Whos keeping an eye on me....

Monday, 22 April 2019

Taiwan 2019 Pt 3 - Dasyueshan mid elevation - high elevation. an epic day continued followed by April Fools Day.

Continued from Part 2

At the visitors centre we watched a Taiwan Serow (A type of Deer) picking its way through the bush while a short walk around the area brought us glorious views of a Snowy Browed Flycatcher, pity it stayed quite deep in the vegetation and shade. We walked an unproductive trail, while Nick managed to get onto a Taiwan Barwing in the carpark. We moved up higher still to the 50km Recreation Area. We parked up and immediately heard a Flamecrest, we didn't pursue it for now although we did watch a Collared Bush Robin at close quarters. Our target was the other endemic Pheasant species. Plenty of Taiwanese twitchers were out looking, they had at least two spots staked out. We took a stroll and bumped into a group of birders who had a pair of Taiwan Rosefinch on the ground, I got onto both birds just before some cyclists rode straight at them and sent the flying off.... never to be seen again. It was amazing to see how many people genuinely took an interest in birds, but also how uneducated others were to the situation. We had a long walk around the area but had to make do with a few Spotted Nutcrackers, one perched high up atop of a tree, while another fed on the ground.
Snowy-browed Flycatcher

Taiwan Serow

Collared Bush Robin

Further along we were followed by an incredibly friendly pair of Whiskered Laughing Thrush that came to within a few feet of us and practically allowed Nick a selfie with them, a very smart bird, a few minutes later we just about got onto a  very elusive Yellow Bellied Bushwarbler alongside a mountain pool. After a further 30 minutes unproductive walk we headed back to the main path where we saw a bigger group of people this time they were onto a pair of Mikado Pheasants. Stunning, glorious and in your face, they pretty much swanned around for fifteen minutes wandering in and out of the sunshine, even a dozen annoying Pallas`s Squirrels couldn't scare them off.

White-Whiskered Laughingthrush

Mikado Pheasant male

 Mikado Pheasant female 

Just before we left the area to head back down the mountain we picked up a White Tailed  Robin.
A few stops on the way down allowed us to just about get onto a very tricky but beautiful Taiwan Fulvetta before we finished the day by driving a good section of the road back down to renowned area for Taiwan Hill Partridge. Although it was fairly dark by now they duly obliged with upto 5 individuals showing at any one time, another stunning bird.

A great bird to end this incredibly productive day as we head back to Dongshi town for a Chinese banquet, a few beers and an early night.

White-tailed Robin

Taiwan Hill Partridge


Early in the morning we head back up the Dasyueshan road to  pick up the handful of missed species including that elusive Bamboo Partridge.

Day 2

Well what a difference a day makes...... it is April Fools Day after all.

A horrendous nights rain and a very wet and misty start to proceedings

We stopped at the lower elevation of the previous day where we picked up the Taiwan Whistling Thrush. He we had the fairly obliging Grey Cheeked Fulvetta and Black Bulbuls, but a Black Necklaced Schimitar Babbler really gave us the run around. It was difficult in the drizzle with hands full of umbrellas, wet optics, deep vegetation and a bird that wouldn't play ball. We were interrupted by extremely close calls of the Bamboo Partridge, Richard saw it perched on a branch deep in the bush, I saw it hop down but never got a glimpse after. I must have got to within three foot of it and never really saw it, very frustrating (and that is how it would be for the next 7 days).

We continued to the river and bridge for breakfast again. The Brown Dipper had been joined by its partner, as had the Plumbeous Redstart. After breakfast we drove a trail around the back of this area. We quickly got a new trip species with a Grey Treepie, looking rather wet and bedraggled it sat on a wire in the rain, not the best first sighting of this smart bird, we would get much better views later in the tour. Steers Liochiclas continued to give me very poor views, while noisy and flighty Black Bulbuls were in huge numbers. The rain continued to tumble while we walked so I kept it simple and didn't bother with my camera, it was rather gloomy anyway. Richard managed to call in a Chestnut Bellied Tit, it foraged in with a large mixed flock of Black throated Bushtits. We picked it out easily enough but again the views weren't the best. Crested Serpent Eagle sat in a tree for an hour without moving while we glimpsed a Striated Heron on the river. The rain fell harder so we took shelter, it turned out to be a good idea as Nick found a Maroon Oriole.  Striated Prinias were calling from a large patch of reeds and long grasses, after a long wait we managed to eventually see two as we decided to walk along the riverside.
Grey Treepie

Chestnut Bellied Tit

Maroon Oriole

Richard had heard more Black Necklaced Scimitar Babblers along a track near a farm. After a coffee we went off in pursuit but were quickly interrupted by a very close Dusky Fulvetta, low down in a patch of vegetation. For the next 20 minutes we heard it and saw the vegetation move just the once but never got even the tiniest glimpse. A small mixed flock came to the same area, Bush tits, tits and fulvettas as usual, but I managed a good view of a new bird, White Bellied Erpornis, a really smart bird, again it would have been better without the rain tumbling down, by this time the Scimitar Babbler had stopped calling, we moved on.

As we drove, Richard stopped fairly suddenly around a bend in the road, we walked back a hundred yards or so where he pointed out a very smart Scaly Thrush. It gave great views, its a cracking bird to pick up, but it dropped down onto a heavily vegetated hill side and wandered off in the scrub. We managed to get views of it for the next 5 minutes but would never have managed an image.

We still  had a few targets to get and at the 17k marker we stopped to look for a couple of species. Island Thrush and Rufous-crowned Laughing Thrush. The light was incredibly poor now, the rain tipped down and we were cold. We had a possible sighting of the Island Thrush perched out in the open for long enough to still be unsure, while we just about got some views of a Grey Headed Woodpecker. We never got sight or sound of the Laughing Thrushes. We would drive higher still for the Little Forktail at a waterfall.

We stopped for a brief lunch at 35k picnic area, again taking shelter from the elements. An Ashy Woodpigeon flew across the car park (this would be our only view all trip). We decided to walk the trail that had been unproductive the day before. Well it was worth it this time, as we picked up both species of Pheasant with a male Mikado showing close in front of us. This was nice to see away from the crowds of yesterday, yes the weather was not the best but it felt like our find. A male Swinhoe showed a little further up the trail as well. The next ten minutes were bizarre. It sounded like a thunder storm was rolling in and getting closer. Richard didn't seem too concerned but it turned out to be a huge Landslide, it must have been in a valley close by, it didn't affect us in anyway. We managed to all get onto a number of Taiwan Barwings way up in the canopy, unfortunately absolutely no chance of making out the detail.
The mist rolling in

We continued to drive higher to the Waterfall at 41.5km marker. We waited for a short while hoping to see the Little Forktail without success we chased at least four Taiwan Wren Babblers around, each one staying well and truly deep in the vegetation it was decided that the whole mountain was going to be unproductive for the rest of the day. We drove to the tunnels at 27km and I picked up a Flamecrest, admittedly would have liked a more sustained view as it retreated into trees and away, plenty of  Taiwan Yuhinas and Green Backed Tits with a few feisty Black Throated Bushtits.
Black Throated Bushtit

Ok so it didn't rain all day, but the visibility was poor
The Three Amigos looking defeated after another Bamboo Partridge failure

Richard decided we had enough time to checkout a hotspot for a new bird. We eventually got onto a Taiwan Hwami although about a dozen of them really gave us the run around for nearly an hour, even down to a few meters we couldn't see them although they were in full song.

We walked back to the car and picked up a Slaty Legged Crake which responded to tape but didn't show. It had been a disappointing day due to the weather on the Dasyueshan road where the camera was under utilised.

Tomorrow we bird along the way but we have a long drive to Fengshang at the southern end of the Island.



Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

What a wonderful trip and experience to see all those birds. Thanks for sharing.

Nick Parker said...

Great photos of the partridges - considering how dark it was at the time.