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Old Sunday 25th June 2006, 15:48   #51
Mark Bruce
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Quote:
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just 'discovered' this thread, nice accounts and nice birding!
Thanks, Des .
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Old Thursday 29th June 2006, 08:26   #52
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Hi, Mark

Read your thread here and just wondered why we hadnt met in Huben, where I 've visited in the last two months.

Again, thanks to visited my blog and attached the Fairy Pitta I took at the northern part of Taiwan last week.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v4...a/_D2X1623.jpg

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Old Thursday 29th June 2006, 16:23   #53
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Ni hao Richard,

Huben's a big place . When you are next in the area contact me and we can get together. That's a lovely shot of a Fairy Pitta. How about posting it and some of those other great photos in our gallery .

Cheers ,

Mark
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Old Friday 30th June 2006, 04:20   #54
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A wonderful shot of a Fairy Pitta and a great blog, Richard !
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Old Sunday 2nd July 2006, 14:43   #55
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The Green Bamboo Snake

I took a late afternoon walk in the forest behind the Bai-Ma Temple. Things were going well. Lots of Black-naped Blue Monarch about. I stood for sometime watching these little blue gems darting about. A Red-bellied Tree Squirrel Callosciurus erythraeus flavimanus thaiwanensis moved about happily in a tree before an angry mob of Light-vented Bulbul descended upon it and chased it off. Black-browed Barbets called from high up in the canopy. Pacific and Striated Swallows rushed about in a clearing. I watched some youthful Tree Sparrows bouncing along the path. Things were really going well.

I don't know why this has been happening of late but I've seen more snakes in the last two months than I have ever seen in my life. As I moved slowly down the path the sudden movement of a Green Bamboo Snake Trimeresurus Stejnegeri brought me to an abrupt stop as I shouted a warning to my wife who was walking next to me.

Well, the sudden appearance of the snake didn't do much for our birding. Forest birding requires lots of looking up, looking out for snakes requires lots of looking down. Lots of Swinhoe's Japalura Lizards Japalura Swinhonis kept rushing along the edges of the path as they fled and I kept looking down to check I wasn't disturbing anymore green bamboo Snakes. The trip wasn't going that well and the mosquitoes were really making a meal of us too. The rain followed, so that ended today's trip. Hopefully Tuesday's trip will be better.
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Old Saturday 8th July 2006, 13:38   #56
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Waiting for a shot of a Fairy

Up at 4:30 and headed off to Hu-ben to try and get some late season shots of some Fairy Pitta. Well, dawn gave the illusion of clear skys but by 5:40 clouds were rolling down from the mountains and the sound of distant thunder echoed through the valley.

Yesterday was a scorcher, 38o C and very humid.The temperature was already in the early 30s when I left home. I parked at the temple and headed off into the forest. After a fifteen minute slog with the scope, camera etc I got to the area I planned to stakeout. The call of a Fairy Pitta broke through the early morning chattering of the other birds around me. It was a promising start but the light was going quickly.

I set up and waited. A juvenile Malayan Night Heron moved about in the bamboo. I took a few shots of it and realised just how dark the forest was.

I scanned the area for the movements of a pitta. About 40m to my right was a slight clearing. A stream had created a natural gap between the trees. A pitta flashed across the gap and was gone. Time passed slowly while the mosquitoes enjoyed having me for breakfast. I was perspiring heavily in the heat and my clothes were soaked through.

In the distance I could hear two pitta calling from different areas. The light by now was very poor and I decided to move off. I checked another area without luck and started back to the temple. I hadn't gone far when the heavens opened. I took shelter under some overhanging bamboo.

As the rain fell I watched just about every forest bird there was in the area, except the Pitta, come and dance around me. With bad light and heavy rain it was pointless even trying to get a shot. In the end I just walked back to the temple in the rain.

As I arrived at the temple the rain stopped. A smiling Mr.Chang sat under a pavilion in the temple gardens. He had had a wonderful morning watching a pair of pitta in the temple grounds. They had obviously sensed I was coming with my camera and had moved off. The occasional call from the undergrowth not too far off confirmed they were still around but hidden from view.

Mr.Chang said goodbye and headed home for breakfast. I sat there hopefully waiting for the pitta to show themselves. The pitta didn't put in an appearance but I did have wonderful views of a monarch and some of the other forest birds before having tea at the information centre and heading home.
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Old Monday 7th August 2006, 04:33   #57
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Help save Huben-letter of protest

To help save the Huben area we have put together a draft letter of protest over the Hushan Dam Project http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....371#post651371.
Your support would be highly appreciated.

