Southwest Yunnan birding inc Gaoligongshan and Hornbill Valley: Page 2 of 6

Pianma and Fengxueyakou, Gaoligongshan

We headed to places further north in the Gaoligongshan range, travelling alongside the Nujiang, then crossing up and over the Fengxueyakou - the Pass of Snow and Wind - to stay at Pianma.

There was thick cloud/fog shrouding the pass as we drove up in the late afternoon. But - thanks to Hofai keeping a keen eye out, we were lucky enough to see a female Temminck's Tragopan in a tree by the road, perhaps set to roost for the night.

Pianma's on the border with Burma; and has thrived in recent years due to trading timber from Burma. Yet while there's a great road over the pass, with gentle inclines to aid heavy trucks, it seems the timber is illegally felled in Burma - and there has been a recent clampdown on trade. Hence, much quieter nowadays Hofai told us; though who knows if will stay like that.

Pianma's also on "the Hump" - the route flown by Flying Tigers carrying supplies for Chinese forces fighting the Japanese army during World War 2, and there's a museum there with this rebuilt plane - plus a gallery above the caretaker billed as "anti-British" for displays on a border dispute between British forces in Burma and local Chinese that started in 1911.

In the morning, there was still low cloud/fog over the pass, but had a chance for some birding in the forest above Pianma. There were a few parties of small birds, including Chestnut-tailed Siva...

also Rufous-winged Fulvettas clambering around on branches and mossy tree trunks.

Also a few White-tailed Nutchates. So, some enjoyable birding; this was not far above Pianma. Heading higher, we found the woods seemed quieter for birds - Nutcrackers were in evidence. And the fog made it about impossible to check for Fire-tailed Myzornis at the pass: too bad!!

Heading down to the east again, we dropped well below the cloud - and the good forest - and stopped for lunch at a place by fields on steep hillsides, and plantations of rather thin trees. With time to spare as food was prepared, had a short walk, and proved relatively "birdy" - for small birds including Silver-eared Mesias, Lemon-rumped Warblers. Maybe at least some of these would breed at higher elevations, but yet to move up as spring still relatively cool, and often grey with rain [this year].

Little Buntings were winter visitors or passage migrants; this one gave good chance for photos.

Martin Williams