June 29 Driving for Wildlife and Enjoy Wild Hot Spring
We have our final breakfast at our camping site and pack up. We load all our stuff in our car. After days of strenuous hiking, we are all tired so we decide to drive to search for wildlife and camp in different place instead of hike. It proves to be very fruitful and enjoyable. As soon as we leave our camping site after breakfast, we see a Saker Falcon perched on a pile of mud .
Soon after we leave with some nice photos of the bird, we see an Upland Buzzard. We take some great photos of the buzzard and drive but we have to stop again at the discovery of a dead deer. By the side of the carcass is a pile of fresh bear poo. Obviously, a bear has enjoyed some sumptuous meal here. Bear is not nimble enough to catch a deer but they are strong enough to usurp any prey from other predators including Snow Leopard.
As we drive on along the dirt road, surprise comes every now and then, as we see a Tibetan Fox lying just about 5 meters from the road. He runs away at the sight of us and disappears in the grassland. The river becomes narrower and narrower while we get higher and higher in elevation. The snow-capped mountain peaks come closer and closer.
Suddenly, we see a male Tibetan Gazelle, lying about 50 meters away from the road; we stop and take some satisfactory photos. He is quite cooperative, standing in different postures. While we are still enjoying the great moment of photographing the beautiful male Tibetan Gazelle, we see a wolf holding something in his mouth, running in front of our car on the road. We slow down, just following the wolf slowly, trying not to exhaust him. Eventually, he run to the road side, I get some nice photos of the wolf. Before we reach our morning destination, the head water of the Mecon River, we see herds of Tibetan ass and Gazelles. As soon as we get to the headwaters, we stop our car by the roadside. We decide to walk to the monument. It turn out to be the next fruitful walk I ever had in the past week.
As soon as I walk into the wetland, I hear the call of Tibetan Lark, a bird I have dreamed takeoff taking a decent photos for quite a long time. The bird can’t be more cooperative, I get a lot of videos and photos of this lovely bird. The trail wind its way through the wetlands, and I have to walk with great caution to avoid stepping into the water pool. The grasslands and numerous water ponds of different sizes make this place an ideal ground for summer breeders. Ruddy Shelducks and Bar-headed Goose are swimming in the pond searching for food, or resting on the bank. The whiskered Tern, flying like a bomber, looking for chances to fish; small alpine flowers blooming here and there. In distance the snow-capped mountains standing like a guard, protecting all this sacred lands. I am busy changing lens between macro for flowers and normal for scenery. To make it easier, I bring two cameras, one for bird and one for flowers and scenery. While I slowly make my way to the monument that marks the head water of the river, I am frequently distracted by the beautiful scenery, birds and flowers. I find two Horned Grebes from a flock of swimming Bar-headed Goose. The Grebe couple swims with great elegance toward me.
Constantly there are some nice birds appearing in front of me such as Horned Lark, Common Redshank. As soon as I get to the monument, which is actually a Stupa formed by prayer flags. I decide to make my Kama by walking around the special monument. While I am doing that, I see another pair of Horned Grebe with 4 chicks in a big pond. At this time, my attention is drawn by the sound of a Tibetan Lark. The Tibetan Lark even flies to my side and shows mating behavior. Time passes quickly; I really wish I could stay here longer. But I cannot. I have to go back to our car. On my way back, I hear some very familiar high-pitched calls, and looking at the direction of calls. I see two Black-necked Crane feeding by the side of a small lake.The male is singing to court the favor of the female. I waste no time, getting my camera ready and taking both video and photos of this great moment. We are now at the elevation of 4657 meters above the sea level. It is not very common to see these birds at these elevations ,though the bird is known as the only crane living on high elevation area. After enjoying a feast of courting dances, I move on, and struggle through hundreds of small water ponds and the winding stream on my way back to our car. Just about 200 meters from our car, I see a Lesser Sand Plover, running here and there for food.
After getting back to our car, we drive to our camping site, where is famous for a wild hot spring. We drive about 3 hours to our camping site. Once we turn from the main road, we drive along a bumpy mud road toward the snow-capped mountain along a river. Because of flooding, the river water is in dirt color.
Our camping site today is located at the foot of a snow-capped mountain. By the side of our camping site is a river from another snow-capped mountain. We set up our tents and I start cooking dinner. This is our final dinner in the wilderness. We make it very simple.. While I am cooking, Remy goes to the hot spring about 20 meters away by the side of the river. After dinner, we go to our tent to enjoy our final night of camping in the wilderness.