Thursday, January 24, 2013

Starting 2013 slowly.

A new year, not a big year, but keeping my new bird sightings noted.

As expected, endemics have been a bit slow to rouse this winter season, usually takes a bit more time and accepting a few will just not or pop into view.

Vivid Niltava ww543
The highlight at Wulai (as well as Red Oriole, Blue Magpie, and great flocks of Minivet at Neidong FRA) was a Verditer Flycatcher at the elementary school at Fushan. Remember this is in New Taipei City/Taipei County not the Botanical Gardens at Fushan Yilan County. A very nice bonus were three Mandarin Ducks in the river just above the last part of Fushan Village. Hike the path on the north side of the river.

The reported Baer’s Pochard at Shrgang Reservoir eluded me, but on the third try the (single male visiting this winter) Scaly-sided Merganser gave excellent views. Best to search from the road on the north side of the reservoir - a wide section of the downhill road overlooks the best

Doesn’t sound likely, but managed to entertain the family (non-birding wife, kids, mother-in-law) AND see some excellent birds on a daytrip to the Pheasant-tailed Jacana Reserve, one of them being a pair of Baer’s Pochards.

Also present were plenty of Pintail, N. Shoveler, G.W Teal, E Wigeon, Jacana and Black-winged Stilts.  A few Garganey, Coot, and Common Snipe were nice to have when try to get second looks at Baikal Teal and Falcated Teal (first time on Taiwan-proper for me I think). The furthest pond viewable from the last hide seems to hold the best birds.

I saw 2 Smew at Beimen late December but not recorded in last year’s list.

New Birds:

Verditer Flycatcher    Eumyias thalassinus
Smew    Mergellus albellus
Baer's Pochard    Aythya baeri

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Big Year summary.

So the ‘big year’ is over and the final total number of birds seen came to 388. Very pleased indeed!

Many thanks to the wonderful people encountered this year, for your advice, good company, encouragement and correction. Gratifying to hear how bits of this ramshackle blog have aided other’s explorations of Taiwan - and I hear, others starting a 2013 big year.

Spoonbill Sandpiper; most endemics seen many times; Asian Dowitcher; wintering Avocet; Paradise-Flycatchers; the generally excellent attitude here to birding and conservation; woodpeckers on my neighbor’s house; the offshore islands; the other stuff (flora/mammals/amphibians/reptiles/insects); Fairy Pitta...and many, many more.

Not to see: Chinese Crested Tern; Blue-tailed Bee-eater (just didn’t have the chance to go to Kinmen at the appropriate time); Oriental Plover; more cuckoos and owls better; Black Bear (let’s see what I have planned this year...); Hawfinch, more flycatchers; 2 pairs of high-end Zeiss binoculars failing (back-up service good); Black-chinned Fruit-Dove etc.

Stats (based on gut-feeling):
Number of possible ‘dodgy’ identifications or recordings: 5-ish
Number of birds I would never have spotted or identified without other’s expert help: 10-ish
There are a few introduced species I listed and arguably could have been skipped - then again there are a few other birds seen that I did not mention, but may be established.
Full list at Birdforum.

If I had nothing else to do - and more money to spend - and lived closer to Yehliu - and visited offshore islands more -I suspect 420 or 440 species would be within reach. Would I do it again - yes absolutely, maybe 2014 (anyone want to sponsor a photographic version?).

Taiwan is often described as ‘small’. This is nonsense. I have traveled it fairly intensively this year for regular guiding reasons and personal amusement, yet there are still many, places and areas I did not have a chance to visit. In addition to the human world, there are many aspects of the natural world deserving better introduction.

Future for this blog? Yes, it will continue, but still working on the details. Watch this space.