We had a two week un-guided birding trip to Taiwan. We gave ourselves two weeks so we had more chance of clearing up on the 23 endemics. Without a guide and with the chance of losing birding days to the weather we thought this was the best strategy. As it turned out we had seen 22 endemics by the end of our first week and just had to return to Wushe for Rufous-crowned Laughingthrush later in the second week. This also gave us an option to go to Lanyu Island and try a few other sites for migrants. We did in fact clear up on all the endemic species but did miss a few endemic sub-species, the most notable being Ashy Wood-Pigeon, White-bellied Pigeon, White-backed Woodpecker, Varied Tit, Island Thrush and Golden Parrotbill. In total we saw 184 species and heard a couple more.
GETTING THERE AND AWAY
We came three different routes, AR had been to Java for a week before the start of the trip so travelled Manchester, UK to Kuala Lumpur with Emirates and to Java and Taiwan by using Air Asia. DRM flew with KLM from Humberside via Amsterdam and Hong Kong; JH and JS flew from Manchester with Air France and Cathay Pacific, via Paris and Hong Kong. The cheapest way was the latter and cost about £750, although it wasn’t much dearer using Emirates and Air Asia.
COSTS AND MONEY
The Taiwanese Dollar (TWD) was roughly 50 to one pound sterling while we were away, which certainly made it easy for converting. We changed a few hundred pounds in the airport as we had heard it was difficult using credit cards. There were a few places where credit cards weren’t accepted but most of the hotels, petrol stations and some restaurants accepted visa and mastercard. I have mentioned later hotels that wouldn’t accept cards. Also the ATM’s in 7Eleven stores accepted credit card withdrawals.
The total cost of the holiday including flights, car hire, hotels, beer and food cost roughly £1400 per person.
CAR HIRE and DRIVING
There are no major western car hire companies in Taiwan (well none that we could find), so I emailed a company mentioned in the Gruff Dodd report – VIP CAR RENTAL. I contacted them by email and had a response the next day. One thing they asked for was a scanned copy of my International Driving Permit (they will not rent a car to anyone without one), this I just emailed through to them. They don’t have an office at the airport, but a representative delivered the car and took a credit card print-off, they then came and met us when we returned the car without any problems. They were a very good professional company and I can highly recommend them. They can be contacted via their website www.vipcar.com.tw. We hired a Nissan Livina, a large 5 door hatchback with ample boot room for our luggage and scopes. It was a new, clean car and didn’t let us down at all.
Driving was much easier than most other Asian countries I’ve driven in, but in the major cities it is always a bit hairy with taxi’s and scooters constantly pulling out on you. The road signs were nearly all bi-lingual, although the names of towns were regularly spelled differently, which you will see just by looking at a couple of maps. Luckily DRM was an excellent navigator and with good gen we very rarely got lost and lost very little time to taking wrong turns. One of the hazards was driving on the high mountain passes, where low dense cloud made driving very difficult, particularly on single tracks with tight bends and sheer drops, made even worse coming face to face with big trucks and buses!
There are good expressways down the west coast which are toll roads, each toll was 40 TWD and it was easy to rack up the kilometres on these fast roads. In contrast, in the mountains and along the east coast, the roads were very windy and a little nauseating and could take an hour to drive 20-30 kms. We literally circumnavigated the island and racked up 2207 kilometres and took the car back in the same condition we left it in.
Petrol was cheaper than in the UK, on average it cost 1300 TWD to fill up the car (£26-28.
The only hotel we booked beforehand was for our first night. We booked the Kuva Chateau Hotel via www.asiarooms.com it was just 18 kms from the airport in the city of Junghli and only cost £16 each which was very good value for the quality of the hotel.
All other accommodation we just arrived and enquired about availability and costs, most rooms were very clean, comfortable and cost on average 1500 TWD per twin room. Which meant we paid on average £15 each per night.
13th and 14th - Dasyueshan National Park – we stayed in one of the bungalows (2 twin rooms with communal seating area which was good for doing our log in the evening) which is run by the National Park, we booked them at the visitor centre at km 44. Next to the bungalows was a restaurant that served a set evening meal and breakfast in with the cost of room, however this was some of the worst food that we had in the whole of Taiwan. The cost was 2100 TWD per room per night, which we paid by credit card. No Wi-fi.
15th and 16th – Wushe – Wu Ying Hotel in the town above the 7Eleven store, the rooms cost 1500 TWD per night. The 7Eleven store was very handy for coffees and snacks early morning before setting out birding. No credit cards accepted. No wi-fi, but available from 7/Eleven.
17th - Yushan NP – we stayed outside the park at Alishan Forest Recreational area. There is a tourist area just inside the park (you have to pay to go in even if you are staying in a hotel). There is a good selection of hotels, we just pulled up and someone approached us about a hotel, we followed them and stayed in the Kao Shan Ching Hotel for 1500 TWD per twin room, which again was very nice and clean. The square above the hotel had many restaurants including several with English menus and in one of these we had one of our best meals in the whole of Taiwan. Accepted credit cards. Wi-fi access.
18th – Tainan – Puyuma Hotel for 1600 TWD per twin room. Centrally based but still hard to find a decent drinking den or a restaurant with an English menu. Accepted credit cards. Wi-fi access in lobby.
19th and 20th – Kenting – Sunshine Inn Hotel for 1500 TWD per twin room per night. On the main road on the south side of town and amidst plenty of restaurants and several bars – a proper holiday town. No credit cards. Wi-fi access in rooms.
21st and 22nd – Lanyu Island – TaTa La guesthouse in Hungtou for 1000 TWD per room per night. Japanese style with mattresses on the floor, a nice common room area with fridge and a café right across the street. No credit cards. Wi-fi access.
23rd and 24th – Taroko Gorge – Youth Activity Centre in Tiensiang - a large rectangular hotel in a nice setting, we had our meals here which were very good. Also beer available in the shop and accepted credit cards. Wi-fi access in lobby.
25th – Taipei – Wonstar Hotel, 3200 for a twin room for the night, very nice and a very interesting channel 14 on the tv! Set in a very touristy part of the city and close to shopping, restaurants and a few bars, unfortunately no parking so we had to park in a multi-storey a few blocks away.
FOOD and DRINK
This was certainly not a highlight of the trip and certainly not like south-east Asia. A problem we found was so few people spoke English and very few menus were in English. Some places had English menus or photo menus, so you could point and order. In hindsight we should have copied down some basic dishes written in Chinese so we could show that to people. We didn’t starve but also didn’t have any good dining experiences. I hate MacDonalds but we used them on several occasions and it was almost a relief when we saw them when entering a town. 7/Elevens were in most villages and several in every town, they were good places to buy drinks, sandwiches, hot dogs, beer and whisky.
The local beer – Taiwan Beer was good although quite expensive in most places, with up to 150 TWD a bottle. Small bottles of Scottish Whisky were reasonably priced in the 7/Elevens but wine was expensive.
BOOKS AND TRIP REPORTS
A field guide to the birds of East Asia by Mark Brazil and published by Helm is the book to take with most of the Taiwanese endemic races of birds illustrated.
Birding Asia 2 (2004)
A very useful article in this publication, mentioning all the important sites for working out a rough itinerary for our trip, also excellent photographs and papers on the taxonomy of the birds of Taiwan.
We also had some very good gen on maps from our friends N.W.Addey et al. who had just had a guided trip there a few weeks earlier.
We planned most of our trip using trip reports on www.travellingbirder.com or www.fatbirder.com. The main ones we used were:
Feb 19 - March 1, 2001 Garry George
July 4-6, 2004 Gary and Marlene Babic, which is good for Lanyu Island
15-22 January 2005 Gruff Dodd, gives good directions
February 16-April 2008 Sander Bot
April 2-10 2010 Stijn De Win
12th – AR landed at 14.15, met the VIP representative and had the car handed over to me, I then waited in the airport for DRM to arrive at 19.00 and then JS and JH at 21.30. We went drove to Junghli and eventually found our hotel at 22.30. We dropped our gear off and went to a bar next door to the hotel for a couple of hours.
