Monday, 26 May 2014

Taiwan Bird Photos

Here are a few photos from my recent 10 day birding trip round Taiwan (and Lanyu Island - part of Taiwan). Will put together a proper trip report but for now this should give an idea of what was recorded.

Fairy Pitta
The main reason for the trip and it didn't disappoint with this bird found on the first morning, it showed very well for a Pitta. Nice to hear it singing too. This was at Huben where we stayed at the very nice Pitta Cafe B&B.

Endemic species. Think Firecrest but funkier! Bright yellow rump with a huge white eye-ring and white lores gives it a spectacled look. Had several birds showing very well in Yushan NP.

Lanyu Scops-Owl
An Endemic owl found only on Lanyu Island off Taiwan. We were amazed by how easily we found this bird and it showed very well. It was getting mobbed by Japanese Paradise Flycatcher and Brown-eared Bulbul, both of which had young nearby within the forest.

Malaysian Night Heron
This species can be tricky to connect with but in Taiwan was fairly easy. We had great views on the way to look for the Pitta at Huben. A really smart bird.

Oriental Pratincole
Found this one sat on the deck as we were driving around looking for the endemic sub-species of Common (Ring-necked) Pheasant - which we also saw. Saw several other pratincoles at the same location on the east coast and also on the west coast.

Owston's Bullfinch
A potential split from Grey-headed (Beavan's) Bullfinch. Had this one at Yushan NP. Another really smart bird. Sounded like our Bullfinch so picked up on call then tracked down in the early morning near the Tataka Visitor Centre! We had great views of Chinese/Himalayan (Taiwan) Tawny Owl at this location too.

Spotted Nutcracker
A fairly distinct endemic sub-species. Fairly numerous in Yushan NP and not shy either!

Swinhoe's Pheasant
One of the birds of the trip for me. Really getting into my Pheasants. This was an absolutely stunning bird. The photo was taken at 3200 ISO f2.8 and 1/8th second as it was practically dark when it walked in! The females are incredibly well camouflaged. We also saw at least 2 male and 1 female Mikado Pheasants and although we got good views didn't manage any photos of them (we avoided going to the photo stake out at Anmashan as wanted to try and find out own).

Taiwan 'Island' Thrush
Had great views of about 8 birds in the Wushe Area - would have probably got more birds and better pics if it wasn't for the weather here which was terrible. A very distinct sub-species and potential split for the future...

Taiwan Barbet
A very common endemic more often heard than seen. Didn't spend any time trying to photograph as not enough time on this trip really. 

Taiwan Blue Magpie
I was really worried we were going to dip this bird as we just couldn't find it at our prime site, however just when it looked like we were doomed we found a family group, including a couple of ugly fledglings. This one was busy ripping up a caterpillar!

Taiwan Hill Partridge
Like other Arborophila partridges we had to work hard for this tick! We'd heard them at several locations but thwarted by a range of things, mainly the rain and the inaccessible nature of many of the areas they occur but we got wind of a site where they were coming to grain early in the am near Alishan. We rode our luck and got this covey on our final full days birding! Worth the wait and like the Pheasant picture above this was taken in near darkness!

Taiwan Scimitar Babbler
Really showy birds (by Scimitar Babbler standards) seen at several locations, this endemic was photographed at Huben.

Taiwan 'Violaceous' Rosefinch
This male was busy eating grass seed at Yushan NP. We saw several family groups when at the higher elevations. Many now consider this to be a valid endemic species.

Taiwan Yuhina
An abundant endemic at the higher elevations, often in mixed-species flocks and responds incredibly well to Collared Owlet calls and often pulls in other birds too.  

White-whiskered Laughingthrush
Another common endemic of the higher elevations. Incredibly approachable where often fed by tourists in the parking lots around the tourist attractions.

Eurasian/Winter Wren
A distinctive endemic sub-species that will presumably get split someday??? This was at Yushan NP but others were heard in the higher elevation areas.

Yellow Tit
Another cool-looking endemic. Essentially a yellow Crested Tit! A couple of birds were seen at Wushe. Good to get this species as not always easy judging by the past trip reports I read before going.

Steere's Liocichla
Another common endemic of the higher elevation areas. It has a wide range of calls but generally was shy.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Taiwan Birding Trip

It has been a long while since I've written a blog post, sorry about that. I've been incredibly busy with work and then have been on a birding trip to Taiwan. More on that over the next couple of weeks....

The Taiwan trip was designed primarily to connect with the Fairy Pitta, a globally vulnerable species seemingly in decline (along with the majority of pitta species unfortunately). The other reason for the trip was to try and see as many of the endemic species that live on the island. There are a number of endemic species currently recognized, there's another set of very distinct endemic sub-species that have a very high likelihood of being raised to endemic species status and then there's another set of endemic sub-species that are just that, for the moment, but certainly worth seeing... just in case!

The trip was very successful with over 150 species recorded including pretty much all of the endemics.  I'll put a trip report up as usual when I can find time detailing where I went, what I saw etc. But for now, here's a picture of the Fairy Pitta that I had on the first day of the trip...

Fairy Pitta, Taiwan Andy Walker 2014