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TAIWAN

Birdquest's Taiwan birding tour explores an island that is still not that well-established on the world birdwatching map, yet has one of the highest concentrations of endemic birds in Asia. Our Taiwan tour offers comprenehsive coverage and often records every Taiwan endemic including Mikado and Swinhoe's Pheasants, as well as Fairy Pitta.

Friday 20th April — Wednesday 2nd May 2018
(13 days)


Leaders: Hannu Jännes and a local bird guide

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and mostly comfortable accommodations

Taiwan has a number of sumptuous endemics which is continually growing as taxonomists recognize more and more species. This stunning Mikado Pheasant is one of the most impressive. For a selection of other photos from this wonderful destination, have a look at the 2009 tour write up (Mark Beaman)

Taiwan has a number of sumptuous endemics which is continually growing as taxonomists recognize more and more species. This stunning Mikado Pheasant is one of the most impressive. For a selection of other photos from this wonderful destination, have a look at the 2009 tour write up (Mark Beaman)

Two hundred kilometres off the eastern coast of China lies the island of Taiwan, nowadays one of the Asian ‘Tiger’ economies and a developed, industrialized democracy with a decidedly uncertain future, given the mainland’s ever-present desire for the return of its errant province. Known to the ancient Chinese, attracted by tales of its natural wealth, as ‘Bao Dao’ (‘Treasure Island’), and to the Portuguese as ‘Isla Formosa’ (‘Beautiful Island’), this mountainous, leaf-shaped, subtropical island set in the South China Sea has moved on from its one-time role as the last stronghold of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Chinese government to its present state as a prosperous independent island with few aspirations to reunite with the mainland.

For the birdwatcher, Taiwan has a great deal to offer. Most exciting of all are the many endemic species (the number of which has already risen to around 30, depending on what taxonomy one follows, and is probably destined to go higher, following further taxonomic revision), many of which are unusually attractive, but there are also many other interesting birds of wider distribution. This tour has been carefully crafted and is long enough to provide the best possible chance of seeing every one of Taiwan’s existing endemic species and likely future splits. Rain and mist are commonplace in Taiwan’s mountainous interior from March onwards, right through the best birding season, so plenty of time in the mountains is needed if one is to be virtually certain of seeing the two fabulous endemic pheasants. In addition, several of the endemics are quite localized or very shy, requiring time and effort. Relatively few non-Taiwanese birders have visited the island, making a visit still very much a novelty.

During the tour we shall concentrate on the central mountain massif of Taiwan and the wetlands of the southwest coast.

From Taipei, the capital, where we will admire what are surely the world’s tamest Malayan Night Herons, we will head south to explore the high mountains of first the Daxueshan (Anmashan) region. Daxueshan is the best birding area in all Taiwan and we have plenty of time there so we can do really well.

This is where we have our best chances for the famed Mikado Pheasant and the gorgeous Swinhoe’s Pheasant, and where we should see other great birds such as the secretive Taiwan Partridge, Taiwan Bamboo Partridge, the beautiful Collared Bush Robin, Sombre Bush Robin, the tiny Flamecrest, White-eared Sibia, Taiwan Barwing, the beautiful Yellow Tit, Taiwan Rosefinch and Taiwan Bullfinch. We will also spend some time in the forested foothills to admire, Black-necklaced and Taiwan Scimitar Babblers.

After stops in the Wushe region to look for Rufous-capped Laughingthrush, Chestnut-bellied Tit and the spectacular Taiwan Blue Magpie, we then travel over the Hehuan Shan pass and drop down to the east coast through the awesome scenery of the Taroko Gorge. Birding in the coastal lowlands will focus on Styan’s Bulbul, Black-necklaced and Taiwan Scimitar Babblers, Taiwan Hwamei (or Taiwan Laughingthrush) and the superb Red Oriole.

Our next venue will offer a striking contrast to what we have seen so far, for the small volcanic island of Lanyu is home to people of Micronesian or Polynesian origin and holds a series of special birds including Lanyu Scops Owl, Taiwan Green Pigeon and the spectacular Japanese Paradise Flycatcher.

After returning to the mainland, we will check some wetlands for Chinese Egret before heading for the Tainan region in the southwest of Taiwan, home to wintering Black-faced Spoonbills and a superb selection of shorebirds including Great Knot, Broad-billed and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, and Asian Dowitcher.

