Getting to Danba is a bit of an ordeal. It seems it is customary in Western Sichuan for large parts of the roads to be destroyed by summer rains, only to be rebuilt gradually afterward. Seeing Google Maps indicating a travel time of 4 hours for about 150 km first seemed ridiculous, but turned out to be far too optimistic.

We ended up at a hotel far up some mountain or hill – by that time, I had totally lost my sense of orientation. The continuous fog when birding the next morning did not help either. Apparently, the location was the scene of a fight between Tibetans and Han Chinese a long time ago. The remaining crumbling walls make for some interesting scenery when half covered in fog.

The severe drawback of course being that the birds were covered in heavy fog too. Never got this close to a Eurasian Sparrowhawk before, I think, but got much better views in the past .

After paying some extra money to Lightroom for adding a larger than usual amount of colors, this Rufous-tailed Babbler actually looks vaguely rufous, which is not the way I remember seeing it. Thanks to Bella from Alpinebirding for finding it, though why she did not do anything about the fog is beyond me. So hard to get good service these days.

The HBW has two interesting bits of information on this species. One, the species is described as rather lazy, which in ornithology speak sounds as follows: “Rather sluggish when foraging”. The other is that this is “a relatively poorly known species”. We all like mysteries, don’t we? At least a little bit? Maybe this bird has some secret vices that nobody has ever heard about?

This is probably the 18th time I am showing a photo of Elliott’s Laughingthrush, but for some reason, it has never occurred to me to check who Mr. or Ms. Elliott was. But I will find out now – for you, my dear reader!

(googles noisily and intensively, to the embarrassment of bystanders)

It seems there are actually two Mr. Elliott’s that are candidates for paternity of this species – a Scottish Sir Walter Elliot (1803–1887) and the US Daniel Giraud Elliot (1835–1915) – none of which I made up (though it might be fun to make up a third candidate – the French Jean-Jacques Elliot, 1850-1899).

It seems the guys on the internet who discuss these kinds of things favor Walter, not David, but I am not sure I fully understood their comments. If I wasn’t a bird photographer myself, I would just tell these guys to get a life …

For some reason, the Chinese White-browed Rosefinches were less affected by the fog. Somebody might want to figure out why. Fame and fortune (or at least some lucrative patents) surely await.

Still colorful despite the fog.

When I asked this Rufous-vented Tit to show me its vent, it showed me its finger.

Fortunately, the day was saved by a flock of (still rather foggy) Black-browed Bushtits. They are available for bachelor parties if the theme is cuteness (which it rarely is, I guess). I stole that joke from an appearance by my favorite band The National at a party or something similar – before playing one of their best songs (Apartment Story), Matt Berninger joked that the band was also available to do balloon sculptures. Hilarious, I am pretty sure you think this is not. I do, though.

Of course, just when we were leaving, the fog cleared up. I am not sure this Blue-fronted Redstart was happy about this, as his plumage was not in very good shape. Nor was I, after a day of chasing birds in the fog.

A magic morning this was not. But in the great developing tradition of this blog post containing irrelevant music links, this leads nicely to the rather fascinating Titus Andronicus video of “Magic Morning”. Insanity never sounded this good.

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Written by Kai Pflug
Kai Pflug has been living in Shanghai for the last 18 years and only became interested in birds in China – so he is much more familiar with birds in China than with those in Germany. While he will only ever be an average birder, he aims to be a good bird photographer and has created a website with bird photos as proof. He hopes not too many clients of his consulting company read this blog, as they will doubt his dedication to providing consulting services related to China`s chemical industry. Whenever he wants to shock other birders, he tells them his (indoor) cats can distinguish several warblers by taste.