Siberian Blue Robin L. cyane
Two in Beijing on 29th (AL).
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus
Four N of Xining on 31 May, 12 bird-days near Banma, and three at Mengda on 23rd.
Przevalski's Redstart Phoenicurus alashanicus
Hard work near Heimahe on 18th eventually yielded first a juvenile, then a suberb male.
Black Redstart P. ochruros
545+ bird-days: common in loess country and on the high plateau.
Hodgson's Redstart P. hodgsoni
c90 bird-days: fairly common in gorge country near Banma, S of Yushu, and in poplar groves en route to Mengda... one pair present at the forest lodge at Mengda.
Blue-fronted Redstart P. frontalis
White-throated Redstart P. schisticeps
Two en route on 1st, 6-9 daily in the Banma area, common in the Kanda Shan area (max 15+ on 10th), and two pairs present at Mengda.
Daurian Redstart P. auroreus
Three pairs seen well at Mengda.
Guldenstadt's Redstart P. erythrogaster
River Chat Chaimarrornis leucocephalus
White-bellied Redstart Hodgsonius phoenicuroides
Two heard at Laoye Shan on 31 May, at least one heard at Banma (on 6th), and 10-12 singing males at Mengda over 21-24th... eventually good views were obtained of two of the latter: as accomplished a skulker as any
Grandala Grandala coelicolar
1-2+ noted on three days on Kanda Shan. This graceful, erratic bird-of-the-highest-peaks is rare in Qinghai...
Stonechat Saxicola torquata
Three N of Xining on 31 May, two en route on 8+9th, 9+ near Heimahe over 17-18th, and two en route to Mengda.
Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina
Three en route S of Xining on 1 June, two S of Yushu on 9th, 35 between Heka and Heimahe on 16th, six at Heimahe on 17th, 10+ in desert W of Koko Nor the following day, and 20 mainly at E end of Koko Nor on 19th.
Birds in song-flight & on fence posts on 18th were particularly obliging.
Pied Wheatear O. pleschanka
Eight in loess country S of Xining on 1 June, 10+ in the Huang He gorge on 21+24th, and one pair at Xining Beishan on 25th.
Desert Wheatear O. deserti
One was seen en route S of Xining on 1st, three were near Gonghe on 16th, and ten were in desert country W of Koko Nor on 18th.
Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis
Males were seen as follows: one en route S of Guide on 1 June, two near Gonghe on 16th, one at Heimahe on 17th, and one (in spectacular song-flight) at Xining Beishan on 25th.
Blue Rock Thrush M. solitarius
Three in the Huang He gorge on 21+24th. The species is very rarely recorded for Qinghai.
Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula
One was singing at our hotel in Nangqian on 10+11th.
Chestnut Thrush T. rubrocanus
Nine bird-days near Banma; 10+ daily at Mengda.
Kessler's Thrush T. kessleri
300+ bird-days. Particularly common in gorge country in S Qinghai (daily maxima 45 near Banma, 35+ at Nangqian), but also seen at Laoye Shan (two on 31 May), near Heimahe (ten on 17th, one the next day), and
en route to Mengda (2-3 birds).
Chinese Song Thrush T. mupinensis
One at Banma on 6th, 5+ (of which two were fledglings) at Mengda over 21-24th. An unobtrusive endemic known in Qinghai only from four sites.
Southern Spotted Bush Warbler Bradypterus thoracicus
Two singing near the forest lodge at Mengda, with a presumed female associating with one of them.
Chinese Bush Warbler B. tacsanowskius
No less than five singing at Laoye Shan on 31 May, and one (or possibly two) near Banma on 5 June. We all had superb scope views of one of the former...
Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps
One at Beijing on 29th (BS).
Oriental Great Reed Warbler A. orientalis
10 at Summer Palace, Beijing, on 29th.
Thick-billed Warbler A. aedon
One at Beijing on 29th (BS).
Blyth's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus reguloides
Three heard at Mengda.
Greenish Warbler P. trochiloides
Ten N of Xining on 31 May, daily 30-50+ near Banma, one en route to Yushu on 8th, max 20 daily in forest at Kanda Shan, one near Xining on 19th, and 20+ present at Mengda over 21-24th.
Large-billed Leaf Warbler P. magnirostris
1-8 daily near Banma, and c15 at Mengda over 21-24th.
