11 - 24 November 2012
John van der Woude - www.jvanderw.nl
|Taiwan is a great birding destination. Not only for all the endemic species and subspecies, but also for the beautiful mountain forests, the food and the nice people. We again joined Stijn de Win of birding2asia on a small group tour, like this spring in the Philippines. Thanks to his extensive experience with Taiwan trips, we got all the endemics and loads of endemic subspecies. He cleverly designed and adjusted the itinerary, and we also had the luck that the few rainy days of the trip were spent in the lowlands (where the weather is not so important birdwise) and not in the mountains where visibility would have been bad. We used the costly morning hours by getting up early and having breakfast in the excellent 7 Eleven shops which are open 24/7. Our lunches were also mostly there, to further increase the flexibility during the day (with nice sandwiches/sushi/etc.). Stijn drove the van himself and therefore could stop immediately on the quiet roads when a bird was spotted. Also, Stijn's small group size (max. 5 for Taiwan) practically ensures that no one misses a bird.|
|All this made the tour a success. We had all 24 endemics, plus a mighty 46 endemic subspecies, so that's 70 endemic taxa. See the species list at the bottom of this page. Our field guide was Mark Brazil's Birds of East Asia, which shows quite a few of the Taiwan endemic subspecies. In one of the bookshops of the nature reserves I also bought a recent photo field guide for Taiwan (all in Chinese only except the bird name; good photos). The best Taiwan only field guide is out of print and sold out everywhere, but we were told locally that it may be reprinted in a year or two, although its taxonomy should probably be updated.|
|The 9 day group tour itinerary was: first a few days at Anmashan for the mid elevation mountain forests (both pheasants); then shorter stays in the forested hills of Huisun (blue magpie), the Kentings lowlands, the Tsengwen estuary (spoonbill) and the mountain forest of Yushan (barwing); and the last days were spent at Wushe (mid to high elevation) for a few remaining species.|
|Before and after the group tour Nollie and I spent a few extra days on Taiwan on our own. We loved the vibrant city of Taipei where we stayed two nights before the tour and also visited the Guandu nature park. At Wushe, we stayed behind for a few days after the group tour, and we ended our trip at the temples of Tainan and again one last night in Taipei. On these private days we travelled by bus, taxi, metro and high speed train, which was easy.|
on your own instead of in a group tour, a rental car will almost be a
must unless you have plenty of time, or restrict yourself to one or
two good sites (like at Wushe, where on our private post-tour days we
saw several of the species of the group tour again, as if in
retrospect). Renting a car in Taiwan (international driver's license
required) is, despite the fine roads, not
as easy as it could be, because of the extremely high deductible in
case of loss/damage of the car. Also, in rural areas not many
people speak English. On the other hand, the Taiwanese are very nice
and will always try to help you, as often happened to us on our
private post-tour days.
|Map of Taiwan
with our birding sites
1 = Taipei
2 = Anmashan / Dashuehshan forest reserve
3 = Huisun forest reserve
4 = Kenting lowlands (Longluan lake)
5 = Tsengwen estuary
6 = Alishan & Yushan NP
7 = Wushe (Renai) valleys and pass
Guangdu temple and marsh in northern part of Taipei, on our private pre-tour days here, which were also meant to get used to the time difference.
View from hide in Guangdu nature park in northern part of Taipei. Ducks (Eastern Spot-billed), herons, waders, swallows and Vinous-throated Parrotbill.
Map at western exit of Guangdu metro station (main north-south metro line in Taipei), showing how to walk (15 minutes) to the Guangdu nature park (open 9 to 5; closed on Mondays) in the upper left corner of the map. The metro system is very easy and has a high frequency; best to buy a day pass. Good also to choose a hotel not far from the main north-south line, like the fine Mai hotel we had (maihotel.com.tw).
Anmashan (Dashuehshan) site, along the dead-end mountain road going up east from Dongshi. Taiwan Hwamei, Taiwan Scimitar-Babbler, Taiwan Whistling-Thrush and Taiwan Barbet were among the first endemics we encountered. Higher up along this road we also had our only Black-necklaced Scimitar-Babblers and White-backed Woodpeckers of the trip.