From the coastal lowlands we will travel eastwards to explore yet another of Taiwan’s jade-green highland areas, Alishan and Yushan, where we have another chance to find the magnificent Mikado Pheasant as well as the delightful Golden Parrotbill.

Last, but certainly not least, will be the gorgeous Fairy Pittas of the western foothills.

In between looking for Taiwan’s many avian specialities, we will be able to enjoy some magnificent mountain scenery, eat some tasty Chinese food (for there is nothing the Chinese like better than eating) and absorb the eminently Chinese atmosphere of this ‘Treasure Island’.

Birdquest has operated tours to Taiwan since 1990.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/guesthouses are mostly of good or medium standard. The guesthouses on Lanyu are simple, but quite comfortable, and not all rooms have private bathrooms (we will use two guesthouses close to each other if need be, as none have more than a few rooms). Road transport is by minibus or 4x4s and roads are mostly good (albeit very winding in the mountains).

Walking: The walking effort is easy for the most part, sometimes moderate, with some fairly long walks on roads and tracks.

Climate: Conditions will range from warm or hot in the lowlands to cool or even fairly cold at the very highest altitudes. At this season sunny periods alternate with overcast, rainy weather. It is often rather humid.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are quite good.

Tour Price: £3190, €3770, $4180 Taipei/Taipei. Single Room Supplement: £396, €468, $519. Deposit: £400, €480, $520.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Base prices for this tour are in US Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.110.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

The gorgeous endemic Collared Bush Robin is pretty common at higher altitudes (Pete Morris)

The gorgeous endemic Collared Bush Robin is pretty common at higher altitudes (Pete Morris)

136 photos View Gallery Photos From TAIWAN
Taiwan's rich selection of endemics includes the tiny Flamecrest (Pete Morris)

Taiwan's rich selection of endemics includes the tiny Flamecrest (Pete Morris)

... the beautiful Yellow Tit (Mark Beaman)

... the beautiful Yellow Tit (Mark Beaman)

... the superb Taiwan Blue Magpie (Pete Morris)

... the superb Taiwan Blue Magpie (Pete Morris)

... the inquisitive White-whiskered Laughingthrush (Pete Morris)

... the inquisitive White-whiskered Laughingthrush (Pete Morris)

... the recently split Taiwan Hwamei (Mark Beaman)

... the recently split Taiwan Hwamei (Mark Beaman)

... and the highly distinctive Taiwan Thrush (sometimes split from Island Thrush) (Pete Morris)

... and the highly distinctive Taiwan Thrush (sometimes split from Island Thrush) (Pete Morris)

On Lanyu Island, several endemic forms occur including Lanyu Scops Owl, a sometimes recognized split from Ryukyu (or Elegant) Scops Owl (Pete Morris)

On Lanyu Island, several endemic forms occur including Lanyu Scops Owl, a sometimes recognized split from Ryukyu (or Elegant) Scops Owl (Pete Morris)

... and an endemic form of Whistling (or Red-capped) Green Pigeon which may in the future be split (Pete Morris)

... and an endemic form of Whistling (or Red-capped) Green Pigeon which may in the future be split (Pete Morris)

It's not just the endemics though! Fairy Pitta is an endangered species that is easier to see in Taiwan than anywhere else (Pete Morris)

It's not just the endemics though! Fairy Pitta is an endangered species that is easier to see in Taiwan than anywhere else (Pete Morris)

A good selection of rare East Asian waterbirds may include the endangered Chinese Egret (Pete Morris)

A good selection of rare East Asian waterbirds may include the endangered Chinese Egret (Pete Morris)

... and Asiatic Dowitcher (Pete Morris)

... and Asiatic Dowitcher (Pete Morris)

... and other goodies include Red Oriole (Pete Morris)

... and other goodies include Red Oriole (Pete Morris)

... and the localized Taiwan Rosefinch (Pete Morris)

... and the localized Taiwan Rosefinch (Pete Morris)

Malayan Night Heron is an elusive species that is easier to see in Taiwan than anywhere else (Mark Beaman)

Malayan Night Heron is an elusive species that is easier to see in Taiwan than anywhere else (Mark Beaman)

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Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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