Club tours

2016: visit Koko Nor, deserts, Roof of the World & SE Qinghai with OBC

Taxonomic enigma: Pink-tailed Bunting. © Richard Thomas

Taxonomic enigma: Pink-tailed Bunting. © Richard Thomas

In 2016, there will be an exciting opportunity for OBC members to visit the Koko Nor, deserts, Roof of the World & SE Qinghai on an OBC on a trip led by Jesper Hornskov.

By Jesper Hornskov* ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 1st October 2014.

Situated in western China, rugged Qinghai province is the ideal place to see a mix of Central Asian specialities, Chinese / Tibetan endemics, and isolated populations of otherwise mostly Siberian species. In zoogeographic terms we will be visiting the Tibetan Plateau and the deep valleys of its eastern fringes, with the latter showing particularly strong affinities with the least accessible parts of neighbouring Sichuan, known for its avifaunally rich Panda reserves.

Unlike China’s ‘Tibet Autonomous Region’ (which could remain trapped in the current unrest- and-clampdown cycle for years to come, making both Lhasa & SE Tibet chronically uncertain destinations), Qinghai – with scenery fully on par with the very best in parts of ‘geographical Tibet’ now administered by neighbouring provinces – offers excellent, reliable & (with comparatively less developed tourism) affordable access to Tibet’s array of unique birds, mammals & flora.

Full itinerary and more details (PDF, 350 KB)

Birding NE Tibet with Oriental Bird Club

We aim to find spectacular birds like this Henderson’s Ground-jay. Photo (c) Richard Thomas

We aim to find spectacular birds like this Henderson’s Ground-jay. Photo (c) Richard Thomas

In 2014, there will be an exciting opportunity for OBC members to visit the Koko Nor, deserts, Roof of the World & SE Qinghai, 27 July – 17 Aug 2014.

[This draft 30 June 2013] By Jesper Hornskov * ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Situated in western China, rugged Qinghai province is the ideal place to see a mix of Central Asian specialities, Chinese / Tibetan endemics, and isolated populations of otherwise mostly Siberian species. In zoogeographic terms we will be visiting the Tibetan Plateau and the deep valleys of its eastern fringes, with the latter showing particularly strong affinities with the least accessible parts of neighbouring Sichuan, known for its avifaunally rich Panda reserves.

Unlike China’s ‘Tibet Autonomous Region’ (which could remain trapped in the current unrest- and-clampdown cycle for years to come), Qinghai – with scenery fully on par with the very best in parts of ‘geographical Tibet’ now administered by neighbouring provinces – offers excellent, reliable & (with comparatively less developed tourism) affordable access to Tibet’s array of unique birds, mammals & flora.

Drawing on unequalled birding experience in Qinghai (>45 comprehensive tours during 1995- 2013 in addition to six years' residence in the province) the following itinerary incorporates several sites pioneered by your leader Jesper Hornskov as recently as in summer 2013. The present itinerary has been carefully planned and updated to take in as wide a range of habitats as possible, thus maximizing our chances of connecting with all target species. Improved infrastructure – mainly better roads, but also more frequent domestic flights – now allows us to incorporate into a three week tour the very best this part of Asia has to offer without compromising on the field hours: we have sufficient time to ensure that all specialities can be properly searched for, at a realistic pace. We shall be expecting to see around 220 species in Qinghai, with additional ones possible as we pass through Beijing.

Further details: OBC Qinghai itinerary 2014 (PDF, 350 KB)

Birding China with Oriental Bird Club

A November 2013 birdwatching trip to Yunnan & BeijingItinerary® by Jesper Hornskov **ALL RIGHTS RESERVED**

Temminck’s Tragopan is one of many spectacular species we hope to encounter on this tour to Yunnan.  Photo © Richard Thomas

Temminck’s Tragopan is one of many spectacular species we hope to encounter on this tour to Yunnan. Photo © Richard Thomas

China's southwestern-most province, Yunnan, has long been neglected as a destination by travelling birdwatchers. While neighbouring Sichuan certainly has a lot to offer ornithologically, Yunnan has now relaxed restrictions on access so that some of the least disturbed areas near the Burma border can be visited.