13th – We set off at 07.45 and headed south on route 3, we called at a service station for some breakfast and then continued to and tried to find Shihgang Reservoir where there had been a wintering pair of Scaly-sided Merganser. Eventually we found the reservoir and quickly found the mergansers which were feeding in the middle of the reservoir. There was also a reasonable selection of water birds present. Our next stop was just after Dongshih to look for Taiwan Hwamei. We heard one singing but it wouldn’t show but we did have our first Collared Finchbills of the trip. We then drove uphill into Dasyueshan National Park, we tried to find somewhere to stay, but the only place now is in the cabins by the visitor centre. We booked a couple of rooms then went further uphill and had our first endemics of the trip – Taiwan Yuhina, White-whiskered Laughingthrush, Collared Bush Robin and Taiwan Wren Babbler. We had a very poor meal in the restaurant by the visitor centre then purchased a bottle Grants whisky and some cokes and went back to our cabin to do our log and write notes.
14th - early morning was spent at km47 looking for Mikado and Swinhoe’s Pheasants, we only saw a female Swinhoe’s but also had Steere’s Liocichla and our only Vinaceous Rosefinches of the trip. We went back for breakfast and added more endemics in the garden – Taiwan Barwing, White-eared Sibia and Formosan Whistling Thrush. The rest of the morning was spent on track 210 at km 35, it was a good track with lots of bird flocks which included the first Yellow Tit and a couple of White’s Thrushes. Late afternoon was spent again at km 47 and above, still no Mikado Pheasants but our first Flamecrests. Another crap meal in the restaurant was followed again by another bottle of Grants.
15th – Another early start at km 47, however with a group of noisy Taiwanese photographers present there was little chance of the pheasants showing. We had a Red-flanked Bluetail further uphill but little else new. After breakfast JS found 3 Taiwan Partridges feeding in the forest between the restaurant and our cabin, we all had good views of one of the hardest endemics to see. We called at track 220 (km 39) to try for Taiwan Bush Warbler. After finding some likely looking habitat, we played mp3 sound recording and soon had one running round our feet like a mouse. We then made a few stops as we drove downhill and out of the park. One of these stops we had our first views of Taiwan Barbet and DRM had a Taiwan Scimitar-Babbler. A try at the Hwamei site again still proved fruitless. A stop in MacDonald’s in Dongshih was a welcome break before driving for a few hours to Huisin Forest area, arriving at 4pm. We weren’t exactly sure where to look for the Taiwan Blue Magpies, so we checked an area just through the entrance gate and had a Malayan Night Heron. We then drove to the research station and walked uphill from there, eventually we got the magpies by the basketball courts, but dipped on Varied Tit. We left as the sun started to go down and drove for a couple of hours to Wushe, where we found a hotel, then a bar but nowhere to eat in town other than the 7/eleven and a couple of basic chinese noodle cafes, we opted for the former.
16th – an early start and coffee in the 7/eleven before driving uphill to the Pipeline Trail, unfortunately there was fog and not much bird activity, but we did have another Taiwan Partridge, our only Vivid Niltava of the trip and more views of Yellow Tits. We then continued uphill and over the Wuling Pass, the fog was diabolical and a bit hairy coming face to face with trucks and buses on one lane bad bends. It made looking for some of the birds very difficult, AR saw a Taiwan Fulvetta with a Flamecrest flock but there were no Alpine Accentors or Golden Parrotbills. We dropped in altitude for the last few hours and went to Chun Yong Farm below Wushe. This was a good move as the fog/low cloud wasn’t that low down and we managed to see Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Black-necklaced Scimitar-Babbler and Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler. We drove uphill a few kms to a roadside restaurant for our dinner, which was very nice.
17th - We got up at 05.10 and packed our stuff and left the hotel. We had a coffee outside 7/11 and then went up to Bedongyueshan. A site 4km up hill then left for about 8km to a turn off and into good secondary forest. However the road there was traffic-less and we had a lot of birds on the road, including our first new bird of the day, and an endemic – Rusty Laughingthrush, but we also had several Plumbeous Redstarts and a Daurian Redstart. As we drove up the approach road to the private farm, we turned a corner and disturbed two male Swinhoe’s Pheasants but they ran off the road quickly, never theless they were cracking birds. We parked at the gate and walked round it, and walked the track for a couple of kilometres and back. There were some big bird waves but not the hoped for endemic Rufous-crowned Laughingthrushes, which is a recent split from White-throated. We had good numbers of White-tailed Robins and other trip ticks included a Jay and then a flock of Olive-backed Pipits on the road. We drove down to Wushe for 11.30 and had a hotdog and coffee for lunch, then moved onto our next destination – Yushan NP. We made a couple of stops for Hwamei’s but still no joy and then started uphill towards the park, but we came into very low dense cloud around the area which was best for pheasants. The drive was a bit hairy when the road markings disappeared but eventually we got above the cloud when we got near the visitor centre. We walked up to the café and had a coffee outside and the rest caught up with Taiwan Fulvetta in with some Flamecrests. Just down from the centre we had our first White-browed Bush Robin. We tried a few areas near the top mainly for Golden Parrotbillls, we didn’t see any but did have Eye-browed Thrush and then a nice flock of Beavan’s Bullfinches. It was now after 5pm, so we drove slowly along the road through more low cloud to Alishan, and by fantastic luck we had a male Mikado Pheasant right next to the road at km 94. Feeling content we drove to the town inside Alishan Forest Recreation Area. We found the Kao Shan Ching Hotel and booked in at 18.30. We found a restaurant with English writing on the menu and it was one of the best meal we had had all trip.
18th - We got up at 05.10 and got our stuff together and went to the 7/11 for coffees and to get a sandwich for packed lunch. We then had a slow drive uphill to Tatakan Visitor centre, no pheasants but a very nice Little Forktail which was the only one of the trip. We had a good walk from the car park up towards Jade Mountain and off to the right then back down again, searching for Golden Parrotbill and pigeons, but we didn’t get any. We had our first Brown-headed Thrush of the trip feeding with Pale Thrushes and Sibias. Flamecrests were very common here and the views were superb with no low cloud for a change. We had a coffee and pot noodle in the visitor centre café and then started making plans for the rest of the trip. We left the mountains at 11.50 and it was nearly 14.15 when we got to the valley bottom. Half way down we tried for Hwamei and Scimitar Babbler but no joy. Once in the valley it wasn’t long before we hit the coastal plain and were seeing egrets in the rice paddies. We headed for a very large expanse of fish ponds and salt pans between Beiba and Tainan, we checked many of the ponds that looked interesting and had a good selection of waterbirds, herons, terns, gulls, waders etc. Eventually we headed for Cigu where the Black-faced Spoonbill reserve is. We pulled up and had a flock of 124 grouped together, but also even more waders. At about 5pm we drove in Tainan to try and find a hotel for the weekend (not wanting to be in a national park at the weekend). It took some doing but eventually we found the Puyuma Hotel but there was no room for tomorrow. After a shower we did notes and log before going out on the town for the night. We really struggled finding anywhere to eat with an English menu, so ended up eating fried rice at a street café by pointing at pictures. We found a few bars, which were all karaoke bars apart from one, having a poor night and glad the hotel didn’t have a room for another night.
19th - We had a lay in, had breakfast and at 11.15 we left the hotel. It took quite a while to find our way out of Hainan city, but we eventually managed it and drove south to Kenting, at the southern tip of the island. It took about 3 hours to get there, calling at a beach side café for a beer on the way and then stopping at Kenting Forest Park visitor centre. In the car park we had some White-shouldered Starlings and the endemic Styan’s Bulbul, target no 1 over with. We then drove back to Longluan Lake which is supposed to be a good stake out for Taiwan Hwamei. We stopped at the first viewing area of the lake which had quite a few birds on it, and added Osprey and Golden-headed Cisticola. We then drove to the visitor centre car park and started playing the Hwamei on the mp3. It wasn’t long before a bird responded and then flew in and gave incredible views, there were at least 3 others also in the area. We had a look over the lake from the visitor centre and then headed to Kenting to find somewhere to stay the night. As we drove through, our moods picked up, western restaurants and bars, great we are hoping for a decent meal and a few beers as it WAS Saturday night! We found a hotel, and dropped our gear off then headed to the lighthouse at Eluanbi to have a look at the sea in the hope of Streaked Shearwaters. On our walk down to the beach, DRM found 2 Taiwan Scimitar Babblers, which showed very well and such a stonking bird. A look at the sea didn’t produce anything apart from a nice sunset, although JH had a distant shearwater and 3 Brown Boobies. We then made our way back to the hotel, showered, wrote notes and went to an Italian restaurant and we all had pizza and beers, a very nice change. We also tried a couple of other bars but they weren’t very good.