Swinhoe's Pheasant female (above) and subadult male (below) along the same Anmashan road at about Km 21.
Scaly Thrush well camouflaged in leaf litter along the road in Anmashan, near the above pheasants. Here we also had Rusty Laughingthrush (a group of 15) and Island Thrush.
Endemic White-whiskered Laughingthrushes on Anmashan road. Inquisitive and confiding!
Adult male Swinhoe's Pheasant along Anmashan road, later in the afternoon, like the Mikado below. We actually drove the Anmashan road a few times up and down for some distance that day. Meanwhile we also had good views of Yellow Tit, Steere's Liocichla, White-eared Sibia, Eye-browed Thrush.
Mikado Pheasant (adult male), the main prize on the Anmashan road.
Vivid Niltava, Anmashan. One of the 46 Taiwan-endemic subspecies we saw on this trip.
Along the Anmashan road. Even on the third day along this road we picked up important trip ticks, like the very shy Taiwan Bush-Warbler, but not yet the hoped-for Taiwan Partridge.
Near the entrance of Huisun forest reserve. A group of three Taiwan Blue Magpie majestically flew across the valley. They were also just behind the entrance of the reserve.
Malayan Night-Heron in Huisun forest reserve, behind the entrance. Taiwan is reportedly the easiest place to see it. Other good birds in Huisun FR were Varied Tit and Maroon Oriole.
Crested Goshawk in Jiji botanical garden, a short stop to stretch the legs on our way from Huisun to the coast.
Well equipped hide at Longluan lake in the Kenting lowlands. Osprey and ducks.
Park along path to the above hide, good for Chinese Bamboo-Partridge, Taiwan Hwamei, Taiwan Scimitar-Babbler and Styan's Bulbul.
Surprise along same path to the hide: Emerald Dove not hidden on the forest floor but out in the open!
Styan's Bulbul was the main reason for going to Kenting (this endemic species only occurs in the S/SE of Taiwan), but we also had nice birds like Temminck's Stint, Long-toed Stint and Red-throated Pipits in the wet fields near Longluan lake.
Black-faced Spoonbills ('only' 100) at their special reserve in the Tsengwen estuary near Tainan. Also 300 Caspian Terns, Kentish Plovers, Lesser Sand Plovers and a few Saunders Gulls on this mud flats. In the smaller wetlands around this mud flat area we had Grey-throated Martin (a colony), Slaty-breasted Rail, Scaly-breasted Munia, Red-Throated Pipit and (in a drier field) Long-tailed Shrike.
Stijn and his scope at the BFS hide. He showed one child the spoonbills and to our amusement (with plenty of time on our hands here) immediately a queue formed of other visitors who also wanted a view.
Alishan/Yushan area. Collared Bush-Robin, Taiwan Barwing, Taiwan Wren-Babbler, thrushes, both fulvettas, bullfinches, Flamecrest, Mountain Hawk-Eagle.
Alishan/Yushan was our best site for Collared Bush-Robin.
The Wushe area (east of Puli), the final destination of the group tour. Beautiful forest, like at our other mountain sites. Many of the species of Anmashan again, and some new ones. See the species list below for a comparison between the three mountain sites. Of course there is overlap, but leaving out one of the mountain sites would be a pity.
At the Hehuan pass of the high end of the Wushe area. Good for the two high altitude specialties (endemic subspecies as well) of the photos below.
Alpine Accentor on the 3rd parking lot in the pass (East of the actual pass).
Vinaceous Rosefinch behind a shed at the first parking lot of the pass. At this spot we also had a shy Japanese Thrush (female type), a rare visitor from Japan.
Looking westward in the Wushe area.
At several places on this trip we saw Blue Rock-Thrush. This is the red-bellied philippensis subspecies.
Eye-browed Thrush was everywhere this winter.
Commonly encountered: Collared Finchbill.
At the lower end of the Wushe area, an experimental farm (Chung Yang) was good for some extra species like Siberian Rubythroat. Tea in the foreground.
White-bellied Green-Pigeons at the above farm, with a little rain.
View from the homestay at Wushe where Nollie and I stayed behind after the group tour. The only Brambling of the trip was in the trees in the foreground (male & female).
