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Old 07-10-2019, 11:13 AM
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I apologise for this one. There are a LOT of scenery shots in this post, but not many animal shots. That's because I spent most of the day scrambling down rocks and waterfalls so I did not carry my camera or my phone in case I fell into the water (do not ever want to repeat the debacle of 2017 where I fell into a reservoir in Maoming whilst catching a Chinese Rainbow water snake, ruining my Solarmeter, temp. gun, passport and mobile phone).

That said it is very nice scenery so hopefully you won't mind.

We went to a place called Qinglong Waterfall. It was very scenic and had lots of wonderfully clean and clear streams full of colourful fish including those little 'freshwater plecos' you see in pet shops that look like tiny rays (Gastromyzon spp) which I was very happy to see in the wild.

Here is the river at the base of the reserve before the ascent up the mountain to the falls.





The trek was long and hard and I soon became rather uncomfortably aware that both my calves were hurting quite a lot. This is of course probably attributable to walking on average 30 km a day for the previous four days without really resting them enough, but I think it was also at least partially caused by our soak in cold water in the outdoor bath the afternoon before last. However being an idiot, I decided to carry on regardless.

This is a view of the approach to the top of the Qinglong Falls.









And the waterfall itself (I am pointing at a Praying Mantis).



My wife sitting next to a Praying mantis. These were everywhere here, I have never seen such numbers of Praying mantis in my life. I counted at least a dozen within the first half an hour and saw many more on the way down.







I soon decided it was boring keeping to the pathway. I was never going to find the torrent frogs and salamanders I was looking for that way!







So it really was not very long at all before I got my feet wet...



I saw at least two or three new species of frogs I was unfamiliar with but they all eluded my net and I had no camera or phone to take photos with.



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Old 07-10-2019, 11:13 AM
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I ended up scrambling most of the 8km of waterfall down the actual falls themselves, clambering down rocks whilst Jenny took the easy footpath.










Some sort of freshwater crab.









What I was really looking for was deeper pools like this. A few days before I arrived, Kevin Messenger filmed two live Chinese Giant salamanders (Andrias davidianus) by day near here. Apparently during this month they can sometimes be seen by day. So I was carefully and quietly investigating every pool for them.











At around that point, I was hit by two calamities.

The first was finding this:





A Giant salamander. Object of my dreams. The largest amphibian in the world and one of the most endangered in the wild. An achievement of a lifetime. Dead. It was an incredibly unmanning discovery and I am not ashamed to say I had a minor breakdown. I then spent the following hour swimming and investigating the area in a frenzy hoping to spot a live one.

The second calamity was finally discovering that there are consequences to treating your body as if you are a twenty year old man when you’re actually nearly twice that age. Spend five days walking day and night, climbing, jumping, wading, clambering, dropping down rocks, swimming... and eventually something will give. I had already experienced warning signs on the hike up the mountain, but as we were climbing up about five thousand stairs from the waterfall my legs gave out.

My left knee was in intense pain, and both calves had swollen completely solid as if permanently cramped. I managed to struggle back up the mountain and then the long walk down the other side (which if anything was worse as it used different muscles) and managed to get back to the hotel and have two blind masseurs and a young masseuse look at it.

Massage is a traditional vocation for blind people in China, and offers them an avenue for work. They are also said to be the best you can get. I can say they probably are, but good god it hurts like hell!

Prognosis: my left knee had tendinitis and possibly jumper’s knee. Both calves had strained gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. To top it all off my back was solid as well and needed seeing to. I went a couple more times during the trip and am happy to say my knee and calves have now stopped hurting completely and I can walk properly again, although I have to be careful with my knee for a few more weeks.

That night I consoled myself (as always) with more food.









Remember kids: staying in the designated area is for pansies.

And people who don’t want to get eaten up by mosquitoes. Or slip and land on their butt. Or have their feet end up two feet deep in quagmire. Or get their underwear wet. Or end up covered in scratches, cuts, splinters and bruises. Or f*ck up their knee. Or stub their toe (seriously, left knee damaged, right big toe smashed. Is it possible to limp on both legs? Because I’m limping on both legs).

Yeah, I’m getting too old for this crap... Excuse me whilst I whimper in the shower then collapse on the nice fluffy hotel pillows. I seriously need to consider road cruising for snakes in the future.
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Last edited by Thrasops; 07-10-2019 at 11:18 AM..
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Old 07-10-2019, 11:18 AM
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Looks absolutely magic mate! The food puts my egg fried rice, chicken balls and chips in a tray to shame...


You've been herping around China a few times? Have you noticed any decline in wildlife populations at all? I was talking to some park rangers about the pollution in China and in some areas they have to hand pollinate flowers because the insects have died off.


Also, is your snake hook handle supposed to look like a nob?
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Old 07-10-2019, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Potatatas View Post
Looks absolutely magic mate! The food puts my egg fried rice, chicken balls and chips in a tray to shame...


You've been herping around China a few times? Have you noticed any decline in wildlife populations at all? I was talking to some park rangers about the pollution in China and in some areas they have to hand pollinate flowers because the insects have died off.


