ENDEMICS, FAIRY PITTA, and LANYU ISLAND
May 5–18, 2008
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)
Taiwan Partridge, Swinhoe’s Pheasant, Mikado Pheasant, Styan’s
Bulbul, Flamecrest, Formosan
Taiwan Bush-Warbler, Collared Bush-Robin, White-Whiskered
Laughingthrush. Steere’s Liocichla, Taiwan Barwing, White-eared
Taiwan Yuhina, Yellow Tit, and Formosan Magpie.
Although more than 500 species of birds have been
recorded, 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.” The shy and secretive Taiwan
Bush-Warbler will be singing in May, and perhaps not so
difficult to see. We will be alert for the fairly common
Black-browed (Muller’s) Barbet and uncommon [Taiwan]
Hwamei, probably the next
The main focus of the tour is on the endemic species and
subspecies of Taiwan. Secondary focuses are the Fairy Pitta, a
beautiful and uncommon species which is present only in the breeding
season, and the specialties of Lanyu Island.
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.
Leaders: Simon Liao,
Honourary Chairman, Wild Bird Federation of
Jo Ann MacKenzie,
Taiwan International Birding Association (Canada).
12 participants—no minimum
Major habitats of the west coast, central mountains, Taroko Gorge,
the southeast, and Lanyu Island
Mostly easy to moderate walking; occasional steep steps and paths
in “high mountain” habitat
Accommodation with private bathrooms
Chilly at high elevations, especially at night; hot and humid at
Transportation by air-conditioned bus
Opportunities to sample Taiwanese culture and cuisine
6 May (Tuesday), Day 1
Pick-up at hotel in Taipei. We will visit suitable habitat to look
for Collared Finchbill, Formosan Whistling Thrush,
Black-browed (Muller`s) Barbet, Gray-capped Woodpecker, Formosan
Magpie, and with luck, Fairy Pitta. The male pittas should be on
territory now, and we have a good chance of seeing this very special
bird. Then we will climb higher to Dasyueshan National Forest
Anmashan mountain range, birding along
Arriving at Dasyueshan, we will
Trail 210, elev. 2000 m. (6600 feet) looking for Swinhoe’s
and Mikado Pheasants, Collared Bush-Robin,
Green-backed Tit, Brown Bullfinch, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker,
Varied and Black-throated Tits. Continue birding in the
afternoon. Night at Snow Mountain Resort, Dasyueshan NFRA; 2275 m
7 May (Wednesday), Day 2
morning birding at higher elevation, Hsiaolaishan (Shiaosyueshan),
2600 m (8,530 ft.), looking for White-whiskered Laughingthrush,
Vinaceous Rosefinch, Gray-headed Bullfinch and other species of high
elevation. We will have all day to explore the forest trails.
Night at Snow Mountain Resort, Dasyueshan NFRA.
8 May (Thursday), Day 3
the morning, drive south to Huisun Forest Station, 770 m (2530 ft.)
elevation, birding along the way. Look for Swinhoe’s Pheasant,
if not found at
Dasyueshan. Watch for Malayan Night-Heron on the lawn,
Formosan Magpie, Ashy Wood-Pigeon, Black-browed Barbet,
Gray-capped Woodpecker, Gray-chinned Minivet, Gray Treepie, Black
Bulbul, Rufous-capped Babbler, Rufous-faced Warbler and
White-bellied Yuhina. After dark, try for Mountain Scops-Owl.
9 May (Friday), Day 4
morning birding. Leaving Huisun after breakfast, we backtrack
somewhat, then continue eastward through Puli, the geographic center
of Taiwan, and begin to climb again via Wushe toward Aowanda
National Forest Recreation Area (elev. 1200 m (3900 ft.). At
Aowanda, we will climb the waterfall trail beside Naoliao Creek,
looking for Plumbeous Redstart and with luck, the rare Little
Forktail. We will watch for Taiwan Yuhina, Yellow Tit,
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Varied Tit, and after dark, try for
Northern Boobook. Night at Aowanda NFRA.
(Saturday), Day 5
morning birding. Leaving Aowanda, we will drive to Chingjing, with
birding stops along the way, looking for raptors and forest
species. Night in Chingjing, elev. 1750 m (5740 ft.)
11 May (Sunday), Day 6
leaving Chingjing, we will look for Chinese Bamboo Partridge,
Vinaceous Parrotbill and other species of brushy habitat. Then we
will drive higher yet, to the Hehuanshan Forest Recreation Area,
elev. 3275 m (10,750 ft.), the highest elevation of the tour, just
inside the western edge of Taroko National Park. (“Shan,” means
“mountain “or “hill” in Mandarin; in this case, “mountain.”) We
will look for White-whiskered Laughingthrush,
Flamecrest, Yellow Tit, Alpine Accentor, Vinaceous
Rosefinch, and Coal Tit, Periparus ater ptilosus, the
endemic sub-species. We will continue eastward through the upper
part of the Taroko Gorge, in Taroko National Park, to Tienhsiang
looking for Styan’s Bulbul. On the way, we will visit the
spectacular Taroko “Marble Gorge.” The gorge is one of the scenic
Asia, created by immense tectonic forces combined with erosion by
the Liwu River. We will watch for Brown Dipper, Little Forktail,
and Fork-tailed Swift among the hundreds of House Swifts.
