Bai He Nature Reserve Birding

Bai He Nature Reserve Birding

When : May 2017                     Weather: Cool  8-15C

Nikon P900, Leica M240,  Sony a7II


It’s not very often that I can blog on a place that I’ve never read a birding blog on before; almost always some birders have been before and there have been some reports…so this post on Bai He (White River) Nature Reserve is unique as I could not find anything on it at all before going there*….some background….we were staying at the new Banyan Tree (BYT) Resort at Baohua town in Jiuzhaigou(JZG).  Now, the BYT resort is about 50km away from JZG and after seeing the splendour of the lakes of JZG, I was wondering where else we could go to to explore or bird…..on the BYT website, one of the places of interest nearby was listed as BaiHe golden monkey and panda Nature Reserve.   Looking at the map, I found that it was but 25km away.   Researching on line, one can find that 10 years ago grand plans were once in place to develop Baihe Nature Reserve into a nature sanctuary, with resort hotels, bird watching hides, golden snub nosed monkey and panda sanctuaries….but these plans never came to fruition….and talking to the locals, nobody seemed to know much about it….so we planned a visit there….not knowing if we’d draw a blank or find a new birding location….

  • I subsequentlymanaged to find one previous bird report on birding Baihe:

We took the hotel car for the day and set off with our driver Mr Zhang at 7am…..down the hill and onto the road towards JZG valley, we soon reached the turn off into the Baihe Nature Reserve Road on the left.  There were several dwellings and small farms on the road side….


the road leading into the Baihe nature reserve…the mountains beyond beckoned…



A little stream ran along the side of the road….it looked promising…


russet sparrow

A Russet sparrow perched in the light rain…


russet sp

Russet sparrow



plumbeous water redstart



white capped redstart



white capped redstart



Guldenstadt’s or white winged redstart



we then came across a man made swimming pool ..where the stream had been dammed..



an unidentified bird next to the ‘swimming pool’ : possibly brown dipper (thanks Bob)



And driving further along the road, our driver Mr Zhang suddenly yelled out, bird! bird! just as we were passing this little house ….


We all cast out eyes to the bush he indicated…and there a little head popped out..



He raised his head a little to show a gorgeous red hue



An absolutely beautiful common rosefinch, I think…


At this time we were still on the road leading into the nature reserve and little did we know that where this little house was located would turn out to be the location that yielded the most sightings on our way back later!

After shooting the rosefinch, we pushed on and headed to the end of the road where there was a barrier and a security post at the entrance into the nature reserve itself.


Barrier at the end of the road leading into BaiHe golden monkey and panda reserve…whilst we were primarily birding, the thought that we might encounter these monkeys and pandas was quite thrilling…



the security post next to the barrier where there are toilets…our driver persuaded the guard to let us into the reserve for a ramble….



after driving beyond the barrier for a few hundred metres, the road ends and this little dirt track begins into white river nature reserve..



walking alongside the stream, it widened into a river…..a white river from which the BaiHe Nature reserve gets its name



Bai He or White river



after a few hundred meters, we found an open area in which a lovely plumbeous water redstart was hopping about…



He perched willingly for us…



and then the female redstart also appeared



and showed herself beautifully



In the forests, possibly a ferruginous flycatcher way up in the trees…


The nature reserve itself had lots of bird song but the heavy foliage precluded good sightings….on our way out…


a pied wagtail was singing his heart out



grey headed greenfinch



beautiful valleys of Baihe NR



Flowers in the valley

Heading back to the house we’d found the rosefinch at earlier for lunch we had a most fruitful hour….



A green backed tit showed up…



Would you like some lunch dear?



and on the tree opposite the house, this great spotted woodpecker kept flying back with food….



A smart Russet sparrow appeared..



and he flew back and forth to the same tree as the woodpecker



and the female Russet sparrow would also show occasionally



Blue rock thrush



female blue rock thrush



Godlewski’s Bunting


And heading back down the same road we had come on earlier, we stopped at various places where there looked to be some activity…


we saw some movement on the distant bank….at first I thought it was a pied wagtail….



a closer look revealed that it was a white crowned forktail!



It posed for us for a few minutes…



Elliots Laughing thrush



Female common rosefinch (thanks KC)



Grey wagtail



Grey wagtail



dark sided flycatcher



dark sided FC



and then another spectacular bird…



a collared finchbill!



Collared finchbill



brown breasted bulbuls (thanks to KC )



White browed laughing thrush






and the very last bird we saw at the junction of the Baihe Road and the main road was this whitish bird….female Daurian redstart (thanks to KC)


So here it is..our exploration of a hitherto undescribed possible birding location….in a was an absolutely delightful morning of birding with many lifers and spectacular sightings.  So if you are ever visiting Jiuzhaigou and want to do some birding, do yourself a favour and stay at the Banyan Tree resort where the birding is also pretty spectacular(see my previous post) and do not miss the Baihe Golden monkey and panda Nature Reserve…or rather don’t miss birding the road leading to the nature reserve.  The reserve itself has too heavy a canopy for sightings.  Oh and if you are staying at the Banyan Tree, ask for Mr Zhang to drive you; he became our bird spotter and got quite caught up in our enthusiasm.    One of the best birding outings we’ve ever had in China…don’t miss it!  We found the touristy Jiuzhaigou valley itself by comparison hard to bird as there were way too many people around.






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