Birding in Taiwan



Bird Tours

International Waterbird Society 2005 Post-Conference Field Trips

Trip Photos

Trip Report:  BIRDING IN TAIWAN, NOV. 817, 2004


Taiwan Trip Report, March 21 28, 2003

ANNOTATED SPECIES LIST, Taiwan, March 21 28, 2003

Taiwan Trip Report, November 11-19, 2003

ANNOTATED SPECIES LIST, Taiwan, November 1119, 2003


BirdingASIA -Birdwatching in Taiwan

Part 2

Part 3






Birdwatching in Taiwan, Part 2

BirdingASIA 2, Dec. 2004

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Birdwatching in Taiwan: 2

If time allows the Taipei City Waterbird Refuge (IBA 4) may be visited during the same outing. This site on the Tanshui and Hsindian (Hsintien) Rivers lies between the Chunghsing bridge in the north and the Huachung bridge to the south and also extends from the latter bridge upstream on the Hsindian River to the Yungfu bridge. About 120 species have been recorded in the area, including Chinese Egret, whilst Baikal Teal Anas formosa is an occasional visitor hidden in the flocks of Common Teal Anas crecca and Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata.

The Kuan-du Nature Park and Yangmingshan National Park are also easily combined into one visit by public transport from Taipei. Kuan-du (Kuantu) Nature Park (IBA3) is a 55 hectare area of reedbed, open pools and mangrove at the confluence of the Tansui and Keelung Rivers. Almost 300 species have been recorded including Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana, Chinese Egret, and Black-faced Spoonbill. It is also good for Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis, Bright-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis, Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis and Vinous-throated Parrotbill Paradoxornis webbianus, whilst buntings, falcons and harriers may be seen in winter. There is an excellent visitor centre. From the TRS take the MRT Danshui line north to Kuandu station; the park is an easy walk from here. If going on to Yangmingshan, return to the MRT and continue to Shilin Station, take bus no.260 from here to the terminus (direct from TRS the journey time is about 70 minutes).


The 11,000 hectare Yangmingshan National Park has an altitudinal range of 2501,000 m. It is famous for its geothermal springs. The area has suffered human encroachment from the earliest times and the forest cover is mainly secondary growth. There are seven short birdwatching trails and some 110 species have been recorded in the park, including the two endemic species found in low-altitude forest, the sometimes elusive Taiwan Blue Magpie Urocissa caerulea and the Taiwan Whistling Thrush Myophonus insularis. The magpies are mainly found in mobile flocks in the forest, often with regular roosting sites; the main habitat of the whistling thrushes is around streams, and they defend established territories. Other species of interest to the first-time visitor include Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracica, Black-browed Barbet Megalaima oorti, Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela, Grey Treepie, Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler Cettia fortipes, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis, Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyris ruficeps, Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus and Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus.

Those with their own transport may combine a half-day at Kuan-du or Yangminsghan with a visit to Yehlui (Yieliu, Yehliao or Yehliou), a 2 km long promontory on Taiwans north coast jutting into the sea in a north-easterly direction (IBA1). Yehlui town is about 12 km north of Keelung, well signposted from Highway 2. The site is of particular interest during March-May as it is the best place to sea-watch and find rarities during the northbound migration. More than 300 species have been recorded over a ten-year period.

Two other options whilst in Taipei are Kuanyinshan (Guan-yin Mountain) for raptor watching in spring (see Raptor watching in Taiwan) and Wulai, good for low-altitude forest species. Wulai lies south of Taipei at the northern extremity of the Syueshan range, the altitude being around 200 m rising to 1,000 m. The birdwatching trail, a 7 km round trip taking up to four hours, follows the Tunghou River. On one side of the trail there are steep mountain slopes clad with virgin forests, on the other low-elevation secondary forests, abandoned houses and a cemetery. Take a Sindian Co bus to Wulai from the TRS and get off at the terminus. The journey time is about 90 minutes. Low-altitude forest species found here include Taiwan Blue Magpie, Taiwan Whistling Thrush, Crested Serpent Eagle, White-bellied Green Pigeon Treron sieboldii, Black-browed Barbet, Black Bulbul, Plumbeous Water Redstart Rhyacornis fuliginosus, Little Forktail Enicurus scouleri, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe morrisonia, Dusky Fulvetta Alcippe brunnea, Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus, Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii, and Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris. The area is busy at weekends. Overnight accommodation is available. Note, food is only available near the bus terminus.

