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Old Tuesday 16th January 2007, 14:58   #101
Larry Lade
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A trip over there is looking better all the time! This morning it is 0 degrees F (-18 C) here in Saint Joseph, Missouri. It least the sun is shining today!

I don't know if I will get out and look for birds for not! If I do my birding will be from the comfort of my little, heated RAV4 (Toyota).
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Old Tuesday 16th January 2007, 15:13   #102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Lade
A trip over there is looking better all the time! This morning it is 0 degrees F (-18 C) here in Saint Joseph, Missouri. It least the sun is shining today!

I don't know if I will get out and look for birds for not! If I do my birding will be from the comfort of my little, heated RAV4 (Toyota).
Way too cold, Larry! We think it's freezing when the temp drops to about 12 C. Mind you the mountains can get well below zero but in the lowlands winter is about 23 C at noon. Hope you have some luck in the cold this morning.
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Old Tuesday 16th January 2007, 22:41   #103
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Nice to get back in the field with a good start Mark - I envy you your Night Heron.

Cheers
Mike
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Old Wednesday 17th January 2007, 03:05   #104
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The Night Heron is pretty common in Huben. In summer there really are quite high numbers. In winter the numbers drop but it's not too hard to find one.
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Old Thursday 25th January 2007, 15:59   #105
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A good Saturday's afternoon.

I haven't been able to write this up until now but I did have a pretty good afternoon last Saturday. I arrived at the bridge leading into Huben village at about 2:30 and was greeted by the calling of the young Crested Serpent Eagle I had seen on Monday. I have seen a young eagle in this area quite a few times over the past two months so it looks as if it's established a territory in this area. I pulled over and watched it circling overhead for a few minutes before caring on.

Just before arriving at the temple I spotted another Crested Serpent Eagle sitting in a dead tree across the valley. I stopped and watched it for a few minutes. It was a majestic looking mature Eagle. It's crest fluttered in the breeze like plumes on a knight's helmet. I snapped a few long distance shots and moved on.

I parked my motorcycle under the big Bayan tree at the temple and headed off down the track. The usual Light-vented Bulbuls, Spotted Doves, Eurasian Tree Sparrows, Pacific Swallows, and Striated Swallows had all quickly put in an appearance when the calls of a Bronzed Drongo stopped me. As I watched the Bronzed Drongos the calls of some Dusky Fulvettas and Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers alerted me to their presence. It wasn't long before some Rufous-capped Babblers were putting on a show just off to my right. Shortly they were joined by the Dusky Fulvettas and Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers. All three were needed for my 2007 year list.

I moved on and was treated to a view of a dazzling Black-naped Monarch. Some Grey-cheeked Fulvetta started calling just out of view. The sharp almost hiss like alarm call showed that they were well aware of my presence. I spotted a single Japanese White-eye fly overhead and land in the top of some bamboo I was standing near. Moments later a flock of about fifteen joined it.

I arrived at a field planted with orange trees.Light-vented Bulbuls and Collared Finchbills were darting between the trees. There were a great number of these birds amongst the trees. Moments later I spotted a pair of Black Bulbul with there blood red bills and legs offset against there jet black plumage. Then something else caught my eye. It disappeared off amongst the trees. I never got a second look but it was a thrush of shorts for sure. Probably a Pale Thrush or Dusky Thrush. Moments later I heard the distinct chi-up notes of the call of a Plain Prinia. I searched the scrub near the path and it wasn't long before I had located it. Another one to add to my year list. I looked up and the sky was filled with House Swifts. They also needed to be added to my year list.

I moved on and Spotted my third Crested Serpent Eagle for the afternoon flying out of a tree across the valley. I then noticed a flock of about fifteen doves in a dead tree across the valley near to where I had seen the eagle. Something about the doves looked odd. They didn't appear to be the usual Spotted Doves or Red Collared Doves that are very common in Huben. I glassed them and to my joy they were Oriental Turtle Doves. This was a first for my Huben list and another one for my year list. Oriental Turtle Doves are quite common in the North of Taiwan but down in the central areas they are uncommon to even pretty rare in some places.

It was getting on and I needed to get back. I had a good walk back to the temple and the second eagle was still sitting in the dead tree across the valley. I started off on my motorcycle and just as I was leaving Huben I had fine views of the brilliant green of a Black-browed Barbet. In Mandarin it is called Wu-se Niao or Bird of Five Colours. This was another one for the year list and a great way to end the day.