20th - We had a lay in until about 8am and then went out for breakfast at MacDonalds before going to Shedding Nature Park. With it being a Sunday we knew there would be a lot of people there and not much chance of seeing much, but we disturbed 3 Whistling Green Pigeons but they only hopped up a few feet and we had great views. We continued round the pathways and came to a wooden observation tower where we had quite a few raptors, mainly Crested Serpent-eagles but also Oriental Honey-buzzards, Crested Goshawk and Grey-faced Buzzard. We had about an hour there and then walked the rest of the paths where we had a few migrants including more Brown-headed and Pale Thrushes, Olive-backed Pipit etc. We relaxed in the afternoon and at about 16.45 we drove to the lighthouse at Eluanbi and walked down to the beach and did a sea-watch. We had a skua sp and over 50 Streaked Shearwaters but they were distant, also we added Whimbrel and Blue Rock Thrush. In the evening we went up to Smokey Joes restaurant in the hotel complex, we had a great meal which was expensive by Taiwan standards but very good. We then went to a disco pub in town and had a few beers and went back to the hotel before midnight.
21st - We got up at just after five, packed and then packed the car. We called at 7/11 for a coffee and drank it as we drove to Taitung. We had to cross low mountains in the south of the island which were very windy, but we soon hit the Pacific plain and drove the 50 or so km to Taitung where the airport for a plane to Lanyu Island is situated. We arrived at just before 9am parked up and went straight to the Daily Air counter and asked about flights to the island, we could go on the next flight at 10.05 but not get off tomorrow but could at 13.40 on Wednesday. We booked the flights and tried to get something to eat but there was nothing in the airport. The plane set off on time and took 25 minutes flying at 5000 feet. As we approached the island, it looked really smart, a very lush green looking island. We landed and asked in a food kiosk about a car for a day. She said it would cost 2000 NT (£40), we agreed and waited, no exchange of anything, not even a driving licence. We were taken to the car outside, a local geezer got out of his suped up Mitsubishi Versage, spoilers and all and handed over his keys and we set off. First we had to drive up the coast to the only petrol station on the island and put in enough fuel to get us round the island. We then drove into the small town of Hungtou, we found a guest house in town, the Ta Ta La and then went out birding to ‘flycatcher creek’ 2km south of town. The creek is good for Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, Lowland White-eye and doves. AR missed the flycatcher, there were a few white-eyes and plenty of Brown-eared Bulbuls. We then drove round the south of the island, where the road hugged the coast. The scenery was very nice, and we stopped a few times, adding a few good birds, the best probably being Buff-bellied Pipit, but also a few other migrants. We moved up the east coast to a site where Brown Cuckoo-Dove occurs, we checked the area and only heard birds even though they were very close. We crossed the island and back to our village, we were all feeling a bit jaded, so we called for a big bottle of beer each and sat in the lounge. In the early evening we went out looking for Ryukyu Scop’s Owl, we drove up hill and could hear one, it appeared to be at the back of the town, so after a couple of other tries up the hill we drove back down to the town. We started walking round the back of the buildings as close to the forest as possible and eventually found the school, a distant owl called, so we played the mp3 player and 2-3 birds responded and came in close, then we spotted one as it dropped onto the top of a dead palm tree trunk. It sat there for a good five minutes and showed superbly . We then went and found somewhere to eat, we then took a few beers back to the lounge and did the daily log and caught up with our notes.
22nd - We woke up to the sound of rain and wind, and it was set in for the day. We had a good breakfast then sat around until 11am chilling, we also arranged for another car, which only cost 1200 TWD, half the price of the last one, although not as much of a posers car, this one was a small Nissan. We dropped the other car off at the airport and then circumnavigated the island, birding mainly from the car. We had 4 migrant Hoopoes which are apparently scarce in Taiwan. We stopped at a shop and had coffees and pot noodles, the rain never stopped but did ease off at times. At the end of the day AR had a walk up a creek to look for the paradise flycatcher but then the rain became torrential and gave up and we went back to the Ta Ta La guesthouse for a few beers. We went to a restaurant next to the guesthouse and had a cracking meal and stacks of beer.
23rd - I got up at 8.20 and had a cup of tea and checked the internet, it was still windy and grey but only a few spots of rain. We had breakfast in the café and then AR was dropped off at the creek to look for paradise flycatcher, while the others went looking for Brown Cuckoo-Dove. AR finally connected with Japanese Paradise-flycatcher, although the others saw 2 at the cuckoo-dove site, JS saw the cuckoo-dove and they also had a few migrants including Little Bunting, Blackbird and more Hoopoes. Supposedly our flight was going so we were took to the airport by the owner of Ta Ta La guesthouse, but when we arrived it was delayed due to the wind. Ten minutes later, it was announced the flight was leaving Taitung and we were issued with boarding cards. The two flights previous to ours had been cancelled and they had been placed on standby, god knows how they were going to catch up with all yesterdays cancelled flights and two from today? Our flight took off half an hour late, it was a bumpy start but much better than I expected, it took 25 minutes and we landed at 14.35. We got straight in the car and needed to get as far north as possible and headed for the Taroko Gorge, we got to a town before entering the gorge and had a chinese meal and called at 7/11 for a few provisions for the evening and tomorrow. We arrived at the Youth Activity Centre in Tiensiang at about 19.45 and booked two rooms, small but very clean. We did log in the lobby and had a few whisky and cokes.
24th - We got up at 5am, had a coffee and were on the road by 05.30. It was a long windy drive uphill, it was 80 km to our first stop – the Blue Gate Trail.We got there at 9am and it was very quiet, we had a couple of mixed flocks, got very muddy and none of the hoped for species. We got back to the car just after 11 and had a snack then drove down to Bedongyueshan Farm, calling at 7/11 on the way for a coffee and a hot dog. We set off walking along the track at 12.30 with the intention of packing in at 4pm if we hadn’t seen our two target birds here – Rufous-crowned Laughingthrush (our last remaining endemic) and Dusky Fulvetta. We came across a flock of laughingthrushes after just a few hundred yards, they kept high but gave great views. We walked for a few hundred yards more and when DRM played the fulvetta on his mp3 and a pair responded, coming in very close. All the birds out of the way before 2pm. We got back to the car at 2.10pm and drove back to last nights hotel, now having a full day at coastal sites tomorrow. We stopped at a few places around the Hehuan Mountain searching for Golden Parrotbills but no sign. We got back to the hotel after it had got dark and the hotel was full apart from a room with 4 single beds in for the same price as last night. We dropped our gear off and went down for dinner, which was reasonable but not brilliant and then went back to the room to write notes, and watch a Jean-Claude van Dam film while drinking beer.
25th - We got up a little late at 6am and went outside the hotel and walked around the village looking for birds for an hour before breakfast. It was quiet but in a flock of swifts and hirundines there were a few Silver-backed Needletails. We set off at 07.30 down the Taroko Gorge, fantastic scenery and we stopped in a few places to take photographs. When we hit the coast we had a 50km journey along the east coast and the scenery here was also amazing a bit like what I’d expect the Amalfi coast in Italy or the Route 1 in California to look like only with more trees. We came to a river mouth and a small town called Nan-ao which was supposed to be a good place to see Ring-necked Pheasant, another endemic race and a world tick for three of the team. We took a small road into the farmland and started checking the fields and soon came across a stunning male Pheasant, a female soon joined the bird. The fields looked interesting, so we drove round checking them all. We had some very good birds and it was good birding for the next 2 hours. Dusky Thrush was a highlight, as were 3 Painted Snipes including a cracking female. The fields held at least 7 additions to the trip list. We then carried on to Yihan, where there were large areas of rice paddies and fish ponds, we drove round them for a hour and half, looking for Mandarin and Oriental White Stork, which were both wintering somewhere in the area, but it was like trying to find a needle in haystack. There were plenty of waders, ducks and wagtails in the area and we had a nice surprise when a Bean Goose flew over. At 2pm we drove a little further north to find Dasi Harbour which is good for Black-tailed Gulls. It was a very busy fishing harbour, with what appeared like a full fleet in and trawlers constantly coming in and unloading there catch. We could see gulls on the far side of the harbour and also phalaropes on the sea around the lines of the men fishing from the harbour pier. We walked round and soon added Black-tailed Gull to the list but couldn’t find any Slaty-backed Gulls. The Red-necked Phalaropes were only 20 feet away and some were coming into breeding plumage. Also offshore were good numbers of Streaked Shearwaters and a few Brown Boobies. At 4pm we headed off to Taipei for our last night, we thought it was going to be a long journey but 2 tunnels under the mountains (one over 10 km long) made light work of the journey and we were in Taipei for about 17.15. It was rush hour and a nightmare to drive in, motorbikes and taxis everywhere, we eventually found a couple of hotels in an area that looked like it had some life and booked in them. We went out looking for somewhere to eat and drink. The city was very busy, we eventually found a place that did a set pasta meal for a fiver, we then went to a bar area and had a few beers for our last full night together.
