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  • Where to watch BIRDS and

  • other wildlife in the world
  • Photograph of Przevalski's Rosefinch (Pinktail)

    The unique Przevalski's Rosefinch or Pinktail at Rubber Mountain by Dubi Shapiro.

  • Where to watch birds and wildlife in

    Photograph of Tibetan Wild Ass (Kiang)

    Tibetan Wild Asses by Coke & Som Smith.

    Photograph of Tibetan Wolf

    'Tibetan' Wolf by Coke & Som Smith.

    Best Birds and other wildlife in Tibet

    The lists below are for the northern summer.

    Chinese endemics 72 (+ 6 on Hainan Island) - not all of these occur in Tibet
    (A monal, a tragopan, six pheasants, a ground-jay, five parrotbills and ten laughingthrushes)
    Sichuan Partridge, Collared (White-necklaced) Partridge, Przevalski’s Partridge, Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Chestnut-throated (Verreaux’s) Partridge, Chinese Monal, Cabot’s Tragopan, Elliot’s Pheasant, Reeves’s Pheasant, Golden Pheasant, White Eared-pheasant, Brown Eared-pheasant, Blue Eared-pheasant, Chinese (Severtzov’s) Grouse, Asian Crested Ibis (being reintroduced to Japan), Sichuan (Pere David’s) Owl, Chinese Barbet, Dark-bodied (Eurasian Three-toed) Woodpecker, Giant (Chinese) Grey Shrike, Sichuan Jay, Xinjiang Ground-jay, Yellow-bellied Tit, White-browed Tit, Rusty-breasted (Pere David’s) Tit, Sichuan Tit, Chinese Cupwing, Sichuan Grasshopper-warbler, Emei Leaf-warbler (winter range unknown, possibly Myanmar), Gansu Leaf-warbler (winter range unknown), Alpine Leaf-warbler, Sooty Tit, Silver-throated Tit, Rufous-tailed Babbler, Tarim Hill-warbler (Babbler), Grey-hooded Fulvetta, Chinese Fulvetta, Spectacled Fulvetta, Three-toed Parrotbill, Spectacled Parrotbill, Yunnan (Brown-winged) Parrotbill, Grey-hooded Parrotbill, Rusty-throated Parrotbill, Grey-sided Scimitar-babbler, Nonggang Babbler, Golden-fronted Fulvetta, Huet’s (Grey-cheeked) Fulvetta, Barred Laughingthrush, White-speckled (Biet’s) Laughingthrush, Giant Laughingthrush, Snowy-cheeked Laughingthrush, Plain (Pere David’s) Laughingthrush, Giant Babax, Tibetan Babax, Buffy Laughingthrush, Blue-crowned (Yellow-throated) Laughingthrush, Brown-cheeked (Prince Henry’s) Laughingthrush, Emei Shan (Grey-faced) Liocichla, Sichuan Treecreeper, Przevalski’s (White-cheeked) Nuthatch, Chinese Thrush, Chinese Shortwing, Ala Shan Redstart, Przevalski’s Rosefinch (Pinktail), Tibetan Snowfinch, Pink-rumped Rosefinch, Chinese Beautiful Rosefinch, Tibetan Rosefinch, Sillem’s Rosefinch, Three-banded Rosefinch (likely to occur in adjacent Indian subcontinent), Chinese White-browed Rosefinch (recorded in India), Tibetan Bunting and Slaty Bunting.

    (Blackthroat breeds in north-central China. Its non-breeding grounds are unknown but it has been recorded in northwest Thailand although possibly only as a vagrant)

    (Vaurie’s Nightjar is known only from the type specimen from Pishan, southwest Xinjiang, in the west)

    Blood Pheasant, Tibetan Eared-pheasant, Buff-throated (Szechenyi’s) Partridge, Tibetan Snowcock, Tibetan Partridge, Black-necked Crane, Ibisbill, Pallas's and Tibetan Sandgrouse, Snow Pigeon, Grey-crested Tit, Ground Tit (Hume’s Ground-jay), Asian Azure-winged Magpie, Tibetan Lark, Crested and White-browed Tit-warblers, Snowy-browed (Chinese) Nuthatch, Wallcreeper, Chinese (White-tailed) Rubythroat, Hodgson’s, White-bellied and White-throated Redstarts, Elliot's Laughingthrush, Green-crowned Warbler, Brown-throated (Ludlow’s) Fulvetta, snowfinches, Great and Streaked Rosefinches, and Tibetan Siskin. Also a chance of Pallas’s Fish-eagle, Demoiselle Crane, Lord Derby’s Parakeet, Grandala and Maroon-backed Accentor.

    Bar-headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Himalayan Griffon, Lammergeier, Golden Eagle, Upland Buzzard, Saker Falcon, Brown-headed and Great Black-headed (Pallas's) Gulls, Hill Pigeon, Grey-backed Shrike, Daurian Jackdaw, Asian Short-toed and Hume’s Larks, warblers, Desert and Isabelline Wheatears, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, Blue-fronted and Güldenstädt's Redstarts, Siberian Rubythroat, Chestnut and Kessler’s Thrushes, Brown, Robin and Rufous-breasted Accentors, Twite, Grey-headed Bullfinch, White-winged Grosbeak, and Brandt’s (Black-headed) and Plain Mountain-finches.

    Tibetan Wild Ass (Kiang), Blue Sheep, Tibetan Gazelle, Chinese Goral, Himalayan Marmot and pikas. Also a chance of Yak (most of the remaining wild Yaks, about a thousand in 2014, are in Hoh Xil NNR), 'Tibetan' Wolf, Pallas's Cat, Tibetan Antelope, Goitered and Przewalski's Gazelles, Mountain Weasel and Tibetan Dwarf Hamster.

    Other Natural Wonders in Tibet

    Tsangpo Canyon
    With an average altitude of about 3000 m (10,000 ft) the Tsangpo River is the highest river on Earth. In the Tsangpo Canyon, one of the largest canyons in the world, the river drops about 2700 m (9000 ft) in just 2414 km (1500 miles), before becoming the Brahmaptura which runs through northeast India.

    Lake Manasarova
    This 320 sq km (125 sq mile) body of blue and emerald water is the highest freshwater lake in the world, lying at 4586 m (15,049 ft). It freezes over completely during the winter.

    Best Sites for Birds and other wildlife in Tibet

    Photograph of Mountain Weasel

    Mountain Weasel by Coke & Som Smith.

    Best Times for Birds and other wildlife in Tibet

    Late May to mid August is the best time for birds, when breeding species are at their most active and attractive, May to October for mammals. During the height of summer in July temperatures range between 15°C and 25°C when it is sunny but there may be some rain or snow showers and it is much colder at night. Warm, waterproof and windproof layered clothing is therefore recommended.

    Recommended Bird Books etc. for Tibet

    Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 2012.

    A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by K Kazmierczak. Helm, 2008.

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

    Tibet and its Birds by C Vaurie. H F & G Witherby, 1972.

    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.

    Apps etc.

    eGuide to Birds of the Indian Subcontinent.

    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.

    Birding and Wildlife Trip Reports for Tibet

    Many trip reports, some for Tibet, 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 Tibet. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Tibet' below.

    Local bird and wildlife guides in Tibet

    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 for birders in Tibet

    Some Organized Tours for birds and other wildlife to Tibet

    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 Tibet in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.