Having just spent four days on Taiwan's Matsu Islands fruitlessly searching for Chinese-crested Tern I decided to return to Taiwan's central highlands the following weekend in search of Mikado's Pheasant. The main reason for the rushed return was that three separate parties had seen the Pheasant at Anmasham during the last week and I believed there was a really good chance of connecting with it. I mentioned my plans to Chris who decided as he had nothing better to do he would join me as there were still a couple of ticks there for him. Also Bernard took the opportunity to join us this being his first birding trip to Taiwan. The idea was to spend the weekend in the central highlands with the aim of seeing as many of the endemics and potential splits as possible. Due to our success we had time to spare so we decided to do the Styan's Bulbul site a three-hour drive away. It was worth it as apart from seeing the Bulbul we got to travel through the magnificent Taroko Gorge. All in all a very successful trip. We saw 13 and heard 1 of the 15 endemic species and saw a number of the potential splits. The only endemic we did not see or hear was the Magpie but we did not have time to visit any sites. I was surprised how well we done as I had made two previous visits at what I thought were better times of the year and did not see as many of the endemics and potential splits as we saw this time. Maybe July is a good month to visit.
We 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 pre booked it before we left and they were at the airport to meet us. They appear to be open 24 hours so our late arrival on the Friday was no problem
Flights were booked through our usual travel agent in Hong Kong. She as always came up with the flights we wanted at a reasonable price at very short notice.
Because of our tight schedule this proved to be a bit of a problem. On the Friday night we arrived in Tungshih at 00.30 and eventually found a hotel thanks to the local police. On the Saturday night we had no luck finding a hotel late at night in the Wushe area and in the end slept in the car park of the Shangrila Hotel with many other Taiwanese campers. On the Sunday night we found a hotel in central Taipei
Health and Safety
Again we encountered no problems and no hassles. The Taiwanese are really friendly and helpful and limited English is spoken quite widely.
Friday 27th July - Arrived CKS airport from Hong Kong at 21.30. By the time we had retrieved our luggage got through immigration and sorted the car hire out it was 22.30. We set off towards Anmasham arriving about 00.30. Decided to stay in the town and do the 45 min drive to the reserve before first light.
Saturday 28th July - Left the Hotel at 04.15 and headed towards the reserve. Much to our surprise on route half way up the mountain we came across a Lesser Shortwing hopping around at the edge of the road. It gave really good views before diving back into cover. Arrived at the park gates at 05.15 and parked at the start of trail 210 the Mikado Pheasant trail. We proceeded to walk along the trail at a slow pace and although we saw a number of the endemics, Steer's Liochicola, White-eared Sibia, Taiwan Yuhina there was no sign of the Pheasants. Returned to the car for refreshments and discovered a small party of White-throated Laughing Thrush a potential split and one of our key birds. After eating we decided, as it was still relatively early we would try trail 210 again as according to the previous parties the Pheasants favoured an area about 2km along the trail. We proceeded to walk the trail again and very soon Chris discovered a party of Mikado's Pheasants including a male feeding beside the track. They gave great views before slowly walking back into the undergrowth. Returned elated to the car. We were all pretty tired by now due to the lack of sleep the previous night so decided to get a few hours sleep at the top of the mountain KM50. On route we checked out the headquarters and accommodation area at KM 46 and saw Vinaceous Rosefinch in a tree by the car park. We proceeded to the top of the mountain at KM 50 and crashed out in the car park. Our sleep was interrupted after a couple hours by two Taiwan Laughing Thrushes singing in the trees above us. Another endemic for the list. By now the top of the mountain was covered in low cloud so we descended to trail 220, which we explored until dark adding another endemic to our list Taiwan Bush Warbler which we saw at the start of the trail. It responded really well to the tape playback and gave excellent views. Returned to KM 46 and listened for Mountain Scops Owl but nothing was heard so left the park and proceeded towards the town of Wushe where we spent some time around KM 16 the start of the blue gate trail again listening for Mountain Scops Owl. Due to lateness could not find a hotel open so slept in the car park of the Shangri-La Resort
Sunday 11th March - Woke at 05.00 and made our way to the end of the Blue Gate Trail and the start of the continuation trail. Parked the car and the first bird we saw was an Island Thrush singing from the top of a tree. We started birding along the Blue Gate Trail and very soon had great views of a male Swinhoe's Pheasant running along the track in front of us. We returned to the start of the continuation trail and proceeded to walk along it. After about 3km we came across a male Mikado's Pheasant, which gave excellent prolonged views. We continued on hoping to get to the end however after 7km we found that a landslide had destroyed the track. We debated whether to try and scramble over the loose debris but decide against the idea as it looked a bit dodgy so returned to the car. During the morning's birding on the continuation trail we had added a further two endemics to the list Taiwan Barwing and Taiwan Tit.
