Monday, February 6, 2012

Chunyang + Wushe

Chunyang. (Feb 1st and 2nd) + Wushe

Birding started at Chunyang Farm at 6:30 to 8am. Belonging (as does Meifeng) to National Taiwan University (NTU), it is a focused on research into high and mid-elevation horticulture.

From the entrance on road #14 we walked the main concrete road that meanders through greenhouses, scrub, fruit and tea fields.

Birds seen: 2 Rufous-capped Babbler, 15+ Collared Finchbill, 10 Blackthroated Tit, 10 Light-vented Bulbul, 1 Black Bulbul, 3 Hwamei, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler (heard only), 2 Streak-breasted Scimitar-babblers, 3 Sibia, 20 Yuhinia, Tree Sparrow, 10+ Vinous-throated Parrotbill, 5 Dusky Fulvetta, 4 Bamboo Partridge, 1 Rufous-crowned Laughingthrush (see right), 30 Scaly-breasted Munia (usually only at lower elevations), 3 White Wagtails, various doves, 1 Oriental Skylark-like bird...not sure if possible. Got a glimpse of what seemed like Taiwan Partridges, also not confirmed.

Also hiked, and worth exploring again is the trail to the top of the small hill on the south side of the road. The entrance is about 50 meters westwards from Chunyang’s. Starts of as a jeep track before becoming a pleasant hiking trail. Nice views.

Chunyang Farm (1200-1300m elevation) is 3.5 km east of Wushe (large) Village, just after the 83.5 km mark on #14 - the road leading to Lushan Hot Springs. It is after the village of Chunyang and has a bilingual sign marking (usually open) gate on the left (upper side) of the road.

If wishing to stay in the Chunyang area, and not in the many options available in Chingjing above, and Wushe 4 kilometers away - there are a couple other basic but convenient options very close by: Chunyang Hotspring (no hot springs) Homestay 0492801259 right next to the farm entrance. Also Chunyang Homestay 049-2802852 or 0937291403 about 500 meters to the east. Don’t expect English spoken.

On the 2nd afternoon after leaving Chunyang we did a very quick tour around Wushe Town. The steep, narrow, and slippery when wet (most sane people do not drive it) road that starts on the main street, diagonally opposite the Family Mart store was good. Just before it gets to the now very gritty, reservoir - it links up with another much more sensible concrete road that safely loops back up to the main road. From our car seats we saw White-tailed Robin, Plumbeous Redstart, White Wagtails, Yellow Wagtails, Collared Finchbill, White-bellied Green Pigeon, Spotted-necked Dove.

At the southern end of the village the road splits in the direction of Puli and Aowanda (great, great place, will explore again this spring). In between these two large-ish roads is another smaller, quieter road #83 that quickly leads into various kinds of interesting habitat. If staying in Wushe, and walking for transport, be sure to check out ‘below’ Wushe towards the silted-up reservoir; towards Chunyang; and road #83.

Notes on Wushe etc.

Wushe is pronounced ‘woo-shr’. It is a a small town, also officially known as Ren-ai. It is famous for the Wushe Rebelion, Mona Ridao and the connection to the recent movie Warriors of the Rainbow. Note, the hotel on the main street used by several birders is now above a Family Mart convenience store - the 7-11 has moved 50 meters down the street. Wushe is well served by public buses. Freeway 6 ends near Puli, from the end of the freeway take #14 northwards.
On the upper side of Wuling the road splits - to the right #14 continues east and ends at Lushan; to the left is the more important #14A (the ‘A’ being a Chinese character) leading to Chingjing, Hehuan, Dayuling and eventually either Lishan/Wuling Farm or Taroko Gorge.
On the way to Hehuan Mountain, Chingjing (ching-jing) further up the road is a sprawling area of almost 100 hotels and guesthouses. At it’s heart is a tourism-orientated sheep farm. Chingjing is popular in various circles as a weekend getaway with great views and access to Hehuan’s high mountains - to others it is a perfect example of unmanaged, irresponsible, development. On some maps - this place of many guesthouses and convenience stores, is not even marked.
The Hehuan area has several peaks over 3,000 meters elevation. The highest pass on the road (the highest road in Taiwan) is called Wuling - this should not be confused with Wuling (Farm) another place over 2 hours drive to the north, base for climbing Snow Mountain, and good birding. Just to the north side of the highest pass is a hotel and hostel. Occasionally in January or February the highest pass will be blocked due to snow and ice. To an audience of dignitaries, the Highway Department were testing out their shiny new snow-shifter (the first/only in Taiwan) on Wednesday.

New Birds Chunyang Farm and Wushe:

Taiwan Hwamei    Garrulax taewanus    Endemic species
Rufous-crowned Laughinghrush    Garrulax ruficeps    Endemic species
Vinous-throated Parrotbill    Paradoxornis webbianus    "Endemic subspecies (P. w. bulomachus)"
Dusky Fulvetta    Alcippe brunnea    "Endemic subspecies (A. b. brunnea)"
Chinese Bamboo-Partridge    Bambusicola thoracicus    "Endemic subspecies (B. t. sonorivox)"
Yellow-billed Grosbeak    Eophona migratoria  (below Wushe)
White-bellied Pigeon    Treron sieboldii
White-tailed Robin    Cinclidium leucurum    "Endemic subspecies (C. l. montium)"