Friday, 20 April 2012

Taiwan Tour Day 1 or Mikado in the Mist!

An early start saw us driving the short distance to the spectacular Dasyueshan Mountain where we spent most of the morning birding the lower elevations. A reliable site for Taiwan Hwamei proved justifiably still correct as we enjoyed good views of a bird singing from an exposed perch and feeding in some bushes. The same site also produced wonderful views of several Vinous-throated Parrotbills, low flying House Swifts, Chinese Bulbul, lots of Collared Finchbills, Japanese White-eyes, and an extremely co-operative Rufous-capped Babbler. Moving up a little higher we took a side lane and bumped into a few Taiwan Scimitar-babblers, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Black-naped Monarch, Rufous-faced Warbler, and after a bit of a wait we had an Oriental Cuckoo perched on some telegraph wires. 

Taiwan Scimitar-babbler

Just up the road we had good scope views of Taiwan Barbet and an obliging Brownish-flanked Bush-warbler came in very close. Moving on we made our second attempt at luring in some calling Taiwan Bamboo-partridges which were ridiculously close, and in fact there were at least three different groups calling around us but none of which deigned to come out into the open. As we were working on the first group a Black-necklaced Scimitar-babbler called from below us just to make things a little more frustrating! However, with a little perseverance a pair of this very skulking species eventually showed quite well if a little briefly. With Striated Prinia, 4 migrating Oriental Honey-buzzards, a brief Japanese Sparrowhawk and a telegraph line with over 20 Oriental Turtle-doves, we were doing quite well. Beside a narrow stream a pair of Taiwan Whistling-thrushes, Brown Dipper and more Plumbeous water-redstarts were present, with White-bellied Green-pigeon, Grey Treepie and White-tailed Robin seen nearby. Our first Taiwan Yuhinas were seen here as well, along with another Rufous-faced Warbler and Grey-chinned Minivet as well. 

Mikado Pheasant

Unfortunately in the early afternoon as we headed up towards the higher elevations the weather came in badly with very low cloud and mist, and regular heavy showers that turned into prolonged rain in the late afternoon. After spending quite some time at a stake-out for Mikado Pheasant and drawing a blank we decided to drive down to the lodge. Amazingly, a dark mist-enshrouded blob at the roadside turned out to be a beautiful male Mikado Pheasant. It was such a stunning bird and was absolutely unperturbed by our presence as we watched him in the rain for a good 20 minutes at close distance before leaving him to it and bowling up at the lodge looking like drowned rats!

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