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Birding on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the Roof of the World
 
Our trip starts in Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, followed by about 14 days birding in some carefully-picked sites. The high elevation has made this vast and sparsely populated plateau different from tropical areas in the regard of bird varieties, only a small group of bird species can survive in the highland. So this trip will highlight the real endemics and plateau specials instead of varieties, we can expect birds like Hume's Ground Jay, Tibetan Rosefinch, Tibetan Snowcock, Buff-throated Partridge, Tibetan Lark, Tibetan Bunting, etc.

Though the birding on the high-elevation and remote areas is quite tough, we will be rewarded by the good view of some rare endemics you can only see them here beside the stunning landscapes, beautiful wildflowers, authentic Tibetan culture and different wild animal flocks. In the alpine lakes, we will see some summer breeders such as Black-necked Crane, Ibisbill, Ruddy Shelduck, Pallas's Gull, Brown-headed Gull, etc.
 
Following the main tour, we will take an internal flight to Lhasa to look for some endemics such as Tibetan Eared Pheasant, Tibetan Blackbird, Tibetan Babax, etc., and immerse in the spectacular and unique culture by visiting the world-famous Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery and Norbulingka.
 

Tour Info Sheet

Highlight Birds
Black-necked Crane, Ibisbill, Rusty-necklaced (Przevalski's) Partridge, Tibetan Partridge, Tibetan Snowcock, Buff-throated Partridge (Szechenyi's Monal Partridge), White Eared Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Upland Buzzard, Amur Falcon, Hume's Ground Jay, Pink-tailed Bunting (Przewalski's Finch), Tibetan Rosefinch, Common Rosefinch, Streaked Rosefinch, Chinese White-browed Rosefinch, Przevalski's (Ala Shan) Redstart, Güldenstädt's Redstart, Tibetan Bunting, Crested Tit Warbler, White-browed Tit Warbler, Gansu Leaf Warbler, Chinese Leaf Warbler, Chinese Nuthatch (Snowy-browed Nuthatch), Przewalski's Nuthatch (White-cheeked Nuthatch), Tibetan Babax, Plain Laughingthrush, Elliot's Laughingthrush, Siberian Rubythroat, Chinese Thrush, Kessler's Thrush, Chestnut Thrush, Hume's Short-toed Lark, Asia Short-toed Lark, Mongolian Lark, Tibetan Lark, Rufous-necked Snowfinch, Pere David's Snowfinch, Tibetan Snowfinch, White-rumped Snowfinch, Blanford's Snowfinch, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Brown Accentor, Robin Accentor, Sichuan Tit, Ground Tit, etc.
Numbers of Species to Expect 130-180
Ease of Birding moderate with a few tricky species
Highlight Mammals Przewalski's Gazelle, Kiang (Tibetan Wild Ass), Tibetan Fox, Black-lipped Pika, Himalayan Marmot, Tibetan Gazelle, Wolf, etc.
Other Attractions Anduo Tibetan culture, Kangba Tibetan culture, minority culture of Hui and Tu, gorgeous plateau scenery
Photography Opportunities birding focused but with some photography chances
Habitats Covered grasslands, subtropical forests, deserts, snow mountains, wetlands
Expected Climate windy and cold in the morning, strong sunlight at daytime, snow is possible
Physical Requirements moderate, demanding but optional in certain parts
Accommodation comfortable
Transportation 19-seat van

What makes this trip irreplaceable?
 
1. The combination of our experienced western guides and local guides ensure your needs are well met.
 
2. See some of the most extraordinary plateau specials in the most popular and classic birding sites of the plateau.
 
3. We run the trip in the best season. Not only birds are in the breeding seasons, but all the destinations have the most beautiful sceneries in this season. 
 
4. A small group size of no more than 8 birders.
 
5. Years of working as a local partner for some prestigious western companies specialized in birds and wildlife. 
 
6. A strong logistic team in the office to ensure our trip goes smoothly and every participant has a comfortable and memorable journey.

Dates & Prices

Dates Booking Status Price Single Supplement Group Size Guide
Jun 20 - Jul 3, 2021 Space Available 4,760USD/pax
4,450USD/pax
500USD/pax 8 Dave Suddaby & Local Guide
Slide the sheet to the left to see the full sheet if you are viewing on your phone or tablet.
 
