Sunday, 18 May 2014

Taiwan: Taroko Gorge & Hohuanshan

It is the 6th May & we drove to Taroko Gorge in the pouring rain. This is one of the most scenic areas in Taiwan, but it was hard to appreciate it through the heavy rain & low cloud, which prevented us seeing much.
 Taroko Gorge.
 The rain just kept falling!

 One has to wear protective headgear,
to walk along the gorge.
 Frank deciding to end it all?
 Some of the caves & caverns were spectacular.

 Trying our best to do some birding!
 Did I mention it was raining?
 This Pacific Swift was found waterlogged in a bush.
 It later flew off strongly, after getting dry & warm again.
 Views from the hotel where we stayed.
 White-whiskered Laughing Thrush.

Taiwan Whistling Thrush.
Plumbeous Redstart.
Best birds for the day were: Eurasian Nuthatch; White-whiskered laughing Thrush; Vivid Niltava; Taiwan Whistling Thrush; Little Forktail & Plumbeous Redstart.
We spent the rest of the day driving in the rain, with little birding done. We stayed at the Chinjang Hotel, on the flank of Hohunshan Mountain.
7th May, it was damp, very damp! It had been raining all night & the prospects for the day were not good.
Looking across to the summit.

Birding the mountain trails.
  Superb mountain forest.

We drove up to the summit of Mount Hohunshan (3,168 m) & then descended because of the weather down to bird the Blue Gate Trail at 2,100m.
Best birds were: White-backed Woodpecker; Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler; White-eared Sibia & Snowy-browed Flycatcher. (The rain made it impossible to get any photos of the birds). We had a brief interlude of rain free weather, but then it set in again & made birding impossible. Rest of the day driving to Guyun, where we looked in the rain for Taiwan Varied Tit. We eventually found one & stayed the night close by.
In the morning (8th), we were again out looking for the Taiwan Varied Tit & eventually found two birds & obtained quite good views. This form could be split as a separate species in the future, as it looks very different from the birds found in Japan.
We then made a decision to leave the waterlogged mountain forests & spend the rest of our last day on the coast at  Jinchang Lake & nearby estuary. This proved a good move as the weather was quite good & even thought we didn't see anything exceptional, it was a very pleasant days birding.
 Good facilities & information on the reserve.

Looking over the estuary.
 Mongolian Gull.
Plain Prinia.

25+ Eastern Great Egrets; 7 Black-crowned Night Heron; 10 Sacred Ibis; Osprey; a good selection of waders including 7+ Grey-tailed Tattler; 30+ Sharp-tailed Sandpiper & 13 Broad-billed Sandpiper; what we think is an adult Mongolian Gull; 10 Little Tern; 13 Whiskered Tern; 3 Common Kingfisher; 7 Brown Shrike; Oriental Skylark; Collared Finchbill; Plain Prinia; Richard's Pipit & Black-faced Bunting.
We then caught an evening flight to mainland China & arrived at our hotel very late & very tired, but eager for the next part of our trip to begin!


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