In search of the high-altitude specialists
The high-montane alpine zone in Taiwan lies above about 3,200 m, and two sites stand out as the best places to see the high-altitude specialists, Yushan (Jade Mountain) and Hohuanshan (Mt. Hohuan). Nantou Countys Yushan National Park is a magnificent remote area with high-altitude coniferous forests Tsuga chinensis formosana, and alpine prairies mainly composed of dwarf bamboo Yushania niitakayamensis and the grass Miscanthus transmorrisonensis, but several days are needed to be sure of seeing the important species; it also lacks facilities. Visitors should be prepared to hike and camp in cool conditions (typical daytime temperature 15C). If time is short, visit the Tatajia (Tatachia) Recreational Area (2,400-2,800 m) where there is a 10 km birdwatching trail. There is no public transport to the park; by car take the Expressway south from Taipei to Chiayi and take the road to Chungpu (Jhongpu). There take Highway 18 to Alishan (Chaoping) and continue to the Tatajia Tourist Centre. The 50 km trip from Chiayi takes about two hours. Accommodation is available in the Dongpu (Tongpu) area (contact the Yushan National Park Administration at 886-4-9773121); meals should be booked at the same time.

Golden Parrotbill
(Shen-Hueui Lin)

Highway 14, the mountain road from Puli and Wushe to the east coast, reaches its summit the Wuling Pass (3,300 m) at Hohuanshan, before descending to Tayuling (Dayuling), and continuing via the spectacular Taroko Gorge to Hualien. Roadside birdwatching on the pass is very productive and although there is accommodation nearby many visitors stay nearer Wushe to order to make early morning forays in search of the endemic pheasants. White-whiskered (Taiwan) Laughing-thrush Garrulax morrisonianus, Taiwan Bush Warbler Bradypterus alishanensis, Yellow-bellied Bush Warbler Cettia acanthizoides, Golden Parrotbill Paradoxornis nipalensis, Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris, Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes and Vinaceous Rosefinch Carpodacus vinaceus may be found near the head of the pass and the summit car park usually produces some of these species. Flamecrest Regulus goodfellowi and Coal Tit Parus ater may be found in any of the roadside stands of tall pines. Public transport is sparse, but the Kuo-Kang bus company operates from Hualien to Tayuling (about four hours). Accommodation is available in Tayuling and reservations for the Mt. Hohuan Lodge can be made (contact the Forestry Bureau, Dongshih Forest Administration, at 886-4-5150855). Parts of Highway 14 are narrow and steep, and landslides may occur in wet weather, particularly during the typhoon season. Driving on this road is hazardous in fog, rain and high winds. Snow may be encountered at high level in winter.

Mid-altitude mountain forests the world of
Taiwan's endemic birds
Taiwans temperate-zone mixed coniferous broadleaf forests lie between 2,000 and 3,000 m. The rainfall and humidity are higher than at lower levels, the forests are luxuriant, and the biological diversity is high. Birdwatching is good at any time of year, but landslips after heavy rain can block mountain roads and restrict access in the typhoon season. There are two excellent areas that offer opportunities to see the endemic Phasianidae and the majority of the other endemic species; only Taiwan Blue Magpie and Styan's Bulbul Pycnonotus taivanus do not occur in the Central Mountains. Taichung Countys Anmashan (Dasyueshan Big Snow Mountain Recreation Area), altitude 2,000-2,600 m, is regarded as one of Taiwans best birdwatching sites, whilst a visit to the forest trails off Highway 14 between Meifeng and Tsuifeng in Nantou County presents opportunities to see the pheasants between Wushe and Wuling Pass (see above). There is no public transport to Anmashan; from Taipei take Freeway 1 and leave by the Fengyuan (Fongyuan) exit before Taichung, then take Highway 3 from Fengyuan to Tungshih (Dongshih). In Tungshih care is needed at the junction of Highway 3 and Highway 8 to find the road to Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area. It is about 50 km from Tungshih to the end of this road, the main entrance being reached at about km 34, and the accommodation (Anmashan Mountain Hostel) is situated at about km 44. (Reservations advised, contact Dasyueshan Forest Recreation Area 886-4-25877901). Three forest trails are recommended, trail 210 just beyond km 35, trail 220 just before km 39 and trail 230 that starts from the car park and cafe near the end of the road at km 50.

Yellow Tit
(Chieh Wen Huang)

About 80 species have been recorded including the difficult species (Taiwan Partridge Arborophila crudigularis, Swinhoe's Pheasant Lophura swinhoii, Mikado Pheasant Syrmaticus mikado, and Yellow Tit Parus holsti), other endemics, and good species such as White-browed Shortwing Brachypteryx montana, Vivid Niltava Niltava vivida, Grey-headed Bullfinch Pyrrhula erythaca, Scaly Thrush Zoothera dauma, White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos, Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius, and Eurasian Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes. It is also a reliable site for White-throated Laughingthrush Garrulax albogularis and Rusty Laughingthrush G. poecilorhynchus.

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