Set off towards Mount Hohuan stopping once on route at some pines close to the summit but saw very little. By the time we reached the summit the low cloud had descended making viewing very difficult however we saw Alpine Accentor feeding in the car park with two Taiwan Laughing Thrushes.
Made our way through the low cloud down towards Tayuling making a couple of brief stops on route. At one of these stops we were rewarded with Flamecrest and Yellowish- bellied Bush Warbler.
Stopped briefly at the tunnel trail at Tayuling and the first bird we saw was a Collared Bush Robin which for some unknown reason we had yet to connect with. As the weather was still poor we decided to make our way towards the coast through Taroko Gorge and try for Styan's Bulbul on the coast. On route down the hill we came across a Taiwan Whistling Thrush at the side of the road yet another endemic and one that I had not been confident of seeing on this trip. We drove through the spectacular gorge and arrive at the coast just as it was starting to rain. Drove south for 5 km and stopped in an agricultural area just outside the town of Hisincheng where I had seen Styan's Bulbul before. After some desperate searching in the rain and wind we eventually came across at least three. By now it was getting dark the rain was hammering down so we retired to the local seven Eleven Shop for some refreshment. We were informed there that a huge typhoon was on the way. No wonder it was quite. We headed off through the wind and rain along the mountainous coast road towards Taipei eventually arriving at 12.00. We stayed in the first Hotel we could find.
Monday 30 July - Got up at 04.30 with the aim of calling in at the Botanical Gardens on the way to the airport to look for the Mayalan Night Herons however time was tight and it was still dark due to the typhoon so we made our way directly to the airport only to find that due to the typhoon all flights had been cancelled with the exception of one carrier EVA. We quickly changed terminals managed to get on the standby list and luckily got three places on the flight. We arrived exhausted in Hong at 09.45 one hour latter than we had planned
We used the information contain in Dave Sergeant's and Barry Wright reports and my previous updates to them following my trips in October 2000 and March 2001 to find the sites.
Basically the information contained in these reports is still valid and accurate. Anmasham is now open to the public however it appears to get very crowded at the weekend but the crowds tend to keep to the accommodation area and summit and don't appear to venture down the trails.
For Swinhoe's Pheasant I had been informed of a new site and although we didn't visit it as we saw one on the Blue Gate Trail it is apparently a better site. To find the site take the Mount Hohuan from Wushe and after about 5 Km there is a turning on the left. We saw this turning as we drove past It is obvious and has a police station (not used) on the right at the start of the road. Drive along this road and after 8km you come across a track on the left Park and go through the gate. The track is about 5km long and the Pheasants can be anywhere along it
Taiwan PartridgeArborophila crudigularis - 1 Heard trail 210 Anmasham 28 July Chinese Bamboo PartridgeBambusicola thoracica - 2 on the road at the start of the continuation trail 29 July Swinhoe's PheasantLophura swinhoii - 1 male blue gate trail 29 July Mikado PheasantSyrmaticus humiae - 1 male, 1 female 3 young trail 210 Anmasham 28 July; 1 male continuation trail 29 July White-backed WoodpeckerDendrocopos leucotos - 2 heard trail 210 Anmasham 28 July; 1 blue gate trail 29 July Black-browed BarbetMegalaima oorti - 3 Blue Gate/continuation trail 29 July White-throated NeedletailedHirundapus caudacutus - 10 over the fields at Hisincheng 29 July Pacific SwiftApus pacificus - 50 over the fields at Hisincheng 29 July House SwiftApus nipalensis - 10 Anmasham 28 July; 30 over the fields at Hisincheung 29 July Brown Wood OwlNinox scutulata - 1 heard Anmasham 28 July Ashy Wood PigeonColumba pulchricollis - 7 trail 210 Anmashan 28 July; 20 Blue gate/Continuation trail 29 July