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Old Thursday 25th January 2007, 18:40   #106
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Sounds like a good day out. And several year birds, plus a patch "lifer"!

Good Going!
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Old Thursday 25th January 2007, 22:10   #107
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Hi Mark,

Congratulations on the patch lifer and thank you for the beautiful photos the bright blue of the Monarch is wonderful and I love the muted colours of the Spotted Dove rather like our Jays.

You brought some colour and warmth to the cold north of England.

Thank you

Ann
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Old Friday 26th January 2007, 04:52   #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Lade
Sounds like a good day out. And several year birds, plus a patch "lifer"!

Good Going!
Thanks, Larry ! It was a very good afternoon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A CHAPLIN
Hi Mark,

Congratulations on the patch lifer and thank you for the beautiful photos the bright blue of the Monarch is wonderful and I love the muted colours of the Spotted Dove rather like our Jays.

You brought some colour and warmth to the cold north of England.

Thank you

Ann
Thanks, Ann ! I love the Black-naped Monarchs, too. No matter how many times I see them I always get knocked-out by that dazzling blue.
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Old Saturday 10th February 2007, 05:14   #109
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The Hushan Dam Project

One can't talk about the Huben-Hushan area and birds without mentioning the big axe poised to cut out its heart and destroy so much of this wonderful area.

On Sunday 28 January I attended a debate in Legislative Yuan up in Taipei on the Hushan Dam project. The following Sunday, 4 February, I attended a get together of various concerned people to go over the proposed Hushan Dam site with some journalists.

Present was Chen Jin-jhun (Chairman WBSY) and myself from the Wild Bird Society of Yunlin. Robin Winkler (EPA Commissioner and founder of Wild at Heart) and Funder Chen from Wild at Heart Legal Defence Association. Then, Scott Lin Ruey-shing, of the Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute and Liao Guan-mao, of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union.

We met up with Taiwan based writer Steven Crook and photographer Richard Matheson who we covering the story for a number of local English publications and then Ho Shu-chuan and Chang Yi-wen from the China Times Weekly.

While the current budget for the Dam itself remains frozen for the time being, work on access roads and tunnelling for the dam is still continuing and destroying important habitat within the Huben IBA.

While going over the dam site I was able to add White-bellied Green Pigeon to both my Huben list and year list. A local patch tick is always a great joy.

Below, I've included some details of threatened species found within the Hushan-Huben area and details of the IBA.

Status of the Huben Area

The Huben-Hushan area has been internationally identified as an IBA or Important Bird Area and is listed as one of Asias key sites for conservation (Birdlife, 2004, p 94). The details of the Huben IBA are as follows:-

Important Bird Areas in Taiwan.
Number: TW017.
Category: A1.
Admin Region: Yunlin.
Coordinates: 23 43N 120 36E.
Altitude (highest point): 519m.
Area: 2,200 ha.
Habitats: Artificial landscapes (terrestrial); Forest.
Threatened Species: Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha.
Protected Area Status of the IBA: Unprotected.

Threatended Species in the Huben-Hushan Area

1. Taiwan Partridge Arborophila crudigularis (Swinhoe 1864) Endemic to Taiwan.
Threatened Species Category: Globally Threatened Species.
IUCN Red List Category: Near Threatened.
Protection: Legally protected in Taiwan.
Status in Huben-Hushan Area: Resident.

2. Swinhoe's Pheasant Lophura swinhoii (Gould 1863) Endemic to Taiwan.
Threatened Species Category: Globally Threatened Species.
IUCN Red List Category: Near Threatened.
Protection: CITES appendix 1. Legally protected in Taiwan.
Status in Huben-Hushan Area: Resident.

3. Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii ardens (Swinhoe 1862) Endemic Subspecies.
Threatened Species Category: Nationally Threatened Species.
IUCN Red List Category: Endangered.
Protection: Legally protected in Taiwan.
Status in Huben-Hushan Area: Resident.

4. Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha (Temminck & Schlegel 1850) Summer breeding resident.
Threatened Species Category: Globally Threatened Species.
IUCN Red List Category: Vulnerable.
Protection: CITES appendix II. Legally protected in Taiwan.
Status in Huben-Hushan Area: Summer breeding resident.

