Friday, November 29, 2013

Taipei Airport Birding tips.

Taipei Airport Stopover Birding.
This document can also be downloaded in other formats here.

This short guide is for birders with a couple hours to spare near Taipei International Airport.
The international airport (a.k.a. CKS, Chiang Kai Shek, Taiwan Taoyuan Airport, 桃園國際機場) is at least 40 minutes from downtown Taipei City - if going there see the locations (Botanical Garden, Huajiang Nature Park etc) suggested elsewhere on the blog for some pretty decent birding. An alternative is to visit some heavily disturbed scrubby coastal wetland and farmland about 15-20 minutes drive from the airport - described below.

Customs, immigration and security are usually fairly quick and efficient on entry and exit. Most passport holders do not need a visa to enter Taiwan - of course check. See the map and appropriate language to use with a taxi driver (most will have no idea why anyone would want to visit this place). You may want to also download this document titled Chinese for Birders, containing other useful language. Bring your scope for waders, otherwise regular clothing and footwear is fine.

The place I’m recommending for some reasonable self-guided birding is near the coast to the northwest of the airport. It has some sandy coast, a rivermouth, intertidal estuary area, sandbanks, wind-protection forest, marsh, ponds and small-scale agricultural fields. Some of it is a recognised (but fought over) Important Bird Area (IBA-TW006). Please note: most of Taiwan is scenically beautiful and clean, this area is not. It is near important industry (manufacturing and transport-related) and has went through various phases of not very environmentally sensitive development. Please focus on the birds, not the views. Come again for the rugged mountains and pristine forests!

Birds that can usually be expected:

Tree Sparrow, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Common Myna, Javan (White-vented) Myna, Japanese White-eye, Plain Prinia, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Black-crowned Night Heron, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, Black Drongo, Grey Heron, Black-winged Stilt, Red Turtle Dove, Spotted Dove, House Swift, Common Kingfisher, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Gray Treepie, Common Magpie, Plain Martin, Barn Swallow, Pacific Swallow, Light-vented (Chinese) Bulbul, White-rumped Munia, and Scaly-breasted Munia.

Results will vary widely. The best times are winter (October to March), and spring/fall migration time. The range of potential species is quite large, see the latest Taiwan bird checklist here.

Other birds that are possible especially at migration time and winter:

Large Egret, Intermediate Egret, Chinese Egret (rare), Chinese Pond Heron, Sacred Ibis, Black-winged Kite, White-breasted Waterhen, Brown Shrike , Long-tailed Shrike, Great Cormorant, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Black-faced Bunting - and other buntings on migration. Taiwan Scimitar Babbler (may be worth playing call), Taiwan Hwamei (rare, listen for call), Vinous-throated Parrotbill (rare), Black Bulbul, Rufous-crowned Babbler (rare), Oriental Turtle Dove (rare), Fork-tailed Swift, Taiwan Barbet (uncommon, listen for), Black-naped Monarch (rare), Wagtails - Yellow, White & Grey, various transient pipits, Oriental Skylark, Zitting Cisticola, Golden-headed Cisticola (uncommon), Oriental Reed Warbler and other transient warblers, various starlings, Blue Rock Thrush, transient flycatchers, various thrushes (esp winter), Daurian Redstart (winter).

A good range of shorebirds on the Taiwan list are likely or possible: plovers, snipe, sandpipers, stints, curlew, bittern, gulls and terns (low numbers). If very lucky, Black-faced Spoonbill! Some ducks especially Eastern Spot-billed, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Pintail, Garganey, and Tufted.


This area is Tayuan (大園, pronounced ‘da-yuan’), it is not to be confused with the name of the airport, or nearby large city called Taoyuan (tao-yuan).

Take taxi, show him suggested route. Pay according to the meter. There are usually no traffic delays on this suggested route (8km/15 minutes from airport to point A). Taiwan taxi drivers are considered dependable - your stuff should be safe, hard to imagine them abandoning you etc! If you have any worries take a note of the licence plate or the driver’s ID displayed inside.

Make a note of the tourist helpline 0800024111 - very helpful in translating or finding information out (they will know nothing about this area though!).

The best source for weather forcasts is Taiwan’s CWB click on ‘English’ ‘Forecasts’ and ‘Taoyuan County’.

Suggested Route:
Instructions look more complicated than reality. Expect to get slightly lost the second half of the route - not to worry, feel free to explore other lanes and roads.

Firstly drive the busy road to ‘A’ (green or purple line), get out of taxi after going under the raised expressway, and then stroll remainder of dead-end road towards windbreak forest. Scan fields, long grass, scrub and trees.

Return to car and drive very short distance (50 meters?) southwards and take narrow lane (marked as bicycle route) that leads towards the coast. Stop wherever looks promising (B maybe?). (Note some maps may not indicate road passable from A to C).

Turn right at embankment, cross small bridge. Scan estuary and beach from C and D.
Drive along coast (E) scanning sea and windbreak forest.

After coming inland again under the expressway, I suggest following your instincts and being flexible in exploring the area marked with the Gs. Don’t worry if a bit lost, and resorting to pointing at interesting spots.


Useful Language.

I want to go here to look at some birds.
Please follow these directions and map, to an area near the airport.
請按照這些指示和地圖. 我想去的地方就
在機場附近 (大園).
Please study this map first.
I need to be back at the this terminal at this... time.

I need to return to this hotel. (show namecard)

Please charge me by the meter.
I know this is not a nice place, but I don’t have time to go elsewhere.
我知道這個地方不是很漂亮, 但我沒有時間去其他地方.
Don’t worry, I recognise the birds myself.
別擔心, 我自己會認得鳥.
Please drive down these small lanes, if I see anything interesting I will ask you to stop.
先開車這些小路. 如果我看到我想要的,我會告訴你停下來.
OK, I’m ready to go back (to the airport/hotel) now. Thanks.
好了, 現在可以回去機場/酒店. 謝謝.
First go to the place marked ‘A’ on the map (follow the green or purple line). I will get out and walk around for a few minutes. Then we will drive to B, C, D, E...
先開去地圖上的 ‘A’ (按照綠色或紫色的線). 到 ‘A’ 之後我會下車走一走. 然後我們再開去 B, C, D, E...

Directions. Drive Freeway 2. Exit for Dayuan. Take Minsheng Road (#110). Drive to the end. Do not get on expressway 61. Go under expressway, park here, I will get out and look around.
After this I want to go to B

先上國道二號. 大園下. 開民生路 (#110), 開到底. (不要上國道61). 過高架下, 停在空地.


等一下, 我們再開去 B

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