Around 420km (a nine hour drive) north of Chengdu is Jiuzhaigou National Park. As a tourist magnet this place teems with visitors, but both in and outside the park there are still quiet areas with a wealth of birding opportunity. The park is large, and, since no private vehicles can enter, birders normally use the park buses service to get to sites.
Rufous-headed Robin, Blue-eared Pheasant, Chinese Grouse, Blood Pheasant, Pere David’s Owl, Sichuan Jay, Indian Blue Robin, Spectacled Parrotbill, Sukatchev’s Laughinthrush, Crested Tit Warbler, Pere David's Tit, Three-banded Rosefinch, Sooty Tit, Chinese Nuthatch, Przevalski’s Nuthatch, Long-tailed Rosefinch, Spectacled Fulvetta, Siberian Rubythroat, , Bar-tailed Treecreeper, Hodgson’s Treecreeper, Moustached Laughingbrush, Kessler’s Thrush, Chinese Thrush, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Spot-breasted Parrotbill, Black-streaked Scimitar Babbler, White-winged Grosbeak, Nutcracker, Spotted Bush Warbler, David’s Bush Warbler, Ultramarine Flycatcher
Around 9 hours from Chengdu the area is 4 hours east of Ruoergai Town (Zoige) and around 6 hours west of Tangjiahe
Inside Jiuzhaigou Park
Birding highlight inside Jiuzhaigou Park is Rufous-headed Robin. A summer visitor that usually arrives back around the second week of May. These birds are most easy picked up through their loud, melodic song, but are extremely local and normally very secretive
Other JZ specialties are the Spectacled Parrotbill on Reed Lake, while Pere David’s Tit, Chinese Nuthatch, Chinese Leaf Warbler, David’s Bush Warbler, Barred Laughingthrush, Sooty Tit, Chinese Thrush and Indian Blue Robin are found in the lower and mid-elevation forest and secondary growth. Sukatchev’s Laughinthrush are found around the end bus station on the left hand fork, while the right-fork end station, at primeval forest, has Three-banded Rosefinch.
Because you cannot officially stay inside the park the earliest you can enter is 7.30am while closing is around 6pm. Once inside it takes around an hour to get to the Rufous-headed Robin site.
Outside the Park area
There’s excellent birding outside the park, and most species, including Rufous –headed Robin, have been found in the general Jiuzhaigou area. The high alpine forest, to the west of the main tourist areas, holds Pere David’s Owl, Sichuan Jay, Blue-eared Pheasant, Chinese Grouse, Blood Pheasant, Sukatchev’s Laughinthrush, Przevalski’s Nuthatch and Crested Tit Warbler. While driving lower, towards the park, brings you into habitat for likes of Pere David’s Tit and Chinese Nuthatch. Going in an easterly direction takes you into arid scrubby terrain where birds include Long-tailed Rosefinch, Spectacled Parrotbill, Spot-breasted Parrotbill and Black-streaked Scimitar Babbler.
Entrance is expensive – during the peak season, the period when Rufous-headed Robin is present, you pay 210RMB for a park ticket and 90RMB for the bus ticket (it’s essential to use busses to get around the different sites). Those over 60 pay half-price, while over 70 is free.
Directly outside the park is a tourist ghetto of hotel after hotel and a labyrinth of tacky souvenir shops and over-priced restaurants - but there’s plenty of places to stay!!!!!