A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Taiwan 2023

May 2-13, 2023 with Phil Gregory & Arco Huang guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
We may as well start the photos off with a bang: Fairy Pitta! This lovely bird was one of the tour highlights, and our view was captured perfectly here by participants David & Judy Smith.

This was our second run for the newly reactivated Taiwan tour and the first one post-pandemic. Our local organizer, Arco, was very good and enthusiastic and knew the best local sites to visit. The weather was remarkably kind to us, and we had no significant daytime rain, somewhat to my surprise, whilst temperatures were pretty reasonable even in the mountains -- though it was cool at night at Dasyueshan, a great birding spot. Fog on the heights of Hohuanshan was a shame, but at least the mid- and lower levels stayed clear, and otherwise the lowland sites were all good bar a wet morning at Guguan and Puli.

We again used a varied assortment of local eating places with primarily local menus, with assorted rice and noodle dishes. The food was a highlight in fact, as it was varied, often delicious, and best of all served quickly whilst being both hot and fresh. A nice adjunct to the trip, working for the dietary preferences, and it avoided losing lots of time with elaborate meals.

Following recent research, Taiwan now has 28 endemics with Clements and 32 with other more progressive checklists, and around 56 endemic subspecies, as well as many spectacular birds. Swinhoe’s and Mikado pheasants are iconic birds, and Fairy Pitta a great addition. Altogether, it was a great success from the birding point of view, seeing all the endemics bar Taiwan Thrush (which Phil alone saw), with an additional bonus species in a Chinese Egret as we were heading to the airport at tour's end.

Taiwan is a beautiful country, with great scenery, some attractive hotels, enjoyable cuisine and friendly people, and with a very interesting culture -- those Daoist temples are something else! A few extra days sightseeing before or after the trip is recommended.

My thanks to Arco and Luna, our local agents, and to Arco for his driving and guiding as well as helping with the complexities of mealtimes. Also to Sue and Rowan at Sicklebill Safaris and to Karen at Field Guides for their hard work in putting together this very enjoyable second iteration of our new Taiwan tour. Thanks also to the group for good company and a positive attitude to the various intricacies of the tour.

A very fine trip, enjoyable and not too strenuous, with some wonderful birds and gorgeous scenery, and an interesting cuisine to sample too, not forgetting the wonderful Daoist temples, a remnant of historic Chinese culture before the Maoists wrecked it all.

Notes on the Birds

Arrival day saw us just do a bit of local birding near the hotel near the airport with Taiwan Barbet as the first endemic, and we set off next day for the mountains at Dasyueshan, taking in the lovely Taiwan Blue Magpie en route plus Black-necklaced and Taiwan scimitar-babblers and nice views of Taiwan Hwamei and Taiwan Whistling-Thrush.

The mountain was very rewarding, with great views of Swinhoe's Pheasant and Taiwan Partridge, Gray-headed Woodpecker, both Rusty and Rufous-crowned laughingthrushes, the tame and confiding White-whiskered Laughingthrush, Steere's Liocichla, Yellow Tit, Flamecrest, three species of fulvetta, a great look at a singing Taiwan Bush-Warbler, the very vocal Yellowish-flanked Bush-Warbler, the elusive Taiwan Cupwing and Taiwan Shortwing, Rufous-faced Warbler, and my lifer Ferruginous Flycatcher. The surprisingly noisy Reeves's Muntjac or Barking Deer and the relatively enormous White-faced Flying-squirrel added to the mix.

Next came the heights of Hohuanshan, which were fog-shrouded but gave enough gaps for us to get lovely looks at Alpine Accentor, Taiwan Barwing, Taiwan Bullfinch, and Taiwan Rosefinch, and to enjoy the atmospheric scenery. The nearby lowlands were mist-free and gave the tame Malay Night-Heron, the distinctive and striking Maroon Oriole, Vinous-throated Parrotbill, and more Taiwan Blue Magpies.

