Whos keeping an eye on me....

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Taiwan 2019 Pt 11 - Final day

This morning we lie in and head North towards Jinshan district.
A Taiwan Blue Magpie crossed overhead as we drove and then at a stop at McDonalds for breakfast and coffee on the go who would believe that you could pick up a Red throated Pipit from the drive thru, ok so in Taiwan it may not be that unusual..... oh and a Black Collared Starling and a Oriental Magpie as we came out.

We will do a bit of birding at a youth activity centre, the building itself looks a little like Stalag14 PoW camp, but the surrounding gardens and park were pretty good for a few hours birding.

First birds were a dozen very flighty Buntings feeding on long grasses at the edge of a high brick wall, after wading through each one with the bins we eventually decided they were all Black Faced Buntings. Another Black Collared Starling, plenty of Japanese White-eye, Light Vented Bulbuls, Oriental Turtle Doves, confiding Black Faced Buntings, another Oriental Magpie were easily picked off as we walked around.
an image of Stalag14?  probably an unfair assumption.
Our birding spot for the morning, a youth activity centre set out in extensive gardens 
Japanese White-eye

Light Vented Bulbul

One particular tree outside a door way had a Grey Treepie, Yellow Browed Warbler, Pale Thrush and a nice Manchurian Bush-warbler this was all easy peasy as we walked around. I managed to spot a very close Barred Buttonquail but as I lined up the shot I managed to focus on the overhanging branches and the thing got away.... maybe not so easy peasy, a good view though.

More long grasses and more Black Faced Buntings, while a Yellow Bellied Prinia perched a little way back in the park.
Grey Treepie
a species that always has its back to you

Jeff and Richard had walked on a little, while Nick and myself watched the evolution of the Black Faced Bunting feeding habits. One particular bird was feeding on a large rock. It was reaching as far as it could for the grass seeds, after a short while it sat ontop of a tall grass stem and bent it down toward the rock, stood on it to make sure it didn't catapult it off the rock and enjoyed its seed on the rock platter. Fun to watch.
Black Faced Bunting feeding on grasses

and Pull

A further walk towards the park boundary with the sea only yards away across the road, a gardener disturbed two Olive Backed Pipits. They gave very close views as they foraged amongst the leaf litter and sadly the human litter..... another Manchurian Bushwarbler skulked around a tiny allotment giving good views and at last a photo opportunity, while we disturbed a very closely perched Crested Serpent Eagle which retreated not too far away as we were able to follow it around a patch of trees.
A third Olive Backed Pipit was seen in an overgrown orchard. Red Collared Doves and Black Bulbuls were fairly constant during the few hours we stayed here.

Manchurian Bush-warbler


Olive Backed Pipit

Black Drongo

By late morning we were on the move again. We stopped at a lovely area, a mix of Fields, Paddies and pools. Common Mynas harassed everything that moved, including us as we parked up. The distand pools showed large flocks of Grey Herons, I didn't count but spread over the area were 50+ birds. In some of the nearer pools were Common Snipe, Black Winged Stilts, Wood Sandpipers and Plain Prinias. I managed to glimpse a male Daurian Redstart, I watched it as it foraged against a wall and was feeding in and around overhanging branches. Once I had got the attention of the guys we all managed to get a quick sighting of it sat on a fence post, it didn't stay for more than a few seconds before flying into an overgrown orchard, unfortunately we didn't manage to catch it again. Great bird and at least complimented the sighting of a female Daurian Redstart we saw on Lanyu.

 Jinshan birding spot or downtown?? its a no brainer
Pool side birds
Cattle Egret, Common Snipe and Wood Sandpiper
Common Myna
Richard and a fisherman survey the landscape
we lost the Daurian Redstart in here,
while a Vinous-throated Parrotbill was seen in here by Jeff and Richard

A short walk into a gated pool area gave us a surprise bird. A very close Great Knot. We inched forward and unbelievably It allowed us to get close, we ended up having to pass it as we walked up the trail, still it didn't move, what a smart bird this is. A Common Sandpiper and Black Winged Stilt kept it company.

