Taiwan Endemics and
Near-endemics, Nov. 619, 2006
a keen world birder, I was looking forward to heading to Taiwan to
try to get to grips with the 15 current endemics. In addition I
wanted to see as many of the distinctive, endemic taxa which are
currently classified as subspecies only (two of these, namely the
Hwamei and Black-browed [Muller's] Barbet have been published in
English recently and raised to the species level). I signed up
with Birding Taiwan, understanding that I would be very
lucky to see all my targets.
arrival in Taiwan, after talking to Simon, and checking with the
other participants, he quickly re-vamped the trip to give us more
time in the mountains and a better chance at the more difficult
endemics. Initially we were unlucky with the weather at
Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area, formerly called just
Anmashan. (Too hot and sunny!) and missed both pheasants.
Simon made more changes in the itinerary to give us
additional time at Alishan
later in the trip. In the meantime we wanted to visit Lanyu
Island but flights were disrupted because of high winds. Just
when we were about to give up trying to get there, Simon came
through and managed somehow to get us all on a flight. We had
fantastic looks at the Elegant Lanyu Scops-Owl so we were happy
we made it over there finally.
On to Alishan National Forest Recreation Area with
high hopes of catching up with the pheasants. Both Simon and Lee
(our driver) had been in touch with their contacts and came up
with a new spot on the way up to Alishan, where we were treated
to great looks at a female Swinhoe's Pheasant and the tail of a
male as it crept away in the forest. Higher up in Yushan National
Park the next morning we had ten minute views of a male Mikado
right along the road as promised (!) by Simon. Later on we even
managed to get views of the very shy Taiwan Partridge.
In the end we managed to see of all the current
endemics plus most of the
interesting subspecies. Of my targets, only the Island Thrush
remained invisible (although it was seen by the leaders as the
rest of us were prowling the trails in search of pheasants). We
would not have done so well were it not for Simon's hard work in
re-organizing the trip (multiple times) and giving us several
shots at the key species.
Thanks, Simon I can not wait to return in Spring for
the Fairy Pitta.