The cost includes the following:
1. Private transportation throughout the trip, including airport pick-up at Xining International Airport and drop-off at Yushu Airport.
2. All meals from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 14.
3. All the entrance tickets for places listed in the itinerary including cable cars and shuttle buses.
4. Hotel stays from the first day to the last day, two clients occupy one twin-bed room on a sharing basis at nice 3 or 4 star hotels in big cities and local best guesthouses in remote areas.
5. Bottled water and snacks throughout the trip.
6. Simple western breakfast whenever is possible.
7. Service charges of a professional western bird guide and an experienced local bird guide throughout the whole trip.
8. China domestic travel insurance.
9. Service of all logistic supports. 
 
The cost does not include the following:
a. Drinks during meals.
b. Extra charges due to change of itinerary from the client's side or factors beyond the control of AlpineBirding such as natural disaster or governmental policy change.
c. Discretionary tips to local guides and drivers.
d. All personal expense such as laundry service.
e. ANY AIRFARE except those stated in the itinerary.
f. Any program not listed in the itinerary.

Itinerary

Tour Map

Day 1: Arrival in Xining, China (Alt.: 2,260m).
To begin this tour, you need to arrive at Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province and the largest city on the Tibetan Plateau. From there, you will be met by your AlpineBirding bird guide or driver, then get transferred to the hotel in the city. Depending on your time of arrival, you can join an easy birding exploration on a nearby mountain this afternoon to look for some forest birds like Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Plain Laughingthrush, Oriental Turtle Dove, Hill Pigeon, Chestnut Thrush, Godlewski's Bunting, Meadow Bunting, Red-billed Chough, Black Redstart and Daurian Redstart. Additionally, we will also try to spot Pale Rosefinch here.
 
After the exploration, we will go to a nice local restaurant to have our welcome dinner there. It is also the time for your guide to brief the trip and trip participants get to know each other.
 
Day 2: Xining to Huzhu Beishan Mountains via Dongxia Forest Park.
This morning, we will depart from Xining city in the early morning and drive towards Dongxia Forest Park to the north of Xining. The evergreen conifer woods are the dominant tree species in the forest, and lush shrubs occupy the forest gaps and openings; both provide great habitats for small forest species. Here, we will focus on nuthatches, warblers, tits, etc. We can seek out some exciting species such as Crested Tit Warbler, White-browed Tit Warbler, Gansu Leaf Warbler, Chinese Nuthatch (Snowy-browed Nuthatch), Przewalski's Nuthatch (White-cheeked Nuthatch), Plain Laughingthrush, Elliot's Laughingthrush, Siberian Rubythroat, and Chinese Thrush. We will explore different hills here patiently, the dense forest is also home to other noteworthy species like Daurian Jackdaw, Rook, Kessler's Thrush, Chestnut Thrush, Common Rosefinch, Chinese White-browed Rosefinch, Grey-headed Bullfinch, Grey-capped Greenfinch, Red Crossbill, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, White-throated Redstart, Rufous-vented Tit, as well as the shy Smoky Warbler. 
 
After lunch at a local restaurant, we will head on to Huzhu, an Autonomous County of Tu ethnic minority. We will have a stop at a viewing deck where we will carefully scan the mountain slope and look for the endemic Blue Eared Pheasant.
 
Day 3: Huzhu Beishan Mountains (Alt.: up to 4,000m).
We will spend the whole day birding inside the mountain area. Our first target here will be the superb and endemic Blue Eared Pheasant that generally feed on the openings around the forest line in the early morning. In the lower forest area, we will focus on some other spectacular birds including Crested Tit Warbler, Himalayan Bluetail, Chestnut Thrush, Common Rosefinch, Pink-rumped Rosefinch, Grey-headed Bullfinch, Goldcrest, Rufous-breasted Accentor, White-winged Grosbeak, Spotted Bush Warbler, Large-billed Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Chinese Leaf Warbler, etc. With some luck, we may spot Wallcreeper, Eurasian Eagle Owl on the cliffs, and in rock crags. In addition, we can see some rather common species near the stream at the bottom of the mountain, such as White-throated Dipper, White-capped Water Redstart, Plumbeous Water Redstart, etc.
 