Huben-Hushan Species Listed on the Taiwan Red Data Watch List

1. Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus (Raffles 1822) Resident.
2. Peregrine Falcon Falco Peregrinus (Tunstall 1771) Rare Visitor.
3. Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides (Lafresnaye 1845) Probably Resident.
4. Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca (Linnaeus 1766) Resident.
5. Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica (Hermann1804) Resident.
6. Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica (Linnaeus 1758) Resident.
7. Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis (Linnaeus 1758) Resident.
8. Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda (Latham 1790) Passage Migrant.
9. Varied Tit Parus varius (Temminck & Schlegel 1848) Rare Visitor.
10. Bright-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis (Vigors & Horsfield 1827) Probably Resident.
11. Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula (Franklin 1831) Visitor.


References

Birdlife International, Important Bird Areas in Asia. Key Sites for Conservation (Wakefield, UK, H.Charlesworth & Co, 2004).
Fang, A Guide to Threatened Birds of Taiwan (Taipei, Mao-tou Ying, 2005).
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Old Sunday 11th February 2007, 00:26   #110
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Mark, this seems to be a "never ending struggle", to balance development with a conscientious concern for the natural world.
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Old Sunday 11th February 2007, 11:41   #111
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Quote:
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Mark, this seems to be a "never ending struggle", to balance development with a conscientious concern for the natural world.
Very true, Larry. Sadly here the balance is tipping way too much in favour of the developers.
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Old Sunday 11th February 2007, 13:50   #112
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A Good Afternoon with the Raptors

Yesterday afternoon I took a colleague and her friend around Huben. They were interested in seeing the Crested Serpent Eagles. We arrived at Huben at about 2:40pm. We stopped near the bridge leading into the village hoping to see the young Crested Serpent Eagle that frequents that area.

After several minutes of scanning the sky we decided to continue and head for the temple. As we started down the quiet road leading to the temple I spotted a Crested Goshawk overhead. We stopped the car and piled out. We had a pretty good view of the Crested Goshawk over the forest before it moved off out of site. We continued to scan the skies hoping to get a second view.

As I looked directly overhead a Crested Serpent Eagle appeared. It was almost uncanny. One moment there was nothing in the next the eagle was directly overhead. It circled above as and called twice. This was pretty good going. We hadn't even got to the temple and we had got our eagle and a goshawk.

The eagle started to circle further out and was calling continually now. Moments later I heard the cry of a second eagle off to our left. I scanned the skies in that direction but there was nothing to be seen. The call came again so I knew it must be there. Suddenly I caught sight of eagle just above the treetops. In an instant it disappeared from view.

We scanned the skies for more movement. Some Pacific Swallows, House Swifts and Striated Swallows moved along the river. Far out above the hills I caught sight of something in the sky. It was big. Before I lifted my bins I knew it was another Crested serpent Eagle. We watched it circling and coming ever closer. Soon we could clearly hear its calls. This was eagle number three. We were doing very well. After a few minutes we decided to push on to the temple.

We parked at the temple and then headed off down the track. Bronzed Drongos hawked insects from the treetops. Light-vented Bulbuls and Collared Finchbills buzzed about. We had another good sighting of a Crested Goshawk. We watched a mix flock of Grey-cheeked Fulvettas and Japanese White-eyes. There was a single pair of Black-naped Monarch with them. Shortly, about ten Collared Finchbills joined the flock. Then some Bronzed Drongos and Light-vented Bulbuls also arrived.

The almost electronic rasp of a Grey Treepie alerted me to its presence. A second call and I saw a second Treepie. From the undergrowth a Rufous-capped Babbler called. This was followed by the call of a Dusky Fulvetta. Moments later the undergrowth was alive with Babblers and Fulvettas. A call from above alerted me to the presence of a female Grey-chinned Minivet. I saw it for only a moment and it disappeared amongst the trees.

The shadows started to lengthen and we decided to call it a day. For a trip to find a Crested Serpent Eagle we had done well.
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Old Monday 12th February 2007, 15:08   #113
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Congratulations on the WB Green Pigeon, Mark - still hoping for one on my own patch, bt happy enough to see my first ever at theend of last year.

Very interesting to see that the Taiwanese Maroon Oriole is considered an endangered taxon and curious as to why that might be. Guess I assumed that there was lots of suitable habitat on Taiwan for both this, the Taiwan Partridge and Swinhoe's Pheasant.What are the criteria for red list desigantion?

Also surprised by amost all the birds on the watch list. What are the criteria for that list?

