Champions of the Flyway!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shibi, central Taiwan - September 2011

Amur [White] Wagtail

And so to Douliu, a small city in Yunlin County, central Taiwan, just west of the unspoilt mountains which dominate the island from the far north to its southern tip. We'd factored a full day (and two nights) here on account of another gilt-edged birding opportunity, courtesy of the aforementioned wildlife documentary maker, forest bird uber-nerd and Douliu resident Mark (Wilkie).

Snowy-browed Flycatcher - a skulker of the forest understorey

Mark was responsible for hooking us up with and arranging our time at Dasyueshan and beyond with Bruce (his colleague), and kindly gave up a day to accompany us into the forests again, this time some 30km west of the sprawl to an area known as Shibi.

the first section of the trail, through bamboo

We spent much of the day hiking up and down the Shibi South Trail, a winding path through beautiful, lush, mixed forest of subtly differing make-up as we ascended to the ridge. We took our time, stopping whenever activity was noted, as is the (only) way when forest birding (especially outside of the spring and breeding season); as expected, from where one or two initial calls emitted, more participants were soon uncovered.

endemic Formosan Striped Squirrels - thankfully not stripped as the sign says

Despite the weather closing in on us for the second half of the hike (with a thick cloud bank enveloping us for much of the walk from the peak downwards), we had sunshine for the earlier part of the day, and plenty of success - including, pleasingly, still more endemics to add to those already nailed over previous days.

Brown Shrike, showing very pale grey crown and rich underparts - of which subspecies?

Highlights included Johnstone's Robin, Yellow Tit, Taiwan Wren Babbler, Taiwan Shortwing and Taiwan Bush Warbler (all endemics), Brown-flanked [Strong-footed] Bush Warbler (probably soon to attain full specific status), Snowy-browed Flycatchers, Amur Wagtails, Plumbeous Redstarts, and many of the specialist forest species of previous days.

Black Eagle (expertly found by Amity, looking up while we were looking down)

Back-up included Black Eagle, Black-necklaced Scimitar Babblers, both partridges, Ashy Woodpigeons, White-tailed Robins, Taiwan Whistling Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Steere's Liocichlas, Taiwan Sibias, Barbets and Yuhinas, Green-backed Tits, numerous Rufous-faced Warblers, Black-throated Tits and Grey-cheeked Fulvettas, and many more besides.

Eurasian Nuthatch of the local ssp. - another candidate for splitting

Another killer day, and we returned to Douliu in the evening tired and very satisfied; back to Taipei the following day, where we'd sadly only a couple of days left in arguably our favourite country on the planet...

Yellow Tit - a brightly coloured endemic, surprisingly hard work, and very shy (as shown...)