• Wildlife of the Central Chinese Shaanxi and Sichuan Provinces.
  • 29th December 2016 - 7th January 2017

  • Shaanxi Mountains in winter
    Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi Province

    Foping National Nature Reserve

    This was my third trip to western China arranged through Sid Francis of Sichuan Birding(http://sichuanbirding.cloudaccess.net/) with the aim of photographing rare Chinese wildilfe and this time we started at Foping National Nature Reserve in the Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi Province.

    The Foping is one of the few remaining places where Giant Pandas still live in the wild, but they are extremely rare and keep to remote, inaccessible upper slopes well out of my reach, so I was focussing on Golden Snub-nosed Monkeys instead.

    The monkeys aren't difficult to find as there is a scientific station in the nature reserve where researchers feed them and they are habituated to people. I've put a more detailed report on my visit here...
    Male Golden Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) Golden Snub-nosed Monkey mother and young (Rhinopithecus roxellana)

    In addition to the monkeys, the forest, river valley and cliffs are also excellent places for viewing a variety of differnet bird species such as the Wallcreeper and Forktail below. (full list of Foping Species here)

    Female Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) White-crowned Forktail (Enicurus leschenaulti)Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria)      and     White-crowned Forktail (Enicurus leschenaulti)

    Male Golden Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana)

    Foping Species Lists

    Bird Species

    Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria)
    Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus)
    Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)
    Spotted Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes)
    Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)
    Collared Crow (Corvus pectoralis)
    Little Forktail (Enicurus scouleri)
    White-crowned Forktail (Enicurus leschenaulti)
    White-capped Water Restart (Chaimarronrnis leucocephalus)
    Sooty Tit (Aegithalos fuliginosus)

    Japanese Tit (Parus minor)
    Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus ruficollis)
    Tree Sparrow (Parus montanus)
    Elliot's Laughingthrush (Trochalopteron elliotii)
    Whte-cheeked Starling (Spodiopsar cineraceus)

    Mammal Species

    Golden Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana)
    Perny’s Long-nosed Squirrel (Dremonmys pernyi)


    Shaanxi Mountains in winter
    Crested Ibis beside the Hanshui River

    From Foping we were heading south towards Tangjiahe National Park in Sichuan Province, but on the way we stopped for a night at the city of Yangxian beside the Hanshui River, home of the endangered Crested Ibis.

    Until 1981, Crested Ibis were thought to be extinct. Then seven individuals were discovered in Shaanxi Province and now thanks to a captive breeding program there are over 500 with Yangxian the stronghold.

    Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon) calling Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon) feeding
    Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon)

    The breeding programme should remove the risk of Crested Ibis becoming exctinct in the forseeable future, but like most cities in China, Yangxian is is growing rapidly with construction work taking place everywhere you look. The future prospects for the many other bird species that have made the river their home will depend on how well these developments are controlled and managed.

    Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea)      and     Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) at the Hanshui River

    Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) flying
    A flock of Northern Lapwing flying past a Yangxian construction site

    Yangxian Bird Species

    Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
    Ruddy Shellduck (Tadorna ferruginea)
    Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
    Common Teal (Anas crecca)
    Gadwall (Anas strepera)
    Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
    Goosander (Mergus merganser)
    Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
    Crested Kingfisher (Megaceryle lugubris)
    Great-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
    Asian Barred Owlet (Glaucidium cuculoides)
    Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
    Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
    Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
    Long-billed Plover (Charadrius placidus)
    Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
    Perregrine (Falco peregrinus)
    Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
    Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

    Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo),
    Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
    Great Egret (Ardea alba)
    Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
    Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon)
    long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach)
    Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)
    Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)
    Collared Crow (Corvus pectoralis)
    Blue-fronted Redstart (Phoenicurus frontalis)
    Daurian Redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus)
    Whte-cheeked Starling (Spodiopsar cineraceus)
    Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
    Tree Sparrow (Parus montanus)
    Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)
    Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni)
    White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
    Little Bunting (Emberiza pusilla)

    Tangjiahe National Park

    Tangjiahe Mountains in winter
    The Mountains of Tangjiahe National Park

    The main focus of my trip was the mammals and birds of Tangjiahe National Park. A series of river valleys high in the Sichuan mountains... probably my favourite wildlife location in China. I'd visited Tangjiahe once previously in the spring and was keen to try a winter trip in the hope of getting photos of some of the rare mammals and birds that live there.

