Saturday, 23 April 2011

TAIWAN 23-24 April 2011: Anmashan

Taiwan had long been somewhere I wanted to visit and a very late Easter combined with the early May Bank Holiday made 2011 the ideal time to go without having too much time off work.  Barry Reed and I missed Fairy Pitta in China in 2010 (they were late returning) so we decided to include a contingency day at the end – one the Royal Wedding holiday made ‘free’.   Andy Adcock advertised an interest in a Taiwan trip on Oriental Birding and we invited him to join us if he could fit in with our dates, fortunately he could.  Steve Webb was also recruited.   Barry, Steve and I left London on the evening of Thursday 21 April flying via Bangkok where a few birds were seen from the plane window including an Oriental Pratincole. We arrived in Taipei at 9pm the following day, picked up the hire car which Barry had arranged to be waiting for us and found our way to the nearby Novotel where Andy was waiting, having got in from Thailand a few hours earlier.

Saturday 23 April. We left the hotel just before dawn and drove to Anmashan a little over two hours away. After stopping at a 7-11 (our chosen source of food!), we birded the agricultural area at km 4 seeing Collared Finchbill, 2 Taiwan Scimitar-Babblers and Chinese Hwamei. I also missed Vineous-throated Parrotbill. We drove on to km 23 and were amazed to see about 80 Taiwanese photographers set up beside the road. This was a Swinhoe’s Pheasant stake-out, seed having been left on the opposite side of the road, but although seen earlier one had not been seen for over an hour. We sat down to wait and before long had excellent views of a pair of Taiwan Hill Partridges, one of the species I was most concerned about seeing, 2 Steere’s Liochiclas and a female White-tailed Robin. We went on to the headquarters to book a couple of rooms for the night and then walked trail 220 eventually seeing 2 Taiwan Bush Warblers and a male Taiwan Shortwing. We finished the day at km 47, another pheasant stake-out. Here in nearly two hours of waiting with about 20 photographers we saw 2 Nutcrackers, 2 White-whiskered Laughingthrushes, 2 Collared Bush-Robins, a pair of Vinaceous Rosefinches and eventually a superb male Mikado Pheasant.

Taiwan Hill Partridge continually walking out of shot due to digiscoping delays
Steere's Liochicla

Vinaceous Rosefinches in the gloom
White-whiskered Laughingthrush
Mikado Pheasant stake-out (bird is just above the kerb)

Mikado Pheasant
                                         Mikado Pheasant video with annoying head loss

Sunday 24 April. We drove to the top car park at Anmashan (km 50) as it was getting light and had an excellent hour or so there seeing 2 Nutcrackers, 4 Yellowish-bellied and 2 Taiwan Bush Warblers, 12 White-whiskered Laughingthrush, 5 Taiwanese Fulvettas, Flamecrest, male Island Thrush, 4 Collared Bush-Robins and 3 Vinaceous Rosefnches. We then had the worst breakfast I can remember, only enlivened by seeing Gerry and Beatrix Hinchon there and exchanging information with them. We left the headquarters and stopped for an hour back at the km 23 pheasant stake-out. The crowd was now over 100 but a male and immature male Swinhoe’s Pheasants were seen along with 4 Steere’s Liochiclas while a Crested Goshawk displayed overhead. We rather reluctantly left Anmashan to drive to Wushe.


White-whiskered Laughingthrush
Swinhoe's Pheasant stake-out

immature male Swinhoe's Pheasant and Steere's Liochicla

immature male Swinhoe's Pheasant
why did the chicken cross the road?

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