Taiwan

Birdwatching in Taiwan

by Woei-Horng Fang and Brian Sykes from BirdingASIA 2, December 2004.

Introduction Taiwan, a jewel in the Western Pacific
Taiwan is located on the western edge of the Pacific Ocean, lying about 160 km off the south-east China coast between Japan and the Philippines. It is about 400 km long from north to south, 150 km at its widest point near the centre, 36,000 km² in area and with 1,000 km of coastline it is about half the size of Sri Lanka. An immense, very scenic mountain range rising to 3,998 m at Yushan (formerly Mount Morrison) and with 15 major peaks above 3,500 m makes up its spine, which lies closer to the east coast where the lower slopes fall steeply to the sea, whereas in the west they descend to a wide fertile densely populated and developed agricultural plain where the bulk of the more than 20 million human inhabitants live. The wetland areas of the west coast are very important stop-over and wintering areas for thousands of north-south migrant waterbirds, and the numerous scattered uninhabited offshore islets attract pelagic species that roost and nest.

The mountains may be cool and wet at any time of year, and snow may be expected at high altitudes in winter. The summer is hot and humid at low altitude and the wettest time of year. The main season for tropical storms (typhoons) is from July to November. Winter is cool and wet in the north, cool and dry in the south. The islands location on the edge of the Eurasian tectonic plate means that earth tremors are frequent but not usually serious, although more severe earthquakes are not unknown, the last serious one (Richter 7.3) in October 1999 causing serious damage in the mountains.


fairypittaFairy Pitta © Wen-Hsin Huang


The long isolation of Taiwan since the Ice Ages has resulted in 15 endemic species (see Appendix) and around 70 endemic subspecies within the 550 bird species so far recorded. Other rare and interesting species the visitor may hope to see include Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes, Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor, Saunders’s Gull Larus saundersi, Chinese Crested Tern Sterna bernsteini, Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus and, in summer, the Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha.

Planning a visit

General information
Taiwan has a wide range of facilities to suit all tastes and budgets. Transportation to most sites is straightforward, car hire is readily available, and food and accommodation are normally easy to find, although as detailed under specific sites it is sometimes necessary to arrange accommodation in advance and to carry snacks. Visitors should take clothing for all conditions and be prepared to accept the loss of one or two days birdwatching due to poor weather in the mountains or if the island is hit by a typhoon.

Maps and guides
It is well worth purchasing a road map prior to arrival. Nelles Maps 1:400,000 series Taiwan Republic of China is widely available and useful, although it does not show all the sites mentioned. Two field guides cover Taiwan:

A field guide to the birds of Taiwan, byWu Sen-Hsiong et al. Taiwan Wild Bird Information Centre & Wild Bird Society of Japan, 1991. 276 pages. ISBN 957-9578-00-1. Only common and systematic names are given in English (there are a few typos and taxonomic errors); the main text is Chinese. The illustrations are good, distribution maps are generally helpful and it is a very useful pocket field guide. It is hard to obtain outside Taiwan, but should be available in Taipei through WBFT.

A field guide to the birds of China, by John MacKinnon & Karen Phillipps. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000 xiii + 586 pages. 128 colour plates. Hardback ISBN 0-19-854940-7; paperback, ISBN 0-19-854941-5. The widely available comprehensive English-language guide covering more than 1,300 species found in China. For obvious reasons not very user-friendly as a field guide for Taiwan alone, and some distinctive Taiwanese subspecies are not illustrated and not well described. An extended review appeared in OBC Bulletin 32, 2000, pp.44-48.


flamecrestFlamecrest © Wen-Hsin Huang


When to visit
It should be possible to see the majority of the endemics in a short staymost, if not all can be found within a week at any time of year. Overall October to March is the best period for birdwatching with interesting migrants and winter visitors, but the summer months offer the possibility of breeding Fairy Pitta and Chinese Crested Tern. When planning a visit check when the three-day Lunar New Year Festival falls in the year (somewhere between the last week of January and mid-February). This holiday and the National Day, 10 October (“Double-Ten”), are very busy: families visit relatives in other parts of the island, the road network is very crowded, transportation is booked up and most businesses close for several days. A visit at these dates is not recommended.

