Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin

With the prospects of another day out with a local 'birder' tomorrow, all I had to do was find my way to Xin Dian about 15 miles away on the outskirts of Taipei. Luckily the whole journey was 'underground', even including the walk from the hotel to the MRT Station, as if it could get any worse that is what the rain had done overnight. The 'tube' system is not only efficient and easy to follow, but spotlessly clean (not even a coffee cup) with penalties being severe for eating, drinking or any other damn thing on the train.

Arriving at about 09:30, priority was to find a hotel, from where the picture above was taken, then try to make contact with my companion for tomorrow. No joy thus far either with my contact or the weather, but the 'twitch' had already started especially as the whole town was surrounded by what looked like lush, green forest.

From the map it looked easy to access this hill which is some 700 feet high, so despite the rain I gave it a go.

It was 'lush' alright and accessible via the Stairway to Heaven, but thus far not a peep from a bird. The first signs of avian life were 3 tiny birds scuffling about in the undergrowth, but what chance of identifying them - None! However, glancing up there was another larger one sat in the open which was distinctive and easily recognised as a

Taiwan Sibia
one of the 26 'endemics' this was a find indeed, but wish I could lay claim to the photograph. With the rain continuing harder if anything it would have been foolhardy to get the camera out of the bag let alone point it, but this was a great start to the day.

The dense vegetation was no help, but the beauty alone would have been enough. It would seem that just about every square inch of the flat lowland plains of Taiwan have been developed, but luckily so far most of these steep mountain slopes remain untouched.

A carpet of wild Begonias almost everywhere added a lovely floral touch, but we needed another bird.

Getting close to the top of the hill, there it was high in a tree

and preening a Besra, a Sparrowhawk type of bird as reported yesterday.

At the summit there stand what looks every bit like a Buddhist Temple, but with stone tables and chairs and a flashy stainless steel barbecue range, I fancy it to be more of a picnic area.

The view from here is fantastic albeit overlooking the town

but even then through the gathering mist on the south side it can be seen that some of the slopes have also been developed.

What looked like a telegraph pole had been used, along with a naturally growing tree, to form a set of sheer-legs

and no doubt with the use of this snatch-block (pulley) was used to cart the building material up the hill in days gone by.

On the way down this Moth was found, while close by there was a commotion coming from a nearby bush.

A coup indeed as a pair of Taiwan Scimitar Babblers

scrambled through the folliage, gave me decent views then disappeared forever. Another 'endemic', and when considered that only 4 species were seen well enough to identify today (the other being a pair of Barn Swallows close to the hotel) then 50% 'endemic' is not a bad average?

More vegetation, but enough for one day. Akin to a drowned rat, the effort had been very much worth it so hope that tomorrow will be as fruitful. I'll leave you with this image

of an even more dreary view from the hotel room window as commuters wend their way home at 17:00.


  1. Good Tube system or not, I bet you will be happy to be on that Portland bus Paul. Safe journey home.

  2. Bit early for 'homeward bounders' Roy hopefully a few more weeks yet. Have fallen in love with Taiwan, fantastic country although not a 'townie' the cities are ultra-modern, countryside unspoiled and people off the scale. Maybe I'll stay.
    Take care Mate.
    Thanks for the comment.
    Yours aye