Cheers
Mike

PS La Touche went in the mail today.
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Old Tuesday 13th February 2007, 04:58   #114
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MKinHK
PS La Touche went in the mail today.
A very big thank you ! I'm really looking forward to it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MKinHK
Congratulations on the WB Green Pigeon, Mark - still hoping for one on my own patch, bt happy enough to see my first ever at the end of last year.
Pretty common on Taiwan between 800-2000m. It's a very rare sight in Huben.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MKinHK
Very interesting to see that the Taiwanese Maroon Oriole is considered an endangered taxon and curious as to why that might be. Guess I assumed that there was lots of suitable habitat on Taiwan for both this, the Taiwan Partridge and Swinhoe's Pheasant.What are the criteria for red list desigantion?

Also surprised by amost all the birds on the watch list. What are the criteria for that list?
The Threatened Birds of Taiwan Project was the Taiwan (WBFT) part of Birdlife's "IBAs in Asia. Key Sites for Conservation Project." Prof Woei-horng Fang (Vice-President WBFT and Vice Chair Birdlife Asia Council), along with Birdlife's Nigel Collar and WBFT published A Guide to Threatened Birds of Taiwan (Taipei, Mao-tou Ying, 2005).

They used the standard Birdlife Red Data criteria but adapted it for national rather than international assessing. The Taiwan endemics like Taiwan Partridge and Swinhoe's Pheasant where already Red Data species on the international list and were covered and documented already. A number of local species, mostly endemic subspecies like the Taiwan race of Maroon Oriole, were placed on a national list and given pretty much the same protection nationally as the internationally threatened species enjoyed.

The published figures for Maroon Oriole, race ardens are population size 200-500. I know some researchers who believe it is higher but all agree it's under 1000. From what I've read in old Ibis journals I don't believe Maroon Oriole was ever really that common. Hachisuka & Udagawa 1951 don't say it was rare but then they don't say it was common.

It is basically a lowland species so it must have been under pressure for a very long time through loss of habitat and trapping. Now they are almost absent from the central western coastal plain. Places like Huben are the only places were a few pairs can still be found. The pattern fits other lowland species like the Black-naped Oriole and Taiwan Blue Magpie, which also appear on the Red Data list.
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Old Friday 23rd February 2007, 14:21   #115
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A Kestrel and Scimitar Babblers

This afternoon I headed out for an afternoon's birding at Huben. As I neared Huben I scanned the skies ahead for the young Crested Serpent Eagle. Yes, there ahead I could see a black shape high up over the bridge. A moment later I spotted another black shape. I still had quite a way to go so continued towards the bridge. As I got closer the shapes became clearer and looked a little small to be Crested Serpent Eagles. I brought my motorcycle to a stop. I looked up and Crested Goshawk seemed more likely now. A quick look through my bins confirmed it. The Crested Goshawks moved off towards the bridge.

I climbed back on my motorcycle and continued towards the bridge. The Crested Goshawks were over the bridge now. Beyond them I could Clearly make out the shapes of a pair of Crested Serpent Eagles over the village. I got to the bridge and stopped. The pair of Crested Goshawks were moving off to my left over the forest. The Crested Serpent Eagles had moved off and where over the forest to my right. Out of nowhere a Common Kestrel put in an appearance and moved off down the river. I was very excited. This is the first Kestrel I've seen in Huben. There have been odd sightings over the years. The habitat of Huben doesn't favour Kestrel and so seeing one over Huben is quite a rare sight.

I carried on to the temple and a walk along the track towards Pillow Mountain produced Light-vented Bulbul, Pacific Swallow, Spotted Dove, Red Collared Dove, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Black-naped Monarch, Rufous-capped Babbler, Bronzed Drongo, Black Drongo, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Collared Finchbill, Black Bulbul, Dusky Fulvetta, Japanese White-eye, Brown Shrike, Grey-capped Woodpecker, Malayan Night Heron, White-rumped Munia, Scaly-breasted Munia, White Wagtail, Little Egret, Chinese Bamboo Partridge.

I also saw the following which I see are now appearing as full species in the OBC Database. This means three new Taiwan endemics for Huben and eight for Taiwan. Taiwan Barbet Megalaima nuchalis split from Black-browed Barbet, Taiwan Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus musicus split from Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus erythrocnemis split from Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler. The Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler was a good sighting and a new one for my year list. There are fair numbers in Huben but they are usually heard and and seldom seen.