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Old Monday 7th August 2006, 04:50   #58
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Taiwan blue Whistling Thrush

On Saturday morning I headed out to Huben with US based BF member, Jim Dart. Quite a hot morning and a little too late in the season to see the Fairy Pitta. The Pitta are still around but become very secretive just before they migrate south and are just about impossible to see now.

We saw some of the more common Huben birds with Collared Finchbill being a lifer for Jim. The calls of Crested Serpent Eagle flying overhead echoed down through the trees. Close to the stream we had a wonderful but brief experience of seeing an endemic Taiwan Blue Whistling Thrush disappearing into the undergrowth. Taiwan Blue Whistling Thrush, a Huben resident, is seldom seen. While it is fairly easy to view Taiwan Blue Whistling Thrush as the jump from rock to rock in the higher mountain streams of Taiwan, they are near impossible to view in the dense moist undergrowth of Huben.
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Old Saturday 2nd September 2006, 04:56   #59
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Took a shot from the house of the hills of Huben and Hushan at dawn.
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Old Friday 8th September 2006, 05:01   #60
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Wednesday morning I headed off to the Fairy Temple. It was fairly cool and overcast. Perfect weather for Huben birding. I parked my bike outside the temple and spent a few minutes observing a large tree in the temple yard. The tree was full of Japanese White-eyes, Light-vented Bulbul, Grey Treepie, Collared Finchbill, Black-naped Blue Monarch, Rufous-capped Babbler, Tree Sparrow, and some five Black-browed Barbets*.

I then moved off into the forest and up the side of a hill following a stream. The path was bordered on the left side by a steep embankment dropping into the stream. I paused to take in my surroundings and a Crested Serpent Eagle landed in a tree not more than ten metres from me. Because of the steep embankment I was at eye level with the eagle. What a great shot if only I could get the camera out of my day pack. I slowly tried to get my pack off but the slight movement spooked the eagle and it was gone. I did manage to get a shot of it later but that time it was from quite a distance and a very poor shot.

I carried on up the hill for a short distance but it was very quiet so I headed back down to follow another stream through some bamboo. The bamboo and trees along the stream were very buzzing with birds. The cries of Crested Serpent Eagle flying overhead echoed down through the trees. By the end of the morning I had seen Japanese White-eye, Light-vented Bulbul, Grey Treepie, Collared Finchbill, Black-browed Barbet, Black Drongo, Bronzed Drongo, Pacific Swallow, Collared Dove, Spotted Dove, Tree Sparrow, Grey Headed Pygmy Woodpecker, Rufous-capped Babbler, Crested Serpent Eagle, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Dusky Fulvetta, White-bellied Yuhina, Rufous-faced Warbler, Black-naped Blue Monarch, Scaly-Breasted Munia, White-rumped Munia, Emerald Dove, and Bamboo Partridge.

I returned on Thursday morning. It was very hot with clear skies. The tree in the temple yard was still full of birds eating its fruit and hawking insects. I spotted Japanese White-eye, Light-vented Bulbul, Grey Treepie, Collared Finchbill, Black-browed Barbet, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Grey Headed Pygmy Woodpecker, and Tree Sparrow.

A walk through the bamboo produced Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Japanese White-eye, Light-vented Bulbul, Grey Treepie, Collared Finchbill, Black-browed Barbet, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, White-rumped Munia, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Little Egret, Pacific Swallow, Plain Martin, Grey-chinned Minivet, Rufous-faced Warbler, Grey Headed Pygmy Woodpecker, Tree Sparrow, Collared Dove, Spotted Dove, and White Wagtail.

Sadly, Huben is a little too far inland to be a good site for passage migrants. It does get fair numbers of raptors passing through in late September to mid October and fair numbers of Chinese Sparrowhawk, Grey-faced Buzzard, and some Oriental Honey-buzzard can be seen. In early May there are always a few sightings of Ruddy Kingfisher and last September we had our first Dollarbird.


*The Taiwan endemic subspecies of Black-browed Barbet Megalaima oorti, race nuchalis was recently proposed as a full species and new Taiwan endemic.
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Old Friday 8th September 2006, 15:36   #61
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Hi Mark

Interesting to see what your regular birds are at Huben. I was surprised to note how few Taiwan endemics turned up. Is the habitat wrong, is this week just unusual, or is there some other factor?

I'm fully in favour of splitting the barbet. I've seen it in several places in S China plus Taiwan and Malaysia and I would be amazed if the Taiwan split does not go through. One of my colleagues in HK also thinks that the Hainan form is distinct and also worthy of full species status.