Useful contacts

Wild Bird Federation Taiwan
1st Fl., No. 3, Lane 36, Jinglong Street
Taipei 106, Taiwan
Tel: 886-2-86631252 ï Fax: 886-2-29303595
E-mail: wbft@bird.org.tw
Homepage: www.bird.org.tw

The Wild Bird Federation Taiwan is able to provide information for visiting birdwatchers. They should be contacted if a visit to Matsu-do during the Chinese Crested Tern breeding season is planned. This is a restricted area and the WBFT has up-to-date information on when the site is open and arrangements for visitors. They can also help arrange accommodation and access to the site. Foreign visitors should bear in mind that the Taiwan authorities have the right to withdraw access to the site if rules and protocols are broken.

Tourism Bureau of the Republic of China
9th Fl., No. 280, Jhongsiao East Road, Section 4
Taipei 105, Taiwan
Tel: 886-2-23491635~6. Fax: 886-2-27717036
E-mail: tbroc@tbroc.gov.tw
Homepage: www.taiwan.net.tw

Independent travellers are recommended to use the above website, as it contains useful general information on visa applications, basic internal travel, overseas offices etc.

Taiwan Ecotourism Association
3rd Fl., No. 30-2, Lane 240, Guangfu South Road
Taipei 106, Taiwan
Tel: 886-2-27784567. Fax: 886-2-27213453
E-mail: eco.tourism@msa.hinet.net

The birdwatching sites
Space constraints dictate that sites can only be covered briefly and inevitably some locations have had to be omitted. Our objective is to describe a suite of alternative sites where the endemics and a wide range of other interesting species may be seen. The English spelling of place names is inconsistent; the spelling used below is that most often used in tourist brochures and on road signs etc. Alternatives known to be in use are also shown.

Sites around Taipei
Most overseas visitors arrive at Taipeis Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport and independent visitors typically spend a day or two in Taipei completing arrangements. The following sites may conveniently be visited whilst based in the city. The main Taipei Railway Station (TRS) in the centre of Taipei is an excellent starting point, as the Metro Rapid Transit (MRT) and many bus services leave from this point.

About 65 species have been recorded in the eight hectare Taipei Botanical Garden, a good starting point for birdwatching in Taiwan. From the TRS take the MRT Danshui line to Nanmen (South Gate) Station (about 15 minutes). It holds over 1,500 botanical species, the habitat includes seasonal freshwater ecology ponds and a number of fine old trees where the Malayan Night Heron roosts and has bred recently. The birds preference is for humid, dark areas where they stand quietly or forage on the ground. Although locally common elsewhere in low-altitude broadleaf forest, the Botanical Garden has proved a very reliable site for this species, although more than one visit may be needed to locate it. Other species recorded include Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus, Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae, Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus, Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea, Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus and occasional rarities including Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis. Allow two hours or more; the gardens may be busy in early mornings and at weekends.

If time allows the Taipei City Waterbird Refuge (IBA 4) may be visited during the same outing. This site on the Tanshui and Hsindian (Hsintien) Rivers lies between the Chunghsing bridge in the north and the Huachung bridge to the south and also extends from the latter bridge upstream on the Hsindian River to the Yungfu bridge. About 120 species have been recorded in the area, including Chinese Egret, whilst Baikal Teal Anas formosa is an occasional visitor hidden in the flocks of Common Teal Anas crecca and Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata.

The Kuan-du Nature Park and Yangmingshan National Park are also easily combined into one visit by public transport from Taipei. Kuan-du (Kuantu) Nature Park (IBA3) is a 55 hectare area of reedbed, open pools and mangrove at the confluence of the Tansui and Keelung Rivers. Almost 300 species have been recorded including Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana, Chinese Egret, and Black-faced Spoonbill. It is also good for Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis, Bright-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis, Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis and Vinous-throated Parrotbill Paradoxornis webbianus, whilst buntings, falcons and harriers may be seen in winter. There is an excellent visitor centre. From the TRS take the MRT Danshui line north to Kuandu station; the park is an easy walk from here. If going on to Yangmingshan, return to the MRT and continue to Shilin Station, take bus no.260 from here to the terminus (direct from TRS the journey time is about 70 minutes).


swinhoespheasantSwinhoe’s Pheasant © Wen-Hsin Huang


The 11,000 hectare Yangmingshan National Park has an altitudinal range of 2501,000 m. It is famous for its geothermal springs. The area has suffered human encroachment from the earliest times and the forest cover is mainly secondary growth. There are seven short birdwatching trails and some 110 species have been recorded in the park, including the two endemic species found in low-altitude forest, the sometimes elusive Taiwan Blue Magpie Urocissa caerulea and the Taiwan WhistlingThrush Myophonus insularis. The magpies are mainly found in mobile flocks in the forest, often with regular roosting sites; the main habitat of the whistling thrushes is around streams, and they defend established territories. Other species of interest to the first-time visitor include Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracica, Black-browed Barbet Megalaima oorti, Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela, Grey Treepie, Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler Cettia fortipes, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis, Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyris ruficeps, Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus and Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus.

Those with their own transport may combine a half-day at Kuan-du or Yangminsghan with a visit to Yehlui (Yieliu, Yehliao or Yehliou), a 2 km long promontory on Taiwans north coast jutting into the sea in a north-easterly direction (IBA1). Yehlui town is about 12 km north of Keelung, well signposted from Highway 2. The site is of particular interest during MarchMay as it is the best place to sea-watch and find rarities during the northbound migration. More than 300 species have been recorded over a ten-year period.

Two other options whilst in Taipei are Kuanyinshan (Guan-yin Mountain) for raptor watching in spring (see Raptor watching in Taiwan) and Wulai, good for low-altitude forest species. Wulai lies south of Taipei at the northern extremity of the Syueshan range, the altitude being around 200 m rising to 1,000 m. The birdwatching trail, a 7 km round trip taking up to four hours, follows the Tunghou River. On one side of the trail there are steep mountain slopes clad with virgin forests, on the other low-elevation secondary forests, abandoned houses and a cemetery. Take a Sindian Co bus to Wulai from the TRS and get off at the terminus. The journey time is about 90 minutes. Low-altitude forest species found here include Taiwan Blue Magpie, Taiwan Whistling Thrush, Crested Serpent Eagle, White-bellied Green Pigeon Treron sieboldii, Black-browed Barbet, Black Bulbul, Plumbeous Water Redstart Rhyacornis fuliginosus, Little Forktail Enicurus scouleri, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe morrisonia, Dusky Fulvetta Alcippe brunnea, Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus, Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii, and Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris. The area is busy at weekends. Overnight accommodation is available. Note, food is only available near the bus terminus.

In search of the high-altitude specialists
The high-montane alpine zone in Taiwan lies above about 3,200 m, and two sites stand out as the best places to see the high-altitude specialists, Yushan (Jade Mountain)and Hohuanshan (Mt. Hohuan). Nantou Countys Yushan National Park is a magnificent remote area with high-altitude coniferous forests Tsuga chinensis formosana, and alpine prairies mainly composed of dwarf bamboo Yushania niitakayamensis and the grass Miscanthus transmorrisonensis, but several days are needed to be sure of seeing the important species; it also lacks facilities. Visitors should be prepared to hike and camp in cool conditions (typical daytime temperature 15°C). If time is short, visit the Tatajia (Tatachia) Recreational Area (2,400-2,800 m) where there is a 10 km birdwatching trail. There is no public transport to the park; by car take the Expressway south from Taipei to Chiayi and take the road to Chungpu (Jhongpu). There take Highway 18 to Alishan (Chaoping) and continue to the Tatajia Tourist Centre. The 50 km trip from Chiayi takes about two hours. Accommodation is available in the Dongpu (Tongpu) area (contact the Yushan National Park Administration at 886-4-9773121); meals should be booked at the same time.


goldenparrotbillGolden Parrotbill © Shen-Hueui Lin


Highway 14, the mountain road from Puli and Wushe to the east coast, reaches its summit the Wuling Pass (3,300 m) at Hohuanshan, before descending to Tayuling (Dayuling), and continuing via the spectacular Taroko Gorge to Hualien. Roadside birdwatching on the pass is very productive and although there is accommodation nearby many visitors stay nearer Wushe to order to make early morning forays in search of the endemic pheasants.White-whiskered (Taiwan) Laughing-thrush Garrulax morrisonianus, Taiwan Bush Warbler Bradypterus alishanensis, Yellow-bellied Bush Warbler Cettia acanthizoides, Golden Parrotbill Paradoxornis nipalensis, Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris, Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes and Vinaceous Rosefinch Carpodacus vinaceus may be found near the head of the pass and the summit car park usually produces some of these species. Flamecrest Regulus goodfellowi and Coal Tit Parus ater may be found in any of the roadside stands of tall pines. Public transport is sparse, but the Kuo-Kang bus company operates from Hualien to Tayuling (about four hours). Accommodation is available in Tayuling and reservations for the Mt. Hohuan Lodge can be made (contact the Forestry Bureau, Dongshih Forest Administration, at 886-4-5150855). Parts of Highway 14 are narrow and steep, and landslides may occur in wet weather, particularly during the typhoon season. Driving on this road is hazardous in fog, rain and high winds. Snow may be encountered at high level in winter.

Mid-altitude mountain forests the world of Taiwan’s endemic birds
Taiwans temperate-zone mixed coniferous broadleaf forests lie between 2,000 and 3,000 m. The rainfall and humidity are higher than at lower levels, the forests are luxuriant, and the biological diversity is high. Birdwatching is good at any time of year, but landslips after heavy rain can block mountain roads and restrict access in the typhoon season. There are two excellent areas that offer opportunities to see the endemic Phasianidae and the majority of the other endemic species; only Taiwan Blue Magpie and Styan’s Bulbul Pycnonotus taivanus do not occur in the Central Mountains. Taichung County’s Anmashan (Dasyueshan Big Snow Mountain Recreation Area), altitude 2,0002,600 m, is regarded as one of Taiwans best birdwatching sites, whilst a visit to the forest trails off Highway 14 between Meifeng and Tsuifeng in NantouCounty presents opportunities to see the pheasants between Wushe and Wuling Pass (see above). There is no public transport to Anmashan; from Taipei take Freeway 1 and leave by the Fengyuan (Fongyuan) exit before Taichung, then take Highway 3 from Fengyuan to Tungshih (Dongshih). In Tungshih care is needed at the junction of Highway 3 and Highway 8 to find the road to Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area. It is about 50 km from Tungshih to the end of this road, the main entrance being reached at about km 34, and the accommodation (Anmashan Mountain Hostel) is situated at about km 44. (Reservations advised, contact Dasyueshan Forest Recreation Area 886-4-25877901). Three forest trails are recommended, trail 210 just beyond km 35, trail 220 just before km 39 and trail 230 that starts from the car park and cafe near the end of the road at km 50.


yellowtitYellow Tit © Chieh Wen Huang


About 80 species have been recorded including the difficult species (Taiwan Partridge Arborophila crudigularis, Swinhoe’s Pheasant Lophura swinhoii, Mikado Pheasant Syrmaticus mikado, and Yellow Tit Parus holsti), other endemics, and good species such as White-browed Shortwing Brachypteryx montana, Vivid Niltava Niltava vivida, Grey-headed Bullfinch Pyrrhula erythaca, Scaly Thrush Zoothera dauma, White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos, Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius, and Eurasian Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes. It is also a reliable site for White-throated Laughingthrush Garrulax albogularis and Rusty Laughingthrush G. poecilorhynchus.

To reach Meifeng and Tsuifeng from Taichung, take the Nantou Bus Co bus to Puli and from there the same company operates via Wushe to Tsuifeng; alight at Meifeng (about 90 minutes from Puli). There is limited accommodation at the Meifeng Mountain Farm (Ching Ching Farm), so reservations are needed; contact National Taiwan University Agriculture InstituteAssociated Mountain Experimental Farm at 886-2-2803148. There are also hotels in Wushe and Fushih (Lushan). There are two very obvious forestry trails leading off Highway 14 between Meifeng and Tsuifeng (altitude 2,100-2,200m) into the Reiyenshi Reserve. The first, the Rueiyan River Forest Road, is about 30 minutes walk from the farm; both follow the contour of west-facing hill slopes and are good for the pheasants and Taiwan Partridge. About 120 species have been recorded including White-browed Bush Robin Tarsiger indicus, Collared Bush Robin T. johnstoniae, Pygmy Wren Babbler Pnoepyga pusilla, Ashy Wood Pigeon Columba pulchricollis, White-throated Laughingthrush and Rusty Laughingthrush. The enigmatic Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus is also found here.


collaredbushrobinCollared Bush Robin © Wen-Hsin Huang


While in the Puli area, another site for the Taiwan Blue Magpie and the rather local Varied Tit Parus varius is the Huisun National Forest Recreation Area (altitude 2502,000 m) located near Ren-ai village. It is part of Chung Hsing Universitys experimental farm; room and board may be reserved at the ecological vacation village contact Huisun Farm 886-49-2942000. The website has an English section giving bus times from Puli etc. By car from Taipei use Highway 3 to Tsaotun (Tsautun); leave here via Highway 14 and go to Kuohsing (Kuoshin) to access the area. From Puli follow Highway 21 to Kuohsing. Other species recorded here include Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis, Mountain Scops Owl Otus spilocephalus, Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata, Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques and Hwamei Garrulax canorus.

Finding the Fairy Pitta
The globally threatened Fairy Pitta is a spring and summer visitor that breeds in moist lowland broadleaf forest and bamboo below 1,000 m. The area around Yunlin Countys Huben Village (IBA17),altitude 500 m,holds the largest known present-day breeding population and offers a very good chance of seeing the species. Much of the habitat is secondary forest, bamboo, betel nut plantation and orchard. Huben is located in Linnei Township and reached from Taipei by taking the northsouth Expressway to the Touliu (Douliu) exit (about 50 km south of Taichung); turn north on Highway 3 and head for Linnei. It is about 30 minutes by car to the village from the exit. Linnei is also easily reached from Puli via Highway 21 past Sun Moon Lake and then on Highway 16 to Highway 3. A stay of two days is recommended and accommodation is easy to arrange, thanks to the conservation consciousness in this community. Malayan Night Heron also breeds here and is often seen; other good species include Taiwan Blue Magpie, Taiwan Partridge, Swinhoes Pheasant, White-eared Sibia Heterophasia auricularis, and Maroon Oriole.


taiwanbarwingTaiwan Barwing © Wen-Hsin Huang


In Taoyuan County, the 10,000 hectare Shihmen Reservoir located on the upper reaches of the Dahan River is another Fairy Pitta breeding area. The forests along the public roads around the lake are dense, and the dark, moist trails are good spots to look for feeding birds. Buses from Taoyuan and Hsinchu go to the reservoir, which is adjacent to Highway 3. There are hotels and cabins in the area (contact the Shihmen Reservoir Scenic Area 886-3-4712247). Avoid the area at weekends and holidays when it is busy with local tourists.

