Three sites near Dali
Western Yunnan Province
By John and Jemi Holmes
Blood Pheasant Ignathis cruentus
CONTENT OF THIS REPORT
SOME NAMES IN CHINESE
DAILY LOG AND SITE COMMENTS
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 www.trax2.com
DAILY LOG AND SITE COMMENTS
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.
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
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.
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
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!
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
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
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
1198 Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
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