This homestay 'Tienhsiang TS Tea' (tel. +886 932 553425) is located at c. Km 4 of road 14B (see Google Maps), so 4 km from where 14B splits from 14. Road 14B is the road to the Hehuan pass (see photo above). The homestay is well located for walks in the immediate surroundings, and there are buses and taxis to go further up, e.g. to Km 18 where the side road left (at the police station) leads to the Blue Gate track after some 500 m.
The homestay is situated at only 200 m up from the start of a quiet side road going left (as seen from below), a very good birding road (see below). A nice and lively restaurant (chicken, fish) is a 100 m walk up from the homestay. At the homestay they also make a Japanese-style meal for you if you wish. At the start of the side road is another and probably rather new hotel.
There is a direct bus connection between the high speed rail (HSR) station of Taichung and the homestay. Our direct bus down to the HSR station left at 11.10 h (arrival at HSR at 13.20 h).
Note that the town of Wushe is named Renai on some maps.
Good birding along the side road that starts at Km 4 of the Wushe road (14B; the road towards the pass). Our Homestay was only 200 m uphill from the start of this quiet side road. The above photo is at 500 m or so from the start of the road, and here we had Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Chinese Bamboo-Partridge (several groups seen along this road), Siberian Rubythroat and thrushes.
A few km further along this side road larger forest patches appear. Most of the species indicated with 'Wu' in the species list below were seen along here. We saw seveal large flocks inside the forest, with e.g. 17 Grey-chinned Minivets plus a whole array of other species around it. At c. Km 6 there was a new landslide and we did not walk beyond that; the smaller, older landslide at Km 4 or 5 was not a problem.
At the 'Blue Gate' track much higher up in the Wushe area, it was very quiet now, many birds had probably gone to lower altitudes. But the main prize was still here, on our second, private visit: Taiwan Partridge, a bird flying up from the forest floor at the side of the track, at only 7 m from us. Although it was a brief view and the back side only, it was clearly a partridge, and this deep inside the forest it can only have been Taiwan Partridge.
Walking down from the main road 14B (at Km 18) to this track we had excellent views of Taiwan Barwing and Taiwan Wren-Babbler.
Taiwan Scimitar-Babbler in the garden of the Homestay in the Wushe area, frantically trying to open the folded dead leaves (with insects we presume) at his feet.
Temple in Tainan, the oldest city of Taiwan, and easily reached by high speed rail.
Remains of Fort Zeelandia in Anping, Tainan. The bricks of this 17th century Dutch fort were shipped all the way from Jakarta (Batavia). The Dutch were thrown out here by Koxinga, who is now regarded as the first Chinese to conquer a Western power.
Temple festivities in Tainan.
Temple decoration in Tainan (bulbuls?).
A common roadside sight (Tainan).
The high speed train which makes travel in the western part of Taiwan so easy, at 350 km/h, and 2-3 times per hour in both directions.
Masterpiece of Chinese art in the splendid National Palace Museum of Taipei: detail of the 12 m long drawing of the Qing Ming river festival. The other highlights of Taipei include its food stalls at the night markets, a few temples and the general vibrant atmosphere. On the lawns of the impressive Chiang Kai Shek memorial were Malayan Night Herons.
in IOC sequence
E = endemic species
es = endemic subspecies
An = Anmashan/Dashuehshan
AY = Alishan/Yushan NP
Wu = Wushe area*
Gu = Guandu nature park Taipei*
Hu = Huisun forest reserve
Ji = Jiji park
Ke = Kenting area
Ts = Tsengwen estuary
Taip = Taipei (other than Guandu)*
.. = elsewhere
Note: * (above) = including the species seen by us before and after the group tour
|E||Taiwan Partridge||An(h)||Wu(J)||Arborophila crudigularis|
|es||Chinese Bamboo Partridge||Wu||Ke||Bambusicola thoracicus||sonorivox|
|E||Swinhoe's Pheasant||An||Lophura swinhoii|
|E||Mikado Pheasant||An||Syrmaticus mikado|
|Eurasian Wigeon||Ts||Anas penelope|
|Eastern Spot-billed Duck||Gu,Ke||Anas zonorhyncha|
|Northern Pintail||Ke||Anas acuta|
|Northern Shoveler||Gu,Ke||Anas clipeata|
|Eurasian Teal||Gu,Ke,Ts||Anas crecca|
|Tufted Duck||Ke||Aythya fuligula|
|Little Grebe||Gu,Ke,Ts||Tachybaptus ruficollis|
|intr.||Sacred Ibis||Gu,Ts||Threskironis aethiopicus|
|Black-faced Spoonbill||Ts||Platalea minor|
|Malayan Night Heron||An||Taip,Hu||Gorsachius melanolophus|
|Black-crowned Night Heron||Gu,Ke,..||Nycticorax nycticorax|
|Striated Heron||An||Butorides striata|
|Eastern Cattle Egret||An||Gy,Ke,..||Bubulcus coromandus|
|Grey Heron||Gu,Ke,Ts||Ardea cinerea|
|Purple Heron||Ke||Ardea purpurea|
|Eastern Great Egret||Ke,Ts||Ardea modesta|
|Intermediate Egret||Gu,Ke||Egretta intermedia|
|Little Egret||An||Ji,Ke,Ts||Egretta garzetta|
|Great Cormorant||Ke||Phalacrocorax carbo|
|Western Osprey||Ke||Pandion haliaetus|
|Black-winged Kite||Ts||Elanus caeruleus|
|es||Crested Serpent Eagle||An||Wu||Spilornis cheela||hoya|
|Eastern Marsh Harrier||Ke||Circus spilonotus|
|es||Crested Goshawk||An||AY||Ji||Accipiter trivirgatus||formosae|
|Black Eagle||An||Ictinaetus malayensis|
|Mountain Hawk-Eagle||AY||Wu||Nisaetus nipalensis|
|Peregrine Falcon||Ke||Falco peregrinus|
|Common Kestrel||Ke,Ts||Falco tinnunculus|
|es||Slaty-breasted Rail||Ts||Gallirallus striatus||taiwanus|
|White-breasted Waterhen||Ke||Amaurornis phoenicurus|
|Common Moorhen||Gu,Ke,Ts||Gallinula chloropus|
|Eurasian Coot||Ke||Fulica atra|
|Black-winged Stilt||Gu,Ke,Ts||Himantopus himantopus|
|Pacific Golden Plover||Ke,Ts||Pluvialis fulva|
|Grey Plover||Ke,Ts||Pluvialis squatarola|
|Little Ringed Plover||Ke,Ts||Charadrius dubius|
|Kentish Plover||Ke,Ts||Charadrius alexandrinus|
|Lesser Sand Plover||Ke,Ts||Charadrius mongolus|
|Common Snipe||Ke||Gallinago gallinago|
|Bar-tailed Godwit||Ke,Ts||Limosa lapponica|
|Eurasian Curlew||Ts||Numenius arquata|
|Common Redshank||Ke,Ts||Tringa totanus|
|Marsh Sandpiper||Ts||Tringa stagnatilis|
|Common Greenshank||Gu,Ke,Ts||Tringa nebularia|
|Green Sandpiper||Gu,Ke,Ts||Tringa ochropus|
|Wood Sandpiper||Gu,Ke,Ts||Tringa glareola|
|Common Sandpiper||Gu,Ke,Ts||Actitis hypoleucos|
|Temminck's Stint||Ke||Calidris temminckii|
|Long-toed Stint||Ke||Calidris subminuta|
|Curlew Sandpiper||Ke||Calidris ferruginea|
|Saunders's Gull||Ts||Chroicocephalus saundersi|
|Caspian Tern||Ke,Ts||Hydroprogne caspia|
|Little Tern||Ke,Ts||Sternula albifrons|
|Whiskered Tern||Ke,Ts||Chlidonias hybrida|
