Welcome to Birding in Taiwan
INTERNATIONAL TAIWAN BIRDING ASSOCIATION 臺灣國際觀鳥協會
|Birding in St.Lucia|
Matsu Archipelago and Taiwan Island
July 18–19, 2009, with July 20-26 Extension
The summer months are typhoon season; also coastal fog can disrupt air travel. Weather may necessitate an adjustment of plans.
July 18 (Saturday), Day 1: Meet Simon Liao at Shungshan Airport (domestic terminal, elev. 6 m; 20 ft., Taipei City), by 9 a.m. The flight will depart at 11:00 a.m. for 50-minute flight to Nangan Island, Matsu Archipelago. Afternoon boat to the Matsu Tern Reserve (about 3 hours there and back) for the very rare and globally endangered Chinese Crested Tern (Matsu Tern), Thelasseus bernsteini. Watch for other terns; Great Crested (common), Black-naped (common), Roseate (common), Bridled (common), Whiskered, Gull-billed, Caspian, Little, and Black-tailed Gull. Night at Sheng Nong Resort, Nangan.
July 19 (Sunday), Day 2: Weather back-up day for Day 1. Return to Taipei on the 16:10 flight from Nangan which is scheduled to arrive at Shungshan Airport at 17:00. Matsu tour ends.
Those continuing on the Extension will overnight in Taipei and proceed the next morning.
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To Portuguese sailors in the 16th century, it was Ilha Formosa, “Beautiful Island,” because of its lush forests and the jagged peaks of its mountainous spine.
The island we now know as Taiwan, situated approximately 175 km (110 miles) off the coast of China, has diverse habitats; from tidal estuaries, cultivated fields, wetlands, lowland mixed forests, to montane deciduous broadleaf and coniferous forests.
The island still has beautiful forests and mountains, where 15 endemic species (some authors recognize up to 29) reside: Taiwan Partridge, Swinhoe’s Pheasant, Mikado Pheasant, Styan’s Bulbul, Flamecrest, Formosan Whistling-Thrush, Taiwan Bush-Warbler, Collared Bush-Robin, White-Whiskered Laughingthrush. Steere’s Liocichla, Taiwan Barwing, White-eared Sibia, Taiwan Yuhina, Yellow Tit, and Formosan Magpie.
The main focus of the Extension tour is on the endemic species and subspecies of Taiwan. Although more than 500 species of birds have been recorded in the country, about 300 can be considered to occur regularly, including more than 60 endemic subspecies. Perhaps 10 of these subspecies are candidates for full endemic species status. Seeing the pheasants, partridge and quail requires some luck, especially for Taiwan Partridge. The blue, white and red male Swinhoe’s Pheasant is unforgettable, as is the sleek blue-black male Mikado Pheasant, “King of the Mist.” In mid-summer, the shy and secretive Taiwan Bush-Warbler will have stopped singing, however, and be very difficult to locate. We will be alert for the fairly common Black-browed (Muller’s) Barbet and uncommon [Taiwan] Hwamei, next to be raised to full endemic species status.
Taiwan is a safe, welcoming country, with good infrastructure, a strong conservation movement, classic mountain scenery, friendly people, wonderful food and much to offer visitors.
July 20 (Monday), Day 1: Depart YMCA hotel at 6:30 a.m. Drive west and south to Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area in the Anmashan Mountain Range. “Dasyueshan” translates into English as “Big Snow Mountain” (winter only, and not every year). Night at Dasyueshan NFRA.
July 21 (Tuesday), Day 2: Walk Trail 210, elev. 2000 m. (6600 feet) looking for the stunning Swinhoe’s and elegant Mikado Pheasants, Collared Bush-Robin, Green-backed Tit, Brown Bullfinch, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Varied and Black-throated Tits. Drive higher, to Hsiaolaishan (Shiaosyueshan), 2600 m (8,530 ft.), looking for White-whiskered Laughingthrush, Vinaceous Rosefinch, Gray-headed Bullfinch and other species of high elevation. In the afternoon, another walk on Trail 210 or similar. Night at Dasyueshan NFRA.
July 22 (Wednesday), Day 3: Drive south to Huisun Forest Station, mid-elevation forest, for Formosan Magpie, Black-browed Barbet, Gray-capped Woodpecker, Gray-chinned Minivet, Gray Treepie, Black Bulbul, Rufous-capped Babbler, and Malayan Night-Heron which often can be seen foraging on the lawn. Another chance for Swinhoe’s Pheasant. Night at Huisun Forest Station, elev. 770 m (2530 ft).
July 23 (Thursday), Day 4: Drive to Aowanda National Forest Recreation Area, elev. 1200 m (3900 ft.) for afternoon birding. Look in Naoliao Creek for Plumbeous Redstart, and with luck, the rare Little Forktail. Watch for Taiwan Yuhina, Yellow (Taiwan) Tit, White-eared Sibia, Formosan Whistling-thrush, (Taiwan) Hwamei, Fire-breasted and Plain Flowerpeckers. Try for Mountain Scops-Owl and Northern Boobook (Brown Hawk Owl) after dark. Night at Aowanda NFRA.
July 24 (Friday), Day 5: Morning birding at Aowanda, looking for species that might have been missed the previous day. Drive north and ascend to Chingjing, elev. 1750 m (5740 ft.) Chingjing (sometimes called Chingjing Farm) is a mountain farming area which somewhat resembles New Zealand. We will watch for Vinaceous Parrotbill and Chinese Bamboo Partridge, which frequent the shrubby farm field edges. Night in Chingjing.
July 25 (Saturday), Day 6:
Leave Chingjing after breakfast. Continue to ascend, through Hehuanshan Forest Recreation Area, and Wuling (“Big Wind”) Pass, elev. 3275 m (10,750 ft.), the highest elevation of the tour, just inside the western edge of Taroko National Park. (“Shan” means “mountain” in Mandarin.) We will look for high-elevation species; White-whiskered Laughingthrush, Flamecrest, Yellow Tit, Alpine Accentor, Vinaceous Rosefinch and the crested, endemic subspecies of Coal Tit. Descending, we will continue eastward through Taroko Gorge, in Taroko National Park. Do the “Tunnel of the Nine Turns” 30-minute walk, watching the Liwu River far below for Formosan Whistling-Thrush, Brown Dipper and Little Forktail. Proceed to Tienhsiang. Night at Tienhsiang, elev. 485 m (1592 ft.
July 26 (Sunday), Day 7: In the morning, visit the Taroko National Park Visitors Center, where another endemic species, Styan’s Bulbul, can be found. Styan’s Bulbul is confined to the extreme east and south of Taiwan. We will turn northward, and continue to Taipei via Yilan. On arrival in Taipei, the tour ends.
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TRAVEL NOTE: Please arrange your incoming flight so that you arrive in Taipei on Friday, July 17 at the latest. We can book accommodation for you at either the YMCA International House or the Grand Hotel. On the morning of Saturday, July 18, take a taxi to Shungshan Airport (domestic airport in Taipei city) to meet the leader by 9 a.m.
The summer months are typhoon season; also the season of coastal fog. Flights between Matsu and Taipei could be delayed for several hours. If you are going on the Matsu tour only, please arrange your departing flight for the night (late) of July 19, or better, the following day, July 20. Taiwan Taoyuan (formerly Chiang Kai-shek) International Airport is situated about 40 km west of Taipei; driving time is about 1 hour, sometimes more because of traffic. If you expect to transfer directly from Shungshan Airport to the international airport, allow 2 hours. If you wish to stay on in Taipei for a day or more for sightseeing or visiting the excellent National Palace Museum, we can book accommodation for you.