This is not a regular birding trip which involves dawn to dusk birding with occasional breaks for snacks but a lazy photographic tour spending several hours sitting in a hide with hot food and water sent to you on time. Back in 2014, i met Mr.Sun at Yancheng and he did recommend the Lushan County in Henan province as a well know stakeout for Golden Pheasant. Ever since, i have been planning to make a visit but Henan is a notorious warehouse for scams, scumbags and what’s not. The year of the rooster is at the doorstep and it would be a shame not to see some endemic gamebirds ahead of it. So i decided to bite the bullet and make a visit to Henan to know whether its a hit or a bust.

Getting in, out and around Henan

Most of the tour groups use Wuhan as base as it’s close to Dongzhai. I took an overnight train from Shanghai to Luoyang as Lushan County is closer to Luoyang and had ample car rental outlets. Skoda Rapid was duly waiting at the ehi outlet infront of the Luoyang Railway station. The drive to Lushan County took slightly more than 2 hours for a 150km drive. Lushan County to Dongzhai took 4 hours for a 350km ride. Finally flew back to Shanghai from Luoyang’s Beijiao airport. There are daily flights from Beijing, Chengdu, Kunming and Shanghai but its probably the worst airport i have seen in China.

General Info – Henan :

  • +86-15836970299 – Contact no of Laozhu in Lushan County. She, her husband and her brother runs the whole hide/hotel business . They can also arrange for transport from Luoyang. The hotel is a total run down, rooms were cold, toilets were stinky and the so called scheduled hot water at 7PM never showed up. But the hides and the feeders were very well set up and maintained. I guess its a compromise for the lack of hotel facilities. The prices are 150RMB for the room, 100RMB for the hides except for hide no 5 which costs 200rmb/day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner cost is 10,30,40RMB/person
  • +86-15716590376 – Contact no of XiaoGuo in Dongzhai. He speaks a very little English. He can arrange for transport from Wuhan, Xinyang. Hide cost is 100RMB/person.
  • +86-15637666138 – Contact no of Laowang in Songfan Village. His homestay was recommended by XiaoGuo. Its bit far from Dongzhai but he has got a stable stakeout for Pied and Crested Kingfishers. The rooms and the food were simple or atleast better than the Lushan County hotel. Again, hot water is only on Schedule (7PM). Price is 100RMB for the room. Breakfast and dinner together is 40RMB/person, hide is 50RMB/person.

Birding locations in Henan

The locations include Luoyang City, Lushan County and Dongzhai of Lingshan County.

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Center map
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Bicycling
Transit

Itinerary :

Day 1 – Dec 11: Arrived at Luoyang at 6.40AM. A small breakfast and a nap at the KFC and then to collect the car at the ehi outlet. Hot lunch at the hotel cum hide management. The lady boss at the hotel handed me a card with the hide no/seat no/date and put one of her minion in charge to lead me to the hide. Hide no 3 was massive with two decks and each deck can accommodate 10 persons. Being the sunday, the hide was at full capacity. The feeding stations were already busy with Greater-necklaced Laughingthrush, Collared Finchbill, Chinese Hwamei, Streak breasted Scimitar Babbler, Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Japanese Tit,a single Green-backed Tit and a Chinese Thrush. Around 3PM, a single immature male Golden Pheasant showed up followed by a female and 3 Males. Rest is shutters bursting at them non stop.

Goldie in Flight - Henan

Goldie in Flight

Golden Pheasant

Female Golden Pheasant

Immature Male – Golden Pheasant

Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler

Collared Finchbill

Day 2 – Dec 12 : Another predawn wakeup and breakfast at 5. I was packed among a bunch of photographers from Guangdong in a pickup van and we were going up on the mountains. The fog was dense and i barely had any idea where the van was taking us. After  30 mins of twists and turns, the pickup truck halted and the driver/owner led us to hide no 5. Around 7.30 AM, 4 Adult males, 3 females and 3 immature males showed up along with a dozen Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush and Eurasian Jay. Around 1PM, a single female Koklass Pheasant darted in and out of the cliff in the dense fog. The fog finally lifted around 2.30PM and the light was already going out. Still no signs of the male Koklass Pheasant. At 4PM, the Laughingthrushes came for a late evening bath and every one of us was very busy shooting their bath time. Suddenly, i realized the male Koklass Pheasant was standing right below the bird bath. It stayed in that area for more than an hour and we left when the darkness covered the mountains.