Night at Tienhsiang, elev. 485 m (1592 ft.)
12 May (Monday), Day 7
Early morning birding in the Tienhsiang area. We will exit through
the park’s East Gate, turn south to Hualien and drive along Taiwan’s
scenic east coast, crossing the Tropic of Cancer to Taitung city
with birding stops along the way. Near Chihshiang, we will look for
the endemic Taiwan subspecies of the familiar, but native and wild,
Ring-necked Pheasant. Night in Taitung.
13 May (Tuesday), Day 8
Morning birding in mid-elevation habitat. Birds here include
Formosan Whistling-Thrush, White-eared Sibia, White-bellied
Pigeon, Oriental Cuckoo, Dusky Fulvetta, Ferruginous Flycatcher, and
Emerald Dove. After lunch, proceed to Taitung airport, arriving in
time for our 20-minute flight to Lanyu (Orchid) Island,
http://www.sinica.edu.tw/tit/scenery/1095_scn2.html about 90 km
(56 miles) east of the southern tip of Taiwan.
Most of Lanyu’s inhabitants are aboriginal Yami people,
whose culture is closer to that of the Philippines than of Taiwan.
After transferring to Hungtou (Red-head) village, we will spend the
rest of the day birding this fascinating island. Lanyu is very
different from Taiwan and we will look for the specialties:
Philippine [Brown] Cuckoo Dove, Japanese [Black]
Paradise-Flycatcher, Brown-eared Bulbul and Lowland White-eye.
After dark, we will search for “Lanyu” Scops-Owl, Otus
elegans botelensis, a subspecies of Ryukyu Scops-Owl endemic to
Lanyu Island. Night in Hungtou.
(Wednesday), Day 9
Early morning birding on Lanyu Island. In the afternoon, we will
travel by ferry back to the Taiwan mainland. The crossing will take
about 2 ½ hours during which we will watch for Streaked and
Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and with much luck perhaps come
across Bonin Petrel, Bulwer’s Petrel or Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel.
After docking at Pingtung on the Eluanbi Peninsula and boarding our
bus, we will drive to Kenting, Taiwan’s tropical “far south.” Night
(Thursday), Day 10
Birding in the Kenting area, including Long Luan Tan Lake, looking
for Ruddy-breasted Crake, White-breasted Waterhen and other wetland
species. Endemic Styan’s Bulbul is easily found in the
Kenting area. Distinctively-shaped Taichienshan is the first height
of land that northward-bound migrants see as they approach Taiwan;
we will watch for both common and unusual species. Drive northward;
night in Tainan.
16 May (Friday), Day 11
Morning birding in wetland habitat, looking for shorebirds and other
inhabitants. We usually find a few lingering Black-faced
Spoonbills, although most of the wintering flock will have departed
for their breeding grounds. Chinese Egret is possible. Drive once
again to “high mountain” habitat in Alishan Forest Recreation Area.
We will look for species we may have missed in this habitat earlier. Night in Alishan village, 2200 m (7,200 ft.)
17 May (Saturday), Day 12
morning birding, Alishan. We will drive higher, to the Tataka
Recreation Area, 2600 m (8,536 ft.) in Yushan National Park for more
“high mountain” specialties. Yushan National Park is known as “The
ridge of the roof of Taiwan.” We will be within sight of Yushan
Peak, also called Jade Mountain. At 3952 m (just under 13,000 ft.),
Yushan Peak is the highest mountain in East Asia. Possible species are Taiwan Bush-Warbler (which should be
singing, and therefore “findable”), Eurasian Nutcracker, Gray-headed
Bullfinch, White-whiskered Laughingthrush, Flamecrest,
Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler, Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler. Then
it will be time to leave the high mountains and drive to lowlands.
Night in Changhua.
18 May (Sunday), Day 13
breakfast, drive north to Taipei county, with a stop for a cultural
highlight, the Sanshia Temple, noted for its exquisite stone and
wood wildlife carvings, including more than 100 different birds.
Lunch. We will stroll along an artisans’ street. Continue to
Taipei (elev. 6 m; 20 ft). Shopping opportunity at the extensive,
Handicrafts Center, where there is a range of quality goods, from
inexpensive items to fine art and jewellery. Supper. The tour
NOTE: Please arrange your incoming flight so that you arrive in
Taipei on Monday, May 5 at the latest. We can book accommodation
for you at either the YMCA International House or the Grand Hotel.
On the morning of Tuesday, May 6, you will be picked up at the hotel
to begin the tour.
Please arrange your departing flight for late on the
evening of May 18, or the following day, May 19. Taiwan Taoyuan
International Airport is situated about 40 km west of Taipei;
driving time is about 1 hour, sometimes more because of traffic. If
you wish to stay on in
Taipei for a day or more, we can book accommodation for you.
Maximum of 12 participants with 2 leaders
COST PER PERSON,
Taipei, Taiwan: 13 days
$4000 (sharing); $4500 (single)
EARLY BOOKING DISCOUNT: Register at least 60 days before
departure; get 5% off tour price.
For further information, please contact:
– 21 Avenue
Surrey, BC, V4A 6A8,
TAIWAN INTERNATIONAL BIRDING ASSOCIATION
The Taiwan Specialists
birds, good food, good friends!