Bar-throated (formerly "Chestnut-tailed") Minla Minla strigula
Yongde county, Yunnan - 10th January 2013
Enquiries at Womulong weren't getting us anywhere so our next overnight stop was the hamlet of Mahuangqing, 26 km closer to Lincang city.
A new record cheap room for us (RMB 20) ! A view of the slopes of Daxueshan across the valley compensated for lack of more conventional facilities. The following day, Crested Finchbills seemed to be everywhere.....
Crested Finchbill Spizixos canifrons
In a local minivan we went back up to the high point of Route S 313 around km62 and turned up a track westwards. A short walk up through a graveyard led us to the edge of the big trees, with the elevation about 2,500m. According to "A Biodiversity Review of China" (WWF HK - 1996) Daxueshan NNR has the most southerly stand of Himalayan Hemlock (Tsuga dumosa) trees in China. These may be higher up on the mountain, we didn't see them.
the path to Daxueshan
White-tailed Nuthatch Sitta himalayensis
In the time we were there we found three species of "Minla" and four species of "Yuhina" and other birds typical of moss-covered big trees, here are some examples.
Black-headed Shrike Babbler Pteruthius rufiventer
Streaked Barwing Actinodura souliei
Rufous-vented Yuhina Yuhina occipitalis
Yellow-cheeked Tit Parus spilonotus
"Himalayan" Bluetail Tarsiger rufilatus
Back to the main road, and we birded a track to a fire lookout opposite the Nature Reserve. Grey-headed Bullfinch and Maroon-backed Accentor were seen but these often-confiding species were very shy.
View east from the fire lookout
Yellow-browed Tit Sylviparus modestus
Gould's Sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush Monticola rufiventris (female)
Not wanting to outstay our welcome in Mahuangqing, we hurried on to Lincang city. To the east of the city lies Wulaoshan National Forest Park. The going rate for a taxi up there is RMB 150. After 18km there is an entrance gate and a cobbled road runs along a dry ridge for 8km.
where we stayed - the 3 story building
The area we stayed had experienced various attempts to make a commercial success of the place with a derelict fountain and ornamental garden, some landscaping around a small reservoir, various pagodas and a sorry excuse for a zoo.
Nearly all the original trees were long ago felled. There are pockets of native broadleaf and a few aged pines, but much of the area is covered by a blanket of planted pine trees, in many places in straight rows. It is similar habitat to places like Jixi Shan (Chuxiong) or Shibao Shan (near Lijiang). We thought we heard Yunnan Nuthatches on our first afternoon, but we didn't actually see any in two days of birding there.
Here are a few of the birds on the mountain top and the access road.
Streak-breasted Scimitar-babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis
Common Buzzard Buteo (b) vulpinus
Streak-throated Fulvetta Fulvetta manipurensis
White-collared Yuhina Yuhina diademata
Black-headed Sibia Heterophasia melanoleuca
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe fratercula
Black-throated Tit Aegithalos concinnus
Gould's Sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae
Blue-fronted Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis
Buff-throated Warbler Phylloscopus subaffinis
Red-tailed Minla Minla ignotincta
Wulaoshan must be a summer retreat for people in Lincang city, so it was understandably quiet up there in January. The birds were mostly uncooperative, and even the buntings didn't allow close approach.
"What, US worry ?"
Lincang city is undergoing a huge building boom. Banners in town celebrated the recent appointment of a local representative to China's NPCCC for the first time.
It was refreshing to see a few egrets in agricultural fields and ponds near Lincang. Our final surprise was an Asian Openbill. They seen to be spreading north into Yunnan Province, after a first record as recently as October 2006 (China Bird Report 2006). They now seem to be quite common in Xishangbanna, for example.
Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans
Openbills are spreading south to Malaysia and Singapore, too..- see here:
No more bus journeys for us; we flew back to Kunming a couple of hours after seeing the Lincang Openbill.
(The bird names used in the captions are in accordance - I trust - with my 2011 edition of Craig Robson's "Birds of SE Asia". )