26th – AR and DRM left today, taking the car back to the airport for early afternoon, only adding Green Sandpiper on the way. JH and JS stayed for two more days in Taipei before flying home.
We found out that a pair of Scaly-sided Mergansers had been wintering at this site and had been seen only a week earlier. The place is not far from Dongshih which is en route to our first forest destination – Dasyueshan National Park. Even though it took us quite a while finding, it is easy to find. Instead of turning right off route 3 towards Dongshih, take the second left after the river bridge and follow for several kms, eventually signs start to say Shihgang Reservoir. We parked on some rough ground by the road overlooking the reservoir and found the mergansers straight away. There were also good numbers of egrets, Cormorants, a few Wigeon and 3 Spot-billed Ducks.
DASYUESHAN NATIONAL PARK (ANMASHAN)
This site holds most of the highland endemics and is covered in good forest but it is also a very popular tourist destination, particularly at weekends. Good mixed flocks can be found all over the mountain, even as low as km13-15 where we had several good flocks in the secondary growth and included our only Taiwan Scimitar-Babbler at this site.
From Taipei take Freeway 1 south, then go east on Freeway 4 to the end of the road. From here, take Route 3 to Dongshih, and after the bridge turn right onto Route 8, the old Central Cross-island Highway, towards Guguan. Keep your eye open for a McDonalds on the left hand side. Continue further along this road, looking out for a 7Eleven shop on a junction on the right hand side. Just before the shop, there is a turn-off to your left which angles sharply back from the main road. Right on this corner, on your left hand side, there is a pillar-like monument, maybe 15 feet tall, with a blue shield bearing the words "China Trust" on it. Turn left here, and look for a junction to the right about 50 metres further. This is marked by a green road sign, and is opposite a store with a green "Clarks" shoes sign. This is the road to Anmashan.
Taiwan Hwamei site
When leaving Dongshih on the way to Dasyueshan NP make a note of the km signs, at km 4 there is a left turn, after 50 metres park near the bend in the road, some scrubby area around the red bridge is good for Hwamei, they responded to tape but didn’t show. There was a large roost of Night Herons there and Plumbeous Redstarts on the small river, this was also where we had our only Chinese Bamboo Partridge of the trip.
Km 23 – this is a well known stake out for Swinhoe’s Pheasant, on our way up and down there were at least 5 photographers sat by the road, waiting for the pheasants. We didn’t stop here.
Km 34 – this is the park entrance, it cost 800 NT to enter for the car and the four of us, just past the toll booth on the first bend, is track 210 which is gated jeep track, we walked around the gate and along the track for a couple of kms before turning round. This track is level and is one of the few tracks that go through good forest and is good for many of the common highland endemics.
Km 39 – track 220, this is another gated jeep track on the right just before the km 39 sign and on a sharp bend opposite and old building. The track is more open with long grass in the cleared areas, and this is where we had Taiwan Bush Warbler. We played mp3 recordings about 300 yards along the track and birds started responding straight away. Despite being only a few feet away they were hard to see, but did run on the ground next to our feet like mice.
Km 44 – This is where the park headquarters and visitor centre are located, also the only accommodation available in the park is here along with a restaurant. The log cabins are below the visitor centre and in the forest. We heard Mountain Scop’s Owl here but too far away to see, also there is a footpath between the log cabins and the restaurant, and we had 3 Taiwan Partridges feeding very close to the path, also a good place to see a lot of the common endemics. A local bird photographer said that Mikado Pheasants sometimes come onto the lawned area by the restaurant.
Km 47 – this is the stake-out for Mikado Pheasant, but also for Swinhoe’s (the only one we saw there). Park on the left where the road is at its widest opposite and wide flat verge where the pheasants come out to feed, along with laughingthrushes, liocichlas and lots of squirrels. When we were there on 3 occasions, there were too many photographers milling about with no field-craft skills and twice they scared off the Swinhoe’s Pheasant. We had our only Vinaceous Rosefinch here while waiting for pheasants to show.
Km 50 – when the road finishes there is a large open car park, and probably worth checking the area, we only had a very short time there and had Nutcrackers coming down to feed on the car park.
HUISIN FOREST AREA
This is a good site for Taiwan Blue Magpie and is not far off route between Dasyueshan and Wushe. We only had a couple of hours late afternoon and were told the magpies are usually found around the car park. However there are 3 parking areas, one just as you go through the gates, another about 7 or 8 kms into the park opposite the research and education centre and finally one at the top next to more buildings and a basketball court. We had the magpies at the last one, in tall trees surrounding the buildings, we also had Malayan Night Herons here, one about 300 yards inside the park on the right hand side and a very tame individual feeding on the lawn opposite the research centre. The area looks good but we didn’t have enough time to do it justice, and this is one of the best sites for seeing Varied Tit, which we missed.
We used Wushe as a base for 2 nights as there are several sites to visit in the area. Low cloud and fog was a problem for us on our visit here and it was very cold on the pass.
Chun Yong Farm
This site is just a few kms from Wushe and we visited in the afternoon when we came down to get out of the low clouds. When going uphill out of Wushe take the right hand fork where the road splits, at km…. there is a track off to the right. We parked there and then walked uphill and past a small farm and continued until we came to a clearing overlooking the valley, the path continues up into forest proper, but we just stayed around the clearing, where we had our first Black-faced Buntings. But this is also where we had our only Vinous-throated Parrotbills, Black-necklaced Scimitar-Babblers and Brown-flanked Bush-Warblers, all of which responded to mp3 playback.
Another good site with plenty of birds which is good for Yellow Tit, Rufous-crowned Laughingthrush, Dusky Fulvetta etc. 4km uphill from Wushe take a left turn towards Lishan, the road goes through mainly rank habitat but is quite birdy early morning before the road gets busy with lorries. After about 8kms there is a driveable track off to the left, this goes for nearly 2 kms and we had Rusty Laughingthrushes and 2 male Swinhoes Pheasants along there. When you get to a big blue gate you can park there, the gates were locked but we walked around them and birded for a couple of kms along the wide track, this track goes for 5km before you get to the farm. There are good numbers of White-tailed Robins all along the trail and we had some good mixed feeding flocks, however on our first visit we missed Rufous-crowned Laughingthrush and Dusky Fulvetta. We returned to the site near the end of the trip and managed to see both species.
Blue Gate and Pipeline Trails
These are one jeep track on the level where water pipes run along the side of the mountain, they were very muddy and waterlogged when we were there. Uphill from Wushe at km 18 there is a left turn next to the police station, after about 1 ½ kms there is a small car park on the right hand side with an information board with Mikado Pheasant on it, park there. There is a blue gate which we walked around, this in some gen is called the Pipeline Trail (however this is presumably the Blue Gate Trail). You can only walk for about 1 ½ kms before a huge landslide prevents you going any further. Mikado Pheasants used to be seen along here but mostly beyond the 2km mark. The Pipeline Trail is on the other side of the road from the car park and is very similar to the Blue Gate Trail. We found the trails generally quite poor, probably due to the low cloud on both our visits, it is a good place for Yellow Tits which we saw quite a few, we also had another good view of Taiwan Partridge and our only Vivid Niltava of the trip. It is supposed to be good for Ashy Wood Pigeon and White-bellied Pigeon but we saw neither.
This is the highest peak in the area and the road passes over and drops down to Taroko Gorge. There are several parking lots with viewing areas, we birded mainly between kms 38 and 42, when the fog allowed us to. The area is mainly conifers and dwarf bamboo and is a good area for Flamecrest, Taiwan Fulvetta, Golden Parrotbill, Alpine Accentor, although we didn’t see the last 2 species.
