Having failed to see either of the Pheasants on my previous visit in October 2000 I decided to try again. This time I was accompanied by Volker Schmidt who was on his first visit to Taiwan. The information with regards sites was basically the same as detailed in my previous trip report however this time I was lucky enough to have some up to date information from Paul Thompson who had just returned from a visit to Taiwan two weeks previously.
He had seen plenty of Swinhoe's but no Mikado's although whilst there he met an American birder who had seen one on the blue gate trail. Although the main purpose of the visit was to try and see the Pheasants as it was Volker's first trip to Taiwan time was put in looking for some of the other endemics
I again hired a car from the one and only car rental company at the airport. It was not cheap but saved a lot of time
We stayed in a hotel above the 7-11 shop in Wushe all three nights. It was clean the beds were soft but there was no hot water The owners spoke good English
Health and Safety
We had no problems and no hassles as the Taiwanese are really friendly. They quite often want to speak to you to practice their English.
Friday 9th March - Arrived CKS airport from Hong Kong at 15.30 had no problems with immigration sorted out the car and left the airport at 17.00. Proceeded to Wushe arriving at 21.00. Stayed in a small hotel above the 7-11 shop.
Saturday 10th March - Drove the 18KM to the start of the blue gate continuation trail and started at 06.00 to walk very slowly along the trail. The trail is a stake out for both the pheasants as well as a number of the other endemics. It was not long before we saw our first endemic a Steers Liocichla however despite spending the next seven hours in the area we had no luck with the pheasants. We did however see 8 of Taiwan's endemics including Yellow Tit, Taiwan Laughing Thrush, Taiwan Barwing, Taiwan Yuhina, White-eared Sibia, Collared Bush Robin and Flamecrest as well as a number of other good species.
Returned somewhat disappointed to Wushe for something to eat. Spent the next hour along the lake trail, which leads from Wushe, town centre down towards the lake It is a good site for White tailed Robin and it was not long before we saw one. Returned to the car and drove to the suspension bridge four Km along the Lushan road. in search of Needle-tailed Swifts but we saw very little. By now it was getting towards evening so we decided to give the pheasants another chance. This time we tried the first part of the blue gate trail but despite an extensive search we again had no luck. We returned to the car at dusk to be met by Mr Yao who I had tried to contact the previous week. He has been studying Mikado Pheasant for a number of years and knowing we were there had come to met us He informed us that the best site to see the pheasants was the blue gate continuation trail but said it was quite often just a matter of luck
Return to Wushe where we had something to eat and then to bed in preparation for an early start .As we were retiring it started to rain
Sunday 11th March - Awoke to the sound of rain however by the time we left it had stopped although there was a considerable amount of low cloud.Knowing that the pheasants had been seen 3.5 km along blue gate continuation track two weeks earlier decided to set off early with the aim of getting to the site at first light. This we did but again despite an extensive search of the area we encountered no pheasants. By about 09.00 the weather was getting pretty murky and so headed back towards the car On route at km 2.5 we heard a rustling from the undergrowth adjacent to the track We decided to investigate expecting it to be just a Liocichla but to our surprise as we looked into the undergrowth under the forest canopy a male Swinhoe's Pheasant was feeding about 25m down the slope We watched it feeding for a few minutes before it walked out of view. We were just about to go when suddenly we saw two male Swinhoe's slowly walking through the undergrowth no more than 10m away They suddenly saw us and flew away down the slope.
Having at last seen a Pheasant and with the weather deteriorating we returned to the car and decided to make our way towards the east coast to look for the Bulbul By now the weather was bad and we drove over Mt Hohuon in thick mist and rain. This slowly cleared as we descended the other side and as we entered the start of Taroka Gorge the cloud lifted.
Arrived at the coast and stopped in the first area of suitable habitat and within a few minutes at least 5 Styan's Bulbuls were seen. We also found a large flock of Munia's containing in varying numbers all three species that occur in Taiwan.