Just as I was leaving for home and was about to climb on my motorcycle I was treated to a brief but good sighting of a Besra. Four different raptors and both Scimitar Babblers in an afternoon, I was a happy boy heading home.
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Old Monday 26th February 2007, 23:14   #116
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Well done on the Kestrel - any patch tick really givs me a lift, but I hve to admit to being hungrier for your Scimitar Babblers - especially since reading the Forktail articles on the splits.

My experience of the species formerly known as Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler is much the same as yours - far more often heard than seen - no matter what species they've been turned into!

Cheers
Mike
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Old Friday 2nd March 2007, 05:34   #117
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Quote:
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My experience of the species formerly known as Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler is much the same as yours - far more often heard than seen - no matter what species they've been turned into!

Cheers
Mike
Mike, I hear you. Really not the easiest birds to see. There are good numbers in Huben but you really have to go off into the forest and go scrambling up quite streams into the hills to get good views.

Studies on the Taiwan species vocalisations are revealing quite a bit of regional dialect between different groups in Taiwan.
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Old Monday 30th April 2007, 04:53   #118
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They're back !

Lot's of things happening in Huben, both good and bad. The area made the news with the highway being partly closed and a butterfly barrier erected during the Purple Crow butterfly migration. See the following thread for details http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=81613.

Fair numbers of Grey-faced Buzzard passed through on there way north from mid to late March. I've also had some good views of a pair of Maroon Oriole.

The first Fairy Pitta of the season was recorded on the morning of 14 April. This is the earliest record to date. Most pitta are arriving now. The peak period is usually about 25 April to 30 April. It's great to have them back. On Friday I was photographing construction in the area and it was great to hear a pitta calling off in the forest. I'll wait a few days before I go looking for my first Fairy of the season.

Other good news is that the EPA subcommittee ruled last Thursday that all construction work on the Hushan Dam project had to stop. However, this will be challenged and as things go, may well be overturned.

Sadly, other construction work has destroyed two more streams in the area resulting in the loss of more valuable habitat.
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Old Monday 30th April 2007, 07:09   #119
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Hi Mark,

It is great news to hear the Fairies are back and I hope the dam construction work doesn't cause them too many problems and there is still room for goodish numbers.

If you want any letters writing you know where to find me.

Ann
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Old Monday 30th April 2007, 15:43   #120
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I can sympathize with the dam project. Nothing that serious around here (for now at least). Every time I go out here it seems like they're chopping down trees to build new roads though.

Taiwan. So close to Japan and yet the birds are so different. I'll have to make it down there sometime.
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Old Tuesday 1st May 2007, 02:42   #121
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Thanks, Ann & Stu,

This area is going fast. Apart from the dam there is so much other construction going on. The streams are coming in for a hard time and are being dug up and covered in concrete. The pitta nest on the stream banks. Attached are two photos of separate projects involving streams that have nothing to do with the dam.

Stu, just give me a shout when you want to head South.
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Old Monday 7th May 2007, 03:21   #122
Mark Bruce
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Ruddy Kingfisher, and I missed it !

Early each May a number of Ruddy Kingfisher migrate through Huben. Because of the thick forest these birds are not often seen and I have yet to have a sighting of one.

On Saturday our local bird club, Wild Bird Society of Yunlin, had a field trip to Huben. I was planning on going but had a report on the Huben IBA to put together for the upcoming BirdLife Asia conference in Hong Kong this week so decided to stay home and work. Well, they saw a Ruddy Kingfisher on Saturday. I didn't hear about it until last night. Then, I got a call from the Fairy Pitta researcher, Scott Lin, last night and he told me he had seen three Ruddy Kingfisher and a Swinhoe's Pheasant. All I can hope is that there is still a Ruddy Kingfisher about this afternoon when I go out to Huben to see Scott. Scott has kindly given me shots of the two sightings which are attached.
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Old Wednesday 9th May 2007, 05:06   #123
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No Ruddy Kingfishers seen on Monday's visit. Well, let's hope for next year.
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Old Saturday 12th May 2007, 08:05   #124
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Better luck next time with the Ruddy Kingfishers, Mark.

For all you BF'ers that have been thinking of going to Taiwan and seeing all of these wonderful birds for yourselves, you might want to check out

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=85758

which details a trip i recently did there.

All the best,
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Old Saturday 12th May 2007, 14:33   #125
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Cheers, Paul !
Great trip report !
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