Trip report: Taiwan: Birding with a Camera (November 2018) bu Tropical Birding

Guided by Nick Athanas. This was a set-departure Birding with a Camera (BwC) tour.

TB’s inaugural Birding with a Camera tour to this fascinating island nation was a great success and also a tremendous amount of fun. We enjoyed near-perfect weather as we explored many of the best birding sites, seeing nearly 170 species and photographing most of them, including the vast majority of the avian endemics. Taiwan is only a bit larger than the US state of Maryland, but with a population more than that of Florida; a common impression is that the island is a vast city with no natural habitat left, but that could not be further from the truth. Most people live in the coastal plain, which is far from picturesque, but does have some globally important wetlands that huge numbers of shorebirds, waterfowl, and other aquatic species inhabit, and we spent a couple of excellent days in these areas. Away from the coast, the terrain becomes very mountainous and sparsely-populated, with lush forest, gorgeous vistas, and some truly spectacular endemic birds. Taiwan’s mountains reach nearly 13000 ft. (4000 m.) in height, which is remarkable considering its small size. We spent most of our time in these highland areas, getting great photos of birds such as Swinhoe’s Pheasant, White-whiskered Laughingthrush, Steere’s Liochicha, and Flamecrest to name a few, along with some neat mammals too like the impressive Red-and-white Flying Squirrel. We enjoyed the cultural aspects as well, including exotic food, ornate temples (some with owls in them!), and the friendly and curious locals who often wanted to know where we were from and what we were looking at. Since I had never been to Taiwan before, we hired a superb local guide named Kuan-Chieh (he also goes by the English name of “Chuck”), who knew the birds and their songs amazingly well. He also gave us lots of insights into the history and culture of Taiwan.

Click the link below to read more.

Taiwan: Birding with a Camera trip report (9 MB PDF file).