Trip report: Taiwan custom tour (May 2011) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Charley Hesse. This was a custom tour with a slightly different itinerary than our set-departure tour

As many of the wintering birds had already flow north towards their breeding grounds, this custom tour concentrated on picking up as many of the resident endemic species and subspecies as possible, along with the gorgeous breeding Fairy Pitta. Lists vary widely, but the according to the latest Clements list there are 22 endemic species in Taiwan, up from the traditional 15 species. During this tour we found all the traditional and 21 of Clements’ endemic species. Given the number of remarkably distinct forms, this is destined to increase even more and makes it particularly important to keep track of subspecies, giving a big potential for future ‘armchair ticks’. Whichever taxonomy you follow, Taiwan is an increasingly important destination for world listers. However, Taiwan holds a lot more than just quantity of endemics. Birds like Swinhoe’s Pheasant and Formosan Magpie are arguably some of the most attractive and desireable birds in Asia. In addition to its amazing birdlife, Taiwan boasts stunning landscapes with peaks reaching up to 4,000 m. The wonderfully friendly people, fascinating culture, and a delicious cuisine means that there is something for everyone. Taiwan really is the hidden gem of Asia.

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