Whos keeping an eye on me....

Monday, 6 May 2019

Taiwan 2019 Pt 7 - Budai Wetlands to Alishan

Daylight start this morning which always means we have had some sort of lie in, but we would breakfast on the way somewhere on the way to the South West Coast. We met outside close to the Theme Park and were immediately greeted by a Malayan Night Heron wandering around he car park, while an unidentified Warbler species gave a quick view in the trees, probably an Artic Warbler while unbelievably somewhere in the park another Bamboo Partridge called, again we didn't see it..... its only a matter of time buddy, be warned. After a short drive we stopped at a fruiting tree, pretty much alongside a main road. Spotted Doves, Black Drongos and Grey Treepies were knocking around, however the tree itself had no less than seven Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers, first a party of three, then another party of four. Other usual species joined in including Brown Headed Thrushes, Light Vented Bulbuls and a Brown Shrike. Not bad while serving Coffee alongside the road.
Grey Capped Pygmy Woodpeckers

We continued our journey and along the way we stopped for breakfast at De Wan Park where a famous old Fig Tree marks the entrance to the park, . It seemed to be a favourite place as it has a lovely wooden spotting tower and it certainly attracted plenty of visitors. A few Green Backed Tits and Taiwan Yuhinas were joined by stunning Taiwan Barbet to add a little colour.

De Wan Park Fig Tree


and the road cutting through the mountain towards the National Park Mountains
Taiwan Barbet

Richard wanted to stop en route at another spot where he had in the past seen Black Necklaced Scimitar Babbler. We hadn't tried for a few days for this species but it was now back on the radar. With very little encouraging with the tape we soon realised that there were two birds in the area, and it quickly became apparent that they were nest prospecting. One gave very fleeting views while the other came back to the same bush time and again. Eventually we all got enough views of a rather stunning bird. We tried hard for that one photo, but just never managed it. Great bird to see and was pleased to eventually get it, it had proven tricky over a few locations upto now.

We headed off towards the South West coast where we would spend some time at Budai wetlands. A number of species were sought after here including Black Faced Spoonbill...... although we would have to wait just a little while for this.

We parked on a motorway slip road right along side a stretch of estuary and marshland.
Caspian Terns, Greater Sand Plovers and a single Whimbrel were virtually in your face as were good numbers of Common Greenshank, but a little more distant there was a bird worth spending a little more time IDing was it a possible Nordmanns Greenshank, alas it wasn't, the Common Greenshank was the default species, still a smart bird, Pacific Golden Plovers continued to follow us around the island and again they were in good numbers on this stretch of estuary.

Estuary Birding
Common Greenshank

We drove a little further around the estuary and parked up very close to some stunning Curlew Sandpipers and Red Necked Stint which showed well in their full breeding plumage along with a host of other waders including Greater Sand-ploverSharp Tailed SandpiperKentish PloverGrey Plover and a lifer for myself with a Broad Billed Sandpiper. Add a few species that we see closer to home such as Black tailed Godwits, Ruddy Turnstones and Little Terns.
Sharp Tailed Sandpiper

Greater Sand-Plover

Kentish Plover


We found an area that would allow us to walk around the edges of the oyster pools, the most notable specie were Yellow Bittern which took shelter in the trees while a Cinnamon Bittern took shelter atop of bushes. The usual Egrets kept us company as did both Plain Prinia and Yellow Bellied Prinia. Jeff got us onto a White Winged Black Tern as it flew away from us as did a Common Kingfisher. We managed our only Gulls of the tour here with Black Headed Gulls, while we caught up again with Garganey and hundreds of Northern Shoveler, Coot and Wigeon.
Yellow Bittern

juvenile Cinnamon Bittern

We moved again to a larger body of water and from the car we could see in the distant a number of Black Faced Spoonbills, they were way off so we figured how to get round the patchwork of smaller pools and ponds. Richard went in reverse to try and take a short cut but got a little too close to the slip road wall.... crunch! Nay bother, in trooper style he didn't even look at the damage but got on with the task in hand. After more than a few lefts and rights we arrived at the right point pretty close to around twenty Black Faced Spoonbills.

Red Necked Stint

Curlew Sandpiper

Greater Sand-plover and Curlew Sandpiper

With the major target in the bag plus a few other lifers we needed to make tracks and head to the highlands of Alishan.

We would book into a lovely homestay near Shizhao Town on the edge of the Alishan National Forest. This is the region that produces the much sought after Taiwan oolong tea, they are so good that they have been described as the “champagne of tea.” In recent decades, Alishan High Mountain tea has stood out from the crowd as the most sought after Taiwanese tea, we were lucky enough to have this as our garden.......
Not a bad place to spend a couple of nights

our Tea Garden

We arrived at mid elevation just in time to have an hours bird watching before heading into town for Dinner. We found a spot just outside the temple that overlooked an allotment and small orchard.

Rufous Capped Babbler, Steers Liocichla, Taiwan Yuhina, Green Backed Tit were easy and for just a minute we thought Taiwan Bamboo Partridge was going to be easy as one briefly popped into view as we tracked its call, it was all too brief though and still we need better views. Six female Rosefinch and a new for the trip Japanese Bush-warbler all showed well. I didn't have my camera with me so take my word for it that we had some very nice views of a Male and Female Siberian Rubythroat. Collared Finchbill, Vinous-throated Parrotbills, Black Faced Buntings, Striated Prinia and Japanese White-eyes. This was a cracking location and we made a note to return before leaving the area in a few days time.

A few beers and dinner was calling.

Tomorrow we head upto the higher elevations of Yushan National Park. 



Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

Love the images of all the small waders. As I have said before a fabulous trip.

Nick Parker said...

Good photos of the woodpeckers. Worth spending the time with them.