Our quest for Mikado Pheasant was ongoing but came good with two females one morning and then a lovely male next day, with another short-tailed male not too far away. A 5000-year-old sacred giant tree at Lulin was also incredible to see, simply enormous. White-browed Bush-Robin also showed well here, a split in waiting as obviously distinct to the mainland Asian Birds, the same comment applies to the distinctive owstoni Spotted Nutcracker, and Taiwan Bullfinch showed at a distance.

Heading south we got the extreme south-Taiwan endemic, Styan's Bulbul, quite easily, then birded some of the lowland areas, being rewarded with Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Greater Painted-snipe, Oriental Pratincole, Common Buttonquail, and the endemic formosanus taxon of Ring-necked Pheasant. A visit to an eco-farm proved diverting with good views of both White-bellied and Taiwan (Ryukyu) Whistling green-pigeons, the latter a lifer for Phil.

Budai area gave a good count of 45+ Black-faced Spoonbills, plus Pied Avocet, Curlew Sandpiper, White-winged Black Tern, and Little Tern. Owling that night was productive, with good looks at Collared Scops-Owl and Northern Boobook. Next morning came the exciting visit to the site for Fairy Pitta, where a short walk with the guides gave us amazing views of two pairs of this beautiful rarity. It made for a good finale, but our journey back to the airport was enlivened by news of Chinese Egrets at Xucoguang Marsh not far from the airport, and we twitched one very nicely, though sadly Valerie had to leave just before we found it.

Itinerary 2023

--Day 1 Wed May 3 Arrival in Taipei and stayed at City Suites Hotel at Taoyuan.

--Day 2 Thurs May 4 Shimen Reservoir near Taipei / Loiyutan / Dasyueshan km 23, km 29, km 32.5 entry gate, km 43 Lodge area and Km 50 at 8400' or 2700m. Fine conditions and cool nights.

--Day 3 Fri May 5 Dasyueshan Km 50, km 43, gate area, km 39 trail, pm km 50 1500-1730. Fine weather.

--Day 4 Sat May 6 km 50 0530 till 0730, km 49/ Lodge area/ km 30/ km 23, creek and bridge at km 15 after lunch, then to Guguan. Fine weather but clouding up later. o/n Guguan.

--Day 5 Sun May 7 Guguan in heavy rain, so to Beauty Spring GH at Puli by 1100 surrounded by fishponds and paddyfields. pm to Temple of 108 Gods near Puli 1500-1700. Beauty Spring (Waterwater) Guest House at Puli for 2 nights.

--Day 6 Mon May 8 Heavy rain with fog at Houhanshan NP- km 24/ summit area at 2200m pr 6500'/ Taroko NP visitor Center/ Houhan Farm Trails. O/n Puli.

--Day 7 Tues May 9 Tataka Visitor Center Yushan NP/ Giant Tree at Lulin, Shih Jhuo dinner/ O/n Firefly Lodge at Kwanghua. Overcast.

--Day 8 Wed May 10 Tataka area and Lulin Giant tree area/ Zi Cheu viewpoint Yushan NP/ Shih Jhuo fields/ Guanghua/ Chiayi lunch/ Shalun melon farm/ Hengchun beach and river. Sunny periods. O/n Riverside Hotel at Hengchun.

--Day 9 Thurs May 11 Long Luan Lake Hengchun/ Hengchun airstrip marshy area/ Ying-do Farm at Pingtung/ Guantien Jacana site/ Owling at Kansun Temple near Linnei. Fine weather. O/n Grand Earl Hotel at Douliou.

--Day 10 Fri May 12 Huben Fairy Pitta site 0600-0800/ Budai wetlands S and pm Budai wetlands N till 1600. Fine weather. Overnight Douliou.

--Day 11 Sat May 13 Xitou Park 0800-1130 / Xucoguang marsh near Taipei Airport/ Departures home or to Japan

—Phil (aka Sicklebill)

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)


Small numbers from Guguan, Long Lake and Xucoguang.

TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula)

Just one on a river near Douliou.

Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)

TAIWAN PARTRIDGE (Arborophila crudigularis) [E]

Great success with 2 birds very close to the road near km 23, and heard on 3 other days, they can be very hard to actually see.

MIKADO PHEASANT (Syrmaticus mikado) [E]

This one led us a dance, as a formerly reliable male failed to show on several visits to a photographers spot at km 50 at Dasyueshan. Happily we heard that some were being seen near Tataka Visitor Centre at Yushan NP, and an early morning foray got us two females at close range and a brief male by the road later. This led to a return early next day, and we had very good looks at a fine long-tailed male crossing the road, and a short-tailed male not too far way. One of the great prizes of the trip.

RING-NECKED PHEASANT (Phasianus colchicus formosanus)

We visited a melon farm near Shalun and had great views of a male and female wild Ring-necked Pheasant, the male showing the greyish rump and mid-back and greenish legs of the endemic race. Also heard near the Jacana site.

SWINHOE'S PHEASANT (Lophura swinhoii) [E]

A lovely male near the entry gate, giving great views from the gents urinal! Another male briefly near the Giant Tree later. An iconic bird from Taiwan and very striking.

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Taiwan Scimitar-Babbler was one of the numerous "Taiwan" namesake birds we saw during the tour. Photo by participants David & Judy Smith.

TAIWAN BAMBOO-PARTRIDGE (Bambusicola sonorivox) [E]

Heard on several occasions, and finally 2 seen at the Temple of 108 Gods near Puli, with another later when we were walking in after Fairy Pitta.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

LITTLE GREBE (LITTLE) (Tachybaptus ruficollis poggei)

Just 3 at Long Luan Lake.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)

Widespread in the urban areas.

ASHY WOOD-PIGEON (Columba pulchricollis)

I think this was glimpsed up at km 50, but a very unsatisfactory view.

ORIENTAL TURTLE-DOVE (Streptopelia orientalis orii)

Small numbers seen most days.

RED COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia tranquebarica humilis)

Small numbers except for around 20 each day at Hengchun and the Jacana site.

SPOTTED DOVE (EASTERN) (Spilopelia chinensis chinensis)

Small numbers most days, this is the eastern taxon which is split by BirdLife.

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The female Mikado Pheasant has her own lovely cryptic allure compared to the gaudy male (see below). Photo by participants David & Judy Smith.

WHITE-BELLIED GREEN-PIGEON (Treron sieboldii sieboldii)

Nice views and vocals near the Lulin Giant Tree, and 2 seen well at Ying-do Ecological Farm near Pingtung.

WHISTLING GREEN-PIGEON (TAIWAN) (Treron formosae formosae)

This was a big want at the Ying-do Ecological Farm, and happily a fruiting fig had a couple of White-bellied Green Pigeons, and single male of this much rarer species. The reddish top of the head was quite distinctive, and this was a lifer for Phil as it is split by the IOC from the Ryukyu birds.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

LESSER COUCAL (Centropus bengalensis lignator)

Singles at the melon farm and the Jacana centre.

LARGE HAWK-CUCKOO (Hierococcyx sparverioides)

Heard ay Dasyueshan and Xitou, and one seen flying by at Dasyueshan on day 2.

HIMALAYAN CUCKOO (Cuculus saturatus)

Heard up at Dasyueshan, and singles seen flying at Shalun melon farm and Long Luan Lake.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

SAVANNA NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus affinis stictomus)

Heard at Douliou and seen in the town center at Guguan, this seems to be an urban species here, nesting on flat rooftops.

Apodidae (Swifts)

SILVER-BACKED NEEDLETAIL (Hirundapus cochinchinensis formosanus)

Some folks saw this at Guanghua.

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As we said, gaudy! But a lovely bird to see: Mikado Pheasant male. Photo by participants David & Judy Smith.