Spotted DoveStreptopelia chinensis - 1 on route through Taroko Gorge 29 July Whistling Green PigeonTreron formosae - I heard trail 210 Anmasham 28 July Long-tailed ShrikeLanius schach - 1 Hisincheung 29 July Spotted NutcrackerNucifraga caryocatactes - 1 KM 50 Anmasham 28 July Large-billed CrowCorvus macrorhynchos - 1 heard Anmasham 28 July; 10 Taroko Gorge 29 July Black DrongoDicrurus macrocercus - I Hisincheung 29 July Taiwan Whistling ThrushMyiophoneus insularis - 1 en route through Taroko Gorge 29 July Island ThrushTurdus poliocephalus - A total of 10 Blue Gate and Continuation Trails 29 July White-browed ShortwingBrachypteryx montana - 1 en route to Anmasham 28 July Collared Bush RobinTarsiger johnstoniae - 1 tunnel trail Tayuling 29 July White-tailed RobinCinclidium leucurum - 3 en route to Anmasham 28 July; 2 KM 46 Anmasham 28 July; 4 Blue Gate /Continuation Trail 29 July Plumbeous RedstartRhyacornis fuliginosus - 2 Taroko Gorge 29 July Ferruginous FlycatcherMuscicapa ferruginea - 3 trail 220 Anmasham 28 July; 12 Blue Gate/Continuation Trails 29 July Snowy-browed FlycatcherFicedula hyperythra - 1 Continuation Trail 29 July Vivid NiltavaNiltava vivida - 1 Trail 210 Anmasham 28 July; 3 trail 220 Anmasham 28 July; 4 Blue Gate/Continuation Trail 29 July Crested MynaAcridotheres cristatellus - I Hisincheung 29 July Eurasian NuthatchSitta europaea - 2 Continuation trail 29 July Green-backed TitParus monticolus - 2 Blue Gate trail 29 July; 2 Tunnel Trail Tayuling 29 July Yellow TitParus holsti - 3 Blue Gate/Continuation Trail 29 July Black-throated TitAegithalos concinnus - 10 Trail 210 Anmasham 28 July; 5 Trail 220 Anmasham 28 July Barn SwallowHirundo rustica - 2 Taroko Gorge 29 July; 50 Hisincheung 29 July Chinese BulbulPycnonotus sinensis - 9 Hisincheung 29 July Styan's BulbulPycnonotus taivanus - 3 Hisincheung 29 July Zitting CisticolaCistticola juncidis - 1 Hisincheung 29 July Brownish-flanked Bush WarblerCettia forttipes - 4 heard Trail 210 Anmasham 28 July; 6 heard Mount Hohuan 29 July Yellowish-bellied Bush WarblerCettia acanthizoides - 1 heard 1 seen Mount Hohuan 29 July Taiwan Bush Warbler Bradypterus arisansis - 1 responded very well to tape playback at the start of Trail 220 Anmasham; 28 July. This bird is in none of the Field Guides but basically looks like a typical bush warbler and has a very distinctive song Rufous-faced WarblerAbroscopus albogularis - 10 Trail 220 Anmasham 28 July; 20 Blue Gate/Continuation Trail 29 July Flamecrest Regulus goodfellowi - 1 Mount Hohuan 29 July White-throated Laughing ThrushGarrulax albogularis - 9 start of trail 210 Anmasham 28 July Taiwan Laughing ThrushGarrulax albogularis - 4 KM 50 Anmasham 28 July; 6 Mount Hohuran, 2 Tunnel Trail Tayuling 29 July Steere's LiocichlaLiocichla steerii - Common at both Anmasham and Blue Gate/Continuation Trail area Winter WrenTroglodyte troglodytes - 1 Mount Hohuan 29 July Rufous-capped BabblerStachyris ruficeps - 1 seen 4 Heard Anmasham 28 July; 20 heard/seen Blue Gate/Continuation Trail 29 July Grey-cheeked FulvettaAlcippe morrisonia - Common at Anmasham and the Blue Gate/Continuation Trail Taiwan BarwingActinodura morrisonianna - 4 Blue Gate/Continuation Trail 29 July - 2 Tunnel Trail Tayuling 29 July White-eared SibiaHeterophasia auricularis - 50 Anmashan 28 July; 40 Blue Gate/Continuation Trail 29 July Taiwan YuhinaYuhina brunneiceps - Common at Anmasham and the Blue Gate/Continuation Trail Vinous-throated ParrotbillParadoxornis webbianus - 1 Mount Hohuan 29 July Fire-breasted FlowerpeckerDicaeum ignipectus - 10 Heard Anmashan 28 July; 5 Heard 1 seen Blue Gate/Continuation Trail 29 July Eurasian Tree SparrowPasser montanus - Commoner at lower elevations Alpine AccentorPruella collaris - 1 in car park top of Mount Hohuan 29 July Vinaceous RosefinchCarpodacus vinaceus - 2 KM 46 Anmasham 28 July; 1 Mount Hohuan 29 July Brown BullfinchPyrrhula nipalensis - 2 Anmasham 28 July Grey-headed Bullfinch Pyrrhula erythacea - 10 Blue Gate/Continuation Trail 29 July
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
Birding Taiwan 2 by Graham Talbot- Private publication available from the author. An update to his previous trip