Rare water birds on Taiwan’s west coast
The western coastline consists mostly of sandy estuaries and sandy beaches. The abundant organisms found in the inter-tidal zone attract large flocks of migrant and wintering shorebirds and waterfowl. Tainan plays host to the largest global wintering flock of Black-faced Spoonbills. Every winter Saunders’s Gulls appear on coastal fishponds and Chinese Crested Tern, recently rediscovered breeding on the Matsu island group off the Chinese coast, is reported on Taiwans west coast.Driving along thecoastal Highway 17 between Taichung and Tainan is an excellent way to look for migrant and wintering shorebirds. About 100 species have been recorded here, including annual records of Saunders’s Gulls and Chinese Crested Terns. Other species of interest include Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus, Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga and Slaty-backed Gull Larus schistisagus. This section of coastline is about 150 km long. There is no regular transport service, but cars or motorcycles may be rented in Taichung or Tainan. To travel the entire coastal highway takes about three hours, but waterbird enthusiasts may find a four-day stay rewarding. Taichung, Tainan and the nearby smaller towns have a wide choice of accommodation and eating-places; advance reservations are not required. As there are few eating-places along the coastal highway itself, visitors are advised to take their own daytime provisions. Tainan’s Tsengwen (Zengwen) River Estuary is the wintering site of more than 50% of the global population of Black-faced Spoonbill. The site is part of IBA 27 that also covers an important area to the north of the Tsengwen River tidal flats used by the spoonbills to feed and roost. The area consists mostly of estuarine sandflats, tidally flooded land, fishponds, agricultural land, and windbreak casuarina forest. Falcated Duck Anas falcata, Baikal Teal, Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Oriental Stork, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata, and Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, are among the species recorded in the area. Private transport is required to drive around the maze of narrow roads between the fishponds and on the levees to get the best from the area, but care is needed as there are many dead ends and few passing places. The spoonbill site may be reached by public transport from Tainan Railway Station by taking the Tainan Bus Co bus to Jioukuaicuo. From here follow first the Jioukuaicuo levee and then the Nanti levee for around 8 km; on foot, it takes around 2 hours. There is lodging and food in this area, but prior reservation is necessary. Sitsao Wildlife Refuge (IBA 29), an area of saltpans and pools on the south bank of the Tsengwen, is also used by the spoonbills and may be accessed via Tainan city. Hulupi (IBA 28), an area of land used to cultivate water chestnut and the last site for Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus in Taiwan, lies 30 km north of Tainan and may be reached from either Highway 1 or Highway 19.

Behind the mountains: the east coast and the southern tip

Taitung and Kenting
Taitung
on the south-east coast, the starting point for trips to Lanyu (Orchid Island), is the main town in Taitung County, the most remote and relatively undisturbed part of the island and well worth a visit during a two- or three-week stay. The flight time from Taipei is about one hour and transport may be hired on arrival. There is plenty of choice of accommodation and eating-places in Taitung and in the hot-spring resort of Chihpen further down the coast.

On the western side of Taitung County, the Central Mountain Range rises to 3,600 m, while on the east lies the lower coastal range. The narrow East Rift Valley between them is a stronghold of Styans Bulbul. About 370 bird species have been recorded in the county, including all the endemics and about 40 of the endemic subspecies and, thanks to the relative lack of disturbance, Swinhoes Pheasant and Mikado Pheasant are widespread at mid-elevations. Rare birds found in the mountains include Black Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle Spizaetus nipalensis, and Tawny Fish Owl Ketupa flavipes. Access is by the forest roads (up to 50 km long) that run west steeply into the mountains, but some are impassable after a few km except on foot, so that food and shelter must be carried, and not all roads are open to the public. The Lijia, Wulu and Chihpen roads are good choices. It is possible to drive south from Chihpen and cross the island to reach the southern tip at Kenting (See Raptor watching in Taiwan).There may be discoveries to be made in the area; Whistling Green Pigeon Treron formosae can still be seen, notably at Sheding Nature Park in Kenting National Park, while Japanese Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata and Brown-eared Bulbul Ixos amaurotis may still cling on. The seldom-seen Black-chinned Fruit Dove Ptilinopus leclancheri has also been reported recently in Pintung County.

