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Bird Photography in Xinjiang

< 十天鸟影在新疆 >
By Nelson Khor

Xinjiang in Chinese is call "新疆" or local language شینجاڭ, is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. "Xinjiang" literally means "New Frontier", a name given during the Qing Dynasty. It located in northwestern China and covers over 1,600,000 square kilometers (617,763 square miles), one-sixth of China's total territory, making it China's largest province. Xinjiang borders Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. With a population of over 19 million, Xinjiang is home to 47 ethnic groups including the Uygur, the major ethnic group in Xinjiang.

Xinjiang had unique geographical sector and each type of habitat, in Xinjiang itself had record up to 430++ of species and about 100++ is belong to subspecies. Many of the European bird will be migrate during migration season and most of them will be nesting here too. During the trip we can find the bird nest and chick in daily.

This trip we use the 4x4 car as transport and the whole trip we cover up to 2200KM++, cover habitat area are fresh water pond, mountain, open area, forest and also at local village. During the season the daylight is from 6:00am to 10:00pm, so we have 3 hours extra as in Malaysia.

No doubt the Xinjiang scenery is very beautiful.

Day 1 - China's Xinjiang ( 中国新疆 )
Take early morning flight from Penang > Guangzhou > Urumqi International Airport, we reach Urumqi near mid-night due to Guangzhou heavy rain and all the flight from/to Guangzhou delay, not a good day but still manage to reach on the same day, also a tired day too after whole day in plane.

Day 2 - Nanshan ( 南山 )
Nanshan located at Urumqi south, north Tianshan the general mountainous areas. The Nanshan pasture is apart from the urban district 75 kilometers is situated at Zhongshan and the low mountain intermediate, the elevation 2252 meters.
Here during winter also is a good place for those people love ski

Eurasian Cuckoo - 大杜鹃

Eurasian Linnet - 赤胸朱顶雀

Fire-fronted Serin - 金额丝雀

Great Tit - 大山雀

Jackdaw - 寒鸦

Northern Wheatear - 穗鵖

Day 3 – White Lake( 白湖) > Shixenze ( 石河子 ) > Karamay( 克拉玛依)
白湖 Baihu
Baihu as Mongolia meaning is "white lake", the length 6600 meters, the widest place 1900 meters, the area 8.5 square kilometers, the level of the lake 1954 meters. 15 kilometers apart from northmost part Kanasihu. Baihu is the Kanasihu upstream biggest water source supplies place, therefore the "white lake" water is not only affecting Kanasihu water-holding capacity, also has affected the Kanasi lake water color change, we just cover little bit part of Baihu in the morning session.

石河子 Shixenze
Shixenze the land resource is rich, the landform is complex, the soil type are many, the soil texture is good, by loam primarily. The total acreage 7529 square kilometers, in 2003 was said the area is 2,400,000 acres.

克拉玛依 Karamay
Population: 330,000, area: 9,500 square kilometers (3,668 square miles), Nationalities: Han, Uygur. Karamay is situated in northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region at the edge of the Junggar Basin. The Tianshan Mountains zigzag south of Karamay, and the road mileage between Karamay and Urumqi is 313 kilometers (194 miles). Karamay is Uygur word meaning 'black oil'. It gained this name for the Black Oil Mountain near the city proper. During winter is extremely cold and summer is roasting, generating a large temperature difference between these two seasons. Comparatively, its spring and autumn are short during a year.

White Headed Duck - 白头硬尾鸭

Eurasian Nightjar - 欧夜鹰

Pied Wheatear - 白顶鵖

Rock Sparrow - 石雀

Day 4 - Karamay( 克拉玛依 ) > Wuerhe ( 乌尔禾 ) > Buerjin ( 布尔津 )
乌尔禾 Wuerhe

Northwest of the Junggar Basin is the Wuerhe (also "Urho") region, where there is a unique wind-eroded geological feature
Commonly referred to as "wind city" because of the frequently howling winds. Due to its eeriness, it is also commonly referred to as "Ghost City". At night, strong wind blowing, sand flying and stones rolling, make frightful and dreaded sounds. The native Mongolian people call it "Sulumuhak," while the local Kazakh people name it "Shytirkrsi," and both names have the same meaning - Ghost Castle.

布尔津 Buerjin
The Kazakhs meaning is the cheerful rivers. Buerjin located at north of Xinjiang, has the advantageous geography superiority, northeast part with Russia, Kazakhstan borders, on the east adjoins to the Mongolian country, the international boundary long 218 kilometers. Within the boundaries rivers are numerous.

