Birdwatching in TibetTibet
Chinese name = Xizang
Tibet, whose Chinese name Xizang means 'Western Treasure House', has long exercised a unique hold on the imagination of many Westerners. Often referred to as the 'Roof of the World' most of the province is made up of an immense upland plateau whose altitude ranges from 4000 to 5000 meters. Although its China's second largest province its population is a relatively miniscule 2.7 million and there are now more people of Tibetan ethnic origin living outside of the Tibetan Autonomous Region in the provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan (over four million combined) than there are in the Region itself! The cultural heartland of Tibet is the fertile Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) valley. Tibet is without doubt one of the most remarkable places in the whole of Asia and offers fabulous monastery sights, breathtaking high-altitude treks, stunning views of the world's highest mountains and some of the friendliest people anywhere on the planet. Its also an excellent place for bird watching.
Over 488 species of bird have been reported in Tibet and about 18 nature reserve have been established. Five of these are National Nature Reserves in which rare and precious animals are protected. The five NNR are: Qiangtang Nature Reserve for Wild Tibetan Yaks and Black necked Cranes, Tibetan Ass and Tibetan Gazelles; Markam Nature Reserve for Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkeys; Shenzha Nature Reserve for Black necked Cranes; Nyingchi-Dongjug Nature Reserve for Tibetan Antelopes; Riwoge-Chamoling Nature Reserve for Red Deer.
Key ornithological attractions in Tibet include Tibetan Eared-pheasant, Derbyan Parakeet, Black necked Crane, Tibetan Blackbird, Brown-cheeked Laughingthrush and Giant Babax. The following are some of the major sites to watch birds in the province.
The heart and soul of Tibet, for centuries the abode of the various Dalai Lamas and the focus of devout pilgrimages Lhasa is still a city of wonders. Recent decades have seen large-scale encroachment and massive Chinese influence. While the Potala Palace serves as a symbolic focus for Tibetan hopes for self-government, it is the Jokhang Temple, some two kilometers to the east of the Potala Palace, that is the spiritual heart of the city. Modern day Lhasa divides clearly into a Chinese section in the west and an increasingly fragile but immensely more interesting Tibetan old town in the east. The population is 200,000 and elevation 3595 meters.
Accommodation in Lhasa (Most expensive Hotel in China)
There's a wide variety of accommodation in Lhasa but you should be aware that much of it is expensive. Indeed Lhasa is almost as expensive as the major metropolitan centers of Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
Birding around Lhasa
Chinese name = Yang Hu
Yamdrok Tso (Tso means lake) translates from Tibetan to 'Swan Pool' and is the largest lake in Tibet. Located on the old road between Lhasa and Gyantse (Jiang Zi) its at an elevation of 4448 meters and is about 130 kilometers and covers an area of 638 sq kilometers. It's famous as a wintering site of Black necked Cranes.
Chinese name = Namucuo Hu
Namtso Lake, or 'Heaven Lake', is the second largest salt lake in Tibet and is situated at the edge of Qiangtang Plateau to the north of Lhasa.
Xiong Se, Shiong Se, Qiong Se Lamasery:
Chinese name = Xiong Se Si
Xiongse Monastery, located at Caina Village, Chushui County on the opposite side of the river from the Lhasa to Gyantse road is about 30 kilometers from Lhasa. At an altitude of 4500 meters the monastery was founded in 1181 AD and is now the largest nunnery in Tibet. Its widely regarded as the best place to see Tibetan Eared-pheasant.
Bangong Lake: Chinese name = Bangong Hu
Palgon Lake is about 155 kilometers long and between range from 40 meters and 15 kilometers wide. At an altitude of 4242 meters. Its islands have several large colonies of breeding waterfowl.
Qiangtang (Qiang Tang, Jiang tang) Nature Reserve:
Chinese name = Qiangtang Ziran Baohuqu
Located on the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau the reserve covers an area of 2980 hectares and has an average altitude of 5000 meters. Its probably better for mammals that it is for birds and contains populations wild yaks, Bharals, Tibetan Wild Ass and White-lipped Deer.
Shenzha Black necked Crane Nature Reserve and Tsoe Lake:
Chinese name = Shenzha Heijinghe Ziran Baohuqu
Covering an area of 40000 hectares this huge reserve is located around from 31º38'N to 88º40'E. and has an maximum altitude of 4562 meters. Established in 1993 its main aim is in the protection of the endangered Black necked Crane and the wetland ecological system., One of the reserve's lakes, Coe Lake or Tsoe Lake was investigated by Chinese Scientists in June 2001 and they found that between 50,000 and 54,000 Pallas's Gulls bred on Sanglyrire Island!
Pengbo Black necked Crane Reserve
Chinese name = Pengbo Heijinghe Baohuqu
Linzhou Pengbo Nature Reserve, also known as the Lhasa Nature Reserve, covers an area of 9680 hectares and was again designated to protect Black necked Cranes and their habitat. According to scientists apparently about 1500 cranes are resident around the lake and numbers can be augmented to almost 3000 during the migration season!
Great Gorge of Yarlung Zangbo Nature Reserve:
Chinese name = Yaluzangbujiang Daxiagu
This huge national level protected area covers over 60,000 hectares and an impressive altitudinal range (750-4800 meters) and is located about 12 kilometers south-west of Tsetang. Over 240species of birds have been recorded here including Rufous-necked Hornbill, Satyr and Temminck's Tragopans.