Male Koklass Pheasant

Golden Pheasants

Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush

Hwamei

Day 3 – Dec 13 : During my day 1 at hide 3, a Chinese Photographer passed me the info that there are Chukars showing up regularly at hide 2. So i decided to spend first half of the day at Hide 2 and rest of the day travelling to Dongzhai. The Ladyboss put me in the hands of her minion along with a bunch of snacks for the birds and sent me to hide 2. Her minion worked relentlessly put up a bunch of Apples on a Persimmon tree and told me that the Persimmons are fake. As soon as he left the hide and the feeders, the birds came for the party. Once again, 10+ Golden Pheasants were the first to show up. New birds at this location were Masked Laughingthrush, Brown-breasted Bulbul. Oriental Greenfinches and Mountain Bulbul were also seen but they weren’t interested in the feeders. A single Chukar showed up briefly around 9. After an hour, it brought another 4 to the table. Now, starts a 4 hour drive to Dongzhai. Overnight at Songfan village near Dongzhai. XiaoGuo and OldGuo are the managers of the stakeout at Dongzhai. They had arranged me for the homestay at Songfan village at LaoWang. Who also happens to have a stakeout for Kingfishers. The homestay was simple and clean.

Chukar

Male Golden Pheasants

Vinous-throated Parrotbill

Green-backed Tit

Chinese Thrush

Naumann’s Thrush

Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler

Red-billed Blue Magpie

Brown-breasted Bulbul

Day 4 – Dec 14 : Started at 7AM at Laowang’s Kingfisher stakeout. The first one to show up is a Brown Crake which happily finished up most of the fishes. Soon, a pair of Pied Kingfishers showed up but they were chased away by a pair of Crested Kingfishers. The best bird from the stakeout is few flyby Collared Crows.

Crested Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Collared Crow

Post lunch was at the stakeout for Reeve’s Pheasant. There are two males n five females have been visiting the stakeout regularly. From 12noon to 5PM was spent starring at the plethora of Eurasian Jay’s and Chinese Hwamei’s. Clock and light was going out fast and i thought today isn’t my lucky day. It was OIdGuo found the male which has emerged underneath the hide and assessing the area. It took a long time and finally decided to move up on the area. I was totally agape when the male strolled infront of the hide dragging its long tail across the forest floor. On the same time, four female pheasants appeared on the rock where the millet was scattered. The male Reeve’s Pheasant was totally not interested in the millet. It silently wandered back into the forest just the same way it made an appearance. A dramatic finish for the trip.

Reeves Pheasant – Male

Reeves Pheasant – Females

Last but not least, Many thanks to Thomas Gut for putting me in touch with these stakeouts.

Pallas’s Squirrel

Pere David’s Rock Squirrel

Species List :

Common name Scientific name Location Date
Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae) – 1 / 173    
Eastern Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha Songfan Village, Henan, China 12/14/16
       
Pheasants and allies (Phasianidae) – 4 / 182    
Chukar Partridge Alectoris chukar Lushan (County), Henan, China 12/13/16
Koklass Pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha Lushan (County) 12/12/16
Reeves’s Pheasant – VU Syrmaticus reevesii Dongzhai National Nature Reserve, Henan, China 12/14/16
Golden Pheasant Chrysolophus pictus Lushan (County) 12/11/16
       
Grebes (Podicipedidae) – 1 / 23    
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis Lushan (County) 12/11/16
       
Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae) – 2 / 72    
Great Egret Ardea alba Songfan Village 12/14/16
Little Egret Egretta garzetta Songfan Village 12/14/16
       
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae) – 1 / 41    
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo Songfan Village 12/14/16
       
