Saturday, 30 April 2011

TAIWAN 30 April-3 May 2011: Huisun, Wushe, Huben & Anmashan

Saturday 30 April (continued).  We arrived at Huisun mid-late morning and spent the rest of day there seeing male Swinhoe’s Pheasant, 4 Malay Night Heron, 2 Formosan Blue Magpies and 2 Taiwan Varied Tits, the later taking most of the day to find and then remaining high in the trees making viewing difficult.  At dusk we drove for an hour to Puli where we stayed in a hotel on one of the main streets.

Malay Night Herons

male Swinhoe's Pheasant
Sunday 1 May.  We returned to Beidongyuenshan for the morning seeing 2 Taiwan Hill Partridges, 2 Oriental Turtle Doves, Collared Owlet, 3 Silver-backed Needletail, Jay 1, 3 Yellow Tits, Rufous-faced Warbler, 10 Rufous-crowned Laughingthrushes, Steere’s Liochicla, 2 White-tailed Robins and a male Snowy-browed Flycatcher.  We met some Taiwanese birders who told us that the first returning Fairy Pittas were only just arriving in the south of the country but hadn’t been seen at Huben yet.  Not what we wanted to hear as Huben was our next stop!  On arrival at Huben’s Fairy Pitta Guesthouse three hours later our hopes were raised by the arrivals board listing the first pitta for 26 April, a good week later than any of the previous five years listed but at least one had returned.  However no one there knew where it had been recorded and apparently none had been seen since.  We spent the afternoon in prime pitta habitat behind the temple with no success although we did see 2 Taiwan Bamboo Partridges, Mountain Scops Owl (excellent views as it was getting dark) and Dusky Fulvetta.  After dark we established that the pitta heard on 26 April had been near the 'pitta blind', 5 minutes walk from the guesthouse, but had not been recorded subsequently.  An anxious night ensued.

Huben roundabout, must be getting close ...
Monday 2 May.  Another rollercoaster of emotions.  We were having a pre-dawn breakfast in the Fairy Pitta Guesthouse when we heard a pitta calling from down the road in the direction of the ‘pitta blind’.  We dashed down the road but it stopped calling before we got close enough to determine where it might be.  It didn’t respond to tape and all morning in the area produced nothing.  We spent the afternoon behind the temple and driving some of the smaller roads in the area looking for decent habitat.  Birds included 4 Taiwan Bamboo Partridges, female Swinhoe’s Pheasant, 2 Malay Night Heron, 3 Emerald Doves, Savannah Nightjar, Formosan Blue Magpie, 10 Taiwan Scimitar Babblers and 4 Dusky Fulvettas.  A very anxious night as we were now relying on our last day to find the pitta, a contingency added in the trip planning stage that we had hoped not to need.
Fairy Pitta Guesthouse Huben

Fairy Pitta Guesthouse front garden

Tuesday 3 May.  We were on the road opposite the pitta blind before dawn hoping the Fairy Pitta would call again to give us a better idea of where it was.  I’d left my scope and SLR behind to be less encumbered should it be necessary to go in.  We sat with increasing anxiety for twenty minutes, past the time it had called the previous day, before it did so again.  This time it did respond and soon Barry picked out a silhouette in the top of one of the nearer trees.  It was the right shape and the right colours were discerned in the gloom before it dropped out of sight.  We walked around and got better, but still brief, views before it settled in an area in front of the pitta blind.  Here it performed off and on for two hours giving excellent views.  My only regret was only being able to take digibined photos of it.  It eventually stopped calling and we returned to breakfast relieved and elated.  The pitta had colour-rings and a radio aerial that had apparently been fitted several years before.  The area it was calling from had been a territory in previous years but not 2010.  We had the rest of the day and decided to return to Anmashan via some near coastal wetlands mentioned in a Birdfinding Guide.  We didn’t find the exact spot but beside a big river near Dali saw 4 Barred Buttonquail, Greater Painted-Snipe, Black-browed Reed Warbler, male Pin-tailed Whydah!!, 2 Pechora Pipits and 6 Black-faced Buntings.  The last few hours of the day at Anmashan produced Chinese Hwamei and 3 Vinous-throated Parrotbills at km 4 and 2 Rusty Laughingthrushes (good views at last), 5 White-eared Sibias and 2 Taiwan Yuhinas at km 23.  Returned to Novotel and an early morning flight home.

Fairy Pitta (radio tagged and colour ringed)
me happy at Huben
squirrel at Anmashan

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.