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10 Days Bird Photography in Taiwan

By Nelson Khor

This is my 1st Birds Photograph trip in Taiwan before was few business/holiday trip, still remember my last visit Taiwan was year 2001.
This trip we have three person, Makus, Ng Ban Hor (Mr No Good) and Me, Makus is responsible of " Bird List " mean in charge of what bird is our wish list, of course he will have the long list to Taiwan, No Good will be responsible of financial, in charge of cash in cash out... me will be responsible of Trip arrange and bird guide and including food + visit Street Night Market in Taiwan.
It about three month we survey and ask around and finally we found the bird guide we need, she was recommend by few of my Taiwan bird friend from bird forum. She also a Bird Photographer so is the right person we choose.
We start to discuss in detail about when, ticket, location, bird..... etc.
OK, we are really to fly and just wait for the time to arrive, in this trip I just brought two lens, 600mm F4L, 17-40mm F4L and new toy 7D.

Day 1 - Taiwan (台灣)
I'm flight from Penang to KL airport to met Makus and No Good, than we take Malaysia air line direct to Taoyuan International Airport (桃園中正機場), it about 4.5 hours to reach there, the local time is 2:15PM(same as Malaysia). Our Bird Guide Ms Dot Cool (珮文) is just waiting at the arrival hall and welcome us, 1st step walk out from the air port, it really windy and cool, not very cold, it about 20℃ . ( Too bad, Taipei weather will be cloudy and rain, and this will continue for a week, but this was told before, so we are well prepare )

We directly go for our 1st target, Pied Avocet, that time was strong wing and cold also start rain, it about 15℃ , from the picture you can know the condition of shooting this Pied Avocet, too bad it become Eagle's breakfast few days later.

Pied Avocet ( 反嘴鴴 )

After we go for dinner at on the way to hotel for Taiwan local food, Beef Noodle (牛肉麵) & Oyster Vermicelli (蚵仔麵線) than check in Hotel in town and prepare for the day 2.

Beef Noodle (牛肉麵)

Oyster vermicelli (蚵仔麵線)

Day 2 - Yehliu Park (野柳公園)
Yehliu (野柳) is a cape on the north coast of Taiwan in the town of Wanli between Taipei and Keelung also where the migrant bird will by pass before to another location, it belong to one of the famous Tourist attractions, so we have to go early morning before the tourist. Quite a promising place but only the weather is bad.... we are shooting in raining condition for the whole morning, also we meet a lot of Taiwan Birds Photographer there, they are nice and friendly.

Grey Backed Thrush ( 灰背鶇 )

Daurian Redstart ( 黃尾鴝 )

Japanese Robin ( 日本歌鴝 )

Japanese Bush Warbler( 短翅樹鶯 )

Siberian Rubythroat ( 野鴝 )

Grey Wagtail ( 灰鶺鴒 )

Day 2/3 - Dasyueshan (鞍马山)
Dashuishan National Forest Recreational Area is in Hopin township, Taichung County and is accessible through Dashuishan forest road. There are numerous layers of mountain and dense forests. The area ranges from 1000 to 2996 meters above sea level and covers 3963 hectares. The climate is humid and cool with 12℃ as annual average temperature. This is the 1st mountain we visit in Taiwan, after finish the whole trip report you can know how many mountain we focus this trip, we reach there late afternoon, it about two~three hours for us to shooting ( Taiwan after 6:00pm will be getting dark when early winter time )
I'll said this is quite a promising place, if we go to right season, it will be more birds for, at the night we check in resort (奇沐山莊).

White Browed Bush Robin ( 白眉林鴝) - Endemic Subspecies

White Whiskered/Taiwan Laughingthrush ( 台灣噪眉 ) - Endemic Species

Mikado Pheasant ( 黑長尾雉 ) - Endemic Species

Swinhoe's Pheasant ( 藍腹鷴 ) - Endemic Species

Collared Bush Robin ( 栗背林鴝 ) - Endemic Species

Black-throated Tit ( 紅頭山雀 )

Some nature photograph from Dasyueshan (鞍马山) while the bird not coming.( This two shots is from my HTC handphone )

Day 4 (AM) - Hehuan Mountain (合歡山)
Mountain Hehuan (Hehuan Mountain) is located between Ren-ai Township in central Taiwan's Nantou County and Hsioulin Township in eastern Taiwan's Hualien County. The mountain reaches an elevation of 3,416 meters, also where the people of Taiwan go in the winter to see the snow. We reach Hehuan Mountain at day 4 of night, it was very cold, the temperature is about 5℃, we check-in Hostel Songxue (松雪樓), it not cheap, it is the most expensive Hostel in Hehuan Mountain but the room is very nice and deluxe. We spent in morning section at HeHuan Mountain, the target is to get the Alpine Accentor, after move to SunlinkSea

Alpine Accentor ( 岩鷚 ) - Endemic Species

Winter Wren ( 鷦鷯 ) - Endemic Species

Taiwan Firecrest ( 火冠戴菊鳥 ) - Endemic Species

Vinaceous Rosefinch ( 酒紅朱雀 ) - Endemic Subspecies

Coal Tit ( 煤山雀 ) - Endemic Subspecies

Some nature photograph from Hehuan Mountain (合歡山) which just outside from our Hostel Songxue (松雪樓)

Day 4 (PM)- SunlinkSea (杉林溪)
The SunlinkSea located at the Nantou, area approximately is 17 kilometers, the altitude above sea level approximately is 1600 meters, the occupying land area approximately is 40 hectares, seem like this place is surrounding by rivulet.

