Friday, 3 May 2013

Now I believe in Fairies!!!

Left  the hotel very early and drove the short distance to Huben Village, famous for its population of Fairy Pittas that arrive during late April to breed. I wasn’t that optimistic, having dipped here last year and not even hearing one call either on my previous tour. This was compounded with the fact that only 4 birds turned up last year, which was down from 44 in 2006 – depressing news indeed. However, I should know that birding is never ever straightforward (thank goodness) and this year had some local expert help and within 30 minutes of searching I had a Fairy Pitta teed up in the scope as it called from high up in a tree for some 20 minutes! Nice spot there by Sir David! I couldn’t believe it and here’s a record shot of the bird, which was maybe 100m away. Wow! 

Fairy Pitta

We also nailed Taiwan Blue Magpie at last straight after the pitta and then drove a few kilometres away and got Red Oriole – a potential split from Maroon Oriole, but a local endemic race anyway. 

Red Oriole

It took a while to find, but in the end the crippling views were worth it. Several views of Taiwan Bamboo-partridge followed, 2 more pittas were also calling here and our first Dusky Fulvetta appeared. Back at Huben, a Malayan Night-heron showed amazingly well and Taiwan must be the best place in the world to see this bird - and so well. I'd always wanted to see this bird over the last few years, so felt privileged to see it again and it is definitely in my Top 5 birds of the trip.

Malayan Night-heron

Then another Dusky Fulvetta was found just below the night-heron and it was quite responsive but always hid behind a leaf or a tree, so the only photo I managed to get is this one!

Dusky Fulvetta

So with that little lot done we decided to change plans and head to the very southern tip of the island and Longluan Lake. It took a few hours driving but as soon as we pulled into the car park, a Styan’s Bulbul appeared and we saw many more here – our last endemic. We’d seen 31 of the 32 endemics and potential endemics for this beautiful island. 

Styan's Bulbul

So now for some light relief and a bit of migrant hunting, but the gale force winds didn’t help and an Arctic Warbler decided to skulk low down and practically out of sight in some dense fenced-off bushes, with a possible Eastern Crowned Warbler showing even less and not being confirmed. At the posh hide, complete with numerous scopes and large glass windows we scanned the lake and found a Grey-tailed Tattler hiding from the wind amongst a group of Chinese Spot-billed Ducks. A fruiting fig tree at the rear of the building held a Taiwan Barbet, Grey Treepie and we had a very brief sighting of a thrush sp. Which disappeared all too quickly. More thrushes were calling back along the approach road but the wind was making things way too difficult so we headed down the road and our ‘interesting’ accommodation for the night.

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