    Once again Tangjiahe delivered the goods with 13 species of mammal (not counting bats and small rodents). Unfortunately most of them are nocturnal which made photography very difficult but I did manage to recognisable shots of 10 species including my main target, the Golden Takin.

    Tangjiahe Mammals

    Golden Takin (Budorcas taxicolor) Tufted Deer (Elaphodus cephalophus) Pere David's Rock Squirrel (Sciurotamias davidianus) Chinese Goral (Nemorhaedus griseus) Chinese Serow (Capricornis milneedwardsii) at night Male Golden Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana)
    Above: Golden Takin (Budorcas taxicolor)  and   Tufted Deer (Elaphodus cephalophus)
    Middle: Pere David's Rock Squirrel (Sciurotamias davidianus)  and   Chinese Goral (Nemorhaedus griseus)
    Below: Chinese Serow (Capricornis milneedwardsii)  and  Golden Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana)

    Tangjiahe Birds

    Chinese Bamboo Partrige (Bambusicola thoracicus) White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) feeding Maroon-backed Accentor (Prunella immaculata) Mountain Bulbul (Ixos mcclellandii) Vinous-throated Parrotbill (Sinosuthora webbiana) Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea)
    Above: Chinese Bamboo Partrige (Bambusicola thoracicus)  and   White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus)
    Middle: Maroon-backed Accentor (Prunella immaculata)  and   Mountain Bulbul (Ixos mcclellandii)
    Below: Vinous-throated Parrotbill (Sinosuthora webbiana)  and  Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea)

    Tangjiahe Species Lists

    Bird Species
    Chinese Bamboo Partrige (Bambusicola thoracicus)
    Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus)
    Crested Kingfisher (Megaceryle lugubris)
    Eurasian Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)
    Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker (Yungipicus canicapillus)
    Great-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
    Collared Scops Owl (Otus lettia)
    Asian Barred Owlet (Glaucidium cuculoides)
    Tawny Fish Owl (Bubo flavipes)
    Himalayan Griffon Vulture (Gyps himalayensis)
    Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
    White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
    Red-billed Blue Magpie (Urocissa erythroryncha)
    Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
    Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)
    White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus)
    Brown Dipper (Cinclus pallasii)
    Blue-fronted Redstart (Phoenicurus frontalis)
    White-capped Water Restart (Chaimarronrnis leucocephalus)
    Plumbeous Water Redstart (Rhyacornis fuliginosus)
    White-cheeked Starling (Spodiopsar cineraceus)
    Crested Myna (Acridotheres cristatellus)
    Japanese Tit (Parus minor)
    Coal Tit (Periparus ater)
    Black-throated Tit (Aegithalos concinnus)
    Sooty Tit (Aegithalos fuliginosus)
    Collared Finchbill (Spizixos semitorques)

    Mountain Bulbul (Ixos mcclellandii)
    Elliot's Laughingthrush (Trochalopteron elliotii)
    Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus ruficollis)
    Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
    Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea)
    Green Shrike Babbler (Pteruthius xanthochlorus)
    Grey-hooded Fulvetta (Fulvetta cinereiceps)
    Vinous-throated Parrotbill (Sinosuthora webbiana)
    White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
    Maroon-backed Accentor (Prunella immaculata)
    Rufous-breasted Accentor (Prunella strophiata)
    Little Bunting (Emberiza pusilla)

    Mammal Species

    Tibetan Macaque (Macaca thibetana)
    Golden Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana)
    Pere David's Rock Squirrel (Sciurotamias davidianus)
    Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis)
    Masked Palm Civet (Paguma larvata)
    Hog-nosed Badger (Arctonyx collaris)
    Chinese Ferret Badger (Melogale moschata)
    Yellow-throated Marten (Martes flavigula)
    Wild Boar (Sus scrofa)
    Tufted Deer (Elaphodus cephalophus)
    Reeve’s Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi)
    Chinese Goral (Nemorhaedus griseus)
    Chinese Serow (Capricornis milneedwardsii)

    Male Golden Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana)

    Thanks once again to Sid Francis of Sichuan Birding (http://sichuanbirding.cloudaccess.net/) for arranging my visit. Sid knows more than anyone about viewing the mammals and birds of central China and I'd strongly recommend him to anyone interested in exploring the weird and wonderful wildlife of the region.