Trip Report


April 2006


Three sites near Dali

Western Yunnan Province




By John and Jemi Holmes


Blood Pheasant  Ignathis cruentus






















This was a short trip with a fairly modest bird list. We started and finished in Kunming with visiting friend John Burton (JEB), but didn’t get time to bird the Western Hills. I can find no birding information for Jizushan and Weibaoshan – or Cangshan tackled in the way we did - so I hope these details are helpful. From a birders’ point-of-view Jizushan has a lot of potential (Moustached Laughingthrush, Rufous-tailed Babbler…etc.) On the minus side, we saw no raptors and had no satisfactory views of any pheasants at Jizushan during our short visit.


If you are in Dali, don’t forget that the “Cloudy Tourist Walk” – chairlift to Zhonghe Temple- and up a short flight of steps – can be good birding.


Due to the ever-growing number of Chinese domestic tourists, there is comfortable accommodation within easy reach of all three sites. The Dali area is covered by a bilingual tourist map “Trax2freemaps-Dali” which you can pick up at some of the guesthouses and restaurants.


Some prices are quoted in Renminbi (RMB). The exchange rate is currently about 8RMB = 1 US dollar, and 10RMB = 1 euro.


Both Jizushan and Weibaoshan were discussed and recommended by Professor Han Lian-xian of the Kunming Institute of Zoology when we met him in September 2005.  It took us a while to get around to visiting them. Thanks again to him.





Apr 04          Flew Kunming to Dali, driven to Jizushan

Apr 05          Birded towards Golden Summit area

Apr 06          Birded Jizushan (AM), driven to Weibaoshan (PM)

Apr 07          Birded around Weibaoshan

Apr 08          Birded around WBS guest house (AM) and Sightseeing Wei Shan before moving on to Dali Old Town.

Apr 09          Drove up track Cang Shan (3,200m).

Apr 10          (AM)Drove up to track to Cang Shan (3,200m); (PM) flew back to Kunming





Mackinnon, J. and Phillipps, K, (2000) A field guide to the Birds of China UK: Oxford University Press


Bradley Mayhew et al. (2002) South-west China - Lonely Planet Guide  Australia: Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd.


Mansfield, S (2001) Yunnan Province - The Bradt Guide UK: Bradt Travel Guides


Freemaps – DALI Published by






Apr 04


A forty-minute flight from Kunming to Dali , arriving 11:05.  We were picked up by Mr Yeung (mobile:139-88534759) and drove North East to the entrance of Jizushan via Binchuan town and Shazhi, a distance of 100km through fields of maize, garlic and pomegranates.


Admission to Jizushan is RMB 60.  This is a very famous Buddhist Mountain. Before the Cultural Revolution pilgrims came from all over the Buddhist world.  Following the destruction of that period the temples are still being restored. There is an 11km drive along a paved road which ends just beyond a “Headquarters” area, which comprises the Zhusheng Temple, coach park, souvenir stalls, a police post, staff accommodation, and two rows of food shops in a “v” with rooms to let above - RMB 15 per bed.


The official accommodation for foreigners (New block RMB 180, old block RMB 80 with no hot water, but serviceable western toilet) is about 700m down a concrete road below Zhusheng Temple.


We birded around the headquarters area until dusk, highlights being Grey-winged Blackbird, Long-tailed Thrush and a pair of White-crowned Forktails.



Apr 05


Out at dawn (a civilised 07:00 in Western China) and up to the noodle shops for breakfast. Black-headed Greenfinches searched the lawn for food scraps, and Crested Finchbills perched prominently in the trees opposite.  From Headquarters to the cable car base (about 7km) there is a broad stone path (the lower route) and a well-used pony track which contours higher up the hillside (pony fee RMB35).  I walked and Jemi and JEB followed the ponies.  All along (Elevation 1,700m to 2,200m) it is a good area of maturing secondary broadleaf trees.


