Birding in Heilongjiang 帽儿山观鸟

Probably a bit loony to go birding on the coldest, iciest time in Heilongjiang, but hey, life’s about adventures, right?? 🙂 🙂

On the Christmas day of 2013, joined by 2 students from Harbin Forestry University, we took an early train to Mao Er Shan! A  pre-arranged taxi was already at the station waiting for us, and soon we were on our way to the Ringing station! It was a beautiful day, and as the car forged towards the famous mountain, we were captivated by the stunning views of the snowy landscape as it undulated before us!

Mao Er Shan, Heilongjiang

Mao Er Shan, Heilongjiang

With window screens rolled up, we couldn’t hear birds sing! But compensated by sharp-eyed birders in the car, I don’t think we missed any bird when driving along! As soon as we entered the road that leads to the ringing station, we saw some very interesting birds- Hazel Sandgrouse on a tree, Ural Owl on a lamp post, some Marsh Tits etc!

When food is hard to find in cold, icy weather, dumpster sites are favorite hangouts for residents! Eurasian nuthatches, Eurasian Jays, Marsh Tits were some of the birds that frequented the area!

Marsh Tit staying close to the dumpster site

Marsh Tit staying close to the dumpster site

Eurasian Nuthatch, a fast and furious bird!

Eurasian Nuthatch, a fast and furious bird!

Long Tailed Rosefnch and Eurasian Jay outside the ringing station!

Long Tailed Rosefnch and Eurasian Jay outside the ringing station!

As we walked along the road, we also had good views Japanese waxwings mixed with a few Bohemian Waxings, Pallas Rosefinches that flew by!

During winter, the ringing station is closed, but as “VIPs” we could still go in and warm ourselves from the cold brutal weather! 🙂 Having filled our hungry tummies with packed lunchbox (sandwiches actually, and we left 1 in the car! @_@), we decided to move on to the next location…Whilst waiting for our taxi (the same one, and our missing sandwich still there!), we saw a red colored little bird! A Long-tailed Rosefinch! “What a beautiful bird!!” we all exclaimed!

Japanese waxings and Marsh tits

Japanese waxings and Marsh tits

By the time we reach the next location, it was already 3pm, and the sun sets at 4!! >.< Luckily, we saw a White-backed Woodpecker busy pecking away! As the day darkens, and we were heading towards the train station, an Eurasian Eagle Owl was spotted standing on a lamp post!! I couldn’t see the bird as I was blocked in the car…but luckily, it flew to another post, and I finally saw it! 🙂 Better than nothing!! 🙂

Other birds seen when driving along included the Rough-legged Buzzard, Meadow Buntings, and Bull-finches! And with no signs of human trekking on deep snow, animal and bird imprints were seen…a marvelous sight indeed! What’s a better way to spend Christmas? hehe!

Eurasian Eagle-Owl and Bullfinch!

Eurasian Eagle-Owl and Bullfinch!

Animal footprints- a Hare?

Animal footprints- a Hare?

Taiwan, Taichung- Anmashan (great snow mountain) 台湾大雪山赏鸟

Dear friends, Anmashan is also known as dasyueshan (大雪山 great snow mountain)! When I planned for the trip a few years, ago, I was so confused by the names, but they are no doubt the same place! I took a bird guide, recommended by a friend..and we headed off to Taichung from Taipei! But this was a long 5 hour drive, Zzzz! Anyway, the adventure began when there was some mis-communication with the guide, so in the end he dropped me off at my accomodation on the mountain and then I was on my own (gasp)!!

Now, without a car, it would be very difficult to bird at Anmashan, because the bird locations were widespread along the steep mountain! I was lucky to bump into a western couple at the place I was staying, who was very kind to let me join them.

Anyway, birding on the mountain started as early as 6am! So even though the hotel provided breakfast, you would probably have to skip it! Since birding was just up and down the mountain, you would find quite a number of birders along the the way and side treks were easy to walk, so birding was relatively easy!

Here are some of the birds taken on my 3 day bird trip at Anmashan! 😛

Mikado and swinhoe pheasant

Mikado and swinhoe pheasant

Eurasian Jay and Eurasian nutcracker

Eurasian Jay and Eurasian nutcracker

collared bush robin male and female

collared bush robin male and female

rosefinch male and female

rosefinch male and female

white whiskered laughing thrush

white whiskered laughing thrush

white browed bush robin

white browed bush robin

white tailed robin

white tailed robin

In my humble opinion, the best way to get to Taichung is to take a train from Taipei and then for arrange your rented car to be picked at the train station!

The only available accomodation on the mountain is An Man Hotel (鞍馬山莊). http://tsfs.forest.gov.tw/cht/index.php?code=list&ids=27   😛

Phone reception is poor up there, definitely no internet access, and there are only 4 TV channels (all in hokkien). The room itself is pretty basic and because its real cold up there, heated blankets are provided! 😛  This place is only good for hikers and birders, so if your spouse doesn’t do any of those, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT bring him/her to Anma Shan!