YUSHAN NATIONAL PARK
Jade Mountain is the highest peak in Taiwan and in Yushan NP. We only birded the area around the visitor centre at Tatachia, where there are several roads and footpaths to explore. We had Taiwan Fulvetta and White-browed Bush-Robin around the visitor centre. Other good birds in the area included Eye-browed and Brown-headed Thrushes, Beavan’s Bullfinch and Little Forktail. As we were driving down to Alishan we had a male Mikado Pheasant strutting about on the grass at km 94, although most sightings are between km 84. and km 89 There is a stake-out for Taiwan Partridge at Firefly Guesthouse in the area , fortunately having seen the partridges already we had no need to visit the area.
TSENGWEN ESTUARY AREA
This is a massive area of fishponds, rice paddies and rivers north of Tainan and up to Beiba, and is called Chiku in many trip reports. This area holds a large wintering population of Black-faced Spoonbills and there is a reserve which is well signposted off route 17 north of Tainan. There is a visitor centre viewing hides overlooking part of the estuary. We had 124 from the hide, but they do venture to other areas at times. The whole area is excellent for waders, waterfowl, herons, gulls, terns etc. We only had a 2 or 3 hours there and it would have been good to have spent more time there.
This town is on the Hengchuen Peninsula at the southern tip of the country, and is a good base for a few birding sites in the Kenting National Park and surrounding area. In the autumn it is a good place for watching raptor migration. We birded three areas here over a weekend period, it was relaxed mode birding getting away from the mountains on a weekend, which turned out to be a good move and we had 3 endemics we were missing – Taiwn Hwamei, Styan’s Bulbul and Taiwan Scimitar Babbler.
Situated about 6 km north of Kenting and is easy to find just to the west of route 26. On the north-west side of the lake is a visitor centre, where there is large row of Kowa telescopes overlooking the lake, which can hold good numbers of ducks. The car park and the scrub between the car park and visitor centre were good for Styan’s Bulbul and Taiwan Hwamei where we had 4 birds very easily, also we had 4 White-shouldered Starlings there.
Situated right at the southern tip of the peninsula, there is the possibility of migrants in the scrub and sea-watching off the boardwalk by the sea. There is a charge for parking and for entering the park, though not expensive. We had two evenings here and had quite a few Pale Thrushes and one of our favourite birds of the trip – Taiwan Scimitar-Babbler. We had just 1 Streaked Shearwater and 3 Brown Boobies on our first evening but at least 60 Streaked Shearwaters on our second visit, although all birds were distant.
Shedding Nature Park
This popular park with tourists is situated inland from Kenting in the low hills and is accessed from either north or south of Kenting. There is a good selection of trails and observation towers (which were very busy on a Sunday morning). We spent a morning here and had 3 very obliging Whistling Green Pigeons very close to the car park, but we also a had a few migrants here, the best being several Brown-headed Thrushes. This is the place where people watch migrant raptors from in the autumn and the observation towers give for good viewing. We had a few Oriental Honey-buzzards as well as resident Crested Goshawks and Crested Serpent Eagles.
This is a small, mountainous tropical island 60 km south-east of Taitung, and is the only place in Taiwan where Ryukyu Scop’s Owl, Philippine Cuckoo-Dove, Brown-eared Bulbul and Lowland White-eye occur in Taiwan, but is also the best site for Japanese Paradise Flycatcher. It is also a good place for finding migrants. The island can be reached by either boat or plane, however booking these are almost impossible as the websites are in Chinese. We didn’t try the boat as we had heard they don’t sail until late March or early April depending on the weather. They apparently sail from Kenting and Taitung.
Due to not being able to book a flight in advance, we just turned up at Taitung Airport and asked at the Daily Air counter for the next available flight. There are six flights a day and the planes hold 20 passengers. Luckily they had 4 seats on the 10.05 flight the same morning, but the only flight back was at 13.40 two days later. We booked the seats but could only pay for the outward flights (1345 NT - £30 each). The flight took just 25 minutes. Flying back was a different matter, all the flights on our second day there had been cancelled due to high winds and rain and all passengers put on waiting lists. On our day of travel only one flight had come in and left in the morning with the other two flights cancelled and those passengers added to the waiting list. Amazingly our flight wasn’t cancelled as there was a window in the weather and we managed to board and get back to the mainland leaving a lot of stranded passengers.
We decided to hire a car to get round the island as it was incredibly hot and humid but would also give us more scope when looking for the owls at night. We asked at the small shop inside the airport and the woman got on her mobile and then gave us a price of 2000 NT for a day, we agreed and then waited for the car to arrive. There was no showing of driving licenses, insurance etc. When the car arrived we were amazed – it was an old Mitsubishi Evo type car with low slung suspension, massive rear spoiler and go faster green stripes! The owner just handed over his keys and we drove off!
We stayed in a very good guesthouse called Ta Ta La in Hungtou, which had a superb café right across the road. It was a blue building set back one street off the main road.
We searched for Scop’s Owls at night by driving the only road that dissects the island just south of town, we could hear birds calling at just after 7pm but they seemed to be at the back of the town. We then walked the town trying to get as close to the forest as possible. At the back of a large cream building with blue stairways on the sides of the building, is a school, we walked onto some stairways on the right hand-side and started playing mp3, two birds reacted straight away and one bird came and perched on the top of a palm stump for a good 5 minutes. We did this on our first night which was just as well as it poured down the whole of the next day and evening.
‘Flycatcher Creek’ is a good place to see the specialties. From Hungtou follow the road about 2km south. There is a dry river bed crossing the road near a concrete building on the right, it is the only building in the area. Opposite the building is a small path down to the creek. The creek goes for a few hundred metres up hill, I heard the flycatchers there but saw them at another creek about 200 metres to the north of this, which is visible from the road. We saw very few other birds in this area other than Lowland White-eye.
At Yeyin on the east side of the island, there is a track from the road next to a small monument, through farmland to a small church in the forest, the path through the forest is good for the cuckoo-dove, where JS was the only person to see one, despite several calling birds there. A pair of paradise-flycatchers were also seen there and Little Bunting and Blackbird in the farmland.
There is a road that follows the coastline all the way round the island, we drove this on our second day due to the day being rainy all day. We did bump into a few migrants most notably 4 Hoopoes and we also had our only Pacific Reef Egrets of the trip on the rocky shores.
We stayed 2 nights at the Youth Activity Centre (a large concrete hotel) in Tiensiang which is just uphill from the spectacular gorge. This was so we could re-visit Bedongyueshan to get Rufous-crowned Laughingthrush and Dusky Fulvetta. An hour birding around the hotel gave us a Styan’s Bulbul and a flock of swifts and hirundines which included several Silver-backed Needletails.
This is an area of farmland close to the sea on the north-east coast that is good for Ring-necked Pheasant and migrants. Coming from the south at km 132.5, there is a bridge that crosses the river, immediately after crossing the bridge take a right turn towards the sea. The area of dry scrubby fields are good for the pheasants and the rice paddies, ditches and bunds are very good for migrants. We had at least 4 pheasants and a good selection of migrants including Common and Pintail Snipes, Painted Snipe, wagtails, pipits, Blackbird, Dusky Thrush, Long-tailed Shrike, Black-faced Buntings.
There is a large area of rice paddies, fish ponds and lakes north of the city and east of highway 5, that had wintering Oriental White Stork and Mandarin in 2010/11. We knew we had little chance of finding them, but wandered around the many roads dissecting the ponds. There were good numbers of wildfowl and waders including a fly-over Bean Goose. We only had 2 hours but it would have been good to spend a day searching the area.
A very busy fishing port when fishing boats came in continuously for the 2 hours we were there. It is situated off route in NE Taiwan and easy to find. We had good numbers of Black-tailed Gulls but no sign of any Slaty-backed Gulls. There were good numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes feeding on scraps around the fishermen fishing from the harbour wall and offshore were good numbers of Streaked Shearwaters and a few Brown Boobies.
We have followed the order of the checklist we used for the country which was downloaded from www.printablebirdchecklists.com We all follow the Clements list, so have made changes to names and taxonomy to keep in with that list. Species in capitals are endemic species.
Taiga Bean-Goose Anser fabalis
1 flew over Yilan rice paddies on 25th. A scarce visitor to Taiwan and presumably of the race middenforfii.