Also, is your snake hook handle supposed to look like a nob?
I've been visiting China a couple of times a year for five years now, I still have a lot to see. It is not long enough to really appreciate whether animal populations are declining (I am sure they are in some areas) but in all honesty I have to say that there is a hyper-abundance of wildlife there compared to the UK or Europe. In London, it is rare to see even one butterfly, grasshoppers and birds have also been reduced a ridiculous amount. I used to count birds in my garden, twenty-five years ago you could count 60+ sparrows, hundreds of starlings, finches, tits, even woodpeckers at any one time in my garden. Now it is rare to see even one House sparrow.

So, I am sure wildlife is declining in some areas of China, but for example in Beijing I still see FAR more bird and insect life than I do in London.

China is a weird place. It has a lot of pollution, a lot of consumption of endangered species, but it also has a government that seems very willing to do something about it rather than dilly-dallying the way western governments do (one of the benefits of communism I suppose, not being bound by big corporations lobbying for their interests or pandering to the electorate as there are no elections).

So for example, China recently saved the Giant Panda in the wild despite everybody and their mum parroting Chris Packham saying 'let them go extinct' - and they did so with some of the most sweeping habitat reforms ever seen - converting 13 small and isolated panda reserves into 40 huge ones, connecting them all up, and incidentally protecting 70% of the inland mammals, 70% of the birds and 30% of the amphibian species of the country while doing so.

Their military has also spent the previous six years planting 40 million hectares of forest in the biggest rewilding scheme ever.

China is following its Paris Climate Accord targets so well, it is expected to meet them three years early, by 2027 instead of 2030. It has the best public transport system in the world and is one of the largest users of electric cars. So the government has proven it is willing to make change and has the power to do so.

That's not to say everything is fine and dandy, the country has a lot of black marks against it when it comes to conservation... but no, I cannot say I notice anything particularly devastating to wildlife, I find it an incredibly biodiverse place that I always find new creatures in, and which I thoroughly enjoy visiting.


As for the snake hook handle. It is ergonomically crafted for a comfortable grip...
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Last edited by Thrasops; 07-10-2019 at 11:42 AM..
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Old 07-10-2019, 11:36 AM
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Really looks amazing and the food looks so appealing, looking forward to the next installments too

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Old 07-10-2019, 11:38 AM
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There isn't too much to write about the last night there. Because my legs were hurting so much I only went on a small walk the following night but it was an interesting one.

First, we found two Habu (Protobothrops mucrosquamatus) at night alongside an old lake and waterfall. These snakes have a reputation as very dangerous and rather flighty, but the ones I encountered were perfectly tractable. One was crossing the lake on the same stepping stones I was using, and politely swam past me after I got a few shots of it. The other was on the opposite bank.













There was a large (maybe 5-6" across) Huntsman spider on the road.



And another large spider dangling in mid air off a web that I almost face-planted into.

There was the biggest Scutigera centipede I have ever seen. This photo is a case of reverse forced perspective. My finger is about 6" in front of it, because although I know they are harmless, I am not about to find out with one that big!



As we watched, the leggy colossus moved like lightning and took down a huge grasshopper.





I also found further proof that the jungle is full of creepy s**t. Crossed the waterfall, met one Habu halfway across. Got to the other side. Found a second.

Then I heard a woman crying or talking. Not a frog call, or a bird or any other animal. Definitely a female voice saying something.

Only thing is, this was kilometres from anywhere, up a jungle road. Jenny was still on the other side of the lake and didnít hear anything.

Needless to say I hurried back to her. That particular mystery can remain unsolved!

(We went back to that lake the following morning and probably solved the mystery. We found a bunch of KFC boxes of all things on the other side, from the looks of it, local teens go there at night to hang out. That's my explanation).
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Old 07-10-2019, 11:41 AM
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At this point we returned to Beijing for National Week and did not see any more herps.

So here is a list of the species seen for that trip.

(Beijing)
Elaphe carinata (King rat snake)
Eremias brenchleyi (Ordos Racerunner)
Bufo gargarizans (Asian Toad)
Pelophylax nigromaculatus (Black-Spotted Water Frog)

(Wuyishan)
Naja atra (Chinese Cobra)
Ptyas korros (Indo-Chinese Rat snake)
Xenochrophis/Fowlea piscator (Chequered Keelback)
Sinonatrix aequifasciata (Diamond-Back Water snake)
Trimeresurus stejnegeri (Stejnegerís Bamboo viper)
Protobothrops mucrosquamatus (Habu)
Takydromus septentrionalis (Grass lizard)
Hemidactylus frenatus (House gecko)
Plestiodon chinensis (Chinese skink)
Ateuchosaurus chinensis (Chinese Short-Limbed skink)
Rhacophorus dennysi (Chinese Flying Frog)
Duttaphrynus melanostictus (Black/Spined Toad)
Odorrana schmackeri (Piebald Odorous Frog)
Odorrana livida
Hylarana spp
Unidentified Brown tree frog (tbd)

Dead:
Trimeresurus stejnegeri x5
Protobothrops mucrosquamatus x1
Amphiesma stolatum (Buff-Striped Keelback)
Andrias davidianus (Chinese Giant Salamander) 😢

To be perfectly honest, itís a respectable list with a few species I was super happy to see, but in terms of what was seen over energy expended, this had to rank as the most work intensive herping Iíve ever done, not just in China but anywhere. I feel that with the same amount of time and far less effort I could probably equal or better this number of species even in many places in Europe.

