Monday, 29 April 2013

Hehuan Shan

An early start saw us up at a particularly favourite little spot of mine by just after 6am and we got off to a good start with a pair of Taiwan Bamboo-partridges running across the track in front if us, which most of the group managed to get on, and there was also a bonus sighting of a pair of Eye-browed Thrushes feeding out in the open. The hills were alive with birdsong and when we heard the distinctive call of another bamboo-partridge after a short walk it was very pleasing to have another decent sighting. Shortly after the bird we really wanted began calling and after a little playback I managed to call in a pair of Black-necklaced Scimitar-babblers. Always difficult to see well, this pair were no exception, but with a little effort everyone managed some sort of view as they circled us several times in the dense vegetation all around us. 

Rusty Laughingthrush

I must say this site is very good and just to name a few goodies we also had here, how about a pair of Rusty Laughingthrushes on view for ten minutes, calling, perching overhead and generally showing off. A pair of White-bellied Green-pigeons were also quality, and there was also White-tailed Robin, Rufous-faced Warbler and Taiwan Barbet, So with that double-whammy (partridge & babbler!) completed before 8am that left us with the easy option of driving up to Hehuan Shan at 3275m, stopping at a ‘7 and 11’ for breakfast and nice coffee. At the pass we quickly found an Alpine Accentor in one of the car parks, but it didn’t hang around for long.

Taiwan Bush-warbler

At another parking area, a Taiwan Bush-warbler performed unbelievably well, singing from an exposed branch right below the road. So from here we took a nice trail down into pine forest, where Flamecrests gave their best showing of the entire trip and a Taiwan Bush-robin was building a nest in a mossy bank. At the end of the trail before it dropped steeply down into the valley, we found the forest edge alive with activity. More Flamecrests, Collared Bush-robin, Taiwan Fulvetta came in to just a few feet, Yellowish-bellied Bush-robin and the distinctive race of Coal Tits adorned the trees here.

Taiwan Fulvetta

 Leaving here we drove down several kilometres and birded the road in excellent mixed forest, where we bumped into numerous bird waves. It was a very enjoyable afternoon seeing lots of birds although we certainly walked several kilometres, so earned the right to our luck I think. I was surprised to see several small groups of Eurasian Siskin coming in to the owlet call, but I think everyone else appreciated our first Ferruginous Flycatcher much better! I was also glad to get a couple sightings of Taiwan Barwing, which had proved a bit tricky for some of the group to date. 

Taiwan Barwing

Most of the flocks comprised of loads of Taiwan Yuhinas and Black-throated Tits, but also Grey-chinned Minivet, Green-backed and Coal Tits, both bush-robins also put in appearances with a Taiwan Bush-robin showing very well on a mossy branch t one stage right in front of us, Steere’s Liocichlas were common, Eurasian Nuthatch, and we even had a Pallas’s Warbler in one mixed flock.
There was also another very confiding Taiwan Cupwing perched in a bush that allowed me to get a record shot at last.

Taiwan Bush-robin

Taiwan Cupwing - another high altitude endemic

 Driving back up to the pass, a female Vinaceous Rosefinch was found beside one of the car parks, and down at the Blue Gate Trail another pair of Black-necklaced Scimitar-babblers gave even better views than this morning. 

Vinaceous Rosefinch - a potential split

A good day indeed.

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