Birding in Taiwan



Bird Tours

International Waterbird Society 2005 Post-Conference Field Trips

Trip Photos

Trip Report:  BIRDING IN TAIWAN, NOV. 8–17, 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 11–19, 2003


BirdingASIA -Birdwatching in Taiwan

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Part 3







BirdingASIA 2, Dec. 2004

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Birdwatching in Taiwan: 3

To reach Meifeng and Tsuifeng from Taichung, take the Nantou Bus Co bus to Puli and from there the same company operates via Wushe to Tsuifeng; alight at Meifeng (about 90 minutes from Puli). There is limited accommodation at the Meifeng Mountain Farm (Ching Ching Farm), so reservations are needed; contact National Taiwan University Agriculture Institute Associated Mountain Experimental Farm at 886-2-2803148. There are also hotels in Wushe and Fushih (Lushan). There are two very obvious forestry trails leading off Highway 14 between Meifeng and Tsuifeng (altitude 2,100-2,200m) into the Reiyenshi Reserve. The first, the Rueiyan River Forest Road, is about 30 minutes walk from the farm; both follow the contour of west-facing hill slopes and are good for the pheasants and Taiwan Partridge. About 120 species have been recorded including White-browed Bush Robin Tarsiger indicus, Collared Bush Robin T. johnstoniae, Pygmy Wren Babbler Pnoepyga pusilla, Ashy Wood Pigeon Columba pulchricollis, White-throated Laughingthrush and Rusty Laughingthrush. The enigmatic Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus is also found here.

Collared Bush Robin
(Wen-Hsin Huang)

While in the Puli area, another site for the Taiwan Blue Magpie and the rather local Varied Tit Parus varius is the Huisun National Forest Recreation Area (altitude 2502,000 m) located near Ren-ai village. It is part of Chung Hsing University’s experimental farm; room and board may be reserved at the ecological vacation village contact Huisun Farm 886-49-2942000. The website has an English section giving bus times from Puli etc. By car from Taipei use Highway 3 to Tsaotun (Tsautun); leave here via Highway 14 and go to Kuohsing (Kuoshin) to access the area. From Puli follow Highway 21 to Kuohsing. Other species recorded here include Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis, Mountain Scops Owl Otus spilocephalus, Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata, Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques and Hwamei Garrulax canorus.

Finding the Fairy Pitta
The globally threatened Fairy Pitta is a spring and summer visitor that breeds in moist lowland broadleaf forest and bamboo below 1,000 m. The area around Yunlin Countys Huben Village (IBA17), altitude 500 m, holds the largest known present-day breeding population and offers a very good chance of seeing the species. Much of the habitat is secondary forest, bamboo, betel nut plantation and orchard. Huben is located in Linnei Township and reached from Taipei by taking the northsouth Expressway to the Touliu (Douliu) exit (about 50 km south of Taichung); turn north on Highway 3 and head for Linnei. It is about 30 minutes by car to the village from the exit. Linnei is also easily reached from Puli via Highway 21 past Sun Moon Lake and then on Highway 16 to Highway 3. A stay of two days is recommended and accommodation is easy to arrange, thanks to the conservation consciousness in this community. Malayan Night Heron also breeds here and is often seen; other good species include Taiwan Blue Magpie, Taiwan Partridge, Swinhoes Pheasant, White-eared Sibia Heterophasia auricularis, and Maroon Oriole.

Taiwan Barwing
(Wen-Hsin Huang)

In Taoyuan County, the 10,000 hectare Shihmen Reservoir located on the upper reaches of the Dahan River is another Fairy Pitta breeding area. The forests along the public roads around the lake are dense, and the dark, moist trails are good spots to look for feeding birds. Buses from Taoyuan and Hsinchu go to the reservoir, which is adjacent to Highway 3. There are hotels and cabins in the area (contact the Shihmen Reservoir Scenic Area 886-3-4712247). Avoid the area at weekends and holidays when it is busy with local tourists.

