Southwest Yunnan birding inc Gaoligongshan and Hornbill Valley: Page 3 of 6

Gaoligongshan Nature Park

Then, southwards, passing below Baihualing, to eventually turn up and west from the Nujiang, to [Southern] Gaoligongshan Nature Park. It was dark as we arrived, with a deluge of rain during thunderstorms, and the restaurant and reception by the car park seemed a very basic place, as if in high remote mountains.

But up a long flight of steps, the cabin-style buildings for accommodation had good rooms (with en suite bathrooms - something I’ve just read Xi Jinping failed to get in prime room in hotel during visit to the UK!). Beside this was a museum; though had no time to call in. Though it seemed no one else but a caretaker was in the vicinity, it seems there is some desire for nature tourism here; a sign listed attractions including nighttime “beast” viewing.

The morning was fine, and we walked a circuit through forest north of the nature park centre. There’s a good path; the forest is dense; branches are hung with mosses - to me, seemed like being in cloud forest. There's even a gibbon viewing platform; though Hofai said that only one family of Eastern Hoolock Gibbons are in the area; the caretaker had heard gibbons the day before, but no calls heard by us.

But to us, proved a place where birds were more readily heard than seen. A White-browed Flycatcher was among “trip ticks” [heck, may well have been a lifer for me]. Also had frustrating calls - a rich whistling was perhaps a laughingthrush or scimitar-babbler; a bird singing loudly from very low cover but only giving glimpses may have been a tesia. Yes, I know - should have brought a recorder to use playbacks, or maybe even prepared by bringing recordings of likely species. But, had plenty of gear, inc cameras.

Just across the road from the park headquarters there’s a rolling, grassy area, where I was surprised to find three Oriental Skylarks. A Black Eagle and a Pacific Eagle flew low overhead; Hofail had earlier pointed out Himalayan Swiftlets, and noted that Dark-rumped Swift has been seen here - a major rarity for China. Good forest to the south of this, it seemed; I thought there were more barbets - Great and Golden-fronted - singing here than to the north.

We could only spend a morning here. Drove down to west a little, and tried a rough road that led into wooded hills area: might we worth exploring. Indeed, would be good to spend more time in this area; especially for anyone who likes being somewhat off the beaten track.

Further down, below the best forest, stopped for lunch at a restaurant with good views over farmland and some woodland. Proved good for variety of birds, if not with megaticks likely, including the only Chinese Babax of our trip.

Martin Williams