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kittykat23uk

Sichuan Safari (on the sly) – November 2014

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kittykat23uk

Introduction



I initially got interested in Sichuan (China) as a destination after reading a number of trip reports, most notably, Chlidonias Goes to Asia 2013, Richard Webb's Sichuan report and many others on Mammalwatching.com.



The reason I picked Sichuan was because I really wanted to see red panda, Tibetan fox and Tibetan wolf.



Guide


I decided to book with the guide Richard had used, a British birder Sid Francis who was both our guide and our driver. We came to an acceptable daily fee for my party of two, which Sid has requested I don't disclose as the cost varies according to a number of different factors including season and group size. Sid can be contacted at chengduuk@hotmail.com for a price.



Costs


With the exception of bottled water, a meal in Dujianyang and snacks, I paid for everything else, i.e. accommodation (including Sid’s), food, petrol, tolls, park entrance fees etc. We were advised to budget around 800 Yuan or approx £80 a day for these additional costs which proved to be pretty accurate. Where possible Sid took a guide room or cheaper hotel to help keep the cost down. As we were heading into remote areas, Sid advised that we bring cash (including for his fee) and change it at the airport. We were able to drop his fee in at his home in Dujiangyang to reduce the risk of loss on our way back from out first site.



Flights


We flew KLM from Norwich to Chengdu via Schipol. Flight cost was just over £500 per person. For some reason we had a free upgrade to economy plus on the outward journey, but no such luck on the return!



Visas


In preparation for the trip Sid provided a letter of invitation from a tourist hotel in Chengdu and a sample “tourist” itinerary for us to use to apply for our visas. We used the visa service recommended by the embassy and I think the cost was around £86 each. There was no secure online payment so I had to send off my card details by post (this hasn't caused any problems).



Itinerary


We timed the trip for Red Panda, as Autumn is when they are most visible as they feed on berries in the bare trees. For birders, trips are normally made in the spring/summer as some of the charismatic species such as firethroat are migrants. Labahe is the most reliable site for Red Panda and was where Richard Webb and Chlidonias had their amazing sightings. At the time I booked I knew that this site was closed but Sid's expectations were that it would reopen before our trip. He did however advise that if red panda were our key target that we might wish to postpone until the following year. Given the uncertainty of Ian's work, we decided to risk going this year.



Sadly Labahe did not reopen, but Sid advised that on his last but one trip he had seen the first red panda of the season at Longcanggou so advised that we should make that our first stop. We kept the itinerary flexible and did not book any accommodation until a day or two in advance for the most part. The other sites we covered were Wolong and Balang Shan then up to the Tibetan Plateaux at Ruoergai and finally down through Jiuzhaigou and Tangjiahe with our last two nights in Sid's home town to visit the not yet fully open Panda Valley centre for giant pandas.



Hotels & Facilities


Most hotels we stayed in were western style reasonably comfortably city style blocks. For one overnight stop we had a squat style loo. The first stop at Longcangou had a bit more character and was more like a lodge. A few hotels had electric blankets and no heating whilst others did have some form of heating (which varied in it's efficiency!). As a couple we found it difficult to get a double room for the most part and had to settle for a twin. Thankfully the beds are a bit bigger than a single bed so we generally just used one of the beds.



Most hotels had good showers with toiletries provided, we both got streaming colds at higher altitude so taking additional tissues was really important as they generally only provide a small roll of toilet paper. Kettles, a couple of small bottles of water and green tea were usually provided. In some cases, a hair dryer is also available. The beds in all but the last hotel were very hard.



One thing that surprised us was the lack of any laundry service so it is worth taking more than the usual amount of underwear as the opportunity to dry clothes effectively is limited and given the hours we put in we had little time for such chores.



Food & Drink


For breakfast Sid generally supplied freshly made toast using his own toastie maker in our room. We generally had snacks/cuppa soup out in the field around mid morning. For lunches we would sometimes stop at a local restaurant for things like noodles in a soup or dumplings in a soup. This usually comes in a spicy broth but can be made without chilli if desired. For dinner this could be similar or we would opt for two or three dishes, usually a meat dish and a couple of sides which were always served with rice. The food was generally very good.



In more cosmopolitan areas for a change from Chinese food we went to Dico's (a local chicken burger bar) which was better than KFC, where we experienced poor service on one night.