Gadwall Anas strepera
4 at Tsengwen on 18th.
Eurasian Wigeon Anas Penelope
9 at Shihgang Reservoir on 13th, 20 at Tsengwen on 18th and 29 at Longluan Lake on 19th.
Eastern Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha
3 at Shihgang Reservoir on 13th, 5 at Longluan Lake on 19th, 3 at Nan-ao on 25th and 50+ at Yilan the same day.
Shoveler Anas clypeata
100+ at Tsengwen on 18th, 1 at Longluan Lake on 19th and 1 at Yilan on 25th.
Pintail Anas acuta
15 at Tsengwen on 18th and 6 at Yishan on 25th.
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca
40+ at Tsengwen on 18th and 3 at Yilan on 25th.
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
2 at Tsengwen on 18th, 300+ on Longluan Lake on 19th and 18 at Yilan on 25th.
Scaly-sided Merganser Mergus squamatus
A pair on Shihgang Reservoir on 13th were twitched having heard they had been wintering.
TAIWAN PARTRIDGE Arborophila crudigularis
3 feeding in the forest between the log cabins and the restaurant at Dasyueshan on 15th; two were along the Pipeline Trail, Wushe on 16th and a partridge sp probably this species was flushed along the approach road at Bedongyueshan, and other birds were heard there on 20th.
Chinese Bamboo-Partridge Bambusicola thoracicus sonorivox
One was flushed by the Hwamei site near Tongshih on 13th. Endemic sub-species.
SWINHOE’S PHEASANT Lophura swinhoii
A female was seen feeding by the road at km 47 at Dasyueshan in the morning and evening on 14th and 2 males were seen on the approach road to Bedongyueshan on 17th.
MIKADO PHEASANT Syrmaticus mikado
A male was seen running on the grass verge by the road at km 94 at Yushan on 17th.
Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus formosanus
At least 4 birds at Nan-ao on 25th, a very attractive endemic race.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
10 at Shihgang Reservoir on13th, 100+ at Tsengwen on 18th, 10 at Longluan Lake on 19th and 20 at Yilan on 25th.
Streaked Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas
At Eluanbi Lighthouse, 1 flew south distantly on 19th and at least 66 flew south on 20th; 7 were seen off Lanyu Island on 21st with 11 on 22nd and at least 50 birds were offshore following trawlers at Dasi Harbour on 25th.
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster
3 flew south off Eluanbi Lighthouse on 19th and 8 were off Dasi Harbour on 25th.
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
12 at Shihgang Reservoir on 13th, 40+ at Tsengwen on 18th, 5 at Longluan Lake on 19th and 1 at Yilan on 25th.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
10 at Shihgang Reservoir on 13th, 25 at Tsengwen on 18th, 2 at Longluan Lake on 19th, and 200+ in a heronry at Yilan on 25th.
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
1 at Yilan on 25th.
Great Egret Ardea alba
Good numbers at all wetland sites, with max of 300+ at Tsengwen on 18th and 200+ at Yilan on 25th.
Intermediate Egret Mesophoyx intermedia
10 at Tsengwen on 18th, 3 at Longluan Lake on 19th and 1 at Nan-ao on 25th.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Seen almost daily, in wetlands or arable areas including 2 on Lanyu Island on 23rd, max 100+ at Tengwen on 18th.
Pacific Reef-Heron Egretta sacra
5 were seen on Lanyu Island on 22nd.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis coromandus
Good numbers were seen in the wet arable areas including a max of 400+ at Tsengwen on 18th.
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
34 seen near Dongshih on 13th, 20 at Tsengwen on 18th, 2 at Longluan Lake on 19th, 50+ at Yilan on 25th and 1 near Taipei Airport on 26th.
Malayan Night-Heron Gorsachius melanolophus
1 seen in flight at km 13 at Dasyueshan on 15th and 2 at Huisin Forest area on 15th, one of which was openly feeding on the lawn opposite the research building.
Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor
124 were on the mudflats at the Spoonbill sanctuary at Tsengwen on 18th.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
2 at Longluan Lake on 19th, a very tired and wet looking migrant at Lanyu Island on 22nd and 3 at Yilan on 25th.
Oriental Honey-Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus
1 at Dasyueshan on 15th and 2 en route to Wushe the same day; 3 flew north over Yushan on 18th and 4 flew north at Kenting on 20th.
Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus
1 at Tsengwen on 18th. A recent colonist to Taiwan.
Black Kite Milvus migrans formosanus
1 en route to Kenting on 19th and 2 on Lanyu Island on 21st. Endemic sub-species.
Crested Serpent-Eagle Spilornis cheela hoya
Seen almost daily in the forest areas including 4 at Kenting on 20th. Endemic sub-species.
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus
2 were seen at Taitung on 21st.
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus formosae
2 at Kenting on 20th and 1 on the Pipeline Trail at Wushe on 24th. Endemic sub-species.
Japanese Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis
A male perched at Nan-ao on 25th.
Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus
1 at Kenting on 20th and 1 on Lanyu Island on 21st.
Eurasian Buzzard Buteo buteo japonicas
Singles were seen on Lanyu Island on 21st and 23rd.
Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis
2 at Dasyueshan on 14th and 1 south of Yilan on 25th.
Mountain Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus nipalensis
Just 1 seen above km 39 at Dasyueshan on 15th.
Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
1-2 seen occasionally, usually en route and also on Lanyu Island.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
1 on Lanyu Island on 21st.
White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
1 on Lanyu Island on 21st and 4 on 22nd; 3 at Nan-ao and 7 at Yilan on 25th.
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Small numbers at Shihgang Reservoir, Tsengwen, Longluan Lake and 30+ at Yilan on 25th.
Coot Fulica atra
30 at Longluan Lake on 19th and 9 at Yilan on 25th.
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
1 at Nan-ao on 25th.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
6 at Tsengwen on 18th.
Pacific Golden-Plover Pluvialis fulva
30 at Tsengwen on 18th.
Greater Sand-Plover Charadrius leschenaultia
6 at Tsengwen on 18th.
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrines
20 at Tsengwen on 18th and 6 at Yilan on 25th.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
2 at Shihgang Reservoir on 13th, 4 at Tsengwen on 18th and 40 at Yilan on 25th.
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
30 at Tsengwen on 18th.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Singles on Lanyu Island on 21st and 22nd, 1 at Nan-ao and 3 at Yilan on 25th.
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
1 near Taipei Airport on 26th.
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
1 at Tsengwen on 18th.
Greenshank Tringa nebularia
40 at Tsengwen on 18th and 30 at Yilan on 25th.
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
2 at Tsengwen on 18th and 15 at Yilan on 25th.
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
15 at Nan-ao on 25th.
Redshank Tringa tetanus
15 at Tsengwen on 18th.
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
5 at Tsengwen on 18th.
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
3 at Tsengwen on 18th.
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis
10 at Tsengwen on 18th and 1 at Yilan on 25th.
Dunlin Calidris alpine
50 at Tsengwen on 18th.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax
1 at Tsengwen on 18th.
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
1 at Nan-ao on 25th, also 45 snipe sp. at Yilan.
Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura
5 at Nan-ao on 25th.
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus
15 around Dasi Harbour on 25th, some coming into breeding plumage.
Barred Buttonquail Turnix suscitator rostrata
1 flushed at Nan-ao on 25th. Endemic sub-species.
1 probable Pomarine off Eluanbi Lighthouse on 20th.
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
30 at Tsengwen on 18th and 1 at Yilan on 25th.
Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris
110 at Dasi Harbour on 25th, most were first year birds, but there were at least 3 adults and a few near adults.
5+ at Tsengwen on 18th. Not seen well enough to identify down to species or race.
Little Tern Sternula albifrons
8 at Tsengwen on 18th.
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
30 at Tsengwen on 18th.
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
20+ at Tsengwen on 18th.
Feral Pigeon Columba livia
Common in all towns and cities.
Collared Dove Streptopelia
Escaped/introduced. 2 in Dongshih on 13th.
Oriental Turtle-Dove Streptopelia orientalis orii
Only 1 seen en route to Kenting on 20th. Endemic sub-species.
Red Collared-Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica
Common in towns and cities in the lowlands.
Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
Common in the lowlands.
Philippine Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia phasianella
Just 1 seen by JS and several others heard on Lanyu Island on 23rd.