At the upper pony “stable” the pony droppings are swept onto the forest floor below, attracting some good birds.  Long-tailed and Plain-backed Thrushes, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Bunting and Crimson-breasted Woodpecker were all seen here. The cable car (RMB 30 up / 20 down) brings you to a ridge with more steps to the summit. On the way to the summit JEB found a pair of Rufous-tailed Babblers by the path.  Turning right at a fork in the path will take you past cafes near the top, some with beds to let (RMB 30) upstairs. There is also an expensive-looking guesthouse next to the Lengyuan Pagoda (restored 1927).  Good views, but away from Jizushan most of the surrounding countryside is very bare.


Rufous-tailed Babbler Chrysomma poecilotis



Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans


Crimson-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos cathpharius


On the way down Jemi and I followed the pony trail in vain hope of a pheasant and JEB followed the slightly more open lower pathway, encountering some decent mixed flocks.


Snowy-browed Flycatcher Ficedula hyperythra


Plain-backed Thrush Zoothera mollissima


Long-tailed Thrush  Zoothera dixoni


Grey-winged Blackbird  Turdus boulboul


Apr 06


JEB and I birded around Jizhushan “HQs”, nice views of Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler and Moustached Laughingthrush on the waterfall path.  (A 200metre trail that starts near the lower pony “stables”.) Jemi, meanwhile, photographed a pair of Vinaceous Rosefinches in the scrub beside the main access road. 


Vinaceous Rosefinch Carpodacus vinaceus


We paid RMB300 to be driven to Weibaoshan in a minivan (4-1/2 hrs).  The route was 120km SW via Binchuan to Xiaguan, then 60km S to Weishan, then about 10km SE to Weibaoshan.


Weibaoshan is a World Heritage Site because of the Taoist Temples (Admission RMB 50). There is a brand-new Weibaoshan Binguan (RMB120). The place can be busy at weekends.



Apr 07


Most of the mountain, including the very picturesque Taoist Temples, can be covered on well-laid stone paths. A circuit takes 4 – 5 hours. The western side is well forested, the eastern side very bare. It is a smaller, poorer patch of habitat than Jizushan, but despite this we found some birds unseen at JZS such as Red-tailed Minla, Black-breasted and Chestnut Thrushes, and Tibetan Siskin.


Black-headed Greenfinch Carduelis ambigua



Apr 08


Brief birding around the Weibaoshan Guesthouse. Then we took a hired (RMB 200) minivan to Weishan Ancient City and on to Xiaguan and then Dali (MCA Guesthouse), where laundry was a priority!



Apr 09


Picked up by Mr Yeung at 07:15 outside the MCA and drove up a track through the quarry to the south of the Santasi (Three Pagodas) complex. (Paid RMB350.) (BTW – access to the famous pagodas now costs RMB 121 !) The track skirts the uphill side of the ring-fenced Santasi complex.  Despite – or because of - the rain, we came across three different individual Lady Amherst’s Pheasants, but no adult male. After a few stops on the way, around 10:30hrs we got out in the mist at about 3,000m. The mist started to burn off, and our timing seemed good. Rufous-vented Tits, Golden Bush Robins and Fire-tailed Sunbirds were paired up and chasing each other about. J.E.B. spotted a pair of Blood Pheasants working their way up the hillside. The south-eastern races of Blood Pheasant really do look “bloody”!  They stood in the open a few metres away, before deciding to slowly move back down into the roadside scrub. Another male B-P was seen on the drive down. We were surprised to find another birding foreigner up on the mountain, who turned out to be Gustaf Nordenswan, leading a party of Finnish birders, who we met further down the hill.  We were back in town by 15:00hrs. (We met the Finns a week later at Mai Po in Hong Kong – small birding world!)


Golden Bush Robin Tarsiger chrysaeus




Apr 10


Another drive up Cangshan, all the way to the end of the track at 3,200m. There is plenty of vehicle turning space next to a toilet block. This is as far south as can be driven on Cangshan from the centre of Dali. The contouring footpath peters outs about 200m beyond the end of the track, then we would have had to scramble steeply up or down if we continued further. We were looking down a ravine towards the stream at the 12.5km point on the Cloudy Tourist Walk 700 metres below.  Above us there was a pagoda on a bare bluff. The weather was clearer and the birding quieter than the day before.


