Sunday, 15 April 2012

Basianshan Mountain

After a breakfast consisting of chicken nuggets & noodles garnished with tomato ketchup I made my way slowly up Basianshan mountain, reaching the Visitor Centre by midday. The road followed a beautiful river valley through a spectacular mountain range and although the birding was slower than yesterday it was a fine walk! There was several Plumbeous Water-redstarts and a Brown Dipper along the fast flowing river, and once the road began climbing steeply birds began to appear. Japanese White-eyes and Grey-cheeked Fulvettas were common, but I was more interested in the Taiwan Bamboo-partridges that were calling. I spent a long time (too long) trying to find them but really never had a hope. A few Grey-chinned Minivets, Rufous-faced Warbler, Black-naped Monarch and other common stuff showed. My highlight was firstly some very close views of a Taiwan Barbet in a roadside tree, followed by a nest-building Taiwan Whistling-thrush.

Taiwan Barbet

But these were eclipsed by numerous views of some very sexy Taiwan Scimitar-babblers: several were along the road but the best showing came when I was walking back down towards the river on the steep boardwalk. I sat down on one of the steps and watched a pair feeding in the lush under storey, and they didn't seem concerned at all by my presence. At one stage one of them perched up on the handrail and began to call, just a few metres away from me! It's not just a split from Streak-breasted Scimitar-babbler  because of its geographical location - oh no there's far more than that to these beauties. The crown is darker, the black ear-coverts are bigger, the thick black breast streaking is darker and heavier and on a persil white background, the lower belly is dark chestnut and checkout the obvious rufous nape.

Taiwan Scimitar-babbler

There was also a Maroon Oriole up near the Visitor Centre. Well, actually it's not. Rumours of a potential split have been rumbling on for ages and it seems like at least one authority has upgraded it to full species status. So now it's called Red (or Claret) Oriole Oriolus ardens and just take a look at the photo below to see how different it looks to Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii. Another Taiwanese endemic!

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