 Great Knot in full breeding plumage

and with a Stilt

Black Winged Stilt

home of the Great Knot

The afternoon had a feel of inevitability about it. We had seen close up views of a Great Knot, far better than the distant heat haze effected views from the wetlands last week and now we were chasing around a White Wagtail... it was one of those quiet spells you get especially after most, if not all the target birds had been seen. We enjoyed the White Wagtail as we walked to a small headland where we passed plenty of Plain Prinias and a nicely perched and very noisy Golden Headed Cisticola.

Golden Headed Cisticola

 Plain Prinia
The last spot of the day was the extensive wetlands of Tianliaoyang. A lovely area divided down the middle by a train line, surrounded by pools, Paddies and rolling green hills.
We parked up in a tunnel under the bridge, Nick stood his scope up just as a huge gust of wind blew the tripod over, a lucky escape I think. The whole area was flat and the flat paddies and arable land seemed to be acting like a wind tunnel, luckily the wind died down as the afternoon progressed.
I went off for a wander while the guys took a tea break. A Bunting took my eye and I chased it around an arable area. I figured Little Bunting and the guys later confirmed it as we all chased at least one more around.  
Trying to pin down the Little Bunting

An Osprey came out of nowhere while a few Black Kites tumbled in the sky above, including these juveniles playing pass the grass


A little later the Osprey appeared briefly again, It was fairly quiet but a lone Sacred Ibis, small parties of White-rumped Munia and lots of low flying Grey Throated Martins kept us company as did many Black Kites, certainly the biggest congregation of them during the trip. Nick scoped a Stejnegers Stonechat from great distance, we went in search.
Tombs at Tianliaoyang

Brown Shrike

looking towards the rail line

clouds gather at Tianliaoyang
but lovely scenery

an old tiller and an old fella at work on his land at Tianliaoyang
and we are still looking for the Stejnegers Stonechat

 Common Snipe
Eastern Spot Billed Duck
 A final lap of the area with Richard in tow, he went in search of Crakes, which had been calling but only managed to flush a Greater Painted Snipe which flew through and past us at great speed, three Pacific Golden Plover and a few Little Ringed Plover had now appeared, they certainly weren't there half hour ago, eight Chestnut Munia, Japanese Yellow Bunting, Large Billed Crow, two Red Billed Starlings, Oriental Magpie and an Oriental Plover that we nearly missed
Japanese Yellow Bunting
more Black Kites
The evening was drawing in and we didn't manage to find the Stejnegers Stonechat but we ended with somewhat of a flurry.
We were just picking out the differences between an Oriental Magpie that had just landed nearby and our own Eurasian Magpies when a couple of Starlings flew past us and straight into a tree in front of us. Red Billed Starlings, new for the trip and a Lifer for me. Brilliant little end to the day. Well not quite, we had all wandered off and were passing a tilled field when Richard who was a few meters back called out to look right. It took a few seconds to figure out what..... as camouflaged as you can get he had spotted an Oriental Plover. Smart bird even if not in breeding plumage. We could have stayed till dark as the bird wasn't looking like it was too bothered about our presence. Its amazing how these birds turn up in the exact same spot that you had been to an hour ago, or maybe it was there all the time!
 Oriental Magpie
Oriental Plover
nearly missed it.....


A quick look around one of the paddies near to the van got me a nice Red Throated Pipit, before we called it a day.

So right at the death we get two more trip birds and I get two more lifers.  A long day with some rewards, great views of some of the more common birds and a few lifers to finish the trip.
We headed back to the city for a lovely Japanese banquet, few beers and a count up of the trips list.
Richard and Nick would depart early in the morning, Nick to London and Richard heading home before flying for his own trip to India. In the morning Jeff and myself could enjoy a leisurely walk for some street food, pick up some bargain Whiskey and get the plane home to Manchester.
Good food (dumplings)

Bad food (Chicken feet)

breakfast stop
final throws of the trip
Goodbye Taiwan
 This is where we went.......
a good Field Guide and checklist

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