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Taiwan:

23rd April - 4th May 2018

 

Leader: Richard Foster

 
 
Max group size: 8

Note: Can be combined with our East China tour.

 

The island of Taiwan in the South China Sea has diverse habitats ranging from humid lowland forest through to a densely forested, mountainous interior, to unique coniferous forests and with peaks towering over 3000 meters where alpine grasslands predominate. Matching the diverse habitats, recent taxonomic changes now boost the tally to over 30 island endemics including two spectacular endemic pheasants, Taiwan Partridge, Taiwan Wren Babbler, Steere’s Liocichla, smart Collared Bush Robin and the diminutive but stunning Flamecrest. We will also visit off-shore Lanyu island where the endemic Lanyu Scops Owl plus breeding Japanese Paradise Flycatcher can be found, and make special efforts to see breeding Fairy Pittas which will be setting up territories having just returned to their breeding grounds in the Taiwanese lowlands.

Day 1:
International arrivals into Taipei Taoyuan Airport. We will stay overnight in a nearby hotel. There may be an option for an excursion to local birding sites.

Day 2:
We stop first in the forests at the nearby Shrmen Reservoir to search for our first endemics in the form of Taiwan Whistling Thrush, Taiwan Barbet, Taiwan Bamboo-Partridge and the colourful Taiwan Blue Magpie before heading up into the cool forests of the mountainous interior of the island. The beautiful mixed forests and spectacular scenery of Dasyueshan will be our home for a three night stay and the start of our endemic quest.

Days 3-4:
We spend two full days at Dasyueshan which is a home to a great many of Taiwan’s endemics but we will be looking in particular for the two spectacular endemic pheasants which are frequently found along the roadsides here; Swinhoe’s and Mikado Pheasants, while the shy Taiwan Partridge is also common here and with the Taiwan Bamboo-Partridge completes the galliform set. We will also be on the lookout for Taiwan Shortwing, Taiwan Wren Babbler, Taiwan Fulvetta, Flamecrest, Steere’s Liocichla and the striking white-headed taxon of Island Thrush which is a likely future split. Also Taiwan Bush Warbler, Taiwan Yuhina, Little Forktail, Steere’s Liocichla, Taiwan Sibia and Taiwan Barwing while cute Taiwan Wren Babbler and Snowy-browed Flycatcher entertain us in the understory. Mixed flocks here might also contain Vivid Niltava (again, a likely endemic split), Yellow Tit, Rufous-faced Warbler, and Brown Bullfinch. The mixed broadleaf forests here should hopefully reveal both Rufous-crowned and Rusty Laughingthrushes as well as Ashy Woodpigeon. Nights at Dasyueshan.

Day 5:
After a final morning at Dasyueshan with Striated Prinia, Brownish-flanked Bush-warbler, and nearby Guguan for Chestnut-bellied Tit, Malayan Night-heron, and Brown Dipper we travel to Aogu Wetland on the SW coast where our targets will include Black-faced Spoonbill, Oriental Stork, and Asian Dowitcher. No doubt Gray-throated Martins, Striated Swallows, Oriental Skylarks will be around. Overnight at Budai.

Day 6:
This morning we visit a variety of excellent wetland and estuary habitats looking through a large range of good waders, terns, and passerines. We may be rewarded with much-desired snipes, sandpipers, stints, and rails. After lunch we travel further south to a lowland forest good for the distinctive variety of Maroon Oriole, White-bellied Pigeon and passage raptors. Overnight on the the southern Kenting Peninsula.

Day 7:
We wake to Styan’s Bulbul and Taiwan Hwamei before taking a ferry to the small island of Lanyu which has several birds scarce or absent on the mainland. These include a distinctive race of Whistling Green Pigeon, a particularly dark form of Philippine Cuckoo Dove, Brown-eared Bulbul, Lowland White-eye, Northern Boobok, and Japanese Paradise Flycatcher. Although not yet fully recognised as an island endemic, the Lanyu Scops Owl here is vocally distinct from birds in the northern Philippine and southern Japanese islands and will surely be split in the future. The 2-hour ferry usually serves up Streaked Shearwater, Bulwer’s Petrel as well as a couple fun surprises. Night on Lanyu.

Day 8:
A morning walk will give us more time to enjoy yesterday’s birds, hopefully adding Pacific Swift, Chinese Egret and other migrants before taking the ferry back to the mainland. On the way northwards to mid-elevation mountains at Alishan we will have the opportunity to visit various rewarding wetland, farmland, and forest locations for Barred Buttonquail, Savanna Nightjar, King Quail, Oriental Pratincole and various flycatchers. Night at Alishan.

Day 9:
We spend a fun day at several spots in the stunning surroundings of Yushan National Park with many, now familiar, endemics adding White-whiskered Laughingthrush, Taiwan Bush Warbler, Spotted Nutcracker, Yellowish-bellied Bush-warbler, and Grey-headed Bullfinch. Collared Bush Robin, Eastern Coal Tit, Ferruginous Flycatcher, Taiwan Rosefinch are added attractions and we have more good chances with Flamecrest, Golden Parrotbill and Himalayan Owl. Our last morning at high elevation gives us a final shot at any missing montane endemics including Mikado Pheasant and other desirable specialities like Golden Parrotbill, White-backed Woodpecker, Mountain Hawk Eagle.

Day 10:
If not encountered the previous day our target this morning around Huben is the spectacular Fairy Pitta here at one of its few remaining breeding strongholds. Other species in the area include shy Taiwan Partridges, Malayan Night Heron, Rusty Laughingthrush and Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler among others. If all goes well we will visit more coastal wetlands for Great Knot, and Oriental Plover before we return to northern Taiwan in the evening for two nights.

Day 11:
After clearing up any missing endemics or species such as Eastern Spot-billed Duck, Golden-headed Cisticiola, Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Today is a day for exploring the north coast and some interesting migrant twitching spots.

Day 12:
International departures from Taipei International Airport.