Snowy mountains, Lady Amherst’s pheasants in China


This video is called Lady Amherst’s Pheasant Dance – with hissing (turn up the audio).

In the video, these splendid birds are in an aviary, too cramped to show the full beauty of their mating dance: complex moves of attraction and repulsion.

We went to see these pheasants in their natural environment.

The birds were named after Countess Sarah Amherst (1762-1838), whose husband, William Pitt Amherst, was governor-general of Bengal.

Countess Sarah Amherst

Lady Amherst sent the first two male individuals of this species to London in 1828. In 1829, ornithologist Benjamin Leadbeater gave them their scientific name. There used to be feral Lady Amherst’s pheasants in England, but they became extinct about 2015; because of, according to daily The Independent, ‘culling by gamekeepers who believe they endanger fox hunts because they run rather than fly.’

After our arrival in Chengdu, China on 31 March 2018 came 1 April.

That day we went from Chengdu to Kangding city, and then still higher, to a viewing screen where wild Lady Amherst’s pheasants live.

Chengdu is at 500 metres; the viewing screen at 2649.

Snowy mountains between Chengdu and Kangding, 1 April 2018

From Chengdu to Kangding was by airplane. Many snowy mountains were visible from the plane.

Snowy mountains between Chengdu and Kangding, on 1 April 2018

Snow on mountains between Chengdu and Kangding, 1 April 2018

Kangding (Chinese name; Tibetan name: Dartsedo) is the capital of the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province. That region is called Ganzi in Tibetan. 77,8% of its inhabitants are Tibetan. It should not be confused with Tibet proper which is further west.

Signs at Kangding airport are in three languages: Mandarin Chinese, Tibetan and English.

Kangding airport is at over 4,000 meter. Much snow when we arrived. We went down by bus to the city, at 2,560 meter. Just before the city center was a meadow with yaks.

From the city, we went to the viewing screen.

Lady Amherst's pheasants, male and female, 1 April 2018

Male and female Lady Amherst’s pheasants were busy with mating dances.

Lady Amherst's pheasants, male and females, 1 April 2018

There was one adult male and several females.

Lady Amherst's pheasant, male, 1 April 2018

Moving the male’s beautiful long tail into several directions is an important part of the mating dance.

Lady Amherst's pheasant, female, 1 April 2018

Females sometimes ran away from the male, sometimes towards him.

Stay tuned, as there will be more on this blog about Lady Amherst’s pheasants and other wildlife!

5 thoughts on “Snowy mountains, Lady Amherst’s pheasants in China

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