Retraced our steps and drove back through the gorge up to the town of Tusfig where we spent the last hour of light exploring the tunnel trail. Due to the intermittent low cloud not many birds were seen however we did find White-browed bush Robin and Volker finally got good views of Streaked-throated Fulvetta Returned to the car at dusk and decided as the weather was getting no better we would spend the following morning at lower altitudes in the Kukuan area in search of Taiwan Whistling Thrush. Set off along route 8 only to find after 1.5 hours driving that the road was block and there was no way through. We had no choice but to return the way we had come go over Mt Hohuon and approach the area from the west By now it was dark, raining and the mountain was covered in thick mist. Progress was very slow and we eventually arrived at Wushe at 22.00 where we decided to spend the night again.
Monday 12th March - Awoke at 05.00 and set off to Kukuan. It was still raining and Wushe was covered in low cloud. On route passing through an area of plantations a Barbet was seen adjacent to the road We quickly stopped and obtain good views of Black-browed Barbet a bird we had heard the previous two days but not seen We eventually arrived at Kukuan after a productive brief stop by the side of the river about 4km from the town at 07.30 and birded around the town from the two suspension bridges over the river. As soon as we arrived a Varied Tit was found in the trees around the car park and very soon afterwards a Taiwan Whistling Thrush was seen a number of times flying across the river
By now the weather had started to improve so we decided to stay in the area and look for the Magpie at a supposed stakeout at Pasienshan a few Km's from Kukuan. Spent a number of hours there scanning the wooded hill sides but no luck and at 14.00 left the area and made our way back to the airport for our return flight to Hong Kong
The following information is meant to supplement the information already available in Dave Sergeant's and Barry Wright reports and my previous updates to them following my trip in October 2001
Wushe and Mt Hohuan
Blue Gate Trail - This trail is located off route 14 just before the16km post not the 15 as is stated in a number of reports. The gate is not viewable from the main road however the entrance can be identified by the concrete retaining wall. The trail has recently been cleared making it much more accessible After about 5km the trail crosses a small road and then continues for a further 12km where it end s at the head of a valley. This is the area referred to as the continuation trail. The area contains both species of Pheasants as well as all the other high altitude endemics.
Lake Trail- Almost opposite the 7-11 shop a small road leads down the hill after about 100m there Is a concrete catch water on the right. Park there and walk down the catch water towards the lake.
Little EgretEgretta garzetta - 3 Kukuan 12th March Black-crowned Night HeronNycticorax nycticorax - 1 Kukuan 12th March Striated HeronButorides striatus - 2 Kukuan 12th March Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela - 1 Pasiensham 12th March Crested GoshawkAccipiter trivirgatus - 1 Wushe to Kukuan 12th March Black EagleIctinaetus malayensis - 3 Taroko Gorge 11th March Mountain Hawk EagleSpizaaetus nipalensis - 2 Taroko gorge 11th March KestrelFalco tinnunculus - 1 Wushe Suspension bridge 10th March; 1 east coast 11th March Swinhoe's PheasantLophura swinhoii - 3 males blue gate trail 10th March Oriental Turtle DoveStreptopelia orientalis - 4 lake trail bridge 10th March Spotted DoveStreptopelia chinensis - 1 Wushe suspension bridge 10th March; 10 east coast 11th March; 3 Pasiensham 12th March Red Turtle DoveStreeptopelia tranquebarica - Common in lowlands Emerald DoveChalcophaps indica - 1 Pasienshan 12th March Pacific SwiftApus pacificus - 1 Kukuan 12th March House SwiftApus nipalensis - 20 suspension bridge 10th March Black-browed BarbetMegalaima oorti - 1 between Wushe and Kukuan 12th March White-backed WoodpeckerDendrocopos leucotos -3 blue gate trail 10th March Black DrongoDicrurus macrocercus - Fairly common in lowlands Large-billed CrowCorvus macrorhynchos - 10 