Rare water birds on
Taiwans west coast
The western coastline consists mostly of sandy estuaries and sandy beaches. The abundant organisms found in the inter-tidal zone attract large flocks of migrant and wintering shorebirds and waterfowl. Tainan plays host to the largest global wintering flock of Black-faced Spoonbills. Every winter Saunders's Gulls appear on coastal fishponds and Chinese Crested Tern, recently rediscovered breeding on the Matsu island group off the Chinese coast, is reported on Taiwan’s west coast. Driving along the coastal Highway 17 between Taichung and Tainan is an excellent way to look for migrant and wintering shorebirds. About 100 species have been recorded here, including annual records of Saunders's Gulls and Chinese Crested Terns. Other species of interest include Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus, Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga and Slaty-backed Gull Larus schistisagus. This section of coastline is about 150 km long. There is no regular transport service, but cars or motorcycles may be rented in Taichung or Tainan. To travel the entire coastal highway takes about three hours, but waterbird enthusiasts may find a four-day stay rewarding. Taichung, Tainan and the nearby smaller towns have a wide choice of accommodation and eating-places; advance reservations are not required. As there are few eating-places along the coastal highway itself, visitors are advised to take their own daytime provisions. Tainan's Tsengwen (Zengwen) River Estuary is the wintering site of more than 50% of the global population of Black-faced Spoonbill. The site is part of IBA 27 that also covers an important area to the north of the Tsengwen River tidal flats used by the spoonbills to feed and roost. The area consists mostly of estuarine sandflats, tidally flooded land, fishponds, agricultural land, and windbreak casuarina forest. Falcated Duck Anas falcata, Baikal Teal, Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Oriental Stork, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata, and Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, are among the species recorded in the area. Private transport is required to drive around the maze of narrow roads between the fishponds and on the levees to get the best from the area, but care is needed as there are many dead ends and few passing places. The spoonbill site may be reached by public transport from Tainan Railway Station by taking the Tainan Bus Co bus to Jioukuaicuo. From here follow first the Jioukuaicuo levee and then the Nanti levee for around 8 km; on foot, it takes around 2 hours. There is lodging and food in this area, but prior reservation is necessary. Sitsao Wildlife Refuge (IBA 29), an area of saltpans and pools on the south bank of the Tsengwen, is also used by the spoonbills and may be accessed via Tainan city. Hulupi (IBA 28), an area of land used to cultivate water chestnut and the last site for Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus in Taiwan, lies 30 km north of Tainan and may be reached from either Highway 1 or Highway 19.

Behind the mountains: the east coast and the southern tipTaitung and Kenting
on the south-east coast, the starting point for trips to Lanyu (
Orchid Island), is the main town in Taitung County, the most remote and relatively undisturbed part of the island and well worth a visit during a two- or three-week stay. The flight time from Taipei is about one hour and transport may be hired on arrival. There is plenty of choice of accommodation and eating-places in Taitung and in the hot-spring resort of Chihpen further down the coast.

On the western side of Taitung County, the Central Mountain Range rises to 3,600 m, while on the east lies the lower coastal range. The narrow East Rift Valley between them is a stronghold of Styans Bulbul. About 370 bird species have been recorded in the county, including all the endemics and about 40 of the endemic subspecies and, thanks to the relative lack of disturbance, Swinhoes Pheasant and Mikado Pheasant are widespread at mid-elevations. Rare birds found in the mountains include Black Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle Spizaetus nipalensis, and Tawny Fish Owl Ketupa flavipes. Access is by the forest roads (up to 50 km long) that run west steeply into the mountains, but some are impassable after a few km except on foot, so that food and shelter must be carried, and not all roads are open to the public. The Lijia, Wulu and Chihpen roads are good choices. It is possible to drive south from Chihpen and cross the island to reach the southern tip at Kenting (See Raptor watching in Taiwan).There may be discoveries to be made in the area; Whistling Green Pigeon Treron formosae can still be seen, notably at Sheding Nature Park in Kenting National Park, while Japanese Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata and Brown-eared Bulbul Ixos amaurotis may still cling on. The seldom-seen Black-chinned Fruit Dove Ptilinopus leclancheri has also been reported recently in Pintung County.

Lanyu (
Orchid Island)
Lanyu is a small (46 km2) mountainous tropical island in the Pacific Ocean about 60 km south-east of Taitung. It is an interesting trip for those with plenty of time, but no more than a two-night stay should be needed to see the important species. The climate is tropical with high temperatures and high rainfall. The scenery is spectacular including the volcanic rocky reef-strewn coastline, terraced taro fields and the concealed tropical forests of the central mountain area. The inhabitants are indigenous people of the Tao (Yami) tribe, more closely related to the Philippines and Pacific nations. A ferry operates from Taitungs Fugang Fishing Harbour on Tuesdays and Fridays, taking about four hours. Tickets should be purchased in advance as the island is a popular tourist destination. The daily flights by eight-seat light plane from Taitung take 30 minutes. They are often full and should also be pre-booked. Accommodation may be booked in advance. There is public transport that may be flagged down at any point on the 40 km long road round the periphery of the island, and scooters may be hired. Of 180 species recorded, about 50 are resident; the island is an obvious place to look for migrants in season. The most important residents are Elegant Scops Owl Otus elegans and Brown Cuckoo Dove Macropygia amboinensis; both are only found here and easy to see. Brown-eared Bulbul and Japanese Paradise-flycatcher are common, unlike on the mainland where they may have died out. Likewise the Whistling Green Pigeon is much easier to find here than in mainland Pintung County.

Taiwan Yuhina
(Wen-Hsin Huang)


Brief data on the Taiwanese endemics

Taiwan Partridge Arborophila crudigularis
Common resident found in undergrowth of low- to mid-elevation thick evergreen broadleaf forests (700-2,000 m).
Swinhoe's Pheasant Lophura swinhoii Uncommon resident, found in the undergrowth of low- to mid-elevation natural broadleaf forests (500-2,000 m).
Mikado Pheasant Syrmaticus mikado Uncommon resident, found in the undergrowth of mid-elevation natural broadleaf forests of central Taiwan (2,000-3,000 m).
Taiwan Blue Magpie Urocissa caerulea Uncommon resident found in mid- to upper levels of low-elevation broadleaf forests (400-1,000m).
Taiwan Whistling Thrush Myophonus insularis Common resident throughout Taiwan from plains to mid-elevation mountain areas near streams and within forests (200-2,000 m).
Collared Bush Robin Tarsiger johnstoniae Common resident found in the undergrowth and thickets of mid- to high-elevation open woodlands and areas with large trees in central Taiwan (2,000-3,200 m).
Yellow Tit Parus holsti Uncommon resident, found in the canopy of mid-elevation broadleaf forests of central Taiwan (1,000-2,200 m).
Flamecrest Regulus goodfellowi Common resident found in mid- to high-elevation coniferous and mixed broadleaf-coniferous forests of central
Taiwan (1,000-3,000 m).
Styan's Bulbul Pycnonotus taivanus Common but declining resident, restricted to eastern and southern Taiwan; found in the cultivated plains of Pingtung County, gardens, urban parks and low-altitude broadleaf forest (sea level-1,000 m).
Taiwan Bush Warbler Bradypterus alishanensis Common resident found in open scrub and grass clumps in mid- to high-altitude forest (2,000-3,200m).
White-whiskered Laughingthrush Garrulax morrisonianus Common resident found in thick undergrowth and scrub of high-elevation forests of central Taiwan (2,000-3,500 m).
Steere's Liocichla Liocichla steerii Common resident found in roadside bushes and grassy scrub of mid- to high-elevation forests (2,000-3,500 m).
Taiwan Barwing Actinodura morrisoniana Uncommon resident found in mid-levels of central Taiwans mid- to high-elevation broadleaf forests and mixed broadleafconiferous forests. Mostly eats arthropods obtained by probing the bark of trunks and branches (1,300-2,500 m).
White-eared Sibia Heterophasia auricularis
Common resident found in mid- to upper levels of mid-elevation natural broadleaf forests, but sometimes at low altitude in winter (<1,000-2,200 m).
Taiwan Yuhina Yuhina brunneiceps Common resident found in mid- to upper levels of mid-elevation coniferous and mixed broadleaf coniferous forests (1,000-2,200 m).

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