Photos with this report (click to enlarge)
Taiwan Blue Magpie
Malayan Night Heron
Blue Rock Thrush
Crested Serpent Eagle
A beautiful country with outstanding scenery and friendly people. Five days in northern Taiwan produced a list of 114 species including 12 endemic species and 30 endemic sub-species.
At the beginning of 2005 I saw a competition in Birdwatch magazine with the prize of an ‘all-expenses paid’ birding trip for two to Taiwan. I don’t normally enter competitions but the location sounded excellent and I could answer the questions, so I thought to myself ‘for the price of a stamp, let’s give it a go’. When a letter arrived in the mail telling me I’d won first prize I couldn’t believe my luck. My son, Ben, accompanied me on the trip.
Sunday 25 September Evening flight from London Heathrow to Taipei via Bangkok
Monday 26 September Late evening arrival (local time) Taipei. Overnight Taipei
Tuesday 27 September Taipei Botanical Gardens, Guandu Nature Reserve and
Yangmingshan National Park. Overnight Taipei
Wednesday 28 September Pinglin area, Lanyang river mouth and Wu-wei-kang Water
Bird Reserve. Overnight Jiaosi Hot Springs
Thursday 29 September AM travel, PM Taroko National Park. Overnight Sincheng
Friday 30 September Taroko National Park. Overnight Guanyuan
Saturday 1 October Taroko Nat. Park then to airport. Evening flight to Bangkok
Sunday 2 October Flight from Bangkok to London Heathrow
In early 2005 I saw a competition in Birdwatch magazine with the first prize of a birding holiday for two in Taiwan (provided by the tourism department of the Taiwanese government). The prospect of some Asian birding and a good number of endemics prompted an entry and later delight when I received a letter from McClusky International telling me that I had won. I was put onto Ours Travel for the detailed arrangements and then onto our guide, Jane-Fuh Lu (Geoff), Assistant Professor in the Department of Tourism Management at the Chinese Cultural University, Taipei.
Flights were arranged through the Taiwanese airline Eva Air. The route was via Bangkok in both directions. The aircraft was fairly new and staff efficient and helpful. They were put to the test on the return leg as Typhoon Longwang was due to hit Taiwan on the morning of our departure. All flights on that day were cancelled and the airline re-scheduled our flight to the Saturday evening and provided accommodation in Bangkok till the scheduled departure to London. Everything worked like clockwork and I cannot praise them enough for their arrangements.
Geoff, our guide, was able to explain many aspects of natural history and local information and customs. He took us to some lovely areas and was a great help in restaurants where, outside Taipei, little English was spoken/written. His companionship throughout certainly enriched our trip.
Transport was with Geoff in his car, and a mixture of mid-range hotels, a B&B and a Hostel were used for accommodation. Most meals were Taiwanese style.
Generally, the weather was extremely pleasant, being around 86-90degrees during the day and upper 70’s at night. Most buildings had air-conditioning. It was a little cooler when we climbed up Taroko National Park to 3100 metres. We experienced a morning of rain at Pinglin and fled infront of the impending Typhoon on Saturday which turned out to be our last day.
For research we used ‘A Field Guide to the Birds of China’ by MacKinnon and Phillips which showed Taiwan on the range maps. We had been provided with a list of possible sightings by Geoff in advance, and whilst with him he carried a Field Guide to the Birds of Taiwan written in Chinese and not available in English. This proved to be a super book as the illustrations were of races found on Taiwan. Bird names were a slight headache as the European and Chinese names for quite a few species differed.
More details can be obtained by contacting me on ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’
Sunday 25th September
We departed Heathrow airport just after 10pm, a little later than scheduled. We flew with Eva Air to Taiwan via a brief stop at Bangkok.
Monday 26th September
We arrived at Taipei airport at 9.30pm local time and met Geoff, our guide and companion for the trip. We were taken to our hotel, the Aristocrat, in central Taipei and after a discussion of plans for the trip we went straight to bed.
Tuesday 27th September
We met Geoff at 6am and were taken straight to Taipei Botanical Gardens. Our first sightings were of Japanese White-eye and Light-vented (Chinese) Bulbuls. We soon connected with a pair of Crested Goshawk in the trees before locating the star of the Gardens, Malayan Night-Heron. We saw two birds feeding in the open close to dozens of people doing early morning exercises! We also found an unexpected treat in the form of a migrant Japanese Paradise-Flycatcher.
