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Yunnan Province

Myzornis
Fire-tailed Myzornis Myzornis pyrrhoura ©Craig Brelsford Website

Yunnan Province is a huge and colourful province that borders Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan and Tibet. It has international borders with Burma, Laos and Vietnam. The provincial capital is Kunming which lies at an elevation of 1,800m and is known as the “City of Eternal Spring”.

From the snowclad 6,000m peaks of Meilixue Shan in the northwest to the jungles of Xishuangbanna in the south, Yunnan boasts every kind of habitat, and the longest provincial birdlist in China with 800+ species.

Where do you start in a place this size? The Western Hills, or Xishan, near Kunming, are a popular area for the capital’s daytrippers, and the woods support a number of interesting species, including Rosy Minivet, Godlewski’s Bunting, Black-throated Tit, and Spectacled Fulvetta. Three hours’ bus ride further west, near the city of Chuxiong, the scenic area of Zixi Shan (Purple Stream Mountain) has similar and less-disturbed habitat than the Western Hills with Collared Grosbeak, Chinese Thrush and Yunnan Nuthatch.

Cultural tourists head for the ancient city of Dali, which lies at the base of a fifty kilometre line of 4000m high peaks – “Cang Shan” - the Azure mountains. These slopes support Blood Pheasants near the top, Lady Amherst’s Pheasants in the middle, and Common Pheasants near the bottom. High above Dali the “Cloudy Tourist Walk” at a height of 2,500m provides great views as well as the chance to see Nutcracker, Brown Parrotbill and Chinese Babax, among others. The well-worn tourist circuit leads north to the World Heritage Site of Lijiang, with birding opportunities at Black Dragon Pool Park at the outskirts of town, and Lashi Hai, a wetland 25 kms distant.

Further west, Gaoligong Shan, on the west side of the Salween river, is an area where a spur of the Himalayas reaches toward the wet jungles of southeast asia. Here there are birds in common with the mountains of northeast India, such as Yellow-throated Fulvetta, Red-faced Liochichla, Black-faced Laughingthrush, Fire-tailed Myzornis and Ward’s Trogon.

Black-necked Crane breeds on the Tibetan Plateau and the eastern population winters in northern Yunnan Province. The cranes may be seen in winter in northwest Yunnan at Napahai near Zhongdian/”Shangri-la”, and in northeast Yunnan near Zhaotong at Dashanbao National Nature Reserve (a brisk and breezy 3,000m elevation) and at Huize, a provincial nature reserve, as well at several other sites.

Contributor

Useful Reading

Birds in Yunnan

Ji Weizhi - 287 pages, illus. Huayu Nature Book Trade Co.Ltd

ISBN: 750384390X

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Guides & Tour Operators

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China Birding Tour

Tour Operator

China Birding is a travel company based in China, Chengdu and Tibet.We do tailor made itineraries for any bird watchers who have an interest in the birds of China: Qinghaai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet. We have the experience. We can do tour arrangements for individuals or for for birding travel companys visiting China. We can arrange all your hotels, travel and guiding…

Trip Reports

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CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2007 [01 January] - Björn Anderson - Baihualing & Gaoligongshan

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This was my third visit to this excellent site in western Yunnan and the target was to find the extremely seldom-seen Cachar Wedge-billed Babbler. The species is most certainly different from the Sikkim Wedge-billed Babbler and there are very few sightings of it from anywhere. The song was unknown until one year ago and there had been a few sightings of it at Baihualing in recent years…

2013 [03 March] - Jesper Hornskov

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Annotated List…

2013 [03 March] - Jesper Hornskov - Yunnan

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Based mostly on my own field notes, this brief write-up covers the birds & mammals noted by A Bassett, D Heintz & myself during 12 days in Yunnan, China’s SW-most and biologically most diverse province…

2013 [06 June] - Hannu Jannes

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…Other highlights included such stunning and difficult to get species as Tibetan Snowcock, Snow Partridge, White Eared, Lady Amherst's and Silver Pheasants, many Black-necked Cranes, a very showy pair of Wood Snipes, Tawny Fish Owl, many Grandalas, stunning Firethroats, Bar-winged Wren-babbler, Severtzov’s and Crested Tit-Warblers, Great, Brown, Spot-breasted, the very cute Golden and the very range restricted Grey-hooded and Przevalski’s (or Rusty-throated) Parrotbills, showy Barred and Giant Laughingthrushes, Emei Shan Liocichla, Sooty, White-browed and Père David’s Tits, Przevalski’s Nuthatch, Sichuan Jay, Hume’s Groundpecker, Slaty Bunting, and Sharpe's, Three-banded, Blanford's and Red-breasted Rosefinches…

2013 [06 June] - James Eaton

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…Feeding flocks dominated proceedings, always containing a variety of warblers; Ashy-throated, Sichuan Leaf, Bianchi’s, Marten’s, Claudia’s, Chestnut-crowned, Large-billed Leaf – all species we would see almost daily for the rest of the tour, Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Rufous-vented, Coal and the Chinese endemic, Yellow-bellied Tits, more fulvettas and on three occasions, several Fire-capped Tits, with several more later in the day and the following morning….

2014 [06 June] - Craig Brelsford - Sichuan & Yunnan

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...Being among the first birders to visit Dulong Gorge, “The Last Green Valley in China,” in the far northwestern corner of Yunnan...