Day 4: Huzhu to Heimahe via Qinghai Lake (Alt.: 3,200m).
Spending the morning birding in the Huzhu area, then we will drive to Heimahe in the afternoon. Along the way to Heimahe, we will take some time to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Qinghai Lake. We will see some waterfowls, including Black-necked Crane, the only crane breeds on the plateau. Other sought-after species we can expect including Bar-headed Goose, Northern Pintail, Red-crested Pochard, Eurasian Wigeon, Whooper Swan, Ferruginous Duck, Ruddy Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Pallas's Gull, Kentish Plover, Pale Martin, Green Sandpiper, Common Redshank. 
 
We will also spend some time in the nearby grassland as we search for Twite, Hume's Short-toed Lark, Asia Short-toed Lark, Mongolian Lark, Tibetan Lark, Rufous-necked Snowfinch, Pere David's Snowfinch, Isabelline Wheatear, Ground Tit, etc. After an enjoyable birding time around the lake, we head on to Heimahe to check in at our hotel.
 
Day 5: Heimahe to Chaka via Rubber Mountain (Alt.: 3,200m).
This morning we will drive a short distance to Rubber Mountain that further east to Heimahe. The mixed shrubs and meadows are perfect habitats for Pink-tailed Bunting (Przewalski's Finch), which is a bird in a family all of its own. There are many other exciting bird species that hide in the scrubs on the mountain slopes such as the shy Tibetan Partridge, Saker Falcon, Streaked Rosefinch, Chinese White-browed Rosefinch, Tibetan Snowfinch, White-rumped Snowfinch, Rufous-necked Snowfinch, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Brown Accentor, Robin Accentor, White-browed Tit, Ground Tit, Himalayan Griffon and Upland Buzzard. After our exploration in the Rubber Mountain, we head on to Chaka.
 
Day 6-7: Chaka area (Alt.: 3,200m).
Our next two days will be spent on the harsh desert and arid mountain ranges of Chaka searching for some plateau and desert species. Some of these birds require a level of patience as they are well-adapted to staying hidden in this vast ecosystem, but these birds are well worth the effort. For instance, the Pallas's Sandgrouse is a gorgeous desert species and is adept at camouflaging itself in the ochre desert steppe. We will also look for other sought-after species including Henderson's Ground Jay, Isabelline Shrike, Isabelline Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, Crested Lark, Asian Short-toed Lark, Hume's Short-toed Lark, Mongolian Finch, Pere David's Snowfinch and Blanford's Snowfinch. In the forest bordering the nearby villages, we will focus on some arboreal species such as Eurasian Golden Oriole, Great Spotted Woodpecker, White-cheeked Starling, Eurasian Hoopoe, Azure-winged Magpie, Upland Buzzard, Amur Falcon, etc. Additionally, we will spend some time in the nearby valleys of bush fallows and meadows to search for birds such as the rare and elusive Przevalski's (Ala Shan) Redstart, Rusty-necklaced (Przevalski's) Partridge, Tibetan Partridge, Hill Pigeon, Black Redstart, Pine Bunting, etc.
 
Day 8: Chaka to Wenquan (Alt.: 3,450m).
We will depart Chaka early this morning. The drive to our next destination will be full of surprise if we always have alert eyes towards the sky and vast scrubby plateau. We can expect some predators and grassland birds such as eagles and pipits, shrikes, finches, snowfinches, and larks. We will arrive Gonghe around lunchtime where we can search for Rusty-necklaced (Przewalski's) Partridge again if we have not seen any yet. 
 
Before we arrive at our guesthouse in the small town of Wenquan at around 3,450m, we will drive pass Ela Mountain Pass in the mid-afternoon. The highway here climbs to nearly 4,500m, and the road is surrounded by snow-capped peaks that stretch away toward the distant horizon. Here is the place we focus on searching for Tibetan Sandgrouse and Tibetan Rosefinch the next morning. Around the pass, we can also spot other birds like Güldenstädt's Redstart, Shore Lark, Tibetan Lark, Black Redstart, Black-winged Snowfinch, White-rumped Snowfinch, Rufous-necked Snowfinch, Plain Mountain Finch, Black-headed Mountain Finch, etc. 
 
Day 9: Wenquan to Maduo via Ela Mountain (Alt.: up to 4,500m).
We will spend the morning around Ela Mountain Pass at around 4,500m, especially on the alpine screes in search of some endemic and alpine species. Our first target is the highly range-restricted and rare Tibetan Rosefinch. While slowly hiking up the mountain in search of this bird, we will also scan the mountain slope and try another difficult target, the Tibetan Sandgrouse, though we do need some luck to find it. Other species we can expect around this area are Güldenstädt's Redstart, Tibetan Lark, White-rumped Snowfinch, Rufous-necked Snowfinch, Henri's Snowfinch, Black-headed Mountain Finch, Bearded Vulture, Himalayan Vulture, Tibetan Snowcock, etc.
 