After returning to the hotel for a quick breakfast we continued to Guandu Nature Park where sightings included Black Drongo, Scaly-Breasted Munia, Brown Shrike, Long-tailed Shrike, feral Sacred Ibis, and Common Kingfisher.
On the nearby Danshuei River we added Osprey, Whiskered Tern and Little, Intermediate and Great White Egrets.
In the afternoon we headed to Yangmingshan National Park and walked the 3.4km round-trip trail from Datun to Erzihping. Here we heard our first Crested Serpent Eagle and sightings included Rufous-capped Tree Babbler and Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler. It was dark when we got back to the car. By the time we had eaten enroute back to the hotel it was straight to bed.
Wednesday 28th September
On the road just after 6am and we headed to a valley near Pinglin. The morning was showery but warm.
We connected with our first Taiwanese endemic, Taiwan Blue Magpie. Further along the valley we soon found our second, Taiwan Whistling Thrush. Other sightings included Grey Treepie, Grey-chinned Minivet, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Black-browed Barbet, Plumbeous Water Redstart, Brown Dipper and Crested Serpent Eagle.
Our next stop was the Lanyang river mouth where we turned up a good range of shorebirds including Terek Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Mongolian Sandplover and Red-necked Stint. We also saw Little Tern and Gull-billed Tern, and our only gull of the trip a Mongolian Gull.
Our last stop of the day was at Wu-wei-kang Water Bird Reserve. On the water we added Spot-billed Duck, Common Teal, White-breasted Waterhen and Moorhen whilst in the trees along the path to the hides we found Black-naped Blue Monarch along with a migrant Grey-Streaked Flycatcher and another Japanese Paradise-Flycatcher.
We then drove back to Jiaosi Hot Springs for supper and bed.
Thursday 29th September
We were on the road at 9am for the drive to Taroko National Park. Enroute we added Pacific Swallow and Oriental Pratincole to the trip list before arriving at 12.45pm.
We had Taiwan Beef Noodle Soup for lunch before driving up through the gorge to about 2000 metres elevation. We started ticking more endemics; Styan’s (Taiwan) Bulbul, Taiwan Yuhina, Steer’s Liocichla and White-eared Sibia. The supporting cast included Indian Black Eagle, Collared Finchbill, Ferruginous Flycatcher, Ashy Wood Pigeon, Blue Rock Thrush and Rufous-faced Flycatcher Warbler.
As darkness fell we descended the mountain to our accommodation in Sincheng.
Friday 30th September
This was our favourite day. We set off just after 5.30am on a glorious morning to drive the length of the National Park up to the summit pass at Hohuan mountain, about 3100 metres above our starting point at sea level.
With a clear sky and brilliant sunshine the scenery was absolutely stunning. We ticked-off similar species to the day before but added White-throated Needletail, Bronzed Drongo, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker and Little Forktail. We also had a surprise in finding two Spotted Nutcrackers. We heard another endemic, Taiwan Hill Partridge and had a two Chinese Bamboo Partridges walk across the road infront of us and show well in the undergrowth next to the road. We also had super views of Crested Serpent Eagle saw on a roadside tree stump
At 2000 metres we set off on foot along Mount Yangtou trail. It was an interesting experience as the gradient through the forest was steep enough to require knotted ropes and wooden ladders to assist us. The effort was worthwhile as we soon found our next endemic, Taiwan Barwing. We also connected with Green-Backed Tit.
Back on the road upwards to the road crest viewpoint with more stops we added Taiwan (White-whiskered) Laughing Thrush, Taiwan Scrub Warbler, Collared Bush Robin, Vinaceous Rosefinch and Yellowish-bellied (Verraux’s) Bush Warbler.
By the time we had reached the top it was misty and cooler. As dusk fell we descended to 2000 metres to our accommodation for the night, Guanyun Hostel. We ate a typical Chinese meal before retiring for the night
Saturday 1st October
Packing the car at 6am ‘crests’ could be heard in the conifers surrounding the car park. Benjamin soon found our last endemic, Flamecrest (Taiwan Firecrest).