On the way down we passed the archway (Elevation 2,500m) that marks the northern end of the Cloudy Tourist Walk. It would have been possible to get a full day’s birding by letting the vehicle go and following the walk 5km to the south, and getting the chairlift from Zhonghe Temple back to town (The chairlift usually ceases running at 18:00hrs).   We flew back to Kunming in the early evening.



Species number according to Mackinnon, J. and Phillipps, K, (2000) A field guide to the Birds of China


0028 Blood Pheasant  Ignathis cruentus

Three at 3,000m on the hillside above Dali


0052 Lady Amherst's Pheasant Chrysolophus amherstiae

         Three seen each day on drive up Cangshan track from Dali.


0128 Crimson-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos cathpharius

         Single near cable car base, Jizushan


0163 Hoopoe  Upupa epops

         Common in cultivated areas.


0189 Large Hawk Cuckoo Heirococcyx sparveroides

           Heard frequently at Jizushan and Weibaoshan


0240 Brown Wood Owl Strix leptogrammica

         Single heard overnight at WBS


0247 Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei

         Singles heard in daytime at Jizushan


0257 Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus

              Heard dusk and dawn Weibaoshan


0494 Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius

         Single over  3,000m Cangshan, Dali


0616 Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach

         Common in farmland


0640 Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes

         4-5 daily around the upper levels (above 2,500m), Cangshan, Dali.


0648 Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos

          Pair near the entrance gate, Weibaoshan


0664 Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris

         Pair noted at Weibaoshan


0666 Short-billed Minivet Pericrocotus brevirostris

         Single noted near summit of Weibaoshan


0667 Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus

         Pairs at Jizushan and Weibaoshan


0669 Yellow-bellied Fantail Rhipidura hypoxantha

         Up to 6 daily at Jizushan and Weibaoshan


0698 Plain-backed Thrush Zoothera mollissima

         Up to 3 daily Jizushan


0699 Long-tailed Thrush  Zoothera dixoni

         Up to 5 daily at Jizushan


0703 Black-breasted Thrush Turdus dissimilis

            4 below guesthouse Weibaoshan


0706 Grey-winged Blackbird  Turdus boulboul

           4-5 daily at Jizushan, singles at Weibaoshan


0740 Snowy-browed Flycatcher Ficedula hyperythra

         Pairs at Weibaoshan and Jizushan


0746 Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassina

         Breeding at 2,500m and above, Cangshan, Dali


0750 Rufous-bellied Niltava Niltava sundara

         Pairs at Jizushan and Weibaoshan


0759 Grey-headed Flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis

         Always within earshot at Jizushan and Weibaoshan


0773 Orange-flanked Bush Robin Tarsiger cyanurus

Male and females of the blue-browed race (species) in the upper areas in Jizushan


0774 Golden Bush Robin Tarsiger chrysaeus

         At least 5 pairs breeding at 3,200m Cangshan, Dali


0778 Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis

         near human habitation in all areas visited


0787 Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus

1-2 daily at Jizushan and Weibaoshan


0789 Blue-fronted Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis

           near summit of Jizushan


0790 White-capped Water Redstart Chaimarrornis leucocephalus

On the pond outside the guesthouse, Jizushan


0791 Plumbeous Water Redstart Chaimarrornis leucocephalus

         On suitable streams in all areas visited


0799 White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti

           A pair near the lower pony stables, Jizhushan


0804 Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata

         Common over open farmland


0807 Grey Bushchat Saxicola ferrea

         As 804, above


0833 Chestnut-vented Nuthatch Sitta nagaensis

The common Nuthatch of Jizhushan and Weibaoshan.


