Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Tale of Two Pheasants - Part II

After the excitement of the pair of Swinhoe's Pheasants we sat down for a spot of lunch and to discuss the next move. This would involve driving further uphill to an altitude of 2,400 metres.

However, before this there was the small matter of signing in to the Dasyueshan National Forest Recreational Area proper and paying the appropriate fee. We would also take a little time to view the Lodge Gate Garden, a term I use in the loosest possible way to describe a 100 square yard area of course grass, stones and mud, fallen branches and 2 Portaloos. There were already half a dozen birders awaiting the re-appearance of this most fantastic

Red-flanked Bluetail

already showing interest in the 'meal-worm' bait that had been strategically placed.

We only watched for 30 minutes or so as the word was there could be much more afoot, so continuing the upward journey we stopped at a well know site for


another 'endemic' Sub-species (ES) and a 'Lifer' as denoted again by the emboldened red type.

Extremely tiny, very mobile and distant it was certainly a 'scope job, but as can be seen a few images were captured. Almost at our destination but by no means near the top of the mountain we encountered part of the

Hong Kong Birding Society
intent on the same mission as ourselves. There was chance here of 3 worthy additions to all of my own lists, and within a matter of minutes the first obligingly appeared. It is considered that

WHITE-BROWED ROBIN will soon become
TAIWAN ROBIN, an 'endemic' (E) in its own right and no longer (ES),

which many are waiting for! Next up gave us all a bit of a wait and considering it was the most numerous species of the day it should not have prolonged the agony. Regardless of numbers the confiding and amusing


is a handsome creature indeed

and at one time looked like it maybe taking up 'People Watching'? By the time a full hour had elapsed and with no sign of the third 'goodie', it was decided to move on as both timing and location could be crucial to seeing today's main target bird.

The MIKADO PEASANT is something of a creature of habit, and over the passed few days had been seen at the same spot at the same time which was now to be our final destination. Just a little before arrival, a few birders were gathered around a roadside rock where corn had been spread. This had attracted a fine


affording excellent views and seemingly unfazed by the group of humans.

The 'free' groceries had also attracted a TAIWAN SQUIRREL

which materialised into double figures during the rest of the day, and as we parked the outstanding bird was spotted.


another fine addition. Within a very short space of time, the Pheasant(s) could be heard from the forest, but the wait proved long and fruitless. By twilight we had also encountered


along with birds that were now becoming familiar, the Laughingthrush and Rosefinch.

The late evening views were well worth recording if only for the low cloud formations and the rosine glow. It was a 3 hour haul back to Taipei, dropping Vicky off at Jiao Xi on the way, then continuing with Wu to the city. There he wanted to download some Pheasant video for me before returning me to my favoured hotel, the New California, in Xin Dian.

In fact we returned to the home and business premises of his 84 year old friend Ching Che Chiu who had cooked us

a fine meal of chicken and a variety of vegetables. Ching and I seemed to hit it off right away, so much so that I waived one of my strictest travel rules, no alcohol. The food and a few drinks with this great character, inventor, artist, craftsman and father of 2 International Champion Ice Skates who could not fail to be impressed. His daughters had represented their country at the Birmingham Exhibition Center in 2002 with the photographs and etchings on show as proof. The drink did me no harm at all and with lack of sleep the previous night it was decided a 'rest day' was in order.

As a parting gift Wu gave me copies of his 'pride & joy, photographs of a

leaucistic / part albino TAIWAN BLUE MAGPIE and a fine

MOUNTAIN SCOPS OWL - Oh to have seen them both!

There could never be enough words to thank such kindness and generosity that I have received except to reiterate that, if they did ever get to my neck of the woods - then wait and see!

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