We continued to the summit which was much colder and very windy. We ticked Alpine Accentor in the car park before descending down the western side of Hohuan mountain towards the more inhabited west part of the island. New birds on the descent included Streak-throated Fulvetta, Ashy-headed Wood Pigeon, White-tailed Robin and White-bellied Green Pigeon.
Whilst descending a message was received from the airline that our flight to Bangkok had been re-scheduled due to the impending arrival of Typhoon Longwang and brought forward to 10.30pm that night. We considered our options and decided to have a bit more time birding before making the long drive straight to the airport. Our last night’s accommodation was cancelled. We birded around Wu-sir and Puli then headed for the airport. As we neared the airport we ran into wind and rain but managed to arrive before the worst of the weather.
We unloaded our belongings and then packed in the airport Departure area. We said our thanks and fond farewells to Geoff before booking in. We departed Taiwan at 10.50pm.
Sunday 2nd October
We arrived at Bangkok airport at 2.15am. Eva Air staff were on-hand to shepherd us to a bus and we were taken to a central hotel where we had a bed for the night, or what was left of it. We were woken at 7am, had showers and a good breakfast before being returned to the airport. The flight from Bangkok flew in the scheduled slot and we arrived at Heathrow at 7pm.
We later learnt that the typhoon killed one person, injured 46 others and 500,000 homes suffered power cuts. Taiwan was also hit by an earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter Scale that Sunday morning.
(E)- Endemic species
(essp) – Endemic sub-species
1. Grey Heron Ardea cinerea – seen regularly around water. Max 40 on 28th
2. Great Egret Egretta alba – 6 at Guandu on 27th ,4 at Lanyang river on 28th & 6 near Puli on 1st.
3. Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia – 2 at Guandu on 27th,2 at Lanyang river on 28th ,1 near Jiaosi Hot Springs on 29th & 6 near Puli on 1st
4. Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis – seen regularly. Max 42 on 28th
5. Little Egret Egretta garzetta – seen regularly. Max 42 on 28th and 1st
6. Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax – 2 at Taipei Botanical Gardens & 2 at Guandu on 27th. 2 at Lanyang river and 2 at Wu-wei-kang Water Bird Reserve on 28th
7. Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus – 2 at Taipei Bot. Gdns on 27th.
8. Common Teal Anas crecca – 1 at Guandu on 27th & 43 at Wu-wei-kang on 28th
9. Mallard Anas platyrhynchos – 2 at Guandu on 28th, 5 near Jiaosi Hot Spr. on 30th
10. Spotbill Duck Anas poecilorhyncha – 2 at Guandu on 27th, 100 at Wu-wei-kang on 28th & 3 near Puli on 1st
11. Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela hoya (essp) – 1 near Pinglin on 28th, 1 enroute Taroko on 29th and one in Taroko N.P. on 30th
12. Indian Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis – 1 in Taroko N.P. on 29th, 3 single bird sightings in Taroko N.P. on 30th