|Ashy Wood Pigeon||An||Columba pulchricollis|
|es||Oriental Turtle Dove||An||Wu||Gu,Ke||Streptopelia orientalis||orii|
|Red Turtle Dove||An||AY||Gu,Ke,..||Streptopelia tranquebarica|
|Spotted Dove||An||AY||Gu,..||Stigmatopelia chinensis|
|Common Emerald Dove||Ke||Chalcophaps indica|
|White-bellied Green Pigeon||An||Wu||Treron sieboldii||sororius|
|es||Mountain Scops Owl||An(h)||Otus spilocephalus||hambroecki|
|es||Collared Scops Owl||An(h)||Otus lettia||glabripes|
|Silver-backed Needletail||An||Wu||Hirundapus cochinchinensis|
|es||House Swift||An||AY||Wu||Taip,..||Apus nipalensis||kuntzi|
|Common Kingfisher||An||AY||Ji||Alcedo atthis|
|E||Taiwan Barbet||An||AY||Wu||Ji,Ke||Megalaima nuchalis|
|es||Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker||An||AY||Wu||Hu||Dendrocopos canicapillus||kaleensis|
|es||White-backed Woodpecker||An||Dendrocopos leucotos||insularis|
|Grey-chinned Minivet||An||Wu||Pericrocotus solaris|
|Brown Shrike||Ke,Ts,..||Lanius cristatus|
|Long-tailed Shrike||Ts||Lanius schach|
|White-bellied Erpornis||Wu||Hu||Erpornis zantholeuca|
|es||Maroon Oriole||Hu||Oriolus traillii||ardens|
|es||Black Drongo||An||Gu,Ke,..||Dicrurus macrocercus||harteri|
|Ashy Drongo||An||Dicrurus leucophaeus|
|es||Bronzed Drongo||An||Wu||..||Dicrurus aeneus||braunianus|
|es||Black-naped Monarch||An||Ke, ..||Hypothymis azurea||oberholseri|
|es||Eurasian Jay||An||AY||Garrulus glandarius||taivanus|
|E||Taiwan Blue Magpie||Hu||Urocissa caerulea|
|es||Grey Treepie||An||Wu||Hu,Ke||Dendrocitta formosae||formosae|
|Eurasian Magpie||An||Ke||Pica pica|
|es||Spotted Nutcracker||An||AY||Nucifraga caryocatactes||owstoni|
|Large-billed Crow||An||AY||..||Corvus macrorhynchos|
|es||Varied Tit||Hu||Poecile varius||castaneoventris|
|es||Coal Tit||An||AY||Periparus ater||ptilosus|
|es||Green-backed Tit||An||AY||Wu||Parus monticolus||insperatus|
|E||Yellow Tit||An||Wu||Parus holsti|
|es||Oriental Skylark||Ke,Ts||Alauda gulgula||wattersi|
|es||Collared Finchbill||An||Wu||Spzixos semitorques||cinereicapillus|
|es||Light-vented (Chinese) Bulbul||common||Pycnonotus sinensis||formosae|
|E||Styan's Bulbul||Ke||Pycnonotus taivanus|
|es||Black Bulbul||common||Hypsipetes leucocephalus||nigerrimus|
|Grey-throated Martin||Ke||Riparia chinensis|
|Barn Swallow||Gu,Ts||Hirundo rustica|
|Pacific Swallow||Wu||Ke,..||Hirundo tahitica|
|Asian House Martin||An||Wu||Gu, ..||Delichon dasypus|
|Striated Swallow||An||Gu,..||Cecropis striolata|
|Manchurian Bush Warbler||Wu||Cettia canturians|
|es||Brown-flanked Bush Warbler||An||Wu||Horornis fortipes||robustipes|
|es||Yellow-bellied Bush Warbler||An||AY||Horornis acanthizoides||concolor|
|Rufous-faced Warbler||An||AY||Wu||Abroscopus albogularis|
|Black-throated Bushtit||An||AY||Wu||Aegithalos concinnus|
|Arctic Warbler||Ke||Phylloscopus borealis|
|Oriental Reed Warbler||Ke||Acrocephalus orientalis|
|E||Taiwan Bush Warbler||An||Locustella alishanensis|
|Zitting Cisticola||Ke||Cisticola juncidis|
|es||Striated Prinia||Wu||Hu||Prinia crinigera||striata|
|es||Plain Prinia||Wu||Gu,Ts||Prinia inornata||flavirostris|
