Monday, January 2, 2012

Oh go to Aogu!

The day started damp with light rain as I drove north from Tainan. On arriving at Aogu at 10am the weather was dry and cool - perfect for a full day my first full day of birding this year.

Most birds were seen from the road running alongside the South, West and North levees, the roads and viewpoint in the center were relatively unproductive.The inner section of the reserve is not yet officially open to the public, some creative navigation is needed to get around the closed entrance.

Aogu is a wetland jutting into the sea in Chiayi County. Originally farmland reclaimed from the sea, it is now being being turned into a wildlife reserve and forest recreation area.

It is easily accessed from Chiayi or Tainan. The very empty and fast Expressway #61 (or an extension of it) starts near the Black-faced Spoonbill reserve in Qigu (Chigu, Cigu).  If driving north, exit at the sign for Dongshr, follow the road alongside the highway for a couple kilometers, turn left at the bilingual sign for Aogu Wetlands. Coming south on #61, the exit for the Wetlands are well signposted in English. Be aware some of the roads in the middle of the reserve are unsurfaced. I suggest following the circular road - clearly marked as a cycle route.

East-west Expressway #84 now links inland Tainan County (Yujing etc) with Freeways #1 and #3, with Guantien (Pheasant-tailed Jacana Reserve, exit Xizhuang). When finished it will link up with #61 at Beimen. Very useful for birders in a hurry - but not many other people!

Be sure to pick up the free maps at tourist information counters: entire Taiwan, and 4 regional maps.

Several possible candidates, but the bird of the day must be the Pacific Reef-Heron - obviously the dark morph, generally uncommon and rare on Taiwan’s west coast I think. Only one seen but it behaved very well at close range.

The list below is fairly typical. Aogu is best in winter and migration time. Happy to guide visitors there - if short on time coming from Taipei, meet me at the High Speed Rail station in Chiayi. 

Birds seen in Aogu Wetland:

Common Shelduck    Tadorna tadorna    
Eurasian Wigeon    Anas penelope    
Eastern Spot-billed Duck    Anas zonorhyncha    
Northern Shoveler    Anas clypeata    
Northern Pintail    Anas acuta    
Garganey    Anas querquedula    
Green-winged Teal    Anas crecca  
Common Pochard    Aythya ferina   
Tufted Duck    Aythya fuligula    
Greater Scaup    Aythya marila    
Little Grebe    Tachybaptus ruficollis    
Great Crested Grebe    Podiceps cristatus
Great Cormorant    Phalacrocorax carbo    
Cinnamon Bittern    Ixobrychus cinnamomeus   
Gray Heron    Ardea cinerea    
Purple Heron    Ardea purpurea    
Great Egret    Ardea alba    
Intermediate Egret    Mesophoyx intermedia
Pacific Reef-Heron    Egretta sacra    
Cattle Egret    Bubulcus ibis
Black-crowned Night-Heron    Nycticorax nycticorax   
Sacred Ibis    Threskiornis aethiopicus    
Black-headed Ibis    Threskiornis melanocephalus   
Eurasian Spoonbill    Platalea leucorodia    
Black-faced Spoonbill    Platalea minor   
Black-shouldered Kite    Elanus caeruleus
Eurasian Kestrel    Falco tinnunculus
Common Moorhen    Gallinula chloropus    
Eurasian Coot    Fulica atra   
Pacific Golden-Plover    Pluvialis fulva   
Greater Sand-Plover    Charadrius leschenaultii  
Snowy (Kentish) Plover    Charadrius alexandrinus  
Common Ringed Plover    Charadrius hiaticula    
Black-winged Stilt    Himantopus himantopus    
Pied Avocet    Recurvirostra avosetta
Common Sandpiper    Actitis hypoleucos    
Green Sandpiper    Tringa ochropus    
Common Greenshank    Tringa nebularia   
Marsh Sandpiper    Tringa stagnatilis   
Common Redshank    Tringa totanus
Whimbrel    Numenius phaeopus  
Ruddy Turnstone    Arenaria interpres    
Great Knot    Calidris tenuirostris    
Sanderling    Calidris alba
Red-necked Stint    Calidris ruficollis
Dunlin    Calidris alpina
Curlew Sandpiper    Calidris ferruginea   
Common Snipe    Gallinago gallinago    
Black-headed Gull    Chroicocephalus ridibundus   
Whiskered Tern    Chlidonias hybrida   
Red Collared-Dove    Streptopelia tranquebarica    
Spotted Dove    Streptopelia chinensis   
House Swift    Apus nipalensis    "Taiwan Endemic Subspecies (A. n. kuntzi)"
Common Kingfisher    Alcedo atthis  
Brown Shrike    Lanius cristatus
Long-tailed Shrike    Lanius schach
Eurasian Magpie    Pica pica
Bank Swallow    Riparia riparia
Barn Swallow    Hirundo rustica
Yellow-bellied Prinia    Prinia flaviventris    
Plain Prinia    Prinia inornata    "Taiwan Endemic Subspecies (P. i. flavirostris)"
Japanese White-eye    Zosterops japonicus  
Javan Myna    Acridotheres javanicus    
Common Myna    Acridotheres tristis
Black-faced Bunting    Emberiza spodocephala
White-rumped Munia    Lonchura striata

Also birds from yesterday - Rock Pigeon, White-backed Woodpecker, Black Drongo, Light-vented Bulbul, Little Egret, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Daurian Redstart.