13. Kestrel Falco tinnunculus – 1 on 30th & 2 on 1st in Taroko N.P.
14. Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus formosae (essp) – 2 in Taipei Bot. Gdns on 27th, 1 near Pinglin on 28th & 3 enroute Taroko on 29th
15. Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus – 2 in Taroko N.P. on 30th
16. Osprey Pandion haliatus – 1 at Guandu on 27th & 1 at Lanyang River on 28th
17. Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracica sonorivox (essp) – 2 in Taroko N.P.on 30th
18. Taiwan Hill Partridge Arborophila crudigularis (E) – Heard in Taroko N.P. on 30th
19. White-breasted Water Hen Amaurornis Phoenicurus – 2 at Wu-wei-kang on 28th
20. Moorhen Gallinula chloropus – 4 at Wu-wei-kang on 28th
21. Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum – 10 enroute Taroko on 29th
22. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius – 4 at Guandu on 27th & 6 near Puli on 1st
23. Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus – 20 at Lanyang river on 28th
24. Sanderling Calidris alba – 4 at Lanyang river on 28th
25. Mongolian Sandplover Charadrius [mongolus] mongolus – 1 Lanyang river on 28th
26. Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus – 1 at Lanyang river on 28th
27. Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica - 1 at Lanyang river on 28th
28. Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus - 1 at Lanyang river on 28th
29. Redshank Tringa totanus - 1 at Lanyang river on 28th
30. Greenshank Tringa nebularia – 1 at Guandu on 27th & 2 at Lanyang river on 28th
31. Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus – 3 near Puli on 1st
32. Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola – 1 at Wu-wei-kang on 28th & 12 near Puli on 1st
33. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos – 1 at Guandu on 27th, 1 at Lanyang river on 28th & 3 near Puli on 1st
34. Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis - 4 at Lanyang river on 28th
35. Dunlin Calidris alpina – 2 at Lanyang river on 28th
36. Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus – 12 feral/introduced birds at Guandu on 27th
37. Mongolian Gull Larus [cachinnans] mongolicus – 1 at Lanyang river on 28th
38. Little Tern Sterna albifrons – 20 at Lanyang river on 28th
39. Common Tern Sterna hirundo longpensis – 2 at Lanyang river on 28th
40. Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica – 2 at Lanyang river on 28th
41. Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida – 2 at Guandu on 27th
42. Feral Pigeon Columba livia (domest.) – Seen daily
43. Ashy Wood Pigeon Columba pulchricollis – 4 at Taroko on 29th & 1 near Puli on 1st
44. White-bellied Green Pigeon Treron sieboldii sororius (essp) – 11 near Puli on 1st
45. Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis orii (essp) – Common. Max. 12 on 27th
46. Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica – 1 at Guandu on 27th ,6 Puli on 1st
47. Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis – Seen regularly. Max 12 on 28th
48. House Swift Apus affinis – Seen regularly. Max 20 on 30th
49. Pacific Swift Apus pacificus – 6 at Taroko N.P. on 29th
50. White-throated Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus – 2 at Taroko N.P. on 30th
51. Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis – 1 at Guandu on 27th
52. Black-browed Barbet Megalaima oorti nuchalis (essp)– >3 seen daily
53. White-backed Woodpecker Picoides leucotes insularis (essp) – Heard Taroko 30th
54. Plain Martin Riparia paludicola – 10 near Puli on 1st
55. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica – Seen regularly. Max 20 on 28th
56. Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitaci – Seen daily at Taroko. Max 6 on 29th & 1st
57. Striated Swallow Hirundo striolata – 4 near Puli on 1st
58. Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus – Seen daily at Taroko. Max 14 on 29th
59. White (Amur) Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis – 1 on 29th & 3 on 30th at Taroko. 4 on 1st near Puli
60. Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla [tschutschensis/flava] (mainly taivana) – 2 at Guandu on 27th, 10 at Lanyang river on 28th & 4 near Puli on 1st
61. Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea – Seen daily. Max 9 on 30th
62. Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes taivanus (essp) – 1 at Taroko on 29th & 30th
63. Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii – 2 near Pinglin on 28th
64. Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris –2 nr Pinglin on 28th. 7 at Taroko on 30th
65. Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques cinereicapillus (essp) – 2 at Taroko on 29th & 5 near Puli on 1st