One more question about Huben - is the Black-naped monarch resident? - they are only a winter visitor in HK.
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Old Friday 8th September 2006, 16:45   #62
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Hi MKinHK,

The only endemic that is present in Huben in fairly high numbers is the Taiwan Whistling Thrush. They are very difficult to spot in the thick undergrowth of Huben and are usually heard and not seen. Swinhoe's Pheasant or the Silver Ghost is also resident but as its nickname suggests is very hard to spot. The Taiwan Partridge, of which there are reasonable numbers, is also heard but not seen very often. If you go looking for it at dusk or dawn in its favourite haunts you stand a reasonable chance of seeing one. The Taiwan Blue Magpie is also resident but not many found in Western Taiwan, so not seen very often.

Most of the endemics are found in the mountains at higher altitudes but Huben does have quite a number of endemic subspecies which are pretty common local residents: Chinese Bamboo-Partridge; Barred Buttonquail; Emerald Dove; Spotted Dove; Mountain Scops-Owl; Grey-headed Pygmy Woodpecker; Bronzed Drongo; Black Drongo; Maroon Oriole; Grey Treepie; Vinous-throated Parrotbill; Dusky Fulvetta; Grey-cheeked Fulvetta; Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler; Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler; Rufous-capped Babbler; Black Bulbul; Light-vented Bulbul; Collared Finchbill; Yellow-bellied Prinia; Plain Prinia; Zitting Cisticola; Black-naped Monarch; Besra; Crested Goshawk; Crested Serpent-Eagle; and Black-browed Barbet.

The Black-naped Monarch is an endemic subspecies, race oberholseri, and is a very common resident in Huben. I believe the Taiwan race Hwamei is also soon to be proposed as a full endemic.
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Old Monday 11th September 2006, 21:57   #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKinHK
Hi Mark

Interesting to see what your regular birds are at Huben. I was surprised to note how few Taiwan endemics turned up. Is the habitat wrong, is this week just unusual, or is there some other factor?

I'm fully in favour of splitting the barbet. I've seen it in several places in S China plus Taiwan and Malaysia and I would be amazed if the Taiwan split does not go through. One of my colleagues in HK also thinks that the Hainan form is distinct and also worthy of full species status.

One more question about Huben - is the Black-naped monarch resident? - they are only a winter visitor in HK.

Hi Mark, a very intresting patch, reading all this makes me wanna visit Taiwan really soon, just had a look at the birdingintaiwan website and Taiwan is now in the top of places I must visit in the near-future.

And yes the Hainan pop of the Megalaima oorti is very close to be splited into a own species, just like the Taiwan population. All these recent splits in the Asian region is very intresting and it seems like Taiwan is the place where most things are happening at the moment.

Bird on m8
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Old Tuesday 12th September 2006, 05:42   #64
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Hi Hainan,

You're welcome to visit anytime, more than happy to show you around. Was it the ITBA site you looked at http://www.birdingintaiwan.com/index.htm ? Yes, a very good site.

There seems to be a number of parallels between some of the Taiwan and Hainan species. I suppose both being islands in the same region has lead to this. As always the granting of funds to study a number of the endemic subspecies to possibly raise to full species status seems to be a limiting factor on projects and keeping things small and pretty much confined to one species at a time.

The Black-browed Barbet has been studied and the Hwamei Garrulax canorus taewanus is soon to be published. From what I know the Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis musicus has just started to be studied. There are seven others that really need to be looked at: Chinese Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola thoracica sonorivox; White-browed Shortwing Brachypteryx montana goodfellowi; Island Thrush Turdus poliocephalus niveiceps; Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler Cettia fortipes robustipes; White-throated Laughingthrush Garrulax albogularis ruficeps; Rusty Laughingthrush Garrulax poecilorhynchus poecilorhynchus; and Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus erythrogenys erythrocnemis

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Old Sunday 17th September 2006, 11:31   #65
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Spent Saturday afternoon going around Huben and into the top of the Hushan valley. I recently found a small track, which is a little overgrown, but it links the Huben valley with the neighbouring Hushan valley. This is a wonderful discovery as I can now slip into the prime birding area of the neighbouring valley from the track behind the fairy temple instead of having to ride around, which was about a 5km ride.

The Brown Shrike are back for the winter. Last year they arrived in the last week of August, which did surprise me at the time (see post: 29th August 2005). This year they seem to be back to their schedule of mid to late September.

A lot of Bronzed Drongo about. I've never seen numbers like this in the area. They were hawking insects from overhead cables. Perhaps a lot of food about but it was unusual to see so many. They were also behaving more like their lowland cousins the bigger Black Drongo and it was really unusual to see Bronzed Drongos out over the fields and streams instead of in the forest or along the forest edge.