Lanyu (Orchid Island)
Lanyu is a small (46 km2) mountainous tropical island in the Pacific Ocean about 60 km south-east of Taitung. It is an interesting trip for those with plenty of time, but no more than a two-night stay should be needed to see the important species. The climate is tropical with high temperatures and high rainfall. The scenery is spectacular including the volcanic rocky reef-strewn coastline, terraced taro fields and the concealed tropical forests of the central mountain area. The inhabitants are indigenous people of the Tao (Yami) tribe, more closely related to the Philippines and Pacific nations. A ferry operates from Taitungs Fugang Fishing Harbour on Tuesdays and Fridays, taking about four hours. Tickets should be purchased in advance as the island is a popular tourist destination. The daily flights by eight-seat light plane from Taitung take 30 minutes. They are often full and should also be pre-booked. Accommodation may be booked in advance. There is public transport that may be flagged down at any point on the 40 km long road round the periphery of the island, and scooters may be hired. Of 180 species recorded, about 50 are resident; the island is an obvious place to look for migrants in season. The most important residents are Elegant Scops Owl Otus elegans and Brown Cuckoo Dove Macropygia amboinensis; both are only found here and easy to see. Brown-eared Bulbul and Japanese Paradise-flycatcher are common, unlike on the mainland where they may have died out. Likewise the Whistling Green Pigeonis much easier to find here than in mainland Pintung County.


taiwanyuhinaTaiwan Yuhina © Wen-Hsin Huang


Appendix

Brief data on the Taiwanese endemics

Taiwan Partridge Arborophila crudigularisCommon resident found in undergrowth of low- to mid-elevation thick evergreen broadleaf forests (700-2,000 m).
Swinhoe’s Pheasant Lophura swinhoii Uncommon resident, found in the undergrowth of low- to mid-elevation natural broadleaf forests (500-2,000 m).
Mikado Pheasant Syrmaticus mikado Uncommon resident, found in the undergrowth of mid-elevation natural broadleaf forests of central Taiwan (2,000-3,000 m).
Taiwan Blue Magpie Urocissa caerulea Uncommon resident found in mid- to upper levels of low-elevation broadleaf forests (400-1,000m).
Taiwan Whistling Thrush Myophonus insularis Common resident throughout Taiwan from plains to mid-elevation mountain areas near streams and within forests (200-2,000 m).
Collared Bush Robin Tarsiger johnstoniae Common resident found in the undergrowth and thickets of mid- to high-elevation open woodlands and areas with large trees in central Taiwan (2,000-3,200 m).
Yellow Tit Parus holsti Uncommon resident, found in the canopy of mid-elevation broadleaf forests of central Taiwan (1,000-2,200 m).
Flamecrest Regulus goodfellowi Common resident found in mid- to high-elevation coniferous and mixed broadleaf-coniferous forests of central Taiwan (1,000-3,000 m).
Styan’s Bulbul Pycnonotus taivanus Common but declining resident, restricted to eastern and southern Taiwan; found in the cultivated plains of Pingtung County, gardens, urban parks and low-altitude broadleaf forest (sea level-1,000 m).
Taiwan Bush Warbler Bradypterus alishanensis Common resident found in open scrub and grass clumps in mid- to high-altitude forest (2,000-3,200m).
White-whiskered Laughingthrush Garrulax morrisonianus Common resident found in thick undergrowth and scrub of high-elevation forests of central Taiwan (2,000-3,500 m).
Steere’s Liocichla Liocichla steerii Common resident found in roadside bushes and grassy scrub of mid- to high-elevation forests (2,000-3,500 m).
Taiwan Barwing Actinodura morrisoniana Uncommon resident found in mid-levels of central Taiwans mid- to high-elevation broadleaf forests and mixed broadleafconiferous forests. Mostly eats arthropods obtained by probing the bark of trunks and branches (1,300-2,500 m).
White-eared Sibia
Heterophasia auricularis Common resident found in mid- to upper levels of mid-elevation natural broadleaf forests, but sometimes at low altitude in winter (<1,000-2,200 m).
Taiwan Yuhina Yuhina brunneiceps Common resident found in mid- to upper levels of mid-elevation coniferous and mixed broadleaf coniferous forests (1,000-2,200 m).

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