Whistling Green-Pigeon Treron formosae formosae
1 male and 2 females seen very well at Shedding Nature Park, Kenting on 20th. Endemic sub-species.
(Lesser Coucal) Centropus bengalensis
Singles heard on Lanyu Island on 21st and 22nd.
(Mountain Scops-Owl) Otus spilocephalus
Singles heard at Dasyueshan behind the hotel cabins on 13th and at Wushe on 16th.
Ryukyu Scops-Owl Otus elegans botelensis
We heard at least 3 calling birds on Lanyu Island on 21st and had brilliant views of one perched out in the open on the top of a palm tree stump. Endemic sub-species.
Silver-backed Needletail Hirundapus cochinchinensis formosanus
We had 6 in with a mixed swift and hirundine flock at Tiansiang in the Taroko Gorge early in the morning on 25th. Endemic sub-species.
Pacific Swift Apus pacificus
5 at Yushan on 18th, 40 on Lanyu Island on 21st and 9 there on 23rd, 60 at Tiansiang in the Taroko Gorge on 25th.
House Swift Apus nipalensis kuntzi
Typically common around bridges in built up areas, mainly in the lowlands, max daily total was 100+ on 18th. Endemic sub-species.
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
2 at Shihgang Reservoir on 13th, singles at Tsengwen on 18th and Longluan Lake on 19th, 1 on Lanyu Island on 21st and 2 at Yilan on 25th.
Hoopoe Upupa epops
4 tired and wet presumed migrants on Lanyu Island on 22nd and 7 there on 23rd.
TAIWAN BARBET Megalaima
Small numbers heard almost daily from lowlands to high mountains, usually 1-2 seen with 6 recorded at Kenting on 20th.
Grey-capped Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus
2 at Huisin Forest on 15th and 4 at Bedongyueshan on 17th.
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris
Up to 12 seen at Dasyueshan, 2 at Huisin and up to 4 at Yushe, there was also 1 Tiangsiang in the Taroko Gorge on 25th.
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
Seen daily at lower altititudes with 5 at Kenting on 20th and 6 on Lanyu Island on 23rd.
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
1 at Tsengwen on 18th and 4 at Nan-ao on 25th.
Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus harteri
Very common in the lowlands with up to 50 a day seen. Endemic sub-species.
Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea oberholseri
2 at Dasyueshan and 1 at Huisin on 15th, 2 at Shedding Nature Park, Kenting on 20th. Endemic sub-species.
Japanese Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata illex
On Lanyu Island, a male with a short-tail was seen in ‘flycatcher creek’ on 21st and 23rd and a pair including a male with a full tail were seen at……on 23rd. Endemic race to Ryukyu and Taiwan.
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius taivanus
2 at Bedongyueshan on 17th and 1 there on 24th. Endemic sub-species.
TAIWAN BLUE MAGPIE Urocissa caerulea
7 at the top car park opposite a basketball court at Huisin Forest Area on 15th.
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae formosae
Common in low level forests, parks and towns, max 12 at Huisin on 15th and Kenting on 20th. Endemic sub-species.
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
Just 1 seen in the outskirts of Jungli on 13th.
Eurasian Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes owstoni
Up to 12 seen daily at Dasyueshan, particularly near the top car park, also heard on both days at Yushan. Endemic sub-species.
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
1-6 seen daily in the mountains and a max of 20 at Tiansiang on 25th.
Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula
At least 10 in the fields at Nan-ao on 25th.
Plain Martin Riparia paludicola
3 over the river at Dongshih on 15th, 30 at Tsengwen on 18th and 50+ at Nan-ao on 25th.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Small numbers seen daily, with a max of 100+ at Nan-ao on 25th.
Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica
Small numbers seen daily, 30 on 25th was the most seen in a day.
Striated Swallow Cecropis striolata
3 at Shihgang Reservoir on 13th, 1 at Kenting on 20th, 4 south of Taitung on 21st and 1 on Lanyu Island on 23rd.
Asian House-Martin Delichon dasypus
10 at Yushan on 17th, 20 there on 18th, 1 at Wushe on 24th and 30 at Tiansiang on 25th.
Coal Tit Periparus ater ptilosus
Small numbers at Dasyueshan and Wushe, but at least 10 seen at Yushan on 18th. Endemic sub-species.
Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus insperatus
Up to 8 seen daily at Dasyueshan, Wushe and Yushan. Endemic sub-species.
YELLOW TIT Macholophus holsti
1 along trail 210 at Dasyueshan on 14th, 2 on Blue Gate Trail on 16th and 2 at Bedongyueshan on 17th with 6 there on 24th.
Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler Cettia fortipes robustipes
1 seen very well and 2 others heard at Chun Yong Farm on 16th. Endemic sub-species.
Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler Cettia acanthizoides concolor.
Very common in the mountains at higher altitudes than Brownish-flanked, up to 25 a day seen, birds were constantly singing and also mixed in with the feeding flocks. Endemic sub-species.
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis
Up to 10 seen daily in montane forests of Dasyueshan, Wushe and Yushan.
Black-throated Tit Aegithalos concinnus
A very common bird of montane forests and found in most mixed feeding flocks, max 30 on 14th at Dasyueshan and Wushe and Yushan on 17th.
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea
1-5 seen daily at Dasyueshan, Wushe and Yushan.
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes taivanus
Only seen very high up at Hehuan Mountain with 3 on 16th and 4 on 24th. Endemic sub-species.
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques cinereicapillus
Only seen in the mountains but at low to mid-altitude and up 10 a day. Endemic sub-species.
STYAN'S BULBUL Pycnonotus taivanus
Very common at Kenting with up to 50 a day and also seen in good numbers driving up the east coast, although we didn’t pay attention to whether any were hybrids on the east coast. 2 birds at Tiansiang in the Taroko Gorge on 25th.
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis formosae
Common on the west coast down to Tainan and in the mountains in mid-low altitudes including 70 at Chun Yong Farm on 16th. Apparently they hybridize with Styan’s Bulbul on the west coast. Endemic sub-species.
Brown-eared Bulbul Ixos amaurotis harterti
Very common on Lanyu Island with up to 20 daily. Endemic sub-species.
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus nigerrimus
Up to 40 seen almost daily apart from on Lanyu Island, generally lowlands and mid-altitude. Endemic sub-species.
FLAMECREST Regulus goodfellowi
6 at Bedongyueshan on 14th, 9 at Hehuan on 16th with 4 there on 24th, 6 at Yushan on 17th with at least 30 there the next day.
Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis
One near the bus station in Taipei on 26th.
TAIWAN BUSH WARBLER Bradypterus alishanensis
Very elusive, 2 were on track 220 at km 39 at Dasyueshan on 15th. We played mp3 sound recording in likely looking habitat (tall grassy area in the forest clearing) and they responded straight away and ran by our feet like mice. Another was heard singing by the visitor centre at Yushan.
Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis volitans
3 at Longluan Lake on 19th. Endemic sub-species.
Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris
2 at Shihgang Reservoir on 13th and 1 at Chun Yong Farm on 16th.
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata flavirostris
8 at Shihgang Reservoir on 13th, otherwise just 1-4 at rank lowland habitats. Endemic sub-species.
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Paradoxornis webbianus bulomachus
A pair showed very well at Chun Yong Farm on 16th. Endemic sub-species.
Snowy-browed Flycatcher Ficedula hyperythra inexa
Singles at Dasyueshan on 13th and Blue Gate Trail, Wushe on 16th. Endemic sub-species.
Vivid Niltava Niltava vivida vivida
Just 1 male along Blue Gate Trail, Wushe on 16th. Endemic sub-species.
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus
Just 1 seen at km 50 at Bedyueshan on 15th.
White-browed Bush-Robin Tarsiger indicus formosanus
A female at Yushan by the visitor centre on 17th and a male above the visitor centre the next day. Endemic sub-species.
COLLARED BUSH-ROBIN Tarsiger johnstoniae
Very common in the mountains at higher altitudes where quite tame and many seen by the roadside, max day count was 25 on 24th.
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus
2 on the approach road to Bedongyueshan on 17th, 1 on Lanyu Island on 21st and another on 23rd, and 1 at Hehuan on 24th.
Plumbeous Redstart Rhyacornis fuliginosa affinis
2 at km 4 north of Dongshih on 13th and 15th; 2 south of Dongshih on 15th, 5 on the approach road to Bedongyueshan on 17th, with 1 there on 24th and 3 at Tiansiang on 25th. Endemic sub-species.