Also saw a mixed flock with about forty Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, three pairs of Black-naped Monarch, and about ten Japanese White-eyes. There were also a lot of Striated Swallow about. The numbers of Striated Swallows also seemed far higher than usual. The usual Pacific Swallows were about but their numbers seemed pretty normal.

I saw a pair of sparrowhawk but was not able to decide if they were Besra or Chinese Sparrowhawk. This time of year we get Chinese Sparrowhawk moving through Taiwan on migration. The endemic race of Besra (fuscipectus) is rather dark and I could only see the front of the male, so it kind of makes it hard to say quite what it was. I got a rather poor shot which I'll show to TESRI's Scott Lin and get his opinion on it.

I took a few shots of the giant Buddha that guards the Hushan Valley. It's one of the world's biggest Giant Buddhas.

On the way home as I rode through the fields there were swarms of insects about. The bats were out early and again in numbers that I've never seen before. They looked like great flocks of swifts as they weaved through the swarming insects. I guess that's why there were so many Drongos and Swallows about earlier. As I rode my motorcycle through the swarms I had insects in my helmet down my back and in my eyes. Quite a spectacular spectacle to see but very unpleasant to ride through.
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Old Sunday 17th September 2006, 15:26   #66
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Hi Mark,

Sounds as if you had a great Saturday afternoon out, the photos are great I like the brown shrike in particular.

Sorry you found out the hard way (riding through all those insects) why there were so many birds in one place hunting them.

Beats a day in the garden any day of the week.

Ann
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Old Sunday 17th September 2006, 18:42   #67
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HI MArk

Your accipiter looks like a typical Chinese Goshawk me - Besra will always show a dark mesial stripe and darker header in male plumage.

also, I think the yellow eye would make it a female.

Cheers
Mike
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Old Tuesday 19th September 2006, 04:55   #68
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Hi Mike,

Thanks, Mike ! Agreed, female Chinese Sparrowhawk. My first reaction was Chinese Sparrowhawk, but I didn't get a clear view of the throat, so I did have concerns about missing the mesial streak. There are also resident Besra in the area and most of our Chinese Sparrowhawk move through in early to mid October, so a little early. I couldn't decide if I was seeing red or yellow in the eye area. I since can see the yellow. Scott Lin from the Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute said Chinese Sparrowhawk, too, and pointed out that it is very unusual to see Besra (race fuscipectus) sitting on an exposed perch (both birds were. Attached photo of second Sparrowhawk) and not within cover.
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Old Tuesday 19th September 2006, 04:57   #69
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Quote:
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Hi Mark,

Sounds as if you had a great Saturday afternoon out, the photos are great I like the brown shrike in particular.

Sorry you found out the hard way (riding through all those insects) why there were so many birds in one place hunting them.

Beats a day in the garden any day of the week.

Ann
Thanks, Ann. How's the Sparrowhawk that visits your garden doing? I would love to be able to sit at my computer and watch a Sparrowhawk through the window.
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Old Tuesday 19th September 2006, 14:46   #70
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Hi Mike,

Thanks, Mike ! Agreed, female Chinese Sparrowhawk. My first reaction was Chinese Sparrowhawk, but I didn't get a clear view of the throat, so I did have concerns about missing the mesial streak. There are also resident Besra in the area and most of our Chinese Sparrowhawk move through in early to mid October, so a little early. I couldn't decide if I was seeing red or yellow in the eye area. I since can see the yellow. Scott Lin from the Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute said Chinese Sparrowhawk, too, and pointed out that it is very unusual to see Besra (race fuscipectus) sitting on an exposed perch (both birds were. Attached photo of second Sparrowhawk) and not within cover.

This is an interesting point - Chinese Sparrowks do sit out, as do Crested Goshawks, but I can't ever recall a Besra doing the same - perched views that I recall all seem to come on branches under the upper canopy.
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Old Wednesday 20th September 2006, 04:11   #71
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This is an interesting point - Chinese Sparrowks do sit out, as do Crested Goshawks, but I can't ever recall a Besra doing the same - perched views that I recall all seem to come on branches under the upper canopy.
Seen another one. Sitting out in the top of some dead bamboo next to a stream on the forest edge. Clearly a Chinese Sparrowhawk and not a Besra.
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Old Monday 25th September 2006, 05:57   #72
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Proposed Babbler splits and Huben

In the latest OBC's FORKTAIL, Journal of Asian Ornithology, No. 22, August 2006, pp. 85112, Dr. Nigel Collar has proposed the partial revision of Asian Babblers (Timaliidae). For Taiwan it would mean the addition of seven new endemics. Three of these birds have been recorded in Huben, Rusty Laughingthrush; Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler; and Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler. The latter two being very common in Huben. With the proposed Black-browed Barbet Megalaima oorti -Taiwan Barbet Megalaima nuchalis split, this would mean four new endemics in the area, with three of them being very common residents.

Proposed Splits

Split from:Pygmy/Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler, Pnoepyga pusilla /albiventer
Proposed new species:Taiwan Wren Babbler, Pnoepyga formosana

Split from:White-throated Laughingthrush, Garrulax albogularis,
Proposed new species:Rufous-crowned Laughingthrush, Garrulax ruficeps

Split from:Rusty Laughingthrush, Garrulax poecilorhynchus
Proposed new species:Buffy Laughingthrush, Garrulax berthemyi

Split from:Hwamei, Garrulax canorus
Proposed new species:Taiwan Hwamei, Garrulax taewanus

Split from:Spot-breasted/Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Pomatorhinus erythrogenys
Proposed new species:Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler, Pomatorhinus erythrocnemis

Split from:Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Pomatorhinus ruficollis
Proposed new species:Taiwan Scimitar Babbler, Pomatorhinus musicus

Split from:Streak-throated Fulvetta, Alcippecinereiceps
Proposed new species:Taiwan Fulvetta, Alcippe formosana

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Old Monday 25th September 2006, 11:41   #73
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Excellent - even more reason to come and visit Taiwan!
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Old Monday 25th September 2006, 18:16   #74
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Originally Posted by MKinHK
Excellent - even more reason to come and visit Taiwan!
Welcome anytime. Hope we'll be seeing you when those Pitta return.
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Old Sunday 1st October 2006, 04:59   #75
Mark Bruce
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Fairy Pitta of Huben Postage Stamps

Yesterday, a set of postage stamps helping to raise awareness of the plight of the Fairy Pitta were issued. Postage stamps have been used in the past to help other species in Taiwan. Veteran conservationist John Wu used postage stamps in the early eighties to help stop the slaughter of Brown Shrike which were eaten as a local delicacy in Southern Taiwan and the killing of over sixty thousand raptors annually for "good luck mounts" that were exported to Japan.

More recently stamps depicting the Black-faced Spoonbill, Chinese Crested Tern, and Blue-tailed Bee-eater have raised awareness of these species. Let's hope the the Fairy Pitta stamps help to raise awareness for this species which apart from its decline due to loss of habitat has been trapped for its supposed medicinal properties and for sale as mounted specimens.

I've included a description of the stamps and attached a copy of the stamps.

"Description of Stamps

First day of issue: 2006-09-30 Sheet composition : 20 (4 x 5 or 5 x 4) Paper used: Phosphorescent stamp paper Printer: China Color Printing Co., Ltd. Stamp size: 29 37 37 29 (mm) Color: Colorful Process: Deep etch offset Perforation: 13 Description. The Fairy Pitta (Pitta nympha), a member of the order passeriformes in the family pittidae, is known in Chinese as the "eight-colour bird" for its eye-catching plumage of eight different colors: black, white, yellow, red, blue, dark green, chestnut and bright blue. Taiwan currently provides the largest Fairy Pitta habitat and breeding range of any place in the world, yet the population of Fairy Pittas declines rapidly as a result of habitat loss. To let our citizens put more emphasis on ecological conservation, Chunghwa Post has asked Mr. (Scott)Lin Ruey-Shing of the Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan, to plan a set of four stamps and a souvenir sheet on the Conservation of Birds Postage Stamps - Fairy Pitta. The designs of the stamps follow: 1. Perching High (NT$5.00): Fairy Pittas are active on the ground of the forest. To attract mates, the males often perch on high branches and sing their hearts out. 2. Flying (NT$5.00): Although they are excellent flyer's, Fairy Pittas spend most of their time on the ground. When they make short-distance dashes in the woods, their bright blue wing coverts and upper tail coverts, as well as the snowy white spots in their wings, shimmer. It is a dazzling sight. 3. Rearing the Young (NT$10.00): Fairy Pittas like to build their nests on the grounds of steep slopes, in the forks of low shrubs or at the base of bamboo bushes in low-altitude broad-leaved forests where the tree crowns are dense. The males and females share the responsibility for hatching eggs and rearing the young. 4. Foraging (NT$10.00): Fairy Pittas are shy birds. Their sharp senses help them to find food. Earthworms are the primary food source for baby birds. Their diverse diet also includes caterpillars, beetles, ants, centipedes, snails and cicadas."
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