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A few days in Taiwan (1 Viewer)

iraqbabbler

Well-known member
Hi there, o:)

I'm likely to be transiting through Taiwan around the end of this month (Nov), and I was wondering about the possibility of spending a couple of days birding around there. I'd be grateful if someone could offer some info regarding the following questions.

1- Are there local guides that I can hire, and how much are they likely to charge (approx)?

2- Are there enough sites around Taipei to base myself there or would I need to go further afield?

3- Is the Botanic Gardens the best birding site in Taipei?

Thank you in advance.
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
1. There are. I'd recommend Richard Foster. His webpage is here. But there are others. I can't speak to cost.

2. Depends on what you want to see. Many of the endemics are high elevation species which you won't see around Taipei. Daxueshan (near Taichung) is my go-to place for them, but you'll need a car (or a guide) and likely someone who can organize the accommodations - they only speak Chinese.

3. In Taipei, yes. Near Taipei, no. The Wulai Valley is better than the Botanical Gardens, but the gardens are a must-visit for Malayan Tiger-heron.
 
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There's quite a lot around Taipei city.

The Botanical gardens has the advantage of being very central, but is mostly city friendly birds.

If you're into shorebirds, one of my favourite in city places is the Huajiang Duck park, which is basically a stretch of river about ten minutes walk from Longshan Temple, with a mix of grasses, scrubby trees and river estuary. It's good for raptors (black kites, osprey, black-shouldered kites), shorebirds (sandpipers, plovers, snipes), herons and egrets, wagtails, ducks (mostly green winged teals and spot bills), shrikes, bulbuls, spotted, turtle and red collared doves, the three main myna species, black-collared starlings, drongos, ibises, prinias, etc, munias, etc. There are often bird photographers out, which is a good way to spot anything unusual. You can do this and the Botanical gardens in an afternoon.

Wulai is good for the slightly higher elevation birds, particularly whistling thrushes and plumbeous redstarts, and is about a 45 minute bus ride south of town. There's also a market and hot springs.

If you go north on the subway, the Guandu nature park (about 15 minutes walk from Guandu station) is excellent for ducks, herons, shorebirds and a variety of other stuff. There's an interpretive centre with high powered scopes overlooking the restricted part of the preserve, and they sell guidebooks in the gift shop. They also keep a list of unusual sightings, but in hand-written Chinese.

The most accessible place for high elevation endemics without a car is Alishan, but it's a bit of a trek - an hour and a half to ChaYi by high speed rail, and another two hours by bus to get to the park. There are hotels in the park, but they book up fast (you might have luck on a weekday).

Going up the gondola to the Wenshan tea houses is not bad. I saw crested goshawks and large billed crows, and heard whistling thrushes, when I was taking some visitors up the other day (not specifically birding).

Oh, and on Sundays the TAipei wild bird society does guided bird walks. In Chinese, but they're pretty friendly. It usually involves meeting at at a subway stop at about 7:30 am. If you're interested and have dates, I can look up where they are going.
 
Additional information - the ebird coverage for Taiwan is excellent (thanks to a Chinese localization released about five years ago). Viewing the hotspots map is a good way to ID good birding spots, see what's around at this time of year, and find any unusual sightings.
 

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