Kites, Hawks and Eagles (Accipitridae) – 1 / 256    
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus Songfan Village 12/14/16
       
Rails, Crakes and Coots (Rallidae) – 2 / 151    
Brown Crake Amaurornis akool Songfan Village 12/14/16
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Songfan Village 12/14/16
       
Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae) – 1 / 96    
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus Songfan Village 12/14/16
       
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae) – 1 / 335    
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis Lushan (County) 12/11/16
       
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae) – 2 / 93    
Crested Kingfisher Megaceryle lugubris Songfan Village 12/14/16
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis Songfan Village 12/14/16
       
Woodpeckers (Picidae) – 2 / 234    
Rufous-bellied Woodpecker Dendrocopos hyperythrus White Horse Temple, Luoyang, Henan, China 12/16/16
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major Lushan (County) 12/11/16
       
Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae) – 0 / 67    
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus/rupicolus Songfan Village 12/14/16
       
Shrikes (Laniidae) – 1 / 33    
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach Songfan Village 12/14/16
       
Crows, Jays (Corvidae) – 5 / 131    
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius Lushan (County) 12/12/16
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang, Henan, China 12/15/16
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythroryncha Lushan (County) 12/11/16
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica Lushan (County) 12/11/16
Collared Crow Corvus torquatus Songfan Village 12/14/16
       
Tits, Chickadees (Paridae) – 3 / 61    
Yellow-bellied Tit Pardaliparus venustulus Dongzhai National Nature Reserve 12/14/16
Japanese Tit Parus minor Lushan (County) 12/12/16
Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus Lushan (County) 12/12/16
       
Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae) – 4 / 151    
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques Lushan (County) 12/11/16
Brown-breasted Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthorrhous Lushan (County) 12/13/16
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis White Horse Temple, Luoyang 12/16/16
Mountain Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii Lushan (County) 12/12/16
       
Bushtits (Aegithalidae) – 2 / 13    
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus Lushan (County) 12/12/16
Black-throated Bushtit Aegithalos concinnus Songfan Village 12/14/16
       
Leaf Warblers and allies (Phylloscopidae) – 1 / 77    
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus White Horse Temple, Luoyang 12/16/16
       
Babblers (Timaliidae) – 2 / 55    
Grey-sided Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus swinhoei Lushan (County) 12/11/16
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis Lushan (County) 12/11/16
       
Laughingthrushes (Leiothrichidae) – 3 / 133    
Chinese Hwamei Garrulax canorus Lushan (County) 12/11/16
Masked Laughingthrush Garrulax perspicillatus Lushan (County) 12/13/16
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax pectoralis Lushan (County) 12/11/16
       
Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae) – 1 / 70    
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthora webbiana Lushan (County) 12/11/16
       
Wallcreeper (Tichodromidae) – 1 / 1    
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang 12/15/16
       
Starlings, Rhabdornis (Sturnidae) – 1 / 123    
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus Songfan Village 12/14/16
       
Thrushes (Turdidae) – 4 / 166    
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum Lushan (County) 12/13/16
Naumann’s Thrush Turdus naumanni Lushan (County) 12/13/16
Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus Dongzhai National Nature Reserve 12/14/16
Chinese Thrush Turdus mupinensis Lushan (County) 12/11/16
       
Chats, Old World Flycatchers (320) (Muscicapidae) – 3 / 320    
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus Lushan (County) 12/13/16
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus Songfan Village 12/14/16
Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang 12/15/16
       
Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae) – 1 / 51    
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus Songfan Village 12/14/16
       
Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae) – 1 / 65    
White Wagtail Motacilla alba Songfan Village 12/14/16
       
Finches (Fringillidae) – 3 / 219    
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla Lushan (County) 12/13/16
Chinese Grosbeak Eophona migratoria White Horse Temple, Luoyang 12/16/16
Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica Lushan (County), 12/13/16
       
Buntings, New World Sparrows and allies (Emberizidae) – 2 / 176    
Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica Songfan Village 12/14/16
Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans Lushan (County) 12/11/16
       
Species: 56