4 Days Lijiang Birding Tour

During this exciting tour, we shall visit northern Yunnan, a region in the very heart of China that best reflects the astonishing avian diversity of this huge country (which has an avifauna of over 1300 species). Sichuan and northern Yunnan lie at the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau and these superb provinces have the richest concentration of Chinese specialities, holding around two-thirds of the country’s endemic birds! Not only do Sichuan and northern Yunnan offer the best opportunities for seeing China’s prime specialities, but due to the great diversity of their habitats, ranging from the subtropical lowlands of the Red Basin and rich evergreen foothill forests to cool temperate zone forests, alpine meadows, dramatic snow-capped mountain peaks and vast grasslands at the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, there is a remarkable wealth of birds in general. Without a doubt, Sichuan and northern Yunnan are the very best of China!

This ‘Ultimate Chinese Endemics’ tour, producing more of the speciality birds of Sichuan and northern Yunnan than any other, is a fabulous adventure, with incredible scenery as well as wonderful, rarely observed birds. Dramatic improvements in the standard of accommodation and in the condition of the roads in recent years (they are now often good or even very good), combined with the discovery of new areas with easier access for birding, mean that this is no longer such a tough tour as it once was. A bonus is some of the best food we encounter on any Birdquest tour!

  • Day 1: Evening tour start at Lijiang.
  • Days 2-3: Lijiang region.
  • Day 4: Lijiang region, then fly to Chengdu to rendezvous with main tour group members.

Yunnan, China Extension: Day 1  Our tour starts in the evening at our hotel in the town of Lijiang, situated in northern Yunnan province in southwest China, where we will stay for three nights. Airport transfers will be provided.

Yunnan, China Extension: Days 2-3  Lijiang is the principal settlement of the Naxi people, a matriarchal society with some fascinating social customs and the old town, dating back to the 12th century, is well worth seeing. At this point the mighty Yangtze river makes a long loop to the north before resuming its flow towards the China Sea, forming a natural boundary to the spectacular, snow-capped peaks of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains, rising to over 5500m (18000ft), that tower above the town. This ornithologically little known area offers a feast of dramatically beautiful scenery, with deep valleys clothed in deciduous and coniferous woodland giving way at higher altitudes to alpine meadows and icy peaks.

Some special birds can be found in the Lijiang area and in particular, we will be wanting to see the rare and localized endemic White-speckled (or Biet’s) Laughingthrush (though depressingly this species is becoming increasingly difficult to find due to trapping), the inquisitive near-endemic Rufous-tailed Babbler (or Rufous-tailed Moupinia), the smart Black-headed Sibia, the secretive Rusty-capped Fulvetta, the smart Black-breasted Thrush, the little-known, near-endemic Brown-winged Parrotbill, the near-endemic Black-bibbed and Black-browed Tits, the near-endemic Yunnan Nuthatch and Black-headed Greenfinch.

Other more widespread species that we may encounter include Asian Barred Owlet, Brown-breasted and Himalayan Black Bulbuls, Grey-winged Blackbird, Black-faced, Davison’s Leaf and Buff-throated Warblers, the localized Rosy Minivet, Blyth’s Shrike-Babbler, Green Shrike-Babbler, the endemic Spectacled Fulvetta (a different-looking subspecies compared to those we’ll see in Sichuan), Chestnut-tailed Minla, Buff-bellied Flowerpecker and Black Drongo. We will also have our first encounter with a number of species that will become very familiar in Sichuan.

Yunnan, China Extension: Day 4  We will spend much of the day birding around Lijiang. Afterwards, we will take a short flight to Chengdu in Sichuan province where we will join up with those arriving for the main tour.