Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hehuan - flowers too.

Birds - and flowers

Hiding at home between Typhoons Saola and Tembin right now - this summer has not been the best for traveling in remoter parts of Taiwan. Autumn is around the corner and usually brings more settled weather - and migrating/wintering birds! Gives me time to record the birds - and some of the flowers - observed on 3 trips over Hehuan Mountain early August. Hehuan is in the center of Taiwan, and is the highest drivable pass in Taiwan.

Hehuan area. Qilai Mountain & Songxue Lodge visible.
These top species were found starting from the parking lot in front of the old Hehuan Hostel; on the access road to the Huaxue Shanjuang (Ski lodge) - which starts between to the toilet block and the entrance to Songxue Lodge; and about 1km along the trail to Little Qilai Mountain. A typical result in reasonable conditions.

Species (and location): Alpine Accentor (on the parking lot, between tourist’s feet); Winter Wren (below the toilet block); White-whiskered Laughingthrush; Taiwan Bush-warbler (in Yushan Cane below Songxue Lodge); Yellow-bellied Bush-warbler (in pine trees below road); Vinaceous Rosefinch (in carpark, around old hostel), Taiwan Flamecrest (in pines on hiking trail where it starts eroding away); Grey-headed Bullfinch (same location as Flamecrest); Brownish-flanked Bush-warbler (in short Yushan cane next to hiking trail); Collared Bush-robin (on wall in front of Ski Lodge); Green-backed Tit (similar to Flamecrest); Coal Tit (on route to Little Qilai).

And a few of the many plants in flower: Codonopsis kawakamii, Gnaphalium japonicum, Aletris formosana, Veratrum formosanum, Polygala japonica, Adenophora morrison, Yushan Pink Dianthus pygmaeus, Pearly Everlasting Anaphalis morrisonicola and other Anaphalis species, Artemisia morrisonensis, Solidago virga-aurea var leiocarpa, Morrisona Sedum Sedum morrisonense, Scabiosa lacerifolia,Hypericum nagasawai, Formosan Majoram Origanum vulhare var formosanum, Milkwort, Japanese Knotweed, Formosan Buttercup, Glandular Rose Rosa transmorrisonensis, Spiraea hayatana, Formosan Senecio, Alishan Gentian, Taiwan Gentian Gentiana atkinsonii var formosana, Dark Spot Gentian, Swertia tozanensis, Hohuan Willowherb. A proper survey (and knowledgeable botanists with more time) will find dozens more - many unique to this habitat.

Flora Tours.

I’m putting together the details of the 2014 Taiwan botany tours. Birds (and insects) will take a supporting role as we focus on the fantastic range of endemic orchids, gentians, asters, lilies and geraniums. We will spend most of our time in alpine areas taking a healthy interest in flowers, some of Taiwan’s many species of ferns, as well as the stunning scenery .

The flora of Taiwan is closely related to the floras of southern China and the South-east Asia. Taiwan has almost 190 plant families, about 1,200 genera, and more than 4,000 native species (700 of which are ferns!). Thanks to our diverse island geography and climate, endemic plants represent an estimated one third of the total.