Sunday 31 January 2016

Taiwan - Jan 2016 : Part 4

Day 7:

Our last birding day, we only have the morning left at Star Resort. We woke up at around 6:30am and began birding around the resort. It was a fine morning with clear sky, a huge contrast with the rain the day before.

Wonderful sunrise at Star Resort

Mr. Liu accompanied us around the garden, where he heard the call of a Grey-capped Woodpecker, a burst of playback brought a pair in closer and we got a few good looks at them. This is the commonest Woodpecker species in Taiwan, so we were glad to at least have this one. The White-backed Woodpecker and Grey-faced Woodpecker are far less common.

Grey-capped Woodpecker

Mr. Liu gave us a few tips and left us to find our own birds, the first bird we went after was the Striated Prinia (endemic subspecies striata) which did not show up the day before. We went back to the same spot and played the recording Mr. Liu had given us. For a few minutes nothing replied, as we were about to give up we heard a call from not far off, sure enough there was one calling away on top of a bush! This Prinia species prefers higher altitude then it's other relatives. I have seen this species once in Sichuan, but getting a good look at it's Taiwan's cousin is still great.

Striated Prinia (striata)

We next went on to look for any Black-necklaced Scimitar-Babblers, but none were found. Only a few Taiwan Scimitar-Babblers (endemic) danced in the undergrowth, they were not the easiest species to photograph, I only managed a few obscured shots. Around the same area, we heard the call of the Dusky Fulvetta (endemic subspecies brunnea), after looking very hard for them we finally got one in view at the bottom of a ditch. It was quick and very inconspicuous.

Taiwan Scimitar-Babbler (endemic)

Dusky Fulvetta (brunnea)

When we headed back to the resort for breakfast, a Besra (endemic subspecies fuscipectus) glided past the morning sky. The good weather also attracted a Black Eagle, which we unfortunately were not quick enough to photograph. A lot of Crested Serpent Eagles (endemic subspecies hoya) were out calling and courting.

Besra (fuscipectus)

Crested Serpent Eagle (hoya)

We left the resort at around 10:30am because we plan to meet our uncle at Chiayi around lunch time. The weather was as good as it could be. Knowing that we didn't get the Black-necklaced Scimitar-Babbler, Mr. Liu tipped us off to stop at a location along the way where we could find them. We stopped over for a few bird waves, but most were common birds such as Grey-cheeked Fulvettas and Taiwan Yuhinas. One bird wave had a few Black Bulbuls (endemic subspecies nigerrimus) and Grey-chinned Minivets. At the supposed location, I played a recording of the Babbler for a few minutes and suddenly we heard a few coming down hill. We saw the grass and bushes moves but the birds did not want to show! We know this species is one of the shyest of Taiwanese Babblers, and they live up to their reputation indeed. All the while we caught glimpses of them gliding along, I saw the back and tail of one, but they never showed properly despite being at extremely close range. So in the end, we gave up on the pair and left them in peace.

Looking towards the house at Star Resort

Black Bulbul (nigerrimus)

Grey-chinned Minivet

The drive to Chiayi was not particularly eventful, we had lunch at my Uncle's cafe and we found ourself having a few hours to spare before dinner. Mr. Liu had mentioned a wetland near Chiayi call Aogu Wetland, just 40 minutes drive from the city. Having seen forest and montane birds for the last few days we thought it would be a nice change to see some wetland birds.

It was around 4:00pm when we arrived at Aogu Wetland, the area is huge. There are not much trails there, but a large loop on the outskirt can be done with the car. Since we didn't have a lot of time on hand, we decided to drive once around the wetland. The habitat is a little similar to that of Mai Po, where salt marshes are on the outside with freshwater marshes and various fish ponds on the inside. Everything was larger, many waders standing in the scrapes were too far for our reach.

Views at Aogu Wetland

First, Long spotted a Purple Heron from the car. Little, Great and Intermediate Egrets were all quite common here. Common Moorhens foraged along the water edge. Eurasian Coots and Little Grebes swam at close range. The positive thing to bird from the car is that it's like a moving hide, birds are far more approachable with car then on foot.

Purple Heron

Intermediate Egret

Common Moorhen

Eurasian Coot

Little Grebe

There were quite a lot of Caspian Terns, they circle around the outskirt constantly. Many were flying against the wind at slow speed, it was a shame that light wasn't particularly great for photographs. Black-headed Gulls were also very numerous, but we only saw a single Saunder's Gull.

Caspian Tern

Black-headed Gull

Saunder's Gull

Ducks were also in high numbers, mainly Eurasian Wigeons and Northern Pintails, there were also Common Teals and Northern Shovelers.

