We headed up and over the summit of Hehuan Mountain at 3000m through dense mist and heavy rain, which turned out to be freakishly heavy and prolonged according to the local news. So we drove by several Alpine Accentors and down the winding mountain road to a restaurant where we checked out the slope behind the building where all the scraps are thrown out. A couple of Ferruginous Flycatchers, Steere’s Liocichla and White-whiskered Laughingthrushes were present scrubbing around the waste and old cartons. However, the appearance of a largish bedraggled warbler set our pulses racing and we spent the next half an hour scrutinising it. In the end it appears to be a Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler……….. Although I haven't the time or good internet connection to fully confirm the identification totally - any ideas are welcome! It was heavily waterlogged and its feathers were matted and it appears much darker than it would normally appear making the i.d problematical. The interesting thing is this site was at 2500m so the warbler must have been migrating northwards and dropped in during the storm we experienced overnight.
|Middendorff's Grasshopper Warbler?|
|Side view of the warbler|
Then we headed down to the east coast through the impressive scenery of the Taroko Gorge and out into the fields along the coast. Pretty soon we’d found our target, the endemic Styan’s Bulbul perched on a telegraph wire and in the end had seen quite a few.
There was also Peregrine, Lesser Coucal, Bright-headed Cisticola, Little Bunting and truly wild Common Pheasants to give the trip list a boost.
After lunch we drove back up through the gorge and birded the mid-level area finding a small group of Taiwan Barwings and eventually came upon a large flock which began with a few Beavan’s Bullfinches and was followed by our first endemic Yellow Tits amongst a crowd of other species. There were Taiwan Varied, Black-throated, Coal and Green-backed Tits, 3 Vivid Niltavas, Grey-chinned Minivet, Eurasian Nuthatch, Steere’s Liocichla and White-eared Sibia.
After all this excitement we realised we only had one more endemic to find (Taiwan Hill Partridge!) but would have to save that for tomorrow so headed back to the lodge, stopping to admire an Alpine Accentor taking shelter inside a phone box on the summit before hopping out onto a small patch of grass beside a Taiwan Rosefinch and just a couple of metres away from our vehicle.