ENDEMICS and BLACK-FACED SPOONBILL
NOVEMBER 7–16, 2005
Portuguese sailors in the 16th century, it was Ilha
Formosa, “Beautiful Island,” because of its lush forests and the
jagged peaks of its mountainous spine.
island we now know as Taiwan, lying 160 km (100 miles) off the coast
of China, has diverse habitats; from tidal estuaries, cultivated
fields, wetlands, lowland mixed forests, to montane deciduous
broadleaf and coniferous forests.
island still has beautiful forests and mountains, where 15
endemic species reside:
Partridge, Swinhoe’s Pheasant, Mikado Pheasant, Styan’s Bulbul,
Flamecrest, Formosan Whistling-Thrush, Taiwan Bush-Warbler, Collared
Bush-Robin, White-Whiskered Laughingthrush. Steere’s Liocichla,
Taiwan Barwing, White-eared Sibia, Taiwan Yuhina,
Yellow Tit, and Formosan Magpie.
Although 470 species of birds have been recorded, about 300 can be
considered to occur regularly, including many endemic subspecies.
Seeing the pheasants, partridge and quail requires some luck,
especially for the shy, solitary
The red, white and midnight blue male Swinhoe’s Pheasant is
unforgettable, as is the sleek black, white and red male Mikado
Pheasant, “King of the Mist,” the national bird of Taiwan.
main focus of the tour is on the endemic species of Taiwan. A
secondary focus is the endangered Black-faced Spoonbill. One half
to two-thirds of the world population winters in the Tsengwen River
estuary, near the city of Tainan.
Taiwan is a safe, welcoming country, with good infrastructure, a
strong conservation movement, classic mountain scenery, friendly
people, wonderful food and much to offer visitors.
Chairman, Wild Bird Federation of Taiwan, and
Ten-Di Wu, President,
Changhua Wild Bird Society.
6 to 10
participants with 2 leaders
Mostly easy to
moderate walking; occasional steep trails in “high mountain”
with private bathrooms
Chilly to cold
at high elevations; warm to hot and humid at low elevations
by air-conditioned bus
to sample Taiwanese culture and cuisine
7 November (Monday), Day 1
Fly EVA Airways at
1:00 a.m., from Vancouver to Taipei. It will be necessary to be at
Vancouver International Airport by 9:30 p.m. on the evening of
November 6, for flight check-in.
8 November (Tuesday), Day 2
Arrive Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport (situated near Taoyuan,
50 km west of Taipei) at 5:30 a.m. We will transfer to our bus and
drive south to Taichung where we will pick up our co-leader Ten-Di
Wu. After Taichung, we continue south and begin to climb to the
Wufeng area, 300 to 400 m (1,000 to 1300 feet) elevation. We will
make stops in suitable habitat to look for Collared Finchbill,
Formosan Whistling Thrush, Black-browed (Muller`s) Barbet,
Gray-capped Woodpecker, Formosan Magpie. Then we will turn
east and climb higher to Huisun Forest Station. Possibilities
include Formosan Magpie, Ashy Wood-Pigeon,
Black-browed Barbet, Gray-capped Woodpecker, Gray-chinned Minivet,
Gray Treepie, Black Bulbul, Rufous-capped Babbler, White-bellied
Yuhina, Chinese Bamboo Partridge and Swinhoe’s Pheasant.
Night in Huisun
Forest Station, 770 m (2530 ft.)
9 November (Wednesday), Day 3
Early morning at
Huisun Forest Station. Leaving Huisun after breakfast, we backtrack
somewhat, then continue eastward through Puli, the geographic center
of Taiwan, and begin to climb again toward Auwanda National Forest
Recreation Area (elev. 1200 m (3900 ft.). At Auwanda, we will check
the stream for Plumbeous Redstart and with luck, the rare Little
Forktail, and watch for Taiwan Yuhina, Yellow Tit,
Fire-breasted and Plain Flowerpeckers, Black-browed Barbet, minivets
and raptors. Leaving Auwanda, we continue to climb to Chingjing.
Night in Chingjing, elev. 1750 m (5740 ft.)
10 November (Thursday), Day 4
We will make an
early morning start to the Meifeng area in “high mountain” habitat,
to walk the famous Blue Gate Trail, known locally as the Shuiyen
(Water) Trail, because of the plastic water pipes that lie alongside
the trail. Possibilities include White-tailed Robin, Mikado
and Swinhoe’s Pheasants and perhaps with much luck, the very
We will also be alert for White-eared Sibia, Taiwan Yuhina,
Collared Bush Robin, Taiwan Barwing, Steere’s Liocichla, Pygmy
Wren-Babbler, White-browed Shortwing (the wren-babbler and shortwing
are both hard-to-see skulkers), Vineous-throated Parrotbill,
Eurasian Nuthatch, and others.
the afternoon, we will drive higher yet, to the Hehuan Shan Forest
Recreation Area, elev. 3275 m (10,750 ft.), the highest elevation of
the tour, just inside the western edge of Taroko National Park.