Eurasian Wigeon

Northern Pintail

Common Teal

Northern Shoveler

Long-tailed Shrikes were commonly seen perched next to the road. Waders such as Pacific Golden Plover, Redshanks, Greenshanks and Black-winged Stilts were numerous. We also saw Grey Plovers, Common Sandpipers, Wood Sandpipers and Marsh Sandpipers.

Long-tailed Shrike

Pacific Golden Plover



Black-winged Stilt

One of the more interesting find were a few flocks of Black-faced Spoonbills. Although I see them very regularly in Hong Kong, this was the first time I have ever seen them outside Hong Kong's wintering grounds! Taiwan is the stronghold for wintering Spoonbills, over 60% of the world's population winters in Taiwan.

Black-faced Spoonbill

As Lights dimmed, Black-crowned Night Herons became active. Here's a close portrait of one. As we were leaving, we saw three birds perched on the same wire, I initially thought they were all Red Turtle Doves, but at closer examination, one of them was in fact a Black-winged Kite! This one took me by complete surprise and was our last bird of the trip. Wonderful round up for our Taiwan trip!

Black-crowed Night Heron

Black-winged Kite

The next day, we drove all the way back up to Taichung from Chiayi and took an evening flight back to Hong Kong. Our trip had been overall successful, we connected with most of our targeted species including getting very good photographs for many of them. Birding in Taiwan was not difficult, infrastructure was excellent and things were relatively cheap. Although we missed several species and only seen or heard a couple of the target birds, the whole trip was still throughly enjoyable. We spent on average 5000HKD per person including air fares, accommodations and car rental for a total of 9 days in Taiwan. Although weather had not been in our favour for a few days, it had been much better then anticipated. Hopefully, it won't be long before we can visit this amazing birding destination again in the near future!

SpeciesLocationNotesEndemicEndemic SubspeciesTotalLifers
Eurasian WigeonAG1
Northern ShovelerAG1
Northern PintailAG1
Tufted DuckAG1
Taiwan Partridge*GXYFew observed at Star Resort's bird hide, very skittish, ran from the first sound of loud speaker from afar111
Taiwan Bamboo Partridge*GXYheard only, early morning111
Mikado Pheasant*DSSSeen at Dasyueshan 45K on 2 days, presumably the same pair111
Swinhoe's Pheasant*DSS, SLX, GXYSingles observed at DSS 23K, one at Sun Link Sea trail, finally a lot at Star Resort's bird hide111
Little GrebeAG1
Great CormorantAG1
Black-crowned Night HeronAG1
Little EgretER, AG, XT1
Cattle EgretER, AG1
Intermediate EgretAG1
Great EgretER, AG1
Grey HeronAG1
Purple HeronAGOne at Au Gu Wetland1
Black-faced SpoonbillAGAround 50 birds in total observed at Au Gu Wetland1
Black-shouldered KiteAGSingle bird observed perched before dusk1
Black EagleSLX, GXY2 singles observed at Sun Link Sea, another single observed at Star Resort1
Oriental Honey BuzzardDSS, SLXHeard calling enroute near Dasyueshan, one pale morph juvenile seen perched high on a conifer at Sun Link Sea1
Crested Serpent EagleDSS, SLX, GXYCommon11
BesraGXYHeard calling near Star Rsort's bird hide11
Crested GoshawkXT, GXYone observed perched at Xitou, another observed at Star Resort11
Peregrine FalconER1
Common MoorhenAG1
Eurasian CootAG1
Black-winged StilitAG1
Pied AvocetAG1
Grey PloverAG1
Pacific Golden PloverAG1
Kentish PloverAG1
Common SandpiperAG1
Wood SandpiperAG1
Marsh SandpiperAG1
Saunder's GullAGOne bird amongst numerous flying Black-headed Gulls1
Black-headed GullAG1
Caspian TernAG1
Ashy Wood PigeonDSS, SLXFly by views at Dasyueshan and Sun Link Sea only1
Rock Dove1
Oriental Turtle DoveSLX, XT, AG1
Spotted DoveER1
Red Turtle DoveER, AG1
Mountain Scops OwlGXYheard only11
Collard Scops OwlGXYheard only11
Northern BoobookGXYOne bird observed at Star Resort's garden, supposedly a regular winter visiter there1
Collard OwletGXYheard only1
House SwiftER1
Common KingfisherAG1
Grey-capped WoodpeckerGXYA pair observed at Star Resort1
Taiwan BarbetDSSOne at Dasyueshan 23.5K and a few observed enroute near Dasyueshan11
Grey-chinned MinivetDSS, GXY1
Brown ShrikeGSYOne at Star Resort1
Long-tailed ShrikeER, AG1
Black DrongoER11
Black-naped MonarchGXY11
Common MagpieAG1
Eurasian JayDSS, SLX, XTCommonly heard, seen a few times at various locations11
Eurasian NutcrackerDSSOnly seen around Dasyueshan 50K, quite common there11
Large-billed CrowSLX, XT1
Asian House MartinSLX, XT, GXY1
Striated SwallowER1
Pacific SwallowER, XT, GXY1
Barn SwallowER1
Eurasian WrenDSSOne observed at 50K car park11
Eurasian NuthatchDSSSeen a few times around Dasyueshan, follow bird waves1
Brown DipperDSS, SLXA pair observed at Dasyueshan 15K near the stream below police station, another pair observed just above 石井磯1
Collard FinchbillDSS, XT, GXY11
Light-vented BulbulER, GXY11
Black BulbulGXY11
Flamcrest*DSSOne observed around viewing platform at Dasyueshan 49K111
Rufous-faced WarblerDSS, SLX, XT, GXY1
Striated PriniaGXYOne observed near Star Resort11
Plain PriniaER, AG11
Taiwan FulvettaDSSOne observed at Dasyueshan 22K11
White-bellied EpornisDSS1
Taiwan YuhinaDSS, SLX, XT, GXYVery common, active near flowering cherry trees11
Japanese White-eyeGXY1
Taiwan Wren Babbler*SLX, XTNumerous heard along road at Sun Link Sea, not too responsive to play back at this time of the year111
Rufous-capped BabblerDSS, SLX, XT, GXY11
Taiwan Scimitar BabblerGXYA few paris observed at Star Resort11
Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler*GXYA pair observed and heard along route 159, not seen well but voice is unmistakable, responded well to playback and showed moderate interest but remained in cover111
Dusky FulvettaGXYA few near Star Resort11
Grey-cheeked FulvettaDSS, SLX, XT, GXYCommon all around11
Steere's LiocichlaDSS, SLX, XT, GXYA few observed at Dasyueshan and Sun Link Sea, but extremely common at Xitou, individuals there are fearless of human and will actively beg for food.11
Taiwan Barwing*DSS, SLX, XTQuite common around flowering cherry trees, usually in large flocks111
White-whiskered LaughingthrushDSSVery common above Dasyueshan 48K mark, fearless of human and will actively beg for food11
Taiwan HwameiGXYheard only at Star Resort11
White-eared SibiaDSS, SLX, XTQuite common all around, large numbers especially congregate around fruiting trees11
Black-throated TitDSS, SLX, XT, GXY1
Yellow TitDSS, SLXRegularly seen around bird waves at Dasyueshan and Sun Link Sea, but usually only in pairs of singles11
Green-backed TitDSS, SLX, XT, GXYThe most common Tit species11
Coal TitDSSOnly a pair observed at Dasyueshan on a foggy afternoon from afar11
Vivid NiltavaDSS, SLX, XTCommon around 23.5K birding platform at Dasyueshan, but also commonly seen at other locations, usually following bird waves11
White-tailed RobinDSS, GXYOne observed in the car at Dasyueshan, very skittish, a few other males observed in the bird hide of Star Resort11
Red-flanked BluetailDSS, SLXOne female at Dasyueshan 50K and one male at Medicine Garden of Sun Link Sea1
White-browed Bush Robin*DSSOne male at Dasyueshan 22K, very active and not afraid of human111
Collared Bush RobinDSS, SLXQuite commonly seen at Dasyueshan and Sun Link Sea, but easiest to observe at Dasyueshan 50K car park11
Daurian RedstartGXYCommonly seen enroute, one male stationed near feeding stations at Star Resort1
RubythroatGXYCome regularly to feeding station of Star Resort, only female observed1
Plumbeous RedstartDSS, SLX, XT, GXYExtremely common around water bodies11
Little Forktail*SLX, XTOne observed at stream near Songlongyan bus station at Sun Link Sea, also on top of Shijingji waterfall, finally one at stream of Xitou11
White-browed Shortwing*XTheard only at Xitou111
Taiwan Whistling ThrushSLXOne seen near medicine garden of Sun Link Sea11
White's ThrushDSS, GXYMany observed along roads1
Pale ThrushGXYA few fly by while driving1
Dusky ThrushDSSat least 3 birds observed around Dasyueshan 50K1
Javan MynaER, AG1
Common MynaAGA few at Ao Gu Wetland1
Plain FlowerpeckerGXYA few individuals observed around Star Resort11
White WagtailGXY1
Grey WagtailSLX, XT, GXY1
Olive-backed PipitGXY1
Taiwan RosefinchDSSSingle females observed at various locations11
Tree SparrowER1
White-rumped MuniaDSS1
Scaly-breasted MuniaGXY1
EndemicAG = Aogu Wetland and Forest Park
Endemic SubspeciesDSS = Dasyueshan National Forest and Recreation Area
SLX = Shanlinxi / Sun Link Sea
XT = Xitou Forest Nature Education Area
GXY = Guanxingyuan / Star Resort