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Up and Down and All Around Taiwan

TAIWAN | Wednesday, 9 October 2019 | Views [41]

Taiwan Barbet, Zhiben Hot Springs

Taiwan Barbet, Zhiben Hot Springs

OCTOBER ISN’T THE BEST MONTH FOR BIRDING in Taiwan.  Nevertheless, we have been following birding tour trip reports for locations where local species have been reported recently.  As it turns out, “recently” is a relative term—some locations haven’t had reports in a year or more—but it’s the best we can do.

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  A bit of Greece in Taiwan                   Windmills of Mykonos

Taitung City on the east coast of Taiwan would have been a bust but for our lodging.  Fuyue Sea B&B looks like it belongs in Santorini and the mural (windmills on Mykonos?) over the bed carries the theme.  Our 4th floor walk-up has breath-taking views—or maybe it’s just the climb that took my breath away.  Surprisingly the satellite TV has FoxSports and we can watch last night’s MLB Playoffs live while we eat breakfast thanks to the 12-hour time difference.

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    Taiwan Barbet                              Crested Serpent Eagle

Taiwan barbets, endemic but fairly common, had been seen in the foothills near Zhiben Hot Springs, “only” 45 minutes from the B&B.  This is a new species for Connie and barbets always make nice photos, so off we went.  We saw three as soon as we got out of the car—and not another for the rest of the day—only a wayward crested serpent eagle.  So it goes.

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       . . . 98, 99, 100.  Black-faced Spoonbills

Taiwan has a major air pollution problem.  Much of it is self-inflicted but an awful lot of smutch drifts over from China.  We have both been sneezing and my eyes are itchy and watering.  It’s worse back on the western side of the island.  Our GPS easily located our hotel in Chiyai but we had a heck of a time divining the map coordinates for the Black-faced Spoonbill Reserve from Google Maps.  

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   Sneaking in . . .                              for a closer look

Half of the world’s 4000 black-faced spoonbills winter on the Reserve’s mudflats beginning in November—most of the rest go to Hong Kong.  Lucky for us, about 100 arrived early.  They were several hundred meters from the viewing area but we managed to halve the distance with a stealthy approach along the dikes of the fish ponds.  The photos, mostly with Connie’s 80X Cool-Pix, aren’t going to make the swimsuit issue of Birds Illustrated but they are visual proof.

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             Besra

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                         Bronzed Drongo

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                                           Grey-chinned Minivet (f)

Chia Shih Pao Business Hotel has all the amenities—and charm—of an American hotel, at half the price.  After the complimentary breakfast we drove off to the aptly-named Huben Important Bird Area.  Birders flock to HIBA’s bamboo forests in May when the endemic Fairy Pitas nest.  In steamy October—33°C and humid—it was catch-as-catch-can.  

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   Maroon Oriole

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                 Amur Paradise Flycatcher (f)

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                                        White-rumped Shama

We did see several mixed flocks including bronzed drongos, black bulbuls, grey-chinned minivet and grey treepie.  Some surprises were the amur paradise flycatcher, maroon oriole and a white-rumped shama.

 

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