Buff-barred Leaf Warbler P. pulcher
3-12 most days near Banma, 6+ at Mengda on 23rd.
Lemon-rumped Warbler P. chloronotus
Daily 5+-15+ near Banma.
Gansu Leaf Warbler P. kansuensis
25+ N of Xining on 31 May, 25-30 at Mengda over 21-24th.
Chinese Leaf Warbler P. sichuanensis
Four between Xining and Mengda; 50+ at Mengda over 21-24th.
Hume's Leaf Warbler P. humei mandelli
One at Summer Palace, Beijing, on 29 May (BS), 75+ N of Xining on 31st, daily 5-40 near Banma, one in the Kanda Shan gorge on 10th (BS), and 10+ at Mengda over 21-24th.
Yellow-streaked Warbler P. armandii
c150 bird-days: 30 N of Xining of 31 May, 5-15 daily near Banma, 2-5 most days S of Yushu, several between Xining and Mengda, and 10+ daily at Mengda.
Dusky Warbler P. fuscatus
One N of Xining on 31 May, 7+ near Heimahe over 17-18th.
Tickell's Leaf Warbler P. offinis
88+ bird-days: four N of Xining on 31 May, five near Banma, ten near Yushu on 8th, 2-20 daily in the Kanda Shan area, and 35+ near Heimahe over 17-18th.
Goldcrest Regulus regulus
Five N of Xining on 31 May, daily 1-15 near Banma, and 5+ at Mengda over 21-24th.
Stoliczka's Tit-warbler Leptopoecile sophiae
One on Laoye Shan on 31 May, 3+ near Banma, two near Yushu on 8th, six in the Kanda Shan area over 10-12th, and 11 near Heimahe over 17-18th. During the breeding season a retiring bird of high altitude scrub...
Crested Tit-warbler L. elegans
c20 N of Xining on 31 May, two at Mengda on 23 June.
Sooty Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica
One at Beijing on 29th (AL).
Slaty-blue Flycatcher Ficedula tricolor
Four males at Mengda over 21-24th.
Slaty-backed Flycatcher F. hodgsonii
Three N of Xining on 31 May, 5-12 daily near Banma, and c25 at Mengda over 21-24th.
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher F. zanthopygia
A female was seen in Beijing on 30th (RF,AL).
Spectacled Parrotbill Paradoxornis conspicillatus
5+ near Banma on 6th (RF). Apparently the first modern record for Qinghai.
Kozlov's Babax Babax koslowi
Two were seen extremely well in the Kanda Shan gorge on 10th. Very secretive during the breeding season.
Pere David's Laughingthrush Garrulax davidi
One in the hotel garden in Xining on 30th (JR), 15 N of Xining the next day, 1-7 on four dates near Banma, and six between Xining and Mengda.
Giant Laughingthrush G. maximus
1-15+ daily near Banma (mainly heard but one came very close in response to a whistled imitation of its song), heard at Kanda Shan on 10th, and 5-10 heard daily at Mengda over 21-24th.
Elliot's Laughingthrush G. elliotii
10+ N of Xining on 31 May, in gorge country 10-50+ on ten dates near Banma & at Kanda Shan, and 10+ daily at Mengda.
Chinese Fulvetta Alcippe striaticollis
One heard near Banma on 4 June.
The sudden appearance of some Sichuan Grey Jays, combined with the steepness of the terrain, prevented us from giving serious chase to this W China endemic.
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Six in roadside poplars by the Huang He on 21st.
White-browed Tit Parus superciliosus
11 bird-days. Seen/heard in high altitude scrub near Banma on 6th, near Yushu on 8th, in the Kanda Shan area on 10+13th, and at Koko Nor.
Songar Tit P. songarus
50+ in total: 15 N of Xining on 31st, 2-6+ daily near Banma, up to six in the Kanda Shan area on 10+12th, and
a few at Mengda.
Grey Crested Tit P. dichrous
Singles at Banma on two dates.
Rufous-vented Tit P. rubidiventris
Ten N of Xining on 31st, 1-4 daily near Banma, and c5 in total at Mengda over 21-24th.
Great Tit P. major
c25 bird-days. Noted N of Xining, in the Banma area, at Nangqian, and at Mengda.