Citrine Wagtail - 黄头鹡鸰

House Sparrow - 家麻雀

White Winged Woodpecker - 白翅啄木鸟

Day 5 - Buerjin ( 布尔津 ) > Jiadengyu ( 贾登峪 )
贾登峪 Jiadengyu
Jiadengyu is Kanasi gateway, is the main road leads to the Kanasi scenic area, at present has constructed the headquarters which into Kanasi travels, the elevation is 1600 meters, most of the time we are photograph on the way to Kanasi.

Coal Tit - 煤山雀

Common Kestrel - 红隼

Common Redstart - 欧亚红尾鸲

Eurasian Tree-Creeper - 旋木雀

Ortolan Bunting - 圃鹀

Pine Bunting - 白头鹀

Red Backed Shrike - 红背伯劳

Rufous Tailed Rock Thrush - 白背矶鸫

Saxaul Sparrow - 黑顶麻雀

White Wagtail - 白鹡鸰

Day 6 - Jiadengyu ( 贾登峪 ) > Kanasi ( 喀纳斯 ) > Buerjin ( 布尔津 )
喀纳斯 Kanasi
Located in Burqin County of Altay City within the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and sharing borders with Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia, Kanas Nature Reserve boasts a beautiful natural ecosystem formed by lakes, rivers, glaciers, forests, and grasslands.
Kanas, whose name means 'rich and beauty, mysterious and enigmatical' in Mongolian, might be the most alluring resort in northern Xinjiang. The highlight of Kanas Nature Reserve would probably be Kanas Lake. Originating from the Kanas Glacier in Altay Mountain, the Kanas River runs through the mountains for about 125 kilometers (77.7 miles) and Kanas Lake is like a pearl shining on the beautiful river. The lake is 1,375 meters (4,511 ft) high above sea level and covers an area of 45.73 sq kilometers (11,300 acres). The color of Kanas Lake varies according to the seasons and weather. Sometimes it's blue, sometimes green, while sometimes it's as white as milk.

Black Woodpecker - 黑啄木

Chaffinch - 苍头燕雀

Common Starling - 紫翅椋鸟

Mistle Thrush - 槲鸫

Day 7 - Buerjin ( 布尔津 ) > Aletai ( 阿勒泰 ) > Fuhai Lake ( 福海 )
阿勒泰 Aletai
Aletai in Mongolian archaism call as “Jinshan”, because in the mountain contains the gold become popular. 100 kilometers in any direction except South from Aletai and you hit a border: Russia is North, Mongolia is east and Khazakstan is west. A remote area of incredible natural beauty, Aletai in Xinjiang provinces, is less well-known than Urumqi, but its surrounding scenery of evergreen forests, grasslands, rivers, lakes and isolated mountain ranges easily rivals its more popular sister city.

福海 Fuhai Lake
Fuhai also known as Burultokay. It has an area of 33, 273 km˛ with a population of 70,000. This county is a verdant lush valley surrounded by the barren deserts and wastelands. The Altay Mountains flank this county in the north, two rivers flow through the area the Ulungur River and the Ertix River

Black Headed Gull - 棕头鸥

Common Nightingale - 新疆歌鸲

Common Tern - 普通燕鸥

Great Reed Warbler - 大苇莺

Horned Grebe - 角鸊鷉

Kentish Plover - 环颈鸻

Whooper Swan - 大天鹅

Day 8 - Fuhai Lake ( 福海 ) > Qiakuertu ( 恰库尔图 )
恰库尔图 Qiakuertu
Qiakuertu is a small town, it also on strategic 216 federal highway's, the place that you have to pass before to Urumqi, about 300 kilometers apart from the Urumqi and the next town will be another 200 kilometers away, so you have stay here or fill the gas for your car, else it will no any thing along the 200 kilometers but only desert.
We have the bad day but good experience when we reach Qiakuertu at late night, because of the flood, here was no water and electric supply for few day, it only some Motel have manual generator.

Azura Tit - 灰蓝山雀

Bluethroat - 蓝喉歌鸲

Eurasian Wryneck - 蚁鴷

Isabelline Shrike - 棕尾伯劳

Northern Lapwing - 凤头麦鸡

Oystercatcher - 蛎鹬

Pallas's Sandgrouse - 毛腿沙鸡

Pied Wheatear - 白顶鵖

Day 9 – Qiakuertu( 恰库尔图 ) > Desert area ( 沙漠地区 ) > 乌鲁木齐
Morning wake up and start go thru the desert, we assume can see some of the local animal but we does not, we on and off stop at road side to photograph when we see the bird, we reach Urumqi city at late afternoon.
Now time for shopping for souvenir and regional food after go for wonderful dinner before end of the China trip.

Horned Lark - 角百灵

Asian Short-toed Lark - 短趾百灵

Day 10 - Urumqi > Guangzhou > Penang International Airport

End of the Trip