Following our exploration of Ela Mountain, we will drive on towards Maduo where the elevation is lower (around 4,200m) to stay the night. Along the way, we will have an excellent chance to see some plateau mammals like Kiang (Tibetan Wild Ass), Tibetan Fox, Black-lipped Pika, Himalayan Marmot, Tibetan Gazelle, etc. While the telephone poles along the road are excellent for spotting some raptors including the Upland Buzzard, Himalayan Vulture, Saker Falcon, etc.
 
Day 10: Maduo to Yushu (Alt.: 3,680m).
Today we will drive through the famous Yellow River area and drive further west towards the eastern part of Tibet Autonomous Region. As we depart Maduo, the scenery will start changing after a short drive. Once we get closer to Yushu city, the capital of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, we will begin seeing the magnificent valleys populated by people living and working in this area. The changing environment gives us the ideal opportunity to see species unique to different habitats. Before we head into the valley, we will spend some time on the grassland, which is a vital breeding place for the summer migrations of a lot of birds, including Black-necked Crane and Bar-headed Goose. 
 
Before we check in our hotel in Yushu city, we will spend some time searching the pebbled river shoals outside the city where is an ideal habitat of a stunning summer breeder, the Ibisbill.
 
Day 11: Yushu to Nangqian via Kangda Mountain (Alt.: 3,650m).
This morning, we will depart Yushu and drive further west along the rugged and grand valleys towards Nangqian, our last destination in Qinghai on this trip. This site holds fantastic birding resources, especially the three range-limited endemic species, namely the Buff-throated Partridge (Szechenyi's Partridge), Tibetan Bunting, and Tibetan Babax. Our two days' searching in this area typically provides many bird sightings. Before arriving in Nangqian County, we will visit Kanda Mountain on the way in search of some specials inhabit in the eastern of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. We can expect some exciting species like Tibetan Bunting, Tibetan Babax, Tibetan Partridge, White Eared Pheasant, Snow Pigeon, and other birds like Hill Pigeon, Red-billed Chough, Grey-backed Shrike, Elliot's Laughingthrush, Kessler's Thrush (White-backed Thrush), Blue-fronted Redstart, Hodgson's Redstart, Yellow-streaked Warbler, Pink-rumped Rosefinch, Chinese White-browed Rosefinch, and Godlewski's Bunting. We can search for Ibisbill again in the river shoals at the foot of the mountain.
 
Day 12: Nangqian area (Alt.: 3,650m).
We will leave early this morning to visit another well-forested mountain area, the Baizha Forest, and spend a whole day there. The highest point we will reach today is around 4,200m. During the golden morning hours, we will track pheasants preferentially. Besides the endemic Buff-throated Partridge (Szechenyi's Partridge), the White Eared Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Tibetan Snowcock and Tibetan Partridge also inhabit in this area. Other species we can expect in this area are Tibetan Babax, Hill Pigeon, Salim Ali's Swift, Three-toed Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Pink-rumped Rosefinch, Red-fronted Rosefinch, Rufous-vented Tit, Sichuan Tit, Crested Tit Warbler, White-browed Tit Warbler, Sichuan Leaf Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Chinese Rubythroat, Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture), Golden Eagle, Daurian Jackdaw, Alpine Chough, White-throated Dipper, White-winged Grosbeak, etc.
 
Day 13: Nangqian to Yushu (Alt.: 3,680m).
We will spend most of the day birding in Nangqian in search of our targets. In the late afternoon, we drive back to Yushu for our overnight stay.
 
Day 14: Departure from Yushu or Start Lhasa Extension.
Following a lovely breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to the airport to depart from Yushu or join the 4 days "Lhasa Birding & Culture Exploration". This will conclude the services for this scheduled itinerary from AlpineBirding.

Guide(s)


Dave Suddaby
Dave has had a keen interest in birds since his young days growing up in northern Lincolnshire, England, with many memorable times spent looking for migrant birds along the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire coasts. This shaped his future career which started as assistant warden at Bardsey Bird Observatory, north Wales in 1981. This was followed by further seasons at the famous Fair Isle Bird Observatory, Shetland before settling on mainland Shetland and working for conservation organizations on seabirds and breeding waders. In 2002, he moved to County Mayo, Ireland to work on restoring habitats for birds such as Corncrakes and Red-necked Phalaropes. He still lives on the rugged west coast of Ireland. He has traveled through Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australasia and Africa, and taken part in two expeditions to China. 