Culture


Due to the political nature of China, we were advised to keep our passports with us at all times in case of police checks. I can't stress enough how important it is to be able to take things in your stride in China and remain unruffled. There are some unique challenges with visiting these remote sites where very few westerners have travelled and it helps to have a guide who knows the “proper” way of doing things, even if to a westerner this might not appear to be the “right” way of doing things! More on this as we go along...



Tipping


Tipping is not expected or desired in China.



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kittykat23uk

Thursday 6th November



We arrived on time at 13.40 after a comfortable overnight flight from Norwich. Sid appeared after about a ten minute wait and was a little bit flustered as he'd lost his car keys that morning! We changed our money at the airport before heading on our way. Chengdu itself is a massive polluted blot on the Chinese landscape and as we drove through the murky yellow glow of the afternoon smog a layer of grime began to build up on the car. We were glad not to be spending any length of time in the city.



The roads were good motorway toll roads for the most part. Unfortunately Chinese drivers, for the most part are truly awful! Anyone who has experienced the roads in India will know that fear of crashing at any moment and this comes from the volume and variety of the traffic and the generally fatalistic attitude of the Hindu religion, i.e. “if it's my time to go then so be it”.



In China, there is a lot of new money which has led to a lot of young, inexperienced drivers on the roads. If you can imagine the sort of idiots you occasionally get in the UK (i.e. usually reps in BMWs) who speed up behind you flashing their lights and expecting you to move out of the way, in China, nearly everyone has this degree of road captaincy! The also sound their horns hard as they drive past.



It's not like the Indian constant, “beep I'm behind you”, “beep I'm overtaking you”, “beep hows your mother?” kind of thing. It's an aggressive “BEEEEEEP! Get out of my way, I am significantly more important than you!” Coupled with this, they also pull out from junctions in front of you with no warning at all and just expect you to give way! They overtake you, undertake you, even on blind hairpin bends on narrow mountain roads. They are, in short a bunch of complete nutters!



We stopped for dinner around 5pm at a town called Yinjing and ate “wenduwen” (spelt phonetically I have no idea how it's actually spelt). Which is basically dim sum in a broth. We got our first taste of Chinese culture as a young lady insisted she take my photo with her!



We carried on to the hotel, which Sid referred to as the “drunk hotel” on account of the owner being a complete drunkard. The board out front announced that the proper name was Hulin Hotel. The rooms were clean but cold, only electric blankets were provided. The hotel is set off the road up a track in farmland and is closely located to Longcanggou. It cost us 360 Yuan per night for two rooms and as it was dark when we arrived we did not really see much of note on our first day.


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twaffle

What a surprise and such an adventure. Great amount of interesting information and I'm looking forward to more.

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graceland

Yes indeed this will be good! Such an adventure I've rarely thought about...your report may change my mind.

Although I hate obnoxious driving. Anxiety producing for sure :blink:

 

Looking forward to this @@kittykat23uk!

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kittykat23uk

Thanks both of you.

 

Friday 7th November

 

Prior to our departure Sid had posted a note on Birdforum.net regarding the difficulties some independent birders had experienced with accessing Longcanggou, he said:

Longcanggou was wide open for anyone to get into - road is still drivable - at the moment they are digging ditches for electric cables that go up to a new drinking water station. We have learned that summer trouble with foreigner admission probably stems from the police who are not happy at all the birders staying unregistered in the local hotel - which influenced the park into sometimes refusing admission (if there's an accident they're scared of being lumped with the responsibility). Apparently park attitudes stiffened after some birders 'complained' to the security guys who refused to open the gates.

I'm afraid we have to work on the principal that it's their park - and try and swallow our anger when they say no. This trip we went through the gates at 5.00 each morning - long before security had woken. Luckily the gate was open on the 4 mornings we went in - so we never had to ask for permission. Getting into these kind of sites is always a bit of a lottery. We never phone ahead to the park - asking if you can get in will invariably receive a definite no answer. Turning up early, keeping a low profile and waiting for an open gate has worked well for us this year”.

 

I was concerned this could set alarm bells ringing with Ian and contacted Sid who reassured me that it was just the way things had to be done in China.

 

It was a dreary foggy morning when we left the hotel at ungodly o’clock for our drive up to the park. When we arrived we were concerned to discover that the gates appeared to be chained shut! On closer inspection the chain was not actually locked so Sid was able to drive through unhindered, closing and draping the unlocked chain around the gates as we had found it.