That avian delights of November in Yunnan easily match – and in some ways surpass – those of the more ‘obvious’ spring months of March/April is known first-hand to no more than a dozen intrepid souls.

Anyone susceptible to the allure of Thailand and the eastern Himalayas will look wistfully at a map of the region and regret that Burma looks set to remain a tricky destination for ornithological pilgrims for years to come: long-planned tours have been cancelled a few days before scheduled kick-off as the essential permits were whimsically withdrawn, and the situation remains volatile with considerable risk of renewed civil unrest. However, west of the mighty Salween river, in China, steadily improving infrastructure has made accessible a variety of essentially "Burmese" habitats, from forests between 300-2,800m above sea level to paddies & scrub swarming with winter visitors and passage migrants. On this trip we will spend 19 days here, following an itinerary which, drawing on unequalled birding experience in the area, has been carefully planned to maximise field time. We will have time to properly search for the specialities of these secretive forests before concluding our travels with a quick visit to picturesque Lijiang, home to the endemic Yunnan Nuthatch, east of the Salween biological divide.

Part of the charm of this scenically arresting, tucked-away and culturally still-authentic corner of the world is that it has yet to be discovered by Western Tourism (as recently as January/ February 2010 we saw just one other Westerner in the course of an 18 day trip!) – nonetheless roads are far better than one might suppose, our accommodations will be comfortable throughout (double rooms with private toilet & hot shower) and the hospitable climate ensures a year-round supply of fresh, palatable food. We’ll be expecting a species total of 380-450 on the tour – and anyone opting to arrive a day or two early would have the chance of connecting with some Palearctic ultra-heavyweights at Beijing ahead of the main trip!

Your leader Jesper Hornskov, an OBC Founder Member, is Danish. Having lived in China since 1987 he has clocked up well over 12 months’ birdwatching in Yunnan over 26 visits from early 1988, and has seen more species in China than any other birder.

For details on how to join, or for further information, please contact Jesper at

E-mail: goodbirdmail(at)gmail.com or goodbirdmail(at)126.com

Tel (fax on request) +86 10 8490 9652 NEW MOBILE +86 139 1124 0659

Or Michael Edgecombe (OBC Promotions Officer) via mail(at)orientalbirdclub.org

Or download more information: OBC Yunnan Nov2013 itinerary

Visit Mongolia with OBC and Rockjumper

The seldom seen Relict Gull, one of the specialities we hope to find on the OBC-Rockjumper tour to Mongolia in 2014 (c) Jon Hornbuckle

The seldom seen Relict Gull, one of the specialities we hope to find on the OBC-Rockjumper tour to Mongolia in 2014 (c) Jon Hornbuckle

OBC has teamed up with Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures to offer members a unique chance to visit Mongolia from 24th May to 11th June 2014...a remote destination with some truly spectacular bird life on offer...

In the heart of remote Central Asia lies a country that conjures up images of nomadic horsemen striding across barren, wind-swept plains with the grand Altai Mountains rising up above the endless expanse of the Gobi Desert. This land is Mongolia, a country of fascinating legend and history; a picturesque and awe-inspiring land largely unchanged over the years, the heart of the once expansive Mongol Empire and a true wilderness!

Our Mongolia birding escapade offers the very special opportunity of venturing across the vast lake-covered steppes and through the verdant Taiga forest with the ever-present backdrop of the lofty Altai Mountains. We can look forward to superb birding in this gloriously scenic landscape with mouth-watering specialties such as Altai Snowcock, Relict Gull, Stejneger’s Scoter, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Black Woodpecker, Amur and Saker Falcons, spectacular Wallcreeper, White-naped and Demoiselle Cranes, Kozlov’s Accentor, breeding flocks of Oriental Plover, Mongolian Lark, Siberian Rubythroat, Saxaul Sparrow, Hodgson’s Bushchat, Henderson’s Ground Jay and many more on offer. This really is a birding trip like few others and promises to be a most memorable adventure!