Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The foothills east of Taichung, 17th Sep 2011
After a wonderful time in the mountain forests, we returned to our hotel in downtown Taichung late evening; but not for long, with another pre-dawn start approaching. As if the preceding two days at our beck and call weren't enough, Bruce had conspired to arrange a morning's birding with a good friend of his, resident in the nearby countryside, in the hope of connecting us with a more low- and mid-elevation species.
Well-known Taiwanese naturalist, expert bird sound-recordist and author, Sunbird (his chosen English monicker) greeted us just after sunrise at his house on the fringes of a village in the lush, unspoiled foothills about 20km east of central Taichung, and over the course of the following hours we enjoyed several productive spots locally which hosted plenty of good birding.
With the distinct advantage of his aural ID skills honed over decades in the field, our time moseying through a variety of fertile habitats was peppered with highlights, including several endemic species, more endemic subspecies and a fistful of lifers.
Of the former, extremely skulking Taiwan Hwameis were very vocal close by (and even showed well, briefly), while Black-necklaced Scimitar Babblers played harder to get. Endemic subspecies included Collared Finchbills, Plain Prinias, and close-up Chinese [Taiwan] Bamboo Partridges (a likely split in the near future).
Other personal lifers included White-bellied Erpornis and Dusky Fulvetta, and plenty of raptors were evident (seems a long time since that was the case on the trip) - Crested Serpent-eagles, Chinese Sparrowhawks, Oriental Honey-buzzards and Crested Goshawks all showing well.
Sunbird, Amity & Bruce
From there, onto the small city of Douliu - but not before typically wonderful hospitality back at the homestead of our hosts, and a free ride southbound all the way courtesy of Bruce. If Taiwan was attempting to give us the impression of friendliest place on the planet, it had long since succeeded, and there was, of course, more to come...
juvenile Crested Goshawk
migrating Ashy Minivets
above, with our hosts for the day, and below, with the legendary Bruce