Birding in Taiwan



Bird Tours

Trip Report:  BIRDING IN TAIWAN, MAY. 21-24, 2005

ANNOTATED SPECIES LIST, Taiwan, MAY. 21-23, 2005

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





TAIWAN TRIP REPORT, 21–24 May 2005

Marcus l’Anson


As a frequent business traveller to Japan and a keen birdwatcher I sometimes try to fit in a short trip to Asia either before or after business.


Taiwan has increasingly been getting higher up the list of priorities, principally because of its very special endemic species, but also because it is a country few people have visited, let alone birded.


After trawling through several web sites I made contact with local birdwatching expert Simon Liao and we were quickly able to make our arrangements via e-mail.

liao simon


My targets were the endemics, of which there are currently 15, but it is likely up to 10 more may be declared as they are under serious consideration.


My flight was with Cathay Pacific from Osaka arriving in Taipei at 13.10 p.m.  Simon, his wife, Linda, and another expert local guide Ten-Di Wu all met me at the airport and we set off south to Chingin Resort in central Taiwan where we would spend both nights of my stay.


Day 1 – May 21st


CSK Airport to Chingin Resort.


We stopped briefly at Dream Valley Waterfall at Puli in Nanton County.  Black-naped Monarch was the first bird to be seen, followed by several Light-vented and Black Bulbuls.  At the Falls we had good view of my first endemic – Taiwan Whistling Thrush.  We had great views of several Collared Finchbills, showing very well.  Also seen in this area was Hwamei and Japanese White-eyes.


The weather was fine and we finally arrived at Chingin at about 6.30 p.m.  The Guest House was excellent, very comfortable and good food.  It was pleasantly cool in the mountains, requiring a sweater in the evenings.


Day 2 – May 22nd


This was the day we made a big effort to see one or both of the endemic Pheasants, but it was not to be.  This was made up, however, by excellent views of many other species.


A 5.00 a.m. wake-up had us on the Blue Gate Trail just after 6.00 a.m.  This was preceded by V   inous-throated Parrotbills and Steere’s Liocichla around the Guest House.


Birds seen on the trail included Ashy Wood-Pigeon, White-eared Sibia, Taiwan Yuhina, Golden Parrotbill, Black-throated Tit, Taiwan Yellow Tit and, rarest of all, White-browed Shortwing, which got Simon pretty excited.


After about 3 hours we continued to ascend to HeHuan Shan at about 3000 metres.  The weather was glorious but it was still cool at the top.  The views all along were magnificent.  Being a Sunday it was very busy but that did not stop us picking up the special high-altitude birds including Flamecrest, Taiwan Laughing Thrush (white-whiskered), Vinaceous Rosefinch, Collared Bush Robin and an obliging Taiwan Bush Warbler.  We also saw Dusky Warbler and I missed Alpine Accentor seen by Simon and Ten-Di.


After lunch we descended to the second Blue Gate Trail to try again for Pheasants.  We picked up Eurasian Nuthatch, Green-backed Tit, Fire-Breasted Flowerpecker, and Ten-Di put up a very obliging Savannah Nightjar on the path.


It was a weary group that made it back to the Guest House at 7.00 p.m. after 13 hours in the field.  We were soon fortified by a cold beer, a good meal and some fearsomely strong Taiwanese whisky!


Day 3 – May 23rd


This was a day planned with military precision as there were some key target species.


5.00 a.m. start had us on the North East Eye Mountain Trail at 6.20 a.m.  The objective was Swinhoe’s Pheasant.  On the drive to the trail we managed to find 2 Chinese Bamboo Partridges slowly crossing the road, Taiwan Yellow Tit also sitting on the road and a friendly Taiwan Whistling Thrush by the side of the road near a small waterfall.


As we entered the trail we had short views of White-tailed Robin twice. I was particularly pleased as we had heard this bird several times on the previous day without actually seeing it.  Rufous-faced Warblers were very conspicuous as were a large party of White-throated Laughing Thrushes.


After about 30 minutes walking, Ten-Di motioned us to stop as he heard rustling in the woodland carpeted with short bamboo.   A fleeting glimpse of a male pheasant flying fast was most unsatisfactory.  It was whilst pondering whether to count it or not, that a second Swinhoe’s Pheasant broke cover and flew up the hill.  It was also a male showing the white on his back very well.  Not the perfect view but very satisfying.  Finally, we were able to see two Spot-breasted Scimitar Babblers showing well.


Then we came out of the mountains, descending to Wu Fung on the west, in Taichung County.  The big target was the very rare and little known Fairy Pitta.  Simon and Ten-Di knew of an area with several nesting pairs.


After spraying with insect repellent we set off the special forest area.  The weather was very hot but, fortunately, we were able to hear a Fairy Pitta quite quickly and, after waiting patiently, we had fabulous views of this birding gem.


In the area we also saw Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler very close.


It was then off again to another area close by to see Malayan Night Heron on the nest with at least one, possibly two fluffy grey chicks.


Going on a little further we came to an area which produced Taiwan Blue Magpies, Grey Treepie, Grey-capped Woodpecker, Black-browed Barbet and Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers.


It was, by now early afternoon and after a brief stop to visit a well known Buddhist Shrine for a little sightseeing, it was back to CKS Airport at Taipei for the 7.15 KLM flight to London via Bangkok and Amsterdam.




This was a very short trip of only just over 2 days and 2 nights.  The target was the Endemics, quality rather than quantity.


I was blessed with sublime weather, which was fortunate as May can be very rainy.  Indeed, the previous week had seen heavy rain, evidenced by small landslides everywhere.  Some of the small roads were in poor condition but, generally, were good.


Simon, Linda and Ten-Di made me most welcome, organised everything superbly and, most importantly, knew where to see the birds.


Of the 15 Endemics, I saw 11, missing only 4.  Of these, Styan’s Bulbul is in a different location.  Taiwan Barwing we tried to see but it was not obliging.  We were very close to Taiwan Hill Partridge but they are notoriously difficult to see as they stay in deep undergrowth.  Mikado Pheasant was the only major disappointment, but there has been some habitat disturbance due to the earthquake in 1999, and laying of water pipes in the best known trail for this pheasant.


The country, especially in the mountains, is beautiful, the people extremely friendly, and because it is relatively small, you can get to see a lot on a short stay.