 

We passed some construction workers as we made our way into the park and walked further up the track beyond a wooden bridge. As we searched for pandas we also birded, but with the mist draining the colour out of everything that wasn’t within a few feet of us, it was rather difficult to appreciate the new birds that we were seeing.

 

Birding unaided in China is difficult, the birds we looked for were generally small passerines who are either found up in the canopy or skulking around in the undergrowth. Sid therefore regularly employed the use of bird calls to draw the birds out. His strategy often began with the call of a collared owlet, which usually gets most birds in the area rather agitated, and then he moves on to the call of the particular species he's trying to find for his client.

 

In this way we began to see a small flock of grey-hooded fulvettas (formerly known as stripe-throated fulvetta). A juvenile white-browed bush robin jumped out onto the track in front of us and then back into cover.

 

15818897310_8b1018aa17_c.jpgPB079949 White-browed Bush-robin by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

We had good views of great parrotbills- chunky grey/brown birds with thick stubby orange bills and a spattering of snow on their faces. Two spotted nutcrackers flew high overhead, offering only a silhouette in support of Sid’s I.D. Then a small flock of warblers was seen which included Pallas’s leaf warbler, brownish-flanked bush warbler and yellowish-bellied bush warblers. A pair of stripe-throated yuhinas and a couple of collared yuhinas were feeding together and moving through the scrub. We also picked up a flock of buffy laughingthrushes, a flock of Elliott's laughingthrushes and a couple of black-faced laughingthrushes. Photography was a non-starter really given the murky conditions so I tried to focus on the more forgiving video. The below are screen grabs from the video.

 

15820151309_ae62915dd5_c.jpgCollared yuhina by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

15386529873_c3b0f35f54_o.jpg

Stripe-throated Yuhina by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

15818757908_a0b5df7303_b.jpg

Collared Yuhina by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

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kittykat23uk

The window for good red panda viewing is very short and limited to October to mid November as this is where the leaves are in fall and the trees are fruiting with berries which the pandas love and so this is the time when they are the most visible. Both Richard and Chlidonias had had multiple views of several individuals at Labahe but we were not sure how Longcanggou would compare to that and the weather certainly didn’t help! We checked every fruiting tree for red pandas as we went along but had no joy. We returned to the car for a cuppa and some snacks before deciding to drive back up the track over the rickety wooden bridge.

 

Ian contented himself with taking scenic shots whist Sid and I looked for birds..

 

16011776512_6d81fef12c_b.jpg

20141107_090424 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

15826724747_27f2bc4711_b.jpgForest road in Longcanggou by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

15826724217_1783b687ed_b.jpgA foggy day in Longcanggou by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

15392852713_bf63f73e6e_b.jpg

Longcanggou by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

15825213450_8c7b9e14f2_b.jpgLongcanggou by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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michael-ibk

I loved Coke Smith´s China trip and all the fascinating animals he found, so I´m really eager to find out how lucky you were. Thanks for all the practical detail. If driving in China is worse than in India (hard to imagine for me!) then it must be hellish indeed. Looking forward to more. :)

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TonyQ

@@kittykat23uk

I've been looking forward to this report - good to have the practical detail as well as the pictures. The screen grabs came out well on a foggy morning.

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BigBaldIan

Bit of a photography experiment, I didn't have a point and shoot so the above shots were taken with my Galaxy S5. More panorama insanity to come.

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kittykat23uk

Thanks @@michael-ibk yes Coke's trips are always inspirational aren't they? :)

 

Thanks @@TonyQ, I must confess to being a little dejected at the quality of my own images on this trip. The weather and distances involved made photography a real challenge. Most of the scenic shots were taken on Ian's smartphone. You'll see he enjoyed playing around with the panorama feature and I think they came out pretty well!

 

It was getting on for 11.30. As we drove towards one of the fruiting trees that we’d checked earlier Sid spotted our rather soggy quarry feeding in the thinnest branches right out in the open! How these small twigs managed to support the weight of such a large animal seemed to be a mystery! We were delighted to find our first panda, even if the fog meant that the panda’s vibrant colour was washed out and we quietly got out of the car to film him (or her) and take some pictures. Sid commented that he thought this was quite a mature animal due to the amount of white on the face.