(“Shan,” pronounced “sahn” means “mountain “or “hill” in Mandarin;
in this case, “mountain.”) We will look for White-whiskered
Laughingthrush, Flamecrest, Vinaceous Rosefinch, Coal
Tit, Green-backed Tit and Yellow Tit. We will continue
eastward through the upper part of the spectacular Taroko Gorge, to
Tienhsiang, looking for Styan’s Bulbul.
Chingjing for the night.
11 November (Friday), Day 5
birding at Beidongyen Shan (Northeast Eye Mountain) for more “high
mountain” species. Then it will be time to leave the mountains and
drive to lowlands, to the historic city of Lukang for lunch. If
time permits, a cultural highlight will be a visit to the
400-year-old Matsu Temple, dedicated to Matsu, Goddess of the Sea.
After a coffee/tea break, we will have the rest of the afternoon at
Hambao for shorebirds and other wetland species.
(Saturday), Day 6
We will have the
day in Aougu wetland and upland, and coastal areas. At Aougu, we
will look for shorebirds, such as Black-winged Stilt, Greenshank,
Redshank, Lesser and Greater Sandplovers, Cinnamon Bittern, egrets
and herons. We will search the Puzih River and Tongshih areas for
Whiskered Tern, Black-winged Stilt and perhaps Saunders’ Gull.
Night in Tainan.
(Sunday), Day 7
We will drive to
the Tsengwen River estuary and Chiku wetlands (crossing the Tropic
of Cancer, a few kilometres south of Chiayi), where a large
percentage of the world’s Black-faced Spoonbills winter. Also
possible are Cinnamon Bittern and Yellow Bittern. Next, we will go
to the very specialized water-chestnut habitat in the Kwangtien
wetland for Pheasant-tailed Jacana. Adjacent dry, post-harvest rice
fields may hold Oriental Skylark and Zitting Cisticola.
Night in Chiayi.
(Monday), Day 8
Morning in the
Chungpu area, southeast of Chiayi, looking for Maroon Oriole and
other species of mid-elevation forest. In the afternoon we will
drive east and up, returning to “high mountain” habitat in A Li Shan
Forest Recreation Area, providing another chance for high elevation
species that we may have missed earlier.
Night in A Li
Shan village, 2200 m (7,200 ft.)
15 November: (Tuesday), Day 9
We will drive
higher, to the Tataka Recreation Area in Yushan National Park for
more “high mountain” specialties. Yushan National Park is known as
“The ridge of the roof of Taiwan.” We will be within sight of
Yushan Peak, also called Jade Mountain. At 3952 m (just under
13,000 ft.), Yushan Peak is the highest mountain in East Asia.
Possible species are Taiwan Bush-Warbler (very difficult to
find outside of the breeding season), Eurasian Nutcracker,
Gray-headed Bullfinch, White-whiskered Laughingthrush,
Flamecrest, Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler, Brownish-flanked
Bush-Warbler. Leaving “high mountain” habitat, we will descend to
lowlands again, and head north. We will stop in the farming area of
Huatan, south of Changhua. The crops will have been harvested; the
fields should have Zitting Cisticola, Black-faced Bunting, Oriental
Greenfinch, Oriental Skylark and wagtails. The wet field edges may
harbour Paintedsnipe and Ruddy-breasted Crake. Drive to Taipei.
Night in Taipei.
16 November: (Wednesday), Day 10
at Yehliou Park, a high promontory and migrant trap northeast of
Taipei. Lunch. Possible shopping opportunity in the afternoon.
City tour. Late afternoon relaxation in private rooms at hot
spring. After supper, we will drive to Chiang Kai-Shek
International Airport to await our EVA Airways departure at
Vancouver; arriving at 6:15 p.m. the same day.
Maximum of 10
participants with 2 leaders
Vancouver, BC, Canada
$3800; Single: CAD $4300
(sharing); CAD $3200 (single)
For further information, please contact:
Jo Ann MacKenzie
15341 – 21 Avenue
Surrey,BC, V4A 6A8
INTERNATIONAL TAIWAN BIRDING ASSOCIATION
Good birds, good
food, good friends!