Guided by Nick Athanas and Keith Barnes. This was a set departure tour, and it included the Matsu Migration extension.
This was my second trip to Taiwan, and every bit as fun and successful as my last trip in November. Our group managed to see every endemic bird species, a feat that has become much less common following recent splits of several birds, most notably Taiwan Thrush. April is one of the best times to visit this island nation as many birds are starting to nest, passage migrants are still coming through, some winterers are lingering, and the sweltering summer heat has not yet arrived. We had a friendly tour group (with some truly eagle-eyed observers), and on the main tour were helped by an excellent local guide and translator, Da Chih Chen, who also went by his English name of “Raymond”. Some rain can always be expected on this wet island, but we were generally quite lucky with only a couple of “lost” afternoons that probably didn’t cost us anything in the way of birds.
This was also the first time Tropical Birding offered the Matsu extension, which visited the migrant traps of Dongyin and Nangan Islands. While well-known to Taiwanese birders, this was a ground-breaking destination for western tour groups, as evidenced by the fact that our visit made front-page news in the local newspaper! Migration birding is very hit and miss, but we were fortunate on our inaugural trip with excellent activity and decent weather. Keith Barnes led the extension, but I joined too along with Charley Hesse (who led another concurrent main tour) so there was no shortage of guides. Keith’s wife Yvonne, a native Taiwanese, came along on the extension to help with some of the logistical hurtles, and her assistance and pleasant company were greatly appreciated. The extension was run before the main tour to hit the peak of migration at the ideal time.