Saturday, November 4, 2017

China: In Chengdu

Our last day in Sichuan (October 23, 2014), after the end of our tour, found us waiting at our hotel in Chengdu before heading back to Singapore on a mid-afternoon flight. Eileen and our companions decided to stay around our hotel, so that left me to spend our final morning exploring a bit of the city on my own. A check of a map showed me that there was a likely-looking park a short distance from the hotel, so I decided to head off towards it. 

The park proved to be a very pleasant place, built around an attractive, tree-lined lake.

It was obviously a popular place for the local community - a placid spot where you could get together for a board game...

...or where a local ensemble could find a quiet spot to rehearse. 

It was a chance for me to have a last look at some common city birds: charming and ubiquitous Black-throated Bushtits (Aegithalos concinnus)...

... and plenty of Chinese (or Light-vented) Bulbuls (Pycnonotus sinensis).

A Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), a bird I normally associate with clear mountain streams, seemed quite at home in an environment that was, shall we say, less than pristine.

In a shady corner I found a White-browed Laughingthrush (Garrulax sannio), seemingly the most urban of the laughingthrushes. Nearby, over the stream, I even found - as a sort of farewell present - a Rufous-faced Warbler (Abroscopus albogularis), a species new to me, flitting about in a treetop with a gang of bushtits. No photograph, though; if you want to see what one looks like check here.  It's a very pretty bird.

By now it was time to head back to the hotel.  Enjoyable as the park was, the walk home was an unexpected pleasure on its own. For once, free from the strictures of an organized bus tour, I was able to stroll through a real Chinese neighbourhood full of people going about their business for themselves rather than to impress a tourist. 

At long last, after a week of visiting Disneyfied villages and closed-in factory shops, here was the real thing.

I would still like to do a proper naturalists' visit here.  This time around, though, I don't think I could have found a nicer way to end my trip to Sichuan.

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