Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dasyueshan, Taiwan - Sep 2011 (part 3)

From dawn to dusk over the course of two days, we made the most of our time in the mountains, with productive stops along the winding road both scheduled and unscheduled in nature; the latter mostly a result of crawling along with the windows down, listening for calls, and piling out of the motor when appropriate.

The view from the visitor's centre observation tower - the building in the photo is the (distinctly Bond-villainesque) main lodge, our overnight accommodation

Scheduled stops, meanwhile, included the aforementioned stake-out at the beginning of day one, sessions in Bruce's filming hides along restricted tracks and deep into the forest, lunch at 2,800 metres with certain forthcoming species for close company (see following posts), and dinner, overnight & breakfast at the lodge, itself close to the highest peaks and nestling deep within the foliage.

enjoying the view

Planning day two after dinner in the restaurant

Sympathetically built into the surrounding environment and providing comfortable, basic accommodation, the lodge is located by the visitors centre - itself the very model of sympathetic design and aesthetics, excellent wildlife galleries & displays and hands-on interpretation, and a viewing tower to take the breath away instantly.

In one of innumerable instances of Taiwanese goodwill during our fortnight on the island, once the staff at the centre found out it was our honeymoon, we were instantly showered with free gifts from the shop....

It was at this spot where I discovered you could directly converse with Rusty Laughingthrushes, instantly making them one of the birds of the day

Various mammals (including Formosan Muntjac and flying squirrels), the most dramatic array of butterflies we've ever seen, dragonflies, fungi, insects and plantlife from another planet, consistently beautiful views, and great company conspired to make it (while often unsuitable for photos in the shade of the forest) even more special than we'd imagined.

Lunch at 2,800m or over 9000ft (saving a little to hand-feed the Nutcrackers and Laughingthrushes)

Back to a running theme of recent posts: all this, for precisely nothing (unless one includes our acquiescing to a brief interview for the upcoming Pheasant documentary). Such was the Bruce's generosity, we were dropped off back at our hotel in Taichung late the following evening having effectively been chauffeured and guided around one of Taiwan's most biodiverse and unique environments, by one of the country's best-known naturalists, without even being permitted to dip our hands into our pockets.

The site of one of several landslides while we were gallivanting up and down the road

Of the birds, well, safe to say it was one of the most productive, exciting and satisfying parts of the trip (if not, the most); the multi-species flocks included a bounty of lifers, endemics and some surprises, and the more solitary residents played nicely for us, leaving my notebook worn through with asterisks and capitalisation....

And a few of the many moths at the window of our lodge in the morning - time dictated I could only snap a few before moving on....

(More from Dasyueshan to follow)