Little Forktail ( 小剪尾 ) - Endemic Subspecies

Plumbeous Water Redstart ( 鉛色水鴝 ) - Endemic Subspecies

Steere's Liocichla ( 黃胸藪眉 ) - Endemic Species

Day 5, 6 & 7 - Alishan ( 阿里山 / 塔塔加 / 玉山 )
Alishan is well known for its sunrises, and on a suitable morning one can observe the sun come up on a sea of clouds, in the area between Alishan and Yushan (玉山). Which is formed by Dawu Mountain (北大武山) range, Jian Mountain (小劍山)....etc. 18 large mountains, stretching from Nantou to Jiayi in two counties. The highest peak is 2663 meters above sea level, it will be very cold at night below 5℃. We do look for owl at night, we manage to see and some mammal but the temperature is too cold for us, have to give up photograph it, even we also have the problem to hold our tripod and lens, that time the temperature is about 2℃+-.

Streak Throated Fulvetta ( 灰頭花翼 ) - Endemic Subspecies

Taiwan Barwing ( 紋翼畫眉 ) - Endemic Species

Eurasian Nutcracker ( 星鴉 ) - Endemic Subspecies

Black-throated Tit ( 紅頭山雀 )

Collared Bush Robin ( 栗背林鴝 ) - Endemic Species

Grey Cheeked Fulvetta ( 繡眼畫眉 ) - Endemic Subspecies

Taiwan Hill Partridge ( 台灣山鷓鴣 ) - Endemic Species

Chinese Bomboo Partridge ( 竹雞 ) - Endemic Subspecies

This is one of the Monkey in Taiwan I manage to photograph, they will come very near you, some of them are jump up to our Car and asking for food…..

Macacus Monkeys (台灣猕猴 )

Romantic name, heard if you are taken the photo with your love one, both of you will be love forever, if friend, the friendship will be forever

Husband & Wife tree (夫妻神木 )

Some nature photograph from Alishan ( 阿里山 / 塔塔加 / 玉山 )

Day 8 (AM) - Yilan Park (宜蘭植物園)
Start at early morning from Hotel before toward to destination, we stop and the road side for our breakfast, Taiwan morning breakfast is one of my favor. When reach at the Park, too bad the weather is cloudy and raining ... since we already here just setup our gear and wear the raincoat and start photograph ..... the rain stop after few hours when the SBS Babbler show up.

Breakfast at on the way to Yilan Park, this kind of shop is very common and popular in Taiwan

Maroon Oriole ( 朱鸝 ) - Endemic Subspecies

Crested Goshawk ( 鳳頭蒼鷹 ) - Endemic Subspecies

Streak Breasted Scimitar Babbler ( 小彎嘴 ) - Endemic Subspecies

Yellow Browed Warbler ( 黃眉柳鶯 )

Before move to next location… take some regional snack
Ice Cream/Peanut Crepes ( 冰淇淋花生捲)

Day 8 (PM) - Chiayi Wetland 鰲鼓溼地
This is the bigger wetland in Taiwan, located at Chiayi, the total area approximately had 1500 hectares, the wetland scope also includes the sandbar, the bog, the wind-break forest and paddy field, every year the BF Spoonbill will be visit here and other migrate bird as well.

Black-faced Spoonbill ( 黑面琵鷺 )

Northern Lapwing ( 小辮鴴 )

Mallard Duck ( 綠頭鴨 )

Tufted Duck (鳳頭潛鴨)

Green wing Teal ( 小水鴨 )

Buff Bellied Pipit ( 黃腹鷚 )

When come to night, we go for night market in Taipei Town to look for regional food at Lehua Night Market ( 樂華夜市 )

Stinky Tofu (臭豆腐) ….

Taiwan Hot Dog (大腸包小腸), Is small sausage wrapped in big sausage. A Taiwanese snack, common in night market

Tianbula - (甜不辣)

Taiwan Xishi (台灣檳榔西施)

Day 9 - Taipei Botanic Garden ( 台北植物園 )
It is located in the Taipei City and occupies about 8 hectares. More than 2000 species have been collected and displayed here, in addition to the plentiful living plants, two old buildings in the garden have been assigned to be the cultural heritage by the government. Our target bird here is T.Barbet.

Taiwan Barbet ( 台灣擬啄木 ) - Endemic Subspecies

Light Vented Bulbul - 白頭翁 - Endemic Subspecies

Japanese White Eye ( 綠繡眼 )

Malaysian Night Heron ( 黑冠麻鷺 ), I cannot get this shots in Malaysia, so only able to photograph in Taiwan

Common Moorhen ( 紅冠水雞 )

Brown Shrike ( 紅尾伯勞 ) It more colorful from Malaysia since is winter time

Gray Treepie ( 樹鵲 ) - Endemic Subspecies

Taiwan Squirrel ( 松鼠 )

This is the last night in Taiwan, so we go again to night market name Raohe Street Night Market ( 饒河夜市 )
I will said, I love Taiwan food

Day 10 - End of our journey