Chinese Nuthatch Sitta villosa
Three were seen briefly N of Xining on 31st, one near Banma on 4th, and just one at Mengda on 23rd.
Przevalski's Nuthatch S. leucopsis przewalskii
Two N of Xining on 31st, nine near Banma over 3-5th, and repeated sightings of three birds at Mengda.
One of the sought-after specialities this endemic, frequently elusive taxon may merit species status.
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria
Common Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
Four N of Xining on 31st, three near Banma, and c5 present at Mengda.
Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythropleurus
One seen at Mengda on 25th (BS).
Recorded for Qinghai by neither deSchauensee (1984), Cheng (1987), nor Vaurie (1972) but noted at this site on most visits in late summer/ early autumn (JH pers. obs.).
Tiger Shrike Lanius tigrinus
One seen well (rufous tail, black bars on back and flanks) at Heimahe on 19th may represent the first record for Qinghai/ Tibet (Vaurie 1972, deSchauensee 1984, Cheng 1987).
Brown Shrike L. cristatus
Two strays between Banma and Dari on 7th.
Grey-backed Shrike L. tephronotus
140+ bird-days: seen almost daily.
Tibetan Grey Shrike L. (sphenocercus) giganteus
3+ on Kanda Shan on 12th.
Vaurie (1972, p.246) very sensibly suggested that this striking taxon may be specifically distinct from "nominate" sphenocercus.
Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
Ten in the Beijing area on 29th, and a remarkable 27 bird-days in E Qinghai (daily max 16 on 7th, mainly between Banma and Dari where other roadside strays included Red and Oriental Turtle Doves, and Brown Shrike).
Perhaps just a handful of previous records for Qinghai (mainly JH pers. obs.): not included for Qinghai/ Tibet by Vaurie (1972), deSchauensee (1984) or Cheng (1987).
Jay Garrulus glandarius
Just one seen, at Mengda.
Sichuan Grey Jay Perisoreus internigrans
7+ performed well at Banma on 4th.
Quite possibly the first modern sighting in Qinghai of this elusive endemic.
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus
Fairly common in the Beijing area, but elsewhere just two en route to Mengda.
Common Magpie Pica pica
Common at Beijing, quite common in NE Qinghai.
Tibetan Magpie P. (pica) bottanensis
1-10+ seen daily at high altitudes in E & SE Qinghai.
Vaurie (1972, p.249) thought it "possible that more than one species is involved" in the Pica pica complex; and bottanensis certainly seems to merit species status.
Henderson's Ground Jay Podoces hendersoni
10 seen superbly in desert W of Koko Nor on 18th justified the early start...
Hume's Ground-pecker Pseudopodoces humilis
385+ bird-days: common on the plateau.
Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes
5+ present at Mengda.
Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus
17 bird-days in the Kanda Shan area.
Red-billed Chough P. pyrrhocorax
580+ bird-days. Fairly common throughout... daily max 225 over Kanda Shan gorge in the afternoon of 9th.
Daurian Jackdaw Corvus dauuricus
Rook C. frugilegus
Ten N of Xining on 31st.
Carrion Crow C. corone
Large-billed Crow C. macrorhynchos
Five at Beijing on 29th, ten N of Xining on 31st, six near Banma on 3rd, one near Nangqian on 12th, and 3-5 daily at Mengda over 21-24th.
Raven C. corax
86 bird-days included 58 near Maduo on 14th.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Three males at Wenquan on 15th.
In Qinghai regular only on passage in Qaidam (JH pers. obs.).
Tree Sparrow P. montanus
Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia
Blanford's Snowfinch Pyrgilauda blanfordi
Two near Maduo on 14th, two at Wenquan the following day, one N of Heka on 15th, and eight in desert W of
Koko Nor on 18th.
Rufous-necked Snowfinch P. ruficollis
295+ bird-days. Common on the plateau, particularly in Pika country.
Pere David's Snowfinch P. davidiana
11 bird-days at Koko Nor.
White-rumped Snowfinch P. taczanowskii
95 bird-days. Fairly common on the plateau.
Tibetan Snowfinch Montifringilla adamsii
Eurasian Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis henrici
37 bird-days. Seen only on the highest passes.
Oriental Greenfinch Carduelis sinica
One at Summer Palace, Beijing, on 29th, one N of Xining on 31st, and several en route to/from Mengda.
Twite C. flavirostris
820+ bird-days. Seen most days - daily max 250+ on 2nd.
Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra
15 N of Xining on 31st, one near Banma on 3rd, and 2-15 daily at Mengda over 21-24th.
Plain Mountain Finch Leucosticte nemoricola
58+ bird-days. Moderate numbers seen on Kanda Shan and at Er La pass.
Brandt's Mountain Finch L. brandti
c80 W of Dari on 7th, two at Bayankala pass the next day, two on Kanda Shan on 11th, and 15-20 at Er La pass on 15th.
Desert Finch Rhodospiza obsoleta
Five at/near Gonghe on 16th, and a pair en route back from Mengda on 24th.
Although the species is listed for E Qinghai by Cheng (1987) these appear to be the first recent records for the province, at least by Westerners.
Mongolian Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes mongolicus
c10 near Gonghe on 16th, and c20 in desert country W of Koko Nor on 18th.
Common Rosefinch C. erythrinus
35 bird-days - noted mainly near Banma and at Nangqian.
Beautiful Rosefinch C. pulcherrimus
Ten above the treeline near Banma on 6th, 5-10+ daily in the Kanda Shan area over 10-13th, and two en route to Mengda on 21st.
Pink-rumped Rosefinch C. eos
119+ bird-days: fairly common near Banma and in the Kanda Shan area.
Sinai Rosefinch C. synoicus
Six at Xining Bei Shan on 25th.
Three-banded Rosefinch C. trifasciatus
One male near Banma on 3rd (RF).
First recorded for Qinghai as recently as 1997 (L. Gabrielsen pers. com.; JH pers.obs.) this near-endemic species was one we had all hoped to see...
White-browed Rosefinch C. thura
Fairly common: 5+ N of Xining on 31st, 3-15+ near Banma over 3-6th, 1-10 almost daily in the Kanda Shan area, and max 10 daily at Mengda.
Eastern Great Rosefinch C. rubicilloides
2-4 seen on most days at Kanda Shan, three in total at Koko Nor.
Great Rosefinch C. rubicilla
A male S of Yushu on 9th, three on Kanda Shan on 11th, a male at Huashixia on 14th, and 3+ at Wenquan the following day.
Red-breasted Rosefinch C. puniceus
At Kanda Shan four on 12th, two on 13th.
A bird of rocky summits, good at throwing its voice around - undoubtedly the hardest-to-get Rosefinch on the trip.
Roborovski's Rosefinch Kozlowia roborowskii
14+ in total - seen extremely well by all members of the group, and great photos obtained.
Although the 1992 Birdquest group dipped this endemic is not uncommon in its preferred habitat.
Long-tailed Rosefinch Uragus sibiricus
Three near Banma, four present at Mengda (where photographed and taped).
Przevalski's Rosefinch Urocynchramus pylzowi
Two at Koko Nor on 17th performed near their nest... a very retiring endemic.
Grey-headed Bullfinch Pyrrhula erythaca
Four near Banma, 12-15 present at Mengda.
White-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas carniceps
26+ bird-days: seen N of Xining, en route on 1st, near Banma on 4th (6+), at Kanda Shan (daily max 12+ on 12th), and at Mengda.
Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala
One S of Xining on 1st, another (a singing male) en route back from Mengda on 24th.
Kozlov's Bunting E. koslowi
27 individuals seen singing and nest-building near Nangqian.
Few birders have seen this pretty endemic, and none have seen more!
Pine Bunting E. leucocephalos
Seven N of Xining on 31st, three en route the next day, two at Kanda Shan on 12th, and 5+ at Koko Nor on 17th.
Godlewski's Rock Bunting E. godlewskii
140+ bird-days: particularly common S of Yushu.
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
Tibetan Fox V. ferrilata
Wolf Canis lupus
Woolly Hare Lepus oiostolus
Himalayan Marmot Marmota himalayana
Black-lipped Pika Ochotona daurica
Pika spp. Ochotona spp. (at least two additional species)
Tibetan Gazelle Procapra picticaudata
Blue Sheep Pseudois nayaur
Red Deer Cervus elaphus
Cheng, T.H. (1987) A Synopsis of the Avifauna of China. Science Press, Beijing
de Schauensee, R.M. (1984) The Birds of China. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Vaurie, C. (1972) Tibet and its Birds. Beekman, New York.