White-tailed Robin Cinclidium leucurum montium
1 at Dasyueshan on14th, at least 14 at Bedongyueshan on 17th, and singles a Yushan on 18th and 19th, and at least 6 at Bedongyueshan on 24th. The song is a very distinctive metallic squeaky gate sound. Endemic sub-species.
Little Forktail Enicurus scouleri fortis
Just 1 seen on the road up to Yushan early in the morning on 18th. Endemic sub-species.
Blue Rock-Thrush Monticola solitarius
2 at Eluanbi Lighthouse on 20th, up to 10 daily on Lanyu Island, 1 at Dasi Harbour on 25th and 1 en route to the airport on 26th.
FORMOSAN WHISTLING-THRUSH Myophonus insularis
Singles at Dasyueshan on 14th and 15th, 1 at Bedongyueshan on 17th, 2 at Wushe on 24th and 2 at Tiansiang on 25th.
White’s Thrush Zoothera dauma
3 at Dasyueshan on 14th, 1 at Chun Yong Farm on 16th, 1 at Bedongyueshan on 17th, 1 at Yushan on 18th. We made no serious attempt to work out which races were involved.
Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula
Singles were seen on Lanyu Island on 23rd and at Nan-ao on 25th.
Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus
1 at Yushan on 17th and 2 feeding in the same tree the next day.
Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus
2-3 seen daily at Dasyueshan, Wushe, Yushan, Kenting and Lanyu Island, also 6 seen on 25th at Nan-ao, Yilan and Dasi Harbour.
Brown-headed Thrush Turdus chrysolaus
2 feeding in a fruiting tree with Pale Thrushes and barbets at Yushan on 18th, 3 at Kenting on 19th and 7 there on 20th, at both Eluanbi Lighthouse and Shedding Nature Park.
Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus
A cracking adult male was in fields at Nan-ao on 25th.
White-browed Shortwing Brachypteryx Montana goodfellowi
1 at Bedongyueshan on 16th was the only one seen. Endemic sub-species.
RUFOUS-CROWNED LAUGHINGTHRUSH Garrulax ruficeps
We missed this endemic on our first visit to Bedongyueshan on 16th, but had a roaming flock of 15 on two occasions there on 24th. Kept high in canopy at all times and not particularly noisy.
RUSTY LAUGHINGTHRUSH Garrulax poecilorhynchus
Only seen at Bedongyueshan where we had 6 on 17th and 3 on 24th.
TAIWAN HWAMEI Garrulax taewanus
We heard 1 at km 4 leaving Dongshih on 13th and heard 2 more at km 13 out of Dongshih on 15th. They seem to prefer rank habitat or secondary growth, however we had superb views of 4 birds at Longluan Lake visitor centre on 19th, where they responded immediately to tape.
WHITE-WHISKERED LAUGHING-THRUSH Garrulax morrisonianus
Very common at high altitudes in the mountain forests, with up to 40 a day.
STEERE'S LIOCICHLA Liocichla steerii
Common at mid and high altitudes in the mountain forests with up to 15 a day.
BLACK-NECKLACED SCIMITAR-BABBLER Pomatorhinus erythrocnemis
We just had 1 at Chun Yong Farm on 16th, much more elusive than the next species.
TAIWAN SCIMITAR-BABBLER Pomatorhinus ruficollis
A bird of lower altitudes, 1 at km 13 out of Dongshih on 15th, 2 at Eluanbi Lighthouse on 19th and 2 at Shedding Nature Park on 20th. Stunning and one of our birds of the trip.
TAIWAN WREN-BABBLER Pnoepyga formosana
Commonly heard at Dasyueshan where 5 were heard and superb views of 1 on 13th, 2 at Bedongyueshan on 16th and 24th, 1 at Yushan on 17th. The song is completely different from the ‘three blind mice’ song of Pygmy Wren Babbler.
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyris ruficeps praecognita
Very common from low to mid-altitude, up to 20 daily, including 4 at Shedding Nature Park on 20th. Endemic sub-species.
TAIWAN BARWING Actinodura morrisoniana
15 at Dasyueshan on 14th, 12 at Bedongyueshan on 17th with 2 there on 24th and 4 at Yushan on 18th.
TAIWAN FULVETTA Alcippe formosana
Very skulking, we only had a single at Hehuan on 16th, 2 at Yushan visitor centre on 17th and 1 near there the next day. All were in flocks of Flamecrests.
Dusky Fulvetta Alcippe brunnea brunnea
We just had two at Bedongyueshan on 24th, where they responded to tape, kept very low and difficult to observer, easy to overlook. Endemic sub-species.
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe morrisonia morrisonia
Common at mid-high altitudes in the mountain forests, up to 40 a day but 80 seen at Bedongyueshan on 17th. Endemic sub-species.
WHITE-EARED SIBIA Heterophasia auricularis
A stunning and common bird of high altitude mountain forests with up to 40 see daily, particularly around fruiting trees.
TAIWAN YUHINA Yuhina brunneiceps
One of the commonest birds of mid-high altitude mountain forests with up to 50 a day seen and seen in good sized flocks.
White-bellied Erpornis Erpornis zantholeuca
Just 3 singles seen at Dasyueshan on 15th Bedongyueshan on 17th and 24th.
Lowland White-eye Zosterops
6 on Lanyu Island on 21st and 10 there on 23rd.
Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus
40 at km 4 out of Dongshih on 13th, 10 at Huisin on 15th and 2 at Chun Yong Farm on 16th. Heard at Yilan on 25th.
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus formosanus
2 at Eluanbi Lighthouse on 20th and 10 at Nan-ao on 25th, were the only ones noticed, although we didn’t pay attention to mynas too much. Endemic sub-species.
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Javan/White-vented Myna Acridotheres javanicus/grandis
White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis
On 19th, 4 at Kenting Park visitor centre car park and 4 at Longluan Lake visitor centre.
Plain Flowerpecker Dicaeum concolor
1 at Dasyueshan on 14th.
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker Dicaeum ignipectum
1 at Dasyueshan on 14th, 3 at Blue Gate Trail on 16th and 5 at Pipeline Trail on 24th. Many flowerpeckers were heard in the mountains but not seen perched.
Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis
2 at Shihgang Reservoir on 13th, 8 at Tsengwen on 18th and on 25th, 10 at Nan-ao and 30 at Yilan, all the birds on 25th appeared to be ‘Green-headed Wagtail’ – race taivana, while a couple of birds at Tsengwen were of a different indeterminate race.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
1-7 seen almost daily, the adults have full bright yellow underparts.
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
1 at Shihgang Reservoir on 13th, 3 en route on17th, 2 daily on Lanyu Island and 10 on 25th, at Nan-ao and Yilan. Most birds were ‘Amur Wagtail’ – race leucopsis, but at least 2 lugens were seen at Yilan on 25th.
Richard's Pipit Anthus richardi
1 at Taitung airport on 21st and 6 at Nan-ao on 25th.
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
5 in a tea plantation on the approach road to Bedongyueshan on 17th, 2 at Shedding Nature Park on 20th and 2 on Lanyu Island on 21st.
Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus
2 at Tsengwen on 18th and 30+ in fields at Nan-ao on 25th.
Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens japonicus
1 on Lanyu Island on 21st and 6 in fields at Nan-ao on 25th.
Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla
1 on Lanyu Island on 24th.
Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala
2 at Chun Yong Farm on 16th, 1 on the approach road to Bedongyueshan on 17th and 15+ at Nan-ao on 25th.
Vinaceous Rosefinch Carpodacus vinaceus formosanus
We just had 2 birds at km 47 at Dasyueshan on 14th. Endemics sub-species.
Grey-headed (Beavan’s)Bullfinch Pyrrhula erythaca owstoni
A flock of 10 just below the Yushan visitor centre on 17th. Endemic sub-species.
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Very common in towns and villages.
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata
3 at km 4 out of Dongshih on 13th and 10 at Huisin on 15th.
Scaly-breasted Mannikin Lonchura punctulata
2 at Longluan Lake on 19th and 10 at Shedding Nature Park on 20th.
Notable birds missed
Saunder’s Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, Ashy Woodpigeon, White-bellied Pigeon, White-backed Woodpecker, Varied Tit, Golden Parrotbill, Brown Bullfinch.