China's extreme northwest shares species with Mongolia and Tibet, but is more closely allied ornithologically with Central Asia (Turkestan of old--now Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, etc.). It is a rugged land of deserts, grasslands, forest and jagged mountains, as well as some superb wetlands. There are few people in this part of China, resulting in extensive stretches of good habitat. First we'll drive south of Urumqi to the edge of the great Taklimakan Desert of the Tarim Basin and then west over two of the ranges of the lofty Tien Shan Mountains, where we'll approach the Kazakhstan border. Then we'll swing north into the Altai Mountains close to the borders of Siberia and western Mongolia before returning south to Urumqi through the desert of the Junggar Basin.
We'll look especially for the endemic Xinjiang (Biddulph's) Ground-Jay, Xinjiang's only endemic species. Other interesting species are: Little and Great Bitterns, Black Stork, Ruddy Shelduck, Red-crested and Ferruginous Pochards, Pallas's Fish-Eagle, Lammergeier, Himalayan and Eurasian Griffons, Monk Vulture, Long-legged Buzzard, Steppe and Booted Eagles, Lesser Kestrel, Merlin, Saker Falcon, Himalayan Snowcock, Chukar, Common Quail, Common and Demoiselle Cranes, Corn Crake, Northern Lapwing, Pied Avocet, Yellow-legged and Great Gulls, White-winged Tern, Pallas's and Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Hill and Stock Pigeons, Little Owl, European Nightjar, European Bee-eater, European Roller, White-winged and Black Woodpeckers, Calandra, Bimaculated and Asian Larks, Red-backed and Rufous-tailed Shrikes, Lesser and Steppe Grey Shrikes, White-throated Dipper, Rufous-streaked and Black-throated Accentors, Common Nightingale, White-tailed Rubythroat, Rufous-backed, Blue-capped and White-winged Redstarts, Pied Wheatear, Black-throated and Mistle Thrushes, Chinese Babbler, Bearded Parrotbill, Cetti's, Grasshopper, Rusty-rumped, and Savi's Warblers, Booted and Syke's Warblers, Paddyfield Warbler, Caspian Reed-Warbler, Sulphur-bellied and Hume's Warblers, Greater and Small Whitethroats, Desert and Barred Warblers, Songar, Turkestan and Azure Tits, Wallcreeper (with luck), Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer, Pine, Grey-hooded, Ortolan, Red-headed and Reed Buntings, Chaffinch, Fire-fronted Serin, European Goldfinch, European Linnet, Mongolian and Desert Finches, Great Rosefinch (with luck), Saxaul and Spanish Sparrows, Rosy Starling, Eurasian Golden Oriole, and Mongolian Ground-Jay. Leader: Ben King.