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z China: Eastern

Focused on the most spectacular birds from Guangzhou to Beijing and beyond! After looking for Silver Oriole and Fairy Pitta, we head inland where the endemic Cabot's Tragopan, Elliot's Pheasant, and the beautiful, Critically Endangered Blue-crowned Laughingthrush are highlights amongst other great birds like Spotted Elachura, Grey-sided Scimitar-Babbler and Short-tailed Parrotbill. Further north, we'll visit the best site for the exquisite Reeves's Pheasant and rebounding Crested Ibis before doing some birding near Beijing, where Brown Eared Pheasant, the Critically Endangered Baer's Pochard, and several breeding specialties like Zappey's Flycatcher and Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch can be found. Our last stop will be in the far north, where the threatened Jankowski's Bunting and many Manchurian grassland species are breeding.

Next Dates

Accommodation:

Comfortable hotels throughout.

Walking difficulty:

Mostly easy roadside birding and short forest trails.

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks, and other items of a personal nature.

Day 1: Arrivals into Guangzhau International Airport (CAN) for overnight near the airport. 


Day 2: Birding begins today with our first highly range-restricted breeding endemic, the Endangered beauty, Silver Oriole. This species will be the focus, but we also have a chance for Chinese Barbet, Hainan Blue Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Sunbird, and our first sightings of Huet’s Fulvetta. Additionally, Fairy Pitta sometimes holds territories in the area, so it is our first chance to come across one freshly returned from Borneo. After a late lunch, we will drive north-east for a few hours to overnight at Ganzhou.


Day 3: The birding situation in this region of China changes year to year, but today will be planned to hit one or two photography hides on the way to Emeifang. If we can get any pheasants, it will reduce pressure for the next days! Additionally, the globally scarce Blyth’s Kingfisher has been regularly visiting stakeouts in the area, but not every year. We can only try! Following these hopefully productive session/s, we will continue to Emeifang and get settled in for the next two nights. 

Days 4: Emeifang National Nature Reserve will hopefully produce the main prizes of this beautiful, isolated mountain range. Our main target will be the stunning Cabot’s Tragopan, often seen on the road in the early mornings, as well as the regal Elliot’s Pheasant. Other species endemic to south-east China that we have chances for here include White-necklaced Partridge, Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler, and Buffy Laughingthrush. Further possibilities include the skulky Moustached Laughingthrush and monotypic Spotted Elachura, plus Chestnut Bulbul, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Indochinese Yuhina, Brown Bush Warbler, Kloss’s Leaf Warbler, Hartert’s Leaf Warbler, Sulphur-breasted, Buff-throated, and White-spectacled Warblers. Night at Emeifang.

Day 5: After a final morning of birding at Emeifang, we will drive north to Wuyuan (6h), arriving in time to pay our visit to a breeding colony of Blue-crowned Laughingthrush. This beautiful Critically Endangered species will certainly put on a show at one of their colonial nesting trees, in some years overlooked by photography blinds! Night in Wuyuan.


Day 6: This morning, we will visit the surrounding countryside in search of Pied Falconet, Short-tailed Parrotbill, Masked Laughingthrush, Collared Finchbill, Brown-breasted Bulbul, Swinhoe’s Minivet, Chinese Blackbird, and Red-billed Starling. Once done, a bullet train will take us north to Dongzhai. Night outside Dongzhai National Nature Reserve.

Day 7: Dongzhai holds the largest population of the increasingly rare Reeves’s Pheasant, where new photography hides give us the best chance to enjoy close studies of this unbelievably beautiful bird. A reintroduced population of the rebounding Crested Ibis can be found in nearby rice fields, while the threatened Collared Crow and breeding-endemic Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher are also primary targets. Other interesting birds in this area include the spectacular Mandarin Duck, scarce Japanese Scops Owl, Northern Boobook, and more chances for Fairy Pitta. Night outside Dongzhai National Nature Reserve.

Day 8: After morning birding at Dongzhai again, another bullet train transports us further north towards Linfen, arriving at our hotel in the forest this evening.

Day 9: As the sun rises, many Brown Eared Pheasants are often in view on the grounds of the hotel, waiting for their daily supply of corn. Once an extremely hard bird to see, but no longer! Surrounding scrub is good for the range-restricted Grey-sided Thrush, plus Chinese Nuthatch, Yellow-bellied Tit, Chinese Leaf Warbler, Yellow-streaked Warbler, Daurian Redstart, and the attractive Yellow-throated Bunting. In the late morning we’ll start our long drive east to Hengshui.


Day 10: Hengshui Lake is now well known as one of the very few accessible breeding sites for the Critically Endangered Baer’s Pochard. The astounding Reed Parrotbill is common here, while Blunt-winged Warbler, is also present. We have a chance here of finding an early Von Schrenck’s Bittern but will require some good luck for that one. After lunch we will drive north to Lingshan.


Day 11: A full day on the slopes of Lingshan, primarily in search of three major breeding specialties: Zappey’s Flycatcher, Green-backed Flycatcher, and Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch. As well as having further chances for Grey-sided Thrush, other birds here include Claudia’s Leaf Warbler, Beijing Babbler, Plain Laughingthrush, Chinese Thrush, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, and hopefully the diminutive Asian Stubtail. 


Day 12: Another morning at Lingshan before heading into Beijing. We aim to have time for twitching any breeding Daurian Starlings (present some years, absent in others!) before catching a flight further north still to our final Chinese province: Inner Mongolia. Overnight in Ulanhot. 


Day 13-14: Now 3000km further north than when we started the tour, remnant Manchurian steppe habitats in this region host a completely different suite of birds. The Endangered near-endemic Jankowski’s Bunting will be our first focus, before spending time to enjoy nearby wetlands and grasslands playing host to Daurian Partridge, Japanese Quail, Swan Goose, Red-crowned Crane, Hooded Crane, Oriental Stork, Pied Harrier, Amur Falcon, Chinese Grey Shrike, Daurian Jackdaw, Ochre-rumped Bunting, Pallas’s Reed Bunting, Chinese Penduline Tit, Marsh Grassbird, Manchurian Reed Warbler, Asian Short-toed Lark, and Yellow-browed Bunting. On the afternoon of Day 14, we’ll catch a flight back to Beijing International Airport (PEK) where the tour ends in time for international departures this evening.

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