66. Light-vented (Chinese) Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis formosae (essp)– Seen daily.
Max 20 on 28th. Some evidence seen of hybridisation with Styan’s Bulbul in Taroko NP
67. Styan’s Bulbul Pycnonotus taivanus (E) – 4 at Taroko on 29th & 30th
68. Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus nigerrimus (essp) – 2 at Taipei Bot. Gdns on 27th & 6 at Taroko on 29th
69. Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus – 4 at Guandu on 27th, 1 at Jiaosi Hot Springs on 29th & 2 near Puli on 1st
70. Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach – 1 at Guandu on 27th
71. Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris fennelli (essp) - 3 at Taroko on 1st
72. Collared Bush Robin Erithacus johnstoniae (E) – 4 at Taroko on 30th & 1st
73. Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus affinis (essp) – 1 near Pinglin on 28th & 14 at Taroko on 30th
74. White-tailed Blue Robin Cinclidium leucurum montium (essp) – 1 near Puli on 1st
75. Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius philippensis – 1 at Taroko on 30th & 4 near Puli on 1st
76. Taiwan Whistling Thrush Myiophoneus insularis (E) – 1 near Pinglin on 28th & 2 in Taroko on 30th
77. Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus erythrogenys erythrocnemis (essp) – Heard on 27th & 28th
78. Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis musicus (essp) – 2 at Yangmingshan (Erzihping) on 27th
79. Rufous-capped Tree Babbler Stachyris ruficeps praecognita (essp) –
4 at Yangmingshan (Erzihping) on 27th,1 at Wu-wei-kang on 28th & 1 at Taroko on 29th
80. White-bellied Yuhina Yuhina zantholeuca – 1 near Pinglin on 28th
81. Taiwan Yuhina Yuhina brunneiceps (E) – Seen daily at Taroko. Max 17 on 30th
82. White-whiskered (Taiwan) Laughing Thrush Garrulax morrisoniana (E) – 4 on 30th & 1 on 1st at Taroko
83. Steer’s Liocichla Liocichla steerii (E) – 2 -29th & 5 -30th at Taroko. 4 on 1st near Puli
84. Grey-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe morrisonia morrisonia (essp) – 12 at Yangmingshan on 27th & 20 near Pinglin on 28th
85. Streak-throated Fulvetta Alcippe cinereiceps formosana (essp) – 2 nr. Taroko on 1st
86. White-eared Sibia Heterophasia auricularis (E) - >4 on 28th, 29th & 30th at Taroko
87. Taiwan Barwing Actinodura morrisoniana (E) – 4 at Taroko on 30th
88. Little Forktail Enicurus scouleri – 2 at Taroko on 30th
89. Yellowish-bellied (Varreaux’s) Bush Warbler Cattia acanthizoides concolor (essp) – 6 at Taroko on 30th
90. Taiwan Bush Warbler Bradypterus alishanensis (E) – 1 at Taroko on 30th
91. Plain (Tawny-flanked) Prinia Prinia inornata flavirostris (essp) – 3 near Puli on 1st
92. Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris – heard at Guandu on 27th
93. Rufous-faced Flycatcher Warbler Abroscopus albogularis – 6 on 29th & 2 on 30th at Taroko
94. Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis –
1 at Yangmingshan on 27th. 1 near Pinglin & 1 at Wu-wei-kang on 28th
95. Flamecrest (Taiwan Firecrest) Regulus goodfellowi (E) – 1 at Taroko on 1st
96. Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea – 1 at Taroko on 29th & 1 near Puli on 1st
97. Grey-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa griseisticta - 1 at Wu-wei-kang on 28th
98. Black-naped Blue Monarch Hypothymis azurea oberholseri (essp) – 1 at Wu-wei-kang on 28th
99. Japanese Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata –
1 at Taipei Bot. Gdns on 27th & 1 at Wu-wei-kang on 28th
100. Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus inseperatus (essp) – 2 at Taroko on 29th
101. Coal Tit Parus ater ptilosus (essp) – 1 at Taroko on 30th & 1st
102. Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea - 1 at Taroko on 30th & 1st
103. Fire-breasted Flowerpecker Dicaeum ignipectus formosum (essp) – 1 at Taroko on 29th
104. Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonica – Seen daily. Max 30 on 29th
105. Vinaceous Rosefinch Carpodacus vinaceus formosanus (essp) – 14 on 30th & 8 on 1st at Taroko
106. Scaly-breasted Munia (Nutmeg Mannikin) Lonchura punctulata – 4 at Guandu on 27th & 16 near Puli on 1st
107. Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus – Seen daily. Max 42 on 1st near Puli
108. Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus – 4 at Taipei on 27th, 4 at Taroko on 30th & 6 near Puli on 1st
109. Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocerus harterti (essp) >6 seen daily except in high alt.
110. Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus braunianus (essp) – 1 at Taroko on 30th
111. Taiwan Blue Magpie Urocissa caerulea (E) – 8 near Pinglin on 28th
112. Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae formosae (essp) – 12 near Pinglin on 28th
113. Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos - >4 seen at Taroko on 29th, 30th & 1st
114. Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes owstoni (essp) – 2 at Taroko on 30th
NB. Ben also recorded Little Grebe, White-rumped Munia and Yellow-browed Warbler