Thatís not to say the place was not herpetologically diverse; itís more a reflection of the really awful weather (just unrelentingly hot and not a drop of rain). I think the same trip in May or June would yield far more species and specimens. Which is great, as we intend to return to Wuyishan in a few years!
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Old 07-10-2019, 11:50 AM
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I'll make a few more posts about Beijing and National Week with some self-indulgent social commentary.

The night we got back, we met up with Jenny's mum and aunt who treated us to delicious Korean food.







And the inevitable result.



The following day was 1st October. We watched the huge parade near Tiananmen Square and I really enjoyed it. I have been interested to see western commentators online commenting on it, making out it was a big military parade and 'show of force.' Sure, that was the first part, and what a show it was. But you don't see anybody mention the larger part of the parade, where all 56 of China's minorities were in procession in their cultural dress singing their songs and dancing alongside floats. I really enjoyed seeing that.

I also saw somebody mention that the day 'looked smoggy'. I was there, there was no smog, it was a crisp, clear sky. Perhaps they were looking at smoke from cannon fire.

(In fact in the five years I have been going to China, I have only seen one smoggy day in Beijing. They have really cleaned up the air there to a huge extent).

Anyway, I really enjoyed seeing the parade, to me it was nice seeing so much unity and pride.

Afterwards we went home for my mum-in-law to cook us a feast.







The woman can cook.

We then watched the entire Beijing skyline enveloped by fireworks that evening.
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Old 07-10-2019, 11:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrasops View Post
I've been visiting China a couple of times a year for five years now, I still have a lot to see. It is not long enough to really appreciate whether animal populations are declining (I am sure they are in some areas) but in all honesty I have to say that there is a hyper-abundance of wildlife there compared to the UK or Europe. In London, it is rare to see even one butterfly, grasshoppers and birds have also been reduced a ridiculous amount. I used to count birds in my garden, twenty-five years ago you could count 60+ sparrows, hundreds of starlings, finches, tits, even woodpeckers at any one time in my garden. Now it is rare to see even one House sparrow.

So, I am sure wildlife is declining in some areas of China, but for example in Beijing I still see FAR more bird and insect life than I do in London.

China is a weird place. It has a lot of pollution, a lot of consumption of endangered species, but it also has a government that seems very willing to do something about it rather than dilly-dallying the way western governments do (one of the benefits of communism I suppose, not being bound by big corporations lobbying for their interests or pandering to the electorate as there are no elections).

So for example, China recently saved the Giant Panda in the wild despite everybody and their mum parroting Chris Packham saying 'let them go extinct' - and they did so with some of the most sweeping habitat reforms ever seeing - converting 13 small and isolated panda reserves into 40 huge ones, connecting them all up, and incidentally protecting 70% of the inland mammals, 70% of the birds and 30% of the amphibian species of the country while doing so.

Their military has also spent the previous six years planting 40 million hectares of forest in the biggest rewilding scheme ever.

China is following its Paris Climate Accord targets so well, it is expected to meet them three years early, by 2027 instead of 2030. It has the best public transport system in the world and is one of the largest users of electric cars. So the government has proven it is willing to make change and has the power to do so.

That's not to say everything is fine and dandy, the country has a lot of black marks against it when it comes to conservation... but no, I cannot say I notice anything particularly devastating to wildlife, I find it an incredibly biodiverse place that I always find new creatures in, and which I thoroughly enjoy visiting.


As for the snake hook handle. It is ergonomically crafted for a comfortable grip...
Communism - Kills millions of humans, saves the panda. Who woulda thought they were the good guys all along, saving the animals while addressing the human overpopulation!


That's not at all what I had in my head about Beijing. I'd say China, but it's such a huge country there's probably a few places that are the industrial wasteland I imagine. It's so strange that they are one of the top polluters but also go out of their way to save a species and use their military to plants trees!



I volunteer at a nature park and it's always doom and gloom there. Everything is dying, the trees are diseased, climate change is gunna kill us all and we're too far gone to stop it. Good to hear some places are still thriving
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Old 07-10-2019, 12:01 PM
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Couple of images from Olympic Park, Beijing.

The wife pointing out that I have been eating too much yummy Chinese food.



And the mother-in-law.



A pond where there are usually two kinds of frogs. None were out, perhaps because of the fireworks the previous night. We did see some young Northern Snakehead fish, which look beautiful and faintly menacing as they skulk in the shadows.





We had dinner with some neighbours who got me tipsy on baijiu.







The next day we visited Tanzhe Temple to the west of Beijing.







When offering prayer you have to hold three sticks of incense between your hands and bow three times in each of the cardinal directions.









Ringing the temple bell.



A 1400 year old Ginkgo named the 'Emperor Tree'.



The bark has been touched by so many people it is worn smooth.





A pagoda lit at night. They put on an amazing light show whilst we were watching.



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