 

15383894314_74b9af4cdb_b.jpgPB079964adj Soggy Red Panda Longcanggou by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

 

The panda seemed unconcerned with our presence until Sid tried to set up a telescope for closer viewing. At this point the panda stopped feeding and froze, hunkering down on a thicker branch and stared straight at Sid with a rather curious look on his face. Sid commented that it is quite likely that, despite being a reserve, pandas may well be hunted here and the panda might be confusing the scope with a rifle.

 

16006152535_47f47459b6_b.jpgPB079954 adj 2 Soggy Red Panda Longcanggou by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

15980383696_65cc789f27_b.jpgPB079962 adj by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

Eventually the panda returned to feeding and then moved to the trunk of the tree where it was obscured by the thickening fog. We decided to drive on, thinking the panda had settled for a nap. However as we started the car and drove past the tree the panda quickly descended the tree and made a sharp exit off into to dense undergrowth.

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michael-ibk

Well, that didn´t take long for the first one out of your Top 3 wishlist. What a beautiful animal, great to see it in the wild. :)

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TonyQ

@@kittykat23uk

It is brilliant that you got to see the Panda - and it looks like a really good sighting!

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kittykat23uk

Yes it was! Despite the horrible weather! :D

 

We carried on for a little bit but didn't see any more pandas. On our way back we did a bit of urban exploration at an old abandoned forest station building which had been left to the wilderness to reclaim.

15825214350_bf9f0cf5fd_b.jpgabandoned forest station, Longcanggou by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

15826728347_8824784438_b.jpgGraffiti in abandoned forest station, Longcanggou by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

15825215550_b1918e0347_b.jpgpanorama of abandoned forest station, Longcanggou by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

Ian and Sid spotted a Swinhoe's striped squirrel, which I missed and we also had a pair of Lady Amherst's Pheasant cross the track in front of us, I barely glimpsed the male because they were gone in a flash! A Himalayan bluetail was another new bird for me. With the weather closing in we headed back to the lodge around mid afternoon and Sid and I went for a little walk around the grounds. We spotted a besra and hiding in a stand of bamboo were the cadmium throated red-billed leiothrix, a pretty little bird that, whist seeing regularly throughout the trip I failed to get any decent photos of! We also came across a large flock of ashy-throated parrotbills that were storming through the undergrowth by the side of the main road. During the day we also picked up a black-streaked scimitar-babbler, olive-backed pipits, a rufous-breasted accentor and a Daurian redstart.

15825215910_f698d87964_b.jpgHulin Hotel, Longcanggou by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

We ate dinner at the hotel, which were dishes of pork and peppers, wilted greens and tomato omlette with rice. We discussed our plans for the next day and agreed to get up and out as if we would go into the park again, but if the weather was the same as today we would move on to our next site as, having seen our first panda, unless we got a nicer day we'd just have a similar grey experience as today. :unsure:

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kittykat23uk

Saturday 8th November

 

The weather seemed to be set in for the duration so we reluctantly moved on without another visit to the park. We headed back to Sid's place, stopping to pick up some supplies at a local supermarket, to drop off some of the funds and meeting Meggie and their son Saker in the process. His car keys had also been found so he was glad to have got that sorted out.

We then carried on to Wolong, which shall we say was an interesting drive! The road to Wolong was heavily damaged by the 2008 earthquake and consists of a very rough track along a valley floor. Ian christened it the “road of death” and to add to the excitement there was also a “tunnel of death”, which became a “cavern of death” where the tunnel walls have collapsed, leaving the bare cavern visible.

According to Sid, one fateful summer, during the monsoon, many people had taken shelter in the tunnel and had subsequently died in a flash flood which washed them out of the tunnel to their deaths. We were glad it wasn't the rainy season!

15392880353_afb55cc2f5_b.jpgThe road (of death) to Wolong, next to the Tunnel of Death by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

Ian filmed part of the journey:

15390241234_e2cda1a802_b.jpg

birding en route to Wolong by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

Little egret and Chinese pond heron were seen en route as was a single crested mynah and a Chinese blackbird. We did a bit of birding along the way stopping at a point in the river to see white-capped and plumbeous water redstarts, brown dipper, Himalayan and Siberian wagtails. We arrived at Wolong around mid afternoon. We stayed in a half finished hotel in the village. Our rooms were fine and complete on the top floor, though they smelled of fresh putty! The downstairs area was still under construction but no work was going on whilst we were there so it was fine, although the uneven staircase proved to be quite treacherous! It seemed odd to me that the rooms were placed to overlook the road, rather than giving views of the mountain stream behind. A large flock of brambling were seen around the hotel.



We spent the last couple of hours up on the mountainside birding around a local monastery. Around the monastery were a female Sharpe's rosefinch, eastern buzzard, and on the crest of the mountain small groups of nutcrackers perched in the tops of the pine trees. Sid set up his scope for a marginally better than silhouette view of these cracking birds. Like the long-tailed tits of home, a flock of sooty tits made their presence known with their high-pitched calls and chattering and the calls brought in Chinese and white-browed fulvetta. Elliott's laughingthrushes where again in evidence but kept to the thick scrubby stuff (we saw Elliott's on many days of the trip). We heard golden pheasant calling in the pine forest, but didn't see any.



15825095108_a61c785d90_b.jpgMonastery at Wolong by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



16011808092_40a38c0dae_b.jpgWolong Panorama by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



15825096058_f6b204b2af_b.jpgViews from the monastery at Wolong by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



15392884203_2cb28f14bb_b.jpgViews from the monastery at Wolong by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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Kitsafari

@@kittykat23uk i have been waiting for this for what seems to be a long time, ever since you started planning it i think.

 

So glad you had your first sighting of the red panda. it's so gorgeous! what a curious creature. and oh gosh i would have been holding my breath during the whole ride on those treacherous roads. they look scary.

 

Looking forward to reading more!

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kittykat23uk

Thanks @@Kitsafari

 

We took dinner in a nearby restaurant where wifi was also available. Afterwards we went spotlighting along the main road looking up the mountainsides up towards Balang Shan. I went in the front and handled the lamp. Whenever we spotted some eyeshine, if we could we would get out and Sid would set up the scope to view the animal. Spotlighting here over the next few nights was productive. On our first night we had good views of two sightings of complex-tooth flying squirrel and 3-4 Chinese Goral, a type of goat-antelope.

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TonyQ

@@kittykat23uk

Wow - what a drive. Very scary - I imagine it was a real relief to drive out of the that tunnel!

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kittykat23uk

Indeed it was @@TonyQ!

 

Sunday 9th November – Wolong & Balang Shan

We left the hotel at 5 am and spotlighted up the road leading up the Balang Shan (Shan means Mountain in Chinese). We spotted our first Takin (a much larger goat-antelope which looks like some kind of prehistoric beast) on the way. Balang Shan is known for it's pheasants and so the first place Sid wanted to check was a site for Chinese monal. Unfortunately the site was fogbound and was a complete non-starter for us. So we descended back down to a slightly less-foggy (though still rather misty) area where we parked up and walked along a forest track. This area is meant to be good for blood pheasant but we dipped that one too. Smaller birds responded to Sid's tape and we racked up barred and giant laughingthrushes, rufous-breasted and maroon-backed accentors, rufous-vented and grey-crested tits and a blue-fronted redstart.

15401127683_4a43450cd2_b.jpgPB099990 Barred Laughingthrush by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

15833340868_76285ecd06_b.jpgPB090032 Maroon-backed accentor by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

15398495894_6c3afc81e4_b.jpgPB090034 White-browed fulvetta by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

15833497850_282e0b8733_b.jpg20141109_083339 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

15835016237_fa8e145f9e_b.jpgPB090038 Chinese fulvetta by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

15398501694_bdb720070c_b.jpgPB090056 Rufous-breasted accentor by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

15833348478_ec2e9dc620_b.jpgPB090066 Rufous vented tit by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

16020081092_2307623898_b.jpgPB090086 Grey-crested tit by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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kittykat23uk

We continued on up the pass, domestic yaks were often seen on the road and grazing up on the mountains. We stopped occasionally to bird or admire the increasingly spectacular views. We emerged from the cloud layer and were greeted by glorious sunshine! As we had started so early we were some of the first people on the mountain and we stopped at a particularly scenic viewpoint for a cup of tea and some snacks. Himalayan Griffons and Lammergeirs soared majestically above and sometimes below us as we admired the views and the calls of red-billed choughs could be heard behind us on the mountainsides.




15833366768_5689f3b97a_b.jpgPB090252 One of the Four Sisters peaks by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



15833522960_caa21ab861_b.jpgPB090254 Lammergeir by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



All of a sudden our peace was shattered as the first of several coach trips pulled up full of Chinese tourists who proceeded to descend like a swarm of locusts, posing for views in front of the vista and then left almost as quickly as they had arrived.