Besides, one of AlpineBirding's local guide in Qinghai will participate in this trip to ensure a high-end birding experience.

Reports


We don't have a report available for this tour at this stage, please feel free to email us at info@alpinebirding.com, we are more than happy to answer any of your questions and share the latest bird information with you.

Testimonials

   
Esther and Rick / Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
Awesome fun birding in Tibet
 
We decided to visit Tibet for birding and contacted Alpine Birding for itinerary recommendation. The suggested routing is interesting and their staffs were highly efficient in arranging the land transfer and accommodation for us.
 
Philip, our guide is an exceptionally competent knowledgeable birder and photographer. He was quick to spot the birds and seemed to know all the best spots to see them. He was eager to help us to get a good spotting on different spectacular feather creatures through our binoculars. Even though many of the birds were well hidden and moving from tree to tree, he would quietly tracked their movements and swiftly showed us the direction.
 
Through his passion, we were able to see the winter migratory birds in Tibetan region. We were successful at seeing flocks of impressive species, such as the Black-necked Crane, Himalayan Monal, Tibetan Eared Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Lord Derby’s Parakeet, Snow Pigeon and some waterfowls. All these could never have even glimpsed on our own.
 
Philip was a great birding companion, he has given us a great deal of information concerning the behaviours of those birds that we have encountered. We felt at ease with him as he patiently showed us the specific cues in bird photography. He even offered his professional telephoto lens to us to enhance our photos presentations which obviously was the icing on the cake.
 
We place a very high value on the professional guide we had in Philip especially because of the high altitudes in our birding trail. The tour was well thought out and executed. He is reliable and will deal with all details in advance. Hot tea and snacks are always available which were soothing and recharging when the outdoor temperature was freezing. The pace was comfortable and we never felt rushed or inadequate during birding. Philip always concern about our responses to the environment and would refine the itinerary according to our physical conditions and preferences.
 
We have experienced a safe and enjoyable Tibetan Plateau birding tour and see a different facet of Tibetan nature. The landscape was breathtaking, it was such a pleasure to see stunning snow-capped mountains, beautiful lakes, forests and wild animals throughout the whole adventurous trip. Besides, we have tried stone claypot chicken hotpot (shiguoji), the soup was super delicious and welcoming especially after a long excursion.
 
All in all, the entire tour was full of positive experience and invaluable memories. Philip is superb and well acquainted with the nature ecosystem. We really appreciated the time he took to share with us about the birdlife, local culture and no need to mention the tremendous photos we took. We will never forget this fabulous experience and feel so fortunate to see all these wonderful flying creatures under his guidance. Certainly, it was clear that how much he loved what he does and we did learn a lot in this trip.
 
We cannot recommend his services enough and have no hesitation in recommending Philip for his birding skills, his determination to find beautiful birds and his pleasant character.
 
If you have any interest in birds or even just want to take a walk through some incredible forest or wildlife related travel with a guide there to teach you something new, this is the company for you! We think you will be as pleased as we have been and want to go somewhere new as soon as you return home.
 
Esther and Rick / Qinghai-Tibet Plateau February 03, 2019
David Sherry / Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
Qinhai Birding Trip
 
A wonderful birding trip with Parus Yang, a knowledgeable and highly professional bird guide.

We visited a variety of sites that included a range of very different habitats and saw a great many novel and interesting birds of the Tibetan Plateau. Parus's enthusiasm and bird expertise made the trip a great success.

 
David Sherry / Qinghai-Tibet Plateau August 26, 2017
KC Lee / Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
Dear Philip,
 
Despite the hassles, it has been a very joyful journey! We have had countless happy moments and excellent views of birds many rare birds. Thanks for the excellent arrangements. Looking forward to have chance to bird with you and your colleagues again.
 
Yes we indeed need to produce appropriate documents in order to claim insurance. To simplify matters, we will draft a sample letter to you, so that you can reprodue several copies of it, one for each member of the group, with the individual's name and identity appear in the letter. The draft letter should be ready within the next few days. Thanks.
 
KC Lee / Qinghai-Tibet Plateau January 20, 2016
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