Birding in Taiwan

 

 
Birding Stories

 

David Stirling

 

Macdonald Burbidge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr.Rob Butler

 

Karen Shih

 

Madelon Schouten

BIRDING TAIWAN, MAY 2–11, 2005 — A PERSONAL VIEW

 

George Clulow

 

Bill Keay

 

Simon Liao

 

Yang Chung-Tse

 

Allan Ridley

 

Hue Mackenzie

 

Hugh Currie

 

Kijja Jearwattanakanok

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIRDING IN TAIWAN, Jan 29–Feb. 3, 2006

Hugh Currie*

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

          After four weeks of fairly intensive and strenuous birding on 6 Philippine islands, it was a pleasure to visit Taiwan where the travel, food and accommodations were always of the highest standard.  Here we were to see or hear 118 species including 12 of the 15 endemics. 

          Everyone in our small group of six Canadians was eager to see Taiwan’s birds, especially the endemic ones.  Unfortunately, when planning our visit, we had underestimated the extent to which Taiwanese people celebrate the Lunar New Year and how much they love their highlands.  There were traffic delays but still we got around pretty well and, in the end, we joined in the festivities.

          We were met at Taipei airport in the afternoon by Simon Liao and Ten-Di Wu.  We headed southeast to Huisun Forest Station.  Next morning the first bird we saw was a very vocal Collared Owlet directly overhead.  On the morning walk up the hill we saw many species (with strange sounding names) like Yuhina, Minivet, Niltava, Fulvetta and Sibia.  As we left the area we saw several of the beautiful Formosan Magpies.

          Next we birded Aowanda National Forest Recreation area where the highlight was a group of 4 or 5 Rusty Laughingthrushes – a species Simon had only ever seen once, years before.  We stayed that night at the “Quiet and Clean House” (Chingjing Resort) where the food and rooms were of the highest standard. This was our base for the Hehuan Mountains, Emerald Lake area and best of all, the famous Blue Gate trails where we saw five gorgeous Swinhoe’s Pheasants (three of them males).  Close to the hotel, I was personally thrilled to see a flock of Vinous-throated Parrotbills at close range.  This was a new world bird family for me – #195 now and only 9 more to go!  That day we saw Steere’s Liocichla and Taiwan Barwing among many other species.  At A Li Shan National Park, best birds were Vinaceous Rosefinch and White-browed Scrub-Robin.  We descended to the lowlands where we had great looks at a beautiful male Maroon Oriole and where I found 2 Blue-and-white Flycatchers.  We visited the Dadu River estuary where we saw 5 of the world-endangered Saunders’ Gulls.  We went to an inland shorebird location where, for us, the most exciting bird was a Siberian Rubythroat “showing well” as the English birders say.  (One of this species was found dead north of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and is still considered the rarest bird ever to turn up in our part of the world.) 

          Finally after 34 days of non-stop birding, we relaxed and enjoyed the Lunar New Year in Changhua.  We visited Buddhist temples, ate some unusual (to us) delicacies and did some shopping.  After lunch we headed north for the long drive back to the airport, stopping once at a windy seaside location for 6 Swan Geese whose location had been phoned in to us.

          Of course, seeing the Swan Geese was an example of the extra care Simon and Ten-Di take for their visiting birders.  Local birders staked out the spot in gale force winds in order to report the arrival of the geese to us.  As well, we all appreciated that Simon introduced us to Taiwanese specialties every day.   Enjoying a cup of the best coffee in Taiwan under blossoming cherry trees, sampling fresh sugar cane at the centre of Taiwan, watching the sunrise at the very best spot in the country to do so, even enjoying the very best cabbages grown in the country were experiences of great pleasure.  Simon kept us birding but never missed an opportunity to give us history lessons or share the many tastes of Taiwan.

          After seeing the rampant ecological destruction in the Philippines, it was a pleasure to note the obvious pride the Taiwanese take in their wildlife and we were impressed by their strong conservation ethic.  

                                                           

    *Hugh has just seen a rare Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch in northern Ontario, Canada.  Sandra Eadie photo.