15398503984_17bd4b1a1b_b.jpg20141109_092325 Views from Balang Shan Pass by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



15833506360_cd9b74b3b1_b.jpg20141109_093225 Balang Shan Panorama by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



16020084642_e4a78f2abb_b.jpg20141109_095703 Ian and Me by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



15834725409_27a93af4d7_b.jpg20141109_105631 Views from Balang Shan Pass by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



15994984106_e6683ff4fa_b.jpg20141109_112715 Views from Balang Shan pass by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



As we continued to climb up the pass more snow-covered the ground and we noted the tracks of some kind of feline. Leopard cat have been recorded up here (Sid has seen a roadkill on himself here) as was possibly the owner of the tracks, but the area is also likely to contain Snow leopard, Asiatic leopard, Asian golden cat, and possibly other felines as well. The Smithsonian Institute has a remote camera trap set up in the Wolong area and recorded all of these species: https://www.flickr.com/photos/smithsonianwild/sets/72157625396124123/




16020087902_c388704025_b.jpg


PB090095 More tracks by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



16020775585_c0999e3abb_b.jpg20141109_115851 Balang Shan Pass by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



15833358618_e4869c663c_b.jpg20141109_114606 At around 4500 M by kittykat23uk, on Flickr





We reached the top of the pass at 4480m and began to descend down the other side where the weather was much sunnier. We found some new birds including the beautiful white-browed tit-warbler, pink-rumped and streaked rosefinches. Then we spotted a Glover's Pika on a wall which posed nicely for photographs.



15401150793_eacaf0ed03_b.jpgPB090109 Male white-browed tit-warbler by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



15835034167_894ca027d5_b.jpgPB090128 Female White-browed tit-warbler by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



16020780145_68c00bd7d4_b.jpgPB090203 Glover's Pika by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



15835035877_d1992ee96f_b.jpg


PB090241 Pink-rumped rosefinch by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


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kittykat23uk

We continued on and then we got a massive surprise. We were initially delighted to find a second red panda who was trotting towards us along the side of the road (Sid has never seen them this high up). With the sun shining, we could really admire the panda's beautiful deep russet coat, velvety black legs, white mask and thick raccoon-like tail. We naturally stopped to watch and after taking a couple of record shots I started to record him on the video as he was still some way off. The following are screen grabs from the video.. We were hoping that, with luck, he would come right by the car.



16020752715_76b7f15c26_b.jpg11-09-2014_055621(4) Red Panda by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



15401155893_a9210c9273_b.jpgred panda by kittykat23uk, on Flickr






I wish I could say that is what happened.. :angry::(


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kittykat23uk

This next bit is very upsetting if you don't want to read it please skip to the next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our joy soon turned to shock and horror when a local driver blasted past us at speed blaring his horn as I was filming the panda and the panda, spooked by the car, ran directly in front of it, and was killed right in front of our eyes! :(:(:(:(I was in total shock and inconsolable. Ian was stunned, Sid was irate and had some choice words with the driver :angry: :angry: :angry: .

 

Needless to say, our mood from that point on was at a very low ebb, but we tried to carry on as best we could. We headed down to the nearest town and stopped in for lunch to try and compose ourselves before returning back up the pass. We pulled in to watch a lammergeir on the way back.

This video shows some scenic shots of Balang Shan, the Glover's Pika and the footage of the red panda, edited to cut out before it got hit by the car. If you don't want to see the footage of the panda, just stop the video when the pika leaves the shot.

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kittykat23uk

To try and take our minds off what we had seen and continue with the trip, we were out spotlighting again that evening from 19.30 to just after 22.00 and we racked up some good mammals, having an excellent, though brief, view of a hog badger crossing the road not long into the drive and an even briefer view of a leopard cat on the way back. Neither of which I was able to capture that time. In addition, we found a very sick-looking Chinese goral. Possibly this was a casualty of the road, but there were no obvious injuries. We also saw what Sid reckoned to be long-tailed gorals up on the hillside. I personally remain sceptical of this I.D. because the Princeton Mammals of China places Long-tailed Goral as found only in the north east of China.


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TonyQ

@@kittykat23uk

Spectacular scenery - especially when you are looking down on the clouds.

The death of the panda must have been very upsetting -so sad.

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kittykat23uk

I was absolutely devastated @@TonyQ :( :( :(

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