|E||Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler||An||Pomatorhinus erythrocnemis|
|E||Taiwan Scimitar Babbler||An||Wu||Ke||Pomatorhinus musicus|
|E||Taiwan Wren-Babbler||An(h)||AY||Wu||Pnoepyga formosana|
|es||Rufous-capped Babbler||An||AY||Wu||Stachyris ruficeps||praecognita|
|E||Rufous-crowned Laughingthrush||An||Wu||Garrulax ruficeps|
|E||Rusty Laughingthrush||An||Garrulax poecilorhynchus|
|E||Taiwan Hwamei||An||Wu||Ke(h)||Garrulax taewanus|
|E||White-whiskered Laughingthrush||An||AY||Garrulax morrisonianus|
|E||Steere's Liocichla||An||AY||Wu||Liocichla steerii|
|E||Taiwan Barwing||AY||Wu||Actinodura morrisoniana|
|E||Taiwan Fulvetta||AY||Wu||Alcippe formosana|
|es||Dusky Fulvetta||An||Wu||Alcippe brunnea||brunnea|
|E||Grey-cheeked Fulvetta||An||AY||Wu||Alcippe morrisonia|
|E||White-eared Sibia||An||Wu||Hu||Heterophasia auricularis|
|E||Taiwan Yuhina||An||AY||Wu||Yuhina brunneiceps|
|es||Vinous-throated Parrotbill||Wu||Gu||Paradoxornis webbianus||bulomacha|
|Japanese White-eye||An||Wu||Gu,Hu||Zosterops japonicus|
|es||Winter Wren||An(N)||Troglodytes troglodytes||taivanus|
|Eurasian Nuthatch||An||AY||Wu||Sitta europaea|
|intr.||White-vented (Javan) Myna||common||Acridotheres javanicus|
|Common Myna||Ke||Acridotheres tristis|
|White-shouldered Starling||Ke||Sturnia sinensis|
|E||Taiwan Whistling Thrush||An||Hu||Myophonus insularis|
|Scaly Thrush||An||AY||Zoothera dauma|
|Japanese Thrush||Wu||Turdus cardis|
|es||Island Thrush||An(J)||Turdus poliocephalus||niveiceps|
|Eyebrowed Thrush||An||AY||Wu||Turdus obscurus|
|Pale Thrush||Wu||Turdus pallidus|
|Brown-headed Thrush||AY||Wu||Turdus chrysolaus|
|Siberian Rubythroat||Wu||Luscinia calliope|
|es||White-browed Shortwing||Wu(N)||Bracypterix montana||goodfellowi|
|es||White-browed Bush Robin||Wu||Tarsiger indicus||formosanus|
|E||Collared Bush Robin||An||AY||Tarsiger johnstoniae|
|Daurian Redstart||Wu||Hu,Ke||Phoenicurus auroreus|
|es||Plumbeous Water Redstart||An||AY||Wu||Rhyacornis fuliginosa||affinis|
|es||White-tailed Robin||An||Myiomela leucura||montium|
|Little Forktail||An||Enicurus scouleri|
|Blue Rock Thrush||AY||Wu||Ke||Monticola solitarius|
|Grey-streaked Flycatcher||Ji||Muscicapa griseisticta|
|es||Vivid Niltava||An||Wu||Niltava vivida||vivida|
|es||Plain Flowerpecker||An||Dicaeum minullum||uchidai|
|es||Fire-breasted Flowerpecker||An||Dicaeum ignipectus||formosum|
|Eurasian Tree Sparrow||Wu||Ke,Ts||Passer montanus|
|White-rumped Munia||An||Wu||Lonchura striata|
|Scaly-breasted Munia||Ts||Lonchura punctulata|
|es||Alpine Accentor||Wu||Prunella collaris||fennelli|
|Eastern Yellow Wagtail||Gu,Ke,..||Motacilla tschutschensis|
|Grey Wagtail||An||Gu||Motacilla cinerea|
|White Wagtail||An||Ke,..||Motacilla alba|
|Olive-backed Pipit||Wu||Anthus hodgsoni|
|Red-throated Pipit||Ke,Ts||Anthus cervinus|
|es||Vinaceous Rosefinch||Wu||Carpodacus vinaceus||formosanus|
|es||Brown Bullfinch||Wu||Pyrrhula nipalensis||uchidai|
|es||Grey-headed (Beavan's) Bullfinch||An||Wu||Pyrrhula erythaca||owstoni|
|Black-faced Bunting||An||Wu||..||Emberiza spodocephala|