Poked my head out of the lodge at 4.50am and it was clear but when I met up with the group at 6am we had dense mist again. We birded the gardens at the edge of the forest for an hour, seeing a few regular birds, as well as getting decent views of a pair of Pale Thrushes skulking in a damp corner below the restaurant before heading in to breakfast an hour later. Afterwards we drove up the mountain and despite low cloud and/or mist there was no rain at all today, but must admit I was in two minds whether or not to turn around and drive back down. Good job I didn’t as we did pretty well, starting with a walk along the open track where a pair of Mikado Pheasants performed well and we watched the male slowly walk right across the path and up onto the grassy bank.
Several White-whiskered Laughingthrushes and Yellowish-bellied Bush-warblers also proved a bit of a distraction, but best of all along here was our first Taiwan Fulvettas that gave repeated views in the trees right next to us.
|Taiwan Fulvettas - an endemic of higher altitudes|
We also had another very close pair at the observation platform that kept moving through the bushes right below us several times. And at the same spot a Taiwan Bush-warbler was most obliging as well.
|Another high altitude endemic - Taiwan Bush-warbler|
Another trail here is very good for Taiwan Shortwing, and following our first abortive attempt we had several views of at least two birds. Never an easy bird to see well, but I think everyone had varying degrees of tickable views whilst here. A Taiwan Bush-robin was much easier and eventually hopped out onto the path in front of us, after a bit of a chase but our perseverance was well rewarded in the end.
|Taiwan Bush-robin can also be found at high altitude forests|
Several Collared Bush-robins also showed well with one male in particular positively glowing in the murky gloom. After some nice fried rice in the café and a cup of tea we drove lower, stopping at the pheasant site and had more close Laughingthrushes and better yet, a cracking Taiwan Rosefinch feeding right beside the road. What a stunner!
Back down by the lodge it didn’t take long to find a Pygmy Cupwing, and a star performer indeed as it worked its way across the bank above us for several minutes, showing all the time albeit usually under the overhanging foliage and no good for a photo alas. A short walk down the road resulted in a great view of a Taiwan Shortwing perched on an old fallen tree before we sent the last couple of hours birding the gardens in nice clear weather. We managed to find a flock of Rufous-crowned Laughingthrushes, but there were no barwings following them unfortunately as we wanted better views.
After dinner we had an excellent mammal session, beginning with a couple of Masked Civets feeding on kitchen scraps at the edge of the forest, followed by Red-and-white Giant Flying Squirrel and finishing off with a Taiwan Serow on the slope below.