Wushe suspension bridge 10th March, 10 Taroko Gorge 11th March Grey-chinned MinivetPericrocotus solaris - 3 Blue gate trail 10th March, ca. 50 Pasienshan Brown DipperCinclus pallasii - 2 Kukuan 12th March Blue Rock ThrushMonticola solitarius - 1 Kukuan 11th March Taiwan Whistling ThrushMyiophoneus insularis - 1 Kukuan 12th March Dusky ThrushTurdus naumani -1 east coast 11th March Snowy-browed FlycatcherFicedula hyperythra -3 blue gate trail 10th March Vivid NiltavaNiltava vivida -1 female blue gate trail 10th March, males Pasienshan White-browed Bush RobinTarsiger indicus -1 blue gate trail 10th March, 1 tunnel trail 11th March Collared Bush RobinTarsiger johnstoniae -10 blue gate trail 10th March, 3 blue gate trail 11th March; 3 tunnel trail 11th March Plumbeous RedstartRhyacornis fuliginosus -2 blue gate trail 10th March, 1Kukuan 12th March White-tailed RobinCinclidium leucurum - 2 lake trail 10th March Little ForktailEnicurus scouleri - 2 blue gate trail 10th March Eurasian NuthatchSitta europaea - 2 blue gate trail 10th March Black-throated TitAegithalos concinnus - 50 blue gate trail 10th March, 5 tunnel trail 11th March; 10 Pasienshan 12th March Plain MartinRiparia paludicola - 2 Kukuan 12th March Barn SwallowHirundo rustica - Small numbers throughout Pacific SwallowHirundo tachitica - 15 Wushe town 10th March Striated SwallowHirundo tachitica - 4 20Km west of Kukuan 12th March Asian House MartinDelichon dasypus - 50 Blue gate trail 10th March, small groups elsewhere Flamecrest Regulus goodfellowi - 2 bluegate trail 10th March Collared FinchbillSpizixos semitorques - 10 Pasienshan 12th March Chinese BulbulPycnonotus sinensis - 5 Taroko Gorge, 5 east coast 11th March Styan's BulbulPycnonotus taivanus - 10 east coast 11th March Black BulbulHypsipetes leucocephalus - Wushe suspension bridge, 2 lake trail 10th March; 20 Wushe to Kukuan 12th March, ca. 150 Pasienshan Yellowish-bellied Bush WarblerCettia acanthizoides - 4 blue gate trail 10th March Rufous-faced WarblerAbroscopus albogularis - 8 blue gate trail 10th March Hwamei Garrulax canorus - 2 Kukuan 12th March Taiwan LaughingthrushGarrulax albogularis - 10 blue gate trail 10th March, 4 blue gate trail 11th March Steere's LiocichlaLiocichla steerii - 5 blue gate trail 10th March Spot-breasted Scimitar BabblerPomatorhinus erythrocnemis - 2 Kukuan 12th March Rufous-capped BabblerStachyris ruficeps - 1 seen plus many heard blue gate trail 10th March Taiwan BarwingActinodura morrisonianna - 8 blue gate trail 10th March Streak-throated FulvettaAlcippe cinereiceps - 5 blue gate trail 10th March, 5 tunnel trail 11th March Grey-cheeked FulvettaAlcippe morrisonia - 40 blue gate trail 10th March,10 Tunnel Trail 11th March White-eared SibiaHeterophasia auricularis - 10 Blue gate trail 10th March, 1 blue gate trail 10th March Taiwan YuhinaYuhina brunneiceps - 50 blue gate trail 10th March, 10 blue gate trail 11th March White-bellied YuhinaYuhina zantholeuca - 1 tunnel trail 11th March, 2 Pasienshan Vinous-throated ParrotbillParadoxornis webbianus - 2 Kukuan 12th March Green-backed TitParus monticolus - 5 blue gate trail 10th March Yellow TitParus holsti - 2 blue gate trail 10th March, 1 Pasienshan 12th March Varied TitParus varius - 1 Kukuan , 5 Pasiensham 12th March Eurasian Tree SparrowPasser montanus - Commoner at lower elevations White-rumped MuniaLonchura striata - 50 east coast 11th March Scaly-breasted MuniaLonchura punctulata - 200 east coast 11th March Chestnut MuniaLonchura malacca - 10 east coast 11th March White WagtailMotacilla Alba - 1 east coast 11th March Grey WagtailMonticilla cinerea - 2 Kukuan 12th March Fire-breasted FlowerpeckerDicaeum ignipectus - 1 blue gate trail 10th March Vinaceous RosefinchCarpodacus vinaceus - 3 blue gate trail 10th March
Taiwan A Birders Guide to Taiwan by Dave Sargent - Private publication available from NHS bookshop.. An excellent report with good maps and general information
A Birding Trip to Taiwan by Barry Wright - Private Publication available from the World Twitch web site A good supplement to Sargent with more up to date information
Birding Taiwan by Graham Talbot - Private publication available on Urs Geiser web site Updates to Sargent and Write reports