Birding in Xinjiang Day 7- 新疆观鸟:130团-白湖

We spent the whole morning at the hotel watching Desert Finches and Common Nightingales build nests and feed the chicks! Funny that the males just kept a close watch but did nothing! :-/

At the nearby nature reserve, we saw Common Terns and European Bee-eaters (黄喉蜂虎) and their nests..! Sand Martins (崖沙燕) mated on wires, House Sparrows, Barred Warblers (横斑林莺)  and European Rollers (蓝胸佛法僧) offered food to their partners. Well, what can I say…its the breeding season and love is in the air! 😛

Breeding time!

From left-European roller, Sand Martin, European bee-eater

Common Tern at 130 township in Xinjiang. Tawny pipit at another reed site!

Common Tern at 130 township in Xinjiang. Tawny pipit at another reed site!

While en-route back to the white lake at Urumqi (we missed a bird on day 1, so we went back to get it!!), we stopped at a reed area for pipits and warblers. It was a long drive again with no lunch and by the time we arrived at the white lake, it was already 5pm! Clouds cluttered and light drizzles had livened up the birds! The bird we missed was the Spanish Sparrow (黑胸麻雀)! Despite many Tree Sparrows around, it was quickly identified due to is distinctive colors on the head and breast! Very strange that Spanish would breed in China…lol! Again, lifer for me! 🙂

Spanish sparrow at white lake, Xinjiang

Spanish sparrow at white lake, Xinjiang

And our dinner? We had mutton dumplings before moving on to the spiciest Sichuan noodles ever! :v

10 Yuan only.

10 Yuan for spicy Sichuan Noodle.

 

Birding in Xinjiang Day 6 Part2/2- 新疆观鸟, 布尔津-130团

After high-fiving for the close encounter with the Pallas’s Sandgrouse, we were back on the road again! We made a brief stop back at the forest in Urho, Karamay (乌尔禾) but birds wouldn’t come out to play on such a windy day! I don’t blame them… :-/ We kept on a look-out for the desert finch which we have yet to see while our driver was driving us to our pit stop, the ex-military township “130”. According to our birding itinerary, we should see the desert finch! Our conversation about the possibilities of missing them was interrupted by our driver who convinced us that the desert finch will be in the forest, next to our hotel. We were puzzled! According to the guide book, the bird should be in semi-desert area! We were very much convinced he had mistaken the desert finch for another bird! 😛 It was 5:30pm when we arrived at the 130 township! As light was still strong, we quickly scanned the nature reserve nearby and saw a Black Tern! But the real highlight of the day was arriving at our hotel. “Where’s the forest”? I asked. “This is the forest” was the answer from my driver. I just had to burst into laughter-the “forest” was just a few trees and plants stemming on both sides of the hotel. A forest it is! *Roll Eyes*  And because our driver said the desert finch is a resident in this “forest”, we asked him to find it for us! To our surprise, he found them in just minutes! There they were, prancing on the branches of a tree! Driver chuckled as it was a victorious win for him!! It was hilarious..! Maybe the hotel looked like an oasis to the desert finches-they were found breeding and raising chicks in this so called “forest”!! Well, here are the photos of the Desert Finches (巨嘴沙雀)!

The male Desert Finch in oasis!

The male Desert Finch in oasis!

desert finch couple in Xinjiang

desert finch couple in Xinjiang

Another amazing bird that calls this “forest” home is the Common Nightingale (新疆歌鸲)! There were a few singing in the garden and were very tame too! How cool is that to wake up to these talented singers?! 🙂 PS. The term “forest” now has a totally new meaning…hehehe!

nightingale in hotel garden, Xinjiang

nightingale in hotel garden, Xinjiang

And this is our driver! 🙂

Our driver in Xinjiang

Our driver in Xinjiang. 柱子,新疆

Birding in Xinjiang Day 6 Part1/2- 新疆观鸟, 布尔津-130团

What a long drive-from Burqin to an ex-military area known as “130”, took more than 6 hours! :-/ Packed with crisps, water and we sneaked some dumplings and eggs from breakfast (signs of no lunch… >.<), we drove past sand dunes, rocky terrains and windmills but didn’t see much until we arrived on a highway with rocky boulders on both sides! Here, the Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel and Red-billed Chough were neighbours! It was a very windy day and even though my bazooka lens and tripod saved me from flying away, I couldn’t stabalise myself, let alone walking! >.<”

kestrel in Burqin

Common kestrel taking shelter from the strong wind!

Soon we were back on the road again! On a few occasions, we saw a few Pallas Sandgrouse flew by, but it was the Mongolian finch (蒙古沙雀) that stirred up a moment of excitement after having driven for 2-3 hours! Yippee, another lifer for me! 🙂

Mongolian finch in Xinjiang

Mongolian finch in Xinjiang

After constant driving for another 2 hours, with semi-desert landscapes undulated before us…I thought my partner was suffering from an illusion when he asked our driver to take a detour as he spotted some Pallas’s Sandgrouse (毛腿沙鸡)! I was almost in*SLEEP* mode when he confirmed his sightings! Luckily, I did not miss this brilliant moment, or I would have *PUNCHED* myself!! 🙂

pallas sandgrouse in xinjiang

pallas’s sandgrouse in xinjiang

By the time we saw the Pallas’s Sandgrouse, it was already 2 p.m. and we’re still a long way from our destination! =_=”

PS. Here’s the view along the way!

View along the road, Xinjiang

View along the road, Xinjiang