2015 [02 February] - Michael Grunwell - Western Yunnan

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...Red-tailed Laughingthrush Trochalopteron milnei Accustomed to being fed at the partridge hide, came straight down to freshly delivered mealworms. At one point, for about two seconds, I counted 17 birds in front of the blind.

2015 [04 April] - Jesper Hornskov - Xishuangbanna

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2015 [05 May] - Pete Morris - Sichuan & Northern Yunnan

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Our long run of tours to Sichuan continued with another highly successful visit to what is ‘the heart of China’. As with the previous visit, we tagged on a visit to Yunnan which added a number of additional localized species, and amongst the 350+ species recorded were a vast majority of the specialities on offer

2015 [05 May] - Remco Hofland

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Birding the Gaoligongshan mountain range had been a dream of me ever since I first visited China for the first time, in 2005; regular reports from the area by Jesper Hornskov on [OB] email wetted my appetite even further.

2015 [11 November] - Jonathan Martinez - Ruili, Pianma, Dulongjiang Valley

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2016 [01 January] - Max Berlijn

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Annotated list

2016 [03 March] - Craig Brelsford - Dulong Gorge

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A week in Yunnan is under our belt, and Dulong Gorge is yielding amazing Himalayan specialties. Among the species noted by us so far are Fire-tailed Myzornis, Grandala, Rufous-breasted Bush Robin, Striated Laughingthrush, and Assam Laughingthrush as well as Gongshan Muntjac. We have noted western Yunnan favorites Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Yellow-throated Fulvetta, Beautiful Sibia, Rusty-fronted Barwing, and Streak-throated Barwing. We have heard the mournful whistle of Hill Partridge, found a flock of 140 Tibetan Serin, noted Goldcrest in a mixed flock at 2960 m, and discovered 4 Eurasian Teal looking out of place on the Dulong River. Also using the river are Common Merganser, Great Cormorant, Crested Kingfisher, and Brown Dipper. Crimson-breasted Woodpecker was a lifer for us, and Wallcreeper delighted us all. We noted a troop of Stump-tailed Macaque.

2016 [05 May] - Glen Valentine & David Hoddinott - Sichuan & Yunnan

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406 species recorded, the following were just some of the most memorable and desirable species seen: Tibetan and Snow Partridges; Tibetan Snowcock; Verreaux’s Monal-Partridge; the spectacular Temminck’s Tragopan; Chinese Monal; White Eared, Blue Eared, Blood, Golden and Lady Amherst’s Pheasants; dancing Black-necked Cranes; the rarely seen Solitary Snipe; sky-pointing Eurasian Bittern...

2017 [02 February] - MJ Grunwell - Baihualing

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The blinds are better referred to as ponds as it is the provided pond which attracts the birds not the blind. There are now over 50 ponds at Baihualing! Jeremy keeps a log of sightings and can give advice. Generally though, most pond-visiting species can be seen at most forest ponds. I can recommend the three I visited: Pond 16 which is just below the hot spring CP, this is where I had my lucky encounter with scarlet finch.

Organisations

Kunming Birdwatching Association

Website

Kunming Birdwatching Association (KBA) is managed by Kunming Association for Science and Technology (KAST), and is a community-based organization which aims to protect and to conduct research on birds…

Kunming Birdwatching Association

Information

Xishuangbanna Wildbird Society

Information

Xishuangbanna Wildbird Society (XWS) which depends on the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve is a legally registered society which cares for birds and their habitats in the largest rainforest in mainland China. XWS aims at spreading the idea of wild bird conservation through promoting birdwatching in rainforest. It also promote ecotourism which really stresses on the rainforest, birds and other wildlife. Hope that XWS can cooperate with other birdwatching societies and birdwatchers to conserve the birds in this largest primary rainforest…

Reserves

Bitahai Wetland

Information

Satellite View

Provincial Nature Reserve. An alpine wetland between 3,000 and 4,260 meters above sea level, with swamps, lake, peatlands, and adjacent forest cover. The site has very high hydrological values such as flood prevention and control in the key catchment zones of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau; as part of the Jinsha River watershed in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, it supplies water to the aquifers and stabilizes the flow in the lower reaches of the Yangtze…

Dashanbao National Nature Reserve

Information

Satellite View

A peat moor in subalpine swamp meadows, between 2,210 and 3,364 meters above sea level…

Gaoligong Mountain National Nature Reserve

Information

Satellite View

There are more than 300 species of birds such as silver pheasants, golden pheasants, peacocks, sunbirds and various Garrulax canorus

Lashihai Wetland Provincial Nature Reserve

Information

Satellite View

A unique plateau freshwater lake with marsh meadows, located between 2,440 and 3,100 meters above sea level at the headwaters of the Yangtze River in the Hengduan Mountains. It is an important migration passage, breeding ground and wintering habitat of nearly 76 species of wild geese and ducks…

Napahai Wetland Provincial Nature Reserve

Information

Satellite View

A seasonal karst marsh composed of meadow, open water, peatlands, and surrounding forests situated at about 3,260m above sea level, with lake outflow through karst caves draining underground into the Jinsha River in the upper reaches of the Yangtze…

Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve

Information

Satellite View

The Reserve boasts 539 species of terrestrial vertebrate which accounts for 25% of the total in China, 429 species of birds, 36% of the total, 47 species of amphibians, 68 species of reptiles and 100 species of fish…