0837  Yunnan Nuthatch Sitta yunnanensis

         Heard at Weibaoshan in the pines near the reserve entrance


0848 Winter Wren Certhia familiaris

         At least 2 pairs breeding at 3,000m Cangshan, Dali


0858 Rufous-vented Tit Parus rubidiventris

Common above 2,500metres, Cangshan, Dali. Nest building seen


0862 Great Tit Parus major

         Regular in woodland at Jizushan and Weibaoshan


0864 Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus

         Common in all the hills visited


0873 Black-throated Tit Aegithalos concinnus

         Fairly common at 2,000m and below


0875 Black-browed Tit Aegithalos bonvaloti

         Replaces 875 above 2,000m (both near Jizushan “HQs”)


0882 Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

         Over farmland


0891 Crested Finchbill Spizixos canifrons

         Pairs near noodle restaurants, Jizushan HQs


0897 Brown-breasted Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthorrhous

           Edge of woods and farmland, the common open-country bulbul here


0911 Mountain Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii

           6 near the guesthouse, Jizushan


0925 Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus

         10 – 20 daily, Jizushan and Weibaoshan


0975 Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus

         A single in the garden, Jizushan guesthouse.


0982 Buff-barred Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher

         Noted at Jizushan and Weibaoshan.


0983 Ashy-throated Warbler Phylloscopus maculipennis

         Between HQs and the cable car, Jizushan


0984  Pallas's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus

         Present at Jizushan and Weibaoshan


0997 Blyth's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus reguloides

         In the woods between HQs and the cable car base, Jizushan daily.


1027 Moustached Laughingthrush Garrulax cineraceus

         A pair on the waterfall path, Jizushan HQs


1041 Elliot's Laughingthrush Garrulax elliotii

Heard a lot (JZS) and eventually seen, Cangshan


1056 Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus erythrocnemis

         Up to six daily, at Jizushan, up to 2 at Weibaoshan


1059 Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis

         Present at Weibaoshan and Jizushan. Not as common as 1056.


1076 Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyris ruficeps

         Seen or heard daily, in suitable woodland


1083 Rufous-tailed Babbler Chrysomma poecilotis

         A pair near the summit of Jizushan.


1088 Red-billed Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea

         Small party near guesthouse, Jizushan HQs


1102 Blue-winged Minla Minla cyanouroptera

        Common at Jizushan and Weibaoshan


1103 Chestnut-tailed Minla Minla strigula

         Encountered at all sites visited


1104 Red-tailed Minla Minla ignotincta

            Only at Weibaoshan


1109 White-browed Fulvetta Alcippe vinipectus

The commonest fulvetta in the areas visited


1111 Spectacled Fulvetta Alcippe ruficapilla

         Also at JZS, WBS and Cangshan, but not as common as 1109.


1116 Rusty-capped Fulvetta Alcippe dubia

         Near cable car base at Jizushan and lower temples Weibaoshan


1123 Black-headed Sibia Heterophasia melanoleuca

         Fairly common in woodland between 1,500 and 2,500m


1131 White-collared Yuhina Yuhina diademata

         Common at Cangshan.


1132 Rufous-vented Yuhinia Yuhina occipitalis

         Pair near the summit of Jizushan


1140 Brown Parrotbill Paradoxornis unicolor

         Pairs noted at 3,000m Cangshan, Dali


1178 Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker Dicaeum melanoxanthum

          Single at near Zhusheng Temple, Jizushan


1186 Gould's Sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae

         Pair near HQs Jizushan


1191 Fire-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga ignicauda

         At least four pairs at 3,100m Cangshan, Dali


1197 Russet Sparrow  Passer rutilans

         Near villages


1198 Tree Sparrow Passer montanus

         Er…. noted


1207 White Wagtail Motacilla alba

         Widespread in suitable habitat.


1212 Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea

         See 1207 above.


1218 Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni

         Near Jizushan HQs


1226 Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris

         Single seen from the cable car, Jizushan


1234 Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata

         6 +, waterfall path, Jizushan HQs


1248 Black-headed Greenfinch Carduelis ambigua

         Favoured pines at Jizushan and Weibaoshan


1250 Tibetan Siskin Carduelis thibetana

           A flock of forty in alder trees near the guesthouse, Weibaoshan


1266 Dark-breasted Rosefinch Carpodacus nipalensis

         At least two pairs breeding, 3,000m Cangshan, Dali


1271 Vinaceous Rosefinch Carpodacus vinaceus

         A pair near Jizushan “HQs”


1313 Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla

         Several around the entrance area, Weibaoshan


1316 Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans

         Notably at Jizushan, feeding near the upper pony stables



All right reserved copyright John & Jemi Holmes 2005 - 2008