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  • Photograph of Firethroat

    A rare photograph of the rare and beautiful Firethroat by Mark Harper.

    SICHUAN

    Best Wildlife in Sichuan

    Mammals
    Blue Sheep, Chinese Goral, Chinese Serow, Tufted Deer, Tibetan Gazelle, Tibetan Fox, Himalayan Marmot, Plateau (Black-lipped) and Large-eared Pikas, Siberian Chipmunk and Woolly Hare. Also a chance of Red Panda (particularly October to mid-November when this species ventures into bare trees to eat berries, especially at Labahe and Longcanggou), Pallas's Cat, Golden Takin, Pere David’s Macaque, and Siberian Roe and Sika Deer, and an outside chance of Wolf, Chinese Mountain Cat and Hog Badger.

    Birds
    The birds listed here are usually present during the northern summer. Golden, Lady Amherst’s, White Eared, Blood and Common Pheasants, Temminck’s Tragopan, Chinese Monal, Tibetan Snowcock, Severtzov’s Grouse, Chinese Bamboo, Snow and Verreaux’s Monal Partridges, Black-necked Crane, Lammergeier, Blue Magpie, Wallcreeper, Grandala, Firethroat, Gould’s Sunbird, Crested and White-browed Tit Warblers, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Hume's Groundpecker and Sichuan Jay, as well as Ruddy Shelduck, Chinese Pond Heron, Himalayan Griffon, Golden Eagle, Saker Falcon, Wood Snipe, Great Black-headed (Pallas’s) Gull, Snow Pigeon, White-throated Needletail, (Eurasian) Hoopoe, Black and White-backed Woodpeckers, Tiger Shrike, Black-naped Oriole, Azure-winged Magpie, Nutcracker, Tibetan Lark, tits including Black-throated (Red-headed) and Fire-capped, bush warblers, Brown and White-throated Dippers, Long-tailed Minivet, Collared Finchbill, Chestnut-headed Tesia, leaf warblers, Ashy-throated, Brown, Fulvous, Golden, Great, Grey-hooded, Spectacled, Three-toed and Vinous-throated Parrotbills, flycatchers, Rufous-bellied Niltava, White-browed Shortwing, White-tailed Rubythroat, (Himalayan) Red-flanked Bluetail, Golden, Indian Blue and White-browed Bush Robins, Blue-fronted, Daurian, Hodgson’s, Plumbeous, White-bellied, White-capped and White-throated Redstarts, Blue Whistling Thrush, thrushes including Chestnut and Kessler’s, Slaty-backed Forktail, Black-streaked (Spot-breasted) and Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, Pygmy and Scaly-breasted Wren Babblers, Chinese Babax, laughingthrushes including Barred, Giant and Red-winged, Emei Shan Liocichla, Red-billed Leiothrix, fulvettas, yuhinas, Chestnut-flanked White-eye, Alpine, Maroon-backed and Rufous-breasted Accentors, Slaty Bunting, Grey-headed Bullfinch, rosefinches, Collared, White-winged and Yellow-billed Grosbeaks, and mountain and snow finches. Also a chance of Koklass Pheasant, Tibetan Partridge, (Eurasian) Eagle, Himalayan Wood and Pere David’s Owls, Black-capped Kingfisher and Asian Paradise Flycatcher, as well as Black Stork, Chinese Grey Shrike and White-browed Shrike Babbler.

    Jiuzhaigou in far north Sichuan supports Blue Eared Pheasant and Rufous-headed Robin, and at Tangjiahe Panda Reserve, also in north Sichuan, between Jiuzhaigou and Chengdu, it is possible to see Golden and Koklass Pheasants, Indian Blue Robin, and Rusty-throated, Spectacled and Three-toed Parrotbills, as well as Golden Takin, Chinese Serow, Chinese Goral, Tufted Deer and Reeve's Muntjac.

    Plants
    One of the richest temperate floras in the world includes many spectacular rhododendrons, primulas and pedicularises, and is notable for its blue poppies, the black Primula euprepes (Zhedou Pass near Kangding), Chionocharis hookeri (Chola Pass near Dege) and Lilium regale.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Sichuan

    Best Times for Wildlife in Sichuan

    Mid-May to mid-June is usually the peak time to look for most birds, mid-June to mid-July for plants, and October to mid-November for mammals, notably Red Panda which forages in often bare small fruiting trees at this time of the year.

    Recommended Books etc. for Sichuan

    A Field Guide to the Birds of China by J MacKinnon and K Phillipps. OUP, 2000.

    Birds of South-East Asia by C Robson. Helm, 2014 (Second Edition).

    Birds of South-East Asia Concise Edition by C Robson. Helm, 2015.

    Bradt Travel Guide: Chinese Wildlife by M Walters. Bradt, 2008.

    Mammals of China (Pocket Edition) edited by A Smith and Y Xie. PUP, 2013.

    A Guide to the Mammals of China by A Smith, Y Xie et al. PUP, 2008.

    The Mammals of China by Sheng Helin et al. China Forestry Publishing House, 1999.

    Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Sichuan

    Many trip reports, some for Sichuan, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Sichuan. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Sichuan' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Sichuan

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Sichuan

    Some Organized Tours to Sichuan

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to Sichuan in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.