February 26th I made my excuses and escaped to Yilan County ahead of weekend holiday traffic for a day of intensive birding far from my usual haunts. Yilan, situated in Northeastern Taiwan, is mostly lush rugged mountains, the rest is very flat rice fields decorated with houses and tedious towns. The coastal wetlands are some of Taiwan’s most important bird habitats.
|Link to Google map|
Many shorebirds to be seen. Highlights for me: 8 Black-faced Spoonbills, 1 Hoopee, 10, Vinous-throated Parotbills, 2 Water Rail, 5 Northern Lapwing, 1 Eared Grebe, 2 Purple Herons, 3 European Starling, 1 Ruff...and 2 vagrant Hooded Cranes (yes, was an undeniable twitch; near km mark 143 Road #2).
After enough of the damp and cool plains I went to scout out the road towards bio-diverse Fushan Botanical Gardens. I’ve had repeated bad luck getting the (required) permission to visit Fushan - instead I had a quick look around Shuanglienpi (雙連埤).
|Mandarin Ducks - naturally occuring.|
Various good birds around (Blue Magpies, Scimitar Babblers, Grey-throated Minivets, Maroon Oriole, Dusky Fulvetta, White-bellied Erponis) the highlight was a pair of wintering Mandarin Ducks.
New Birds seen in Yilan - wetlands and Shuanglienpi:
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
Eared Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
Ruff Philomachus pugnax
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Hooded Crane Grus monacha
Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata
Silver-backed Needletail Hirundapus cochinchinensis "Endemic subspecies (H. c. formosanus)"
Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris