Taiwan, 9th - 12th March 2001

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT surfbirds.com)


Graham Talbot
Volker Schmidt


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

Birding Sites

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.

Systematic List

Little Egret Egretta garzetta - 3 Kukuan 12th March
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax - 1 Kukuan 12th March
Striated Heron Butorides striatus - 2 Kukuan 12th March
Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela - 1 Pasiensham 12th March
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus - 1 Wushe to Kukuan 12th March
Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis - 3 Taroko Gorge 11th March
Mountain Hawk Eagle Spizaaetus nipalensis - 2 Taroko gorge 11th March
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus - 1 Wushe Suspension bridge 10th March; 1 east coast 11th March
Swinhoe's Pheasant Lophura swinhoii - 3 males blue gate trail 10th March
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis - 4 lake trail bridge 10th March
Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis - 1 Wushe suspension bridge 10th March; 10 east coast 11th March; 3 Pasiensham 12th March
Red Turtle Dove Streeptopelia tranquebarica - Common in lowlands
Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica - 1 Pasienshan 12th March
Pacific Swift Apus pacificus - 1 Kukuan 12th March
House Swift Apus nipalensis - 20 suspension bridge 10th March
Black-browed Barbet Megalaima oorti - 1 between Wushe and Kukuan 12th March
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos -3 blue gate trail 10th March
Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus - Fairly common in lowlands
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos - 10 Wushe suspension bridge 10th March, 10 Taroko Gorge 11th March
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris - 3 Blue gate trail 10th March, ca. 50 Pasienshan
Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii - 2 Kukuan 12th March
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius - 1 Kukuan 11th March
Taiwan Whistling Thrush Myiophoneus insularis - 1 Kukuan 12th March
Dusky Thrush Turdus naumani -1 east coast 11th March
Snowy-browed Flycatcher Ficedula hyperythra -3 blue gate trail 10th March
Vivid Niltava Niltava vivida -1 female blue gate trail 10th March, males Pasienshan
White-browed Bush Robin Tarsiger indicus -1 blue gate trail 10th March, 1 tunnel trail 11th March
Collared Bush Robin Tarsiger johnstoniae -10 blue gate trail 10th March, 3 blue gate trail 11th March; 3 tunnel trail 11th March
Plumbeous Redstart Rhyacornis fuliginosus -2 blue gate trail 10th March, 1Kukuan 12th March
White-tailed Robin Cinclidium leucurum - 2 lake trail 10th March
Little Forktail Enicurus scouleri - 2 blue gate trail 10th March
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea - 2 blue gate trail 10th March
Black-throated Tit Aegithalos concinnus - 50 blue gate trail 10th March, 5 tunnel trail 11th March; 10 Pasienshan 12th March
Plain Martin Riparia paludicola - 2 Kukuan 12th March
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica - Small numbers throughout
Pacific Swallow Hirundo tachitica - 15 Wushe town 10th March
Striated Swallow Hirundo tachitica - 4 20Km west of Kukuan 12th March
Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus - 50 Blue gate trail 10th March, small groups elsewhere
Flamecrest Regulus goodfellowi - 2 bluegate trail 10th March
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques - 10 Pasienshan 12th March
Chinese Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis - 5 Taroko Gorge, 5 east coast 11th March
Styan's Bulbul Pycnonotus taivanus - 10 east coast 11th March
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus - Wushe suspension bridge, 2 lake trail 10th March; 20 Wushe to Kukuan 12th March, ca. 150 Pasienshan
Yellowish-bellied Bush Warbler Cettia acanthizoides - 4 blue gate trail 10th March
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis - 8 blue gate trail 10th March
Hwamei Garrulax canorus - 2 Kukuan 12th March
Taiwan Laughingthrush Garrulax albogularis - 10 blue gate trail 10th March, 4 blue gate trail 11th March
Steere's Liocichla Liocichla steerii - 5 blue gate trail 10th March
Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus erythrocnemis - 2 Kukuan 12th March
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyris ruficeps - 1 seen plus many heard blue gate trail 10th March
Taiwan Barwing Actinodura morrisonianna - 8 blue gate trail 10th March
Streak-throated Fulvetta Alcippe cinereiceps - 5 blue gate trail 10th March, 5 tunnel trail 11th March
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe morrisonia - 40 blue gate trail 10th March,10 Tunnel Trail 11th March
White-eared Sibia Heterophasia auricularis - 10 Blue gate trail 10th March, 1 blue gate trail 10th March
Taiwan Yuhina Yuhina brunneiceps - 50 blue gate trail 10th March, 10 blue gate trail 11th March
White-bellied Yuhina Yuhina zantholeuca - 1 tunnel trail 11th March, 2 Pasienshan
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Paradoxornis webbianus - 2 Kukuan 12th March
Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus - 5 blue gate trail 10th March
Yellow Tit Parus holsti - 2 blue gate trail 10th March, 1 Pasienshan 12th March
Varied Tit Parus varius - 1 Kukuan , 5 Pasiensham 12th March
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus - Commoner at lower elevations
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata - 50 east coast 11th March
Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata - 200 east coast 11th March
Chestnut Munia Lonchura malacca - 10 east coast 11th March
White Wagtail Motacilla Alba - 1 east coast 11th March
Grey Wagtail Monticilla cinerea - 2 Kukuan 12th March
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker Dicaeum ignipectus - 1 blue gate trail 10th March
Vinaceous Rosefinch Carpodacus vinaceus - 3 blue gate trail 10th March

Trip Reports

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

A selection of trip reports by Wayne Hsu from his web site- Good basic information

Books (see a selection of Asia Guides available to buy online here)

A Field Guide to the Birds of China - John MacKinnon and Karen Phillipps- The only guide in English that illustrated all the endemics with the exception of the newly discovered Scrub Warbler

A Field Guide to the Birds of South East Asia - Craig Robson. Although it does not cover Taiwan it is excellent for species which occur in other parts of SE Asia

G Talbot
2 Brandreth Road
E6 5 QB
E Mail gtalbot@netvigator.com