Yunnan Province is a huge and colourful province that borders Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan and Tibet. It has international borders with Burma, Laos and Vietnam. The provincial capital is Kunming which lies at an elevation of 1,800m and is known as the ‘City of Eternal Spring’.

From the snowclad 6,000m peaks of Meilixue Shan in the northwest to the jungles of Xishuangbanna in the south, Yunnan boasts every kind of habitat, and the longest provincial birdlist in China with 800+ species.

Where do you start in a place this size? The Western Hills, or Xishan, near Kunming, are a popular area for the capital’s daytrippers, and the woods support a number of interesting species, including Rosy Minivet, Godlewski’s Bunting, Black-throated Tit, and Spectacled Fulvetta. Three hours’ bus ride further west, near the city of Chuxiong, the scenic area of Zixi Shan (Purple Stream Mountain) has similar and less-disturbed habitat than the Western Hills with Collared Grosbeak, Chinese Thrush and Yunnan Nuthatch.

Cultural tourists head for the ancient city of Dali, which lies at the base of a fifty kilometre line of 4000m high peaks known as ‘Cang Shan’ – the Azure mountains. These slopes support Blood Pheasants near the top, Lady Amherst’s Pheasants in the middle, and Common Pheasants near the bottom. High above Dali the ‘Cloudy Tourist Walk’ at a height of 2,500m provides great views as well as the chance to see Nutcracker, Brown Parrotbill and Chinese Babax, among others. The well-worn tourist circuit leads north to the World Heritage Site of Lijiang, with birding opportunities at Black Dragon Pool Park at the outskirts of town, and Lashi Hai, a wetland 25 kms distant.

Further west, Gaoligong Shan, on the west side of the Salween river, is an area where a spur of the Himalayas reaches toward the wet jungles of southeast asia. Here there are birds in common with the mountains of northeast India, such as Yellow-throated Fulvetta, Red-faced Liochichla, Black-faced Laughingthrush, Fire-tailed Myzornis and Ward’s Trogon.

Black-necked Crane breeds on the Tibetan Plateau and the eastern population winters in northern Yunnan Province. The cranes may be seen in winter in northwest Yunnan at Napahai near Zhongdian/”Shangri-la”, and in northeast Yunnan near Zhaotong at Dashanbao National Nature Reserve (a brisk and breezy 3,000m elevation) and at Huize, a provincial nature reserve, as well at several other sites.

Major Source: Fatbirder

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