PACIFIC SWIFT (Apus pacificus kurodae)

Seen on two days around Shih Jhuo near the Firefly Lodge area.

HOUSE SWIFT (Apus nipalensis kuntzi)

Widespread in small numbers.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)

Four day records of 2 or 3 birds from the wetland sites.

EURASIAN COOT (Fulica atra)

Just 3 at Long Luan Lake.

WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN (Amaurornis phoenicurus)

Three at the water bamboo area at Puli, and one at the Jacana site.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus)

15 at the Jacana site and near Hengchun, and 50 at Budai wetlands, with juveniles seen at both sites.

PIED AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta)

50 at Budai wetlands.

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The handsomely patterned Black-throated Tit. Photo by participants David & Judy Smith.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

3 at Xucoguang wetlands on the last day.


Two at Budai wetlands.

LESSER SAND-PLOVER (SIBERIAN) (Charadrius mongolus mongolus)

Singles from Budai and Xucoguang, this is now split as Siberian Sandplover by IOC.

GREATER SAND-PLOVER (Charadrius leschenaultii)

8 at Budai wetlands.

KENTISH PLOVER (KENTISH) (Charadrius alexandrinus alexandrinus)

One odd bird at the Jacana site, photo on the Cornell website, it lacked a white collar but structure seems right for this species. Then 3 at Budai and one at Xucoguang.

LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (CURONICUS) (Charadrius dubius curonicus)

2 at the Jacana site.

Rostratulidae (Painted-Snipes)

GREATER PAINTED-SNIPE (Rostratula benghalensis)

Nice views of 3 at the jacana site, including a well-marked female, the brighter plumaged of the sexes in this species

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The misty view from the summit of Houhanshan, by guide Phil Gregory
Jacanidae (Jacanas)

PHEASANT-TAILED JACANA (Hydrophasianus chirurgus)

70 at the Jacana Center, including quite a few in full pheasant-tailed breeding dress, very striking indeed. Very local in Taiwan.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

BAR-TAILED GODWIT (Limosa lapponica)

Two at Long Luan Lake were unexpected.

CURLEW SANDPIPER (Calidris ferruginea)

30 at Budai wetlands and one at Xucoguang.

RED-NECKED STINT (Calidris ruficollis)

Just singles at Long Luan Lake and Budai wetlands.

DUNLIN (Calidris alpina)

70 at Budai wetlands.

COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos)

8 at Hengchun beach was good count, then a couple at the Jacana Center and one at Xucoguang.

GRAY-TAILED TATTLER (Tringa brevipes)

A single on the rocks at Hengchun Beach, and 9 at Xucoguang.

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Taiwan Yuhina, by participants David & Judy Smith

SPOTTED REDSHANK (Tringa erythropus)

One fine summer plumaged bird at Budai was a treat to see, black with silvery spangles.

COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia)

One at Long Luan Lake and a couple at Budai.

MARSH SANDPIPER (Tringa stagnatilis)

A single a Long Luan gave a nice comparison with a nearby Greenshank.

COMMON REDSHANK (Tringa totanus)

Just one at Budai wetlands.

Glareolidae (Pratincoles and Coursers)

ORIENTAL PRATINCOLE (Glareola maldivarum)

10 at the melon farm and about 40 around the Jacana Center.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LITTLE TERN (Sternula albifrons)

3 at Budai.

CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia)

Two at Budai.

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Steere's Liocichla, by participants David & Judy Smith

WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida)

5 at long Luan and 70 at Budai and Hengchun, mostly in the dark bodied breeding dress.

GREAT CRESTED TERN (Thalasseus bergii)

I think it was only Arco who saw this at Hengchun Beach?

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)

A single flying over at Long Luan Lake was a late migrant.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

CINNAMON BITTERN (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus)

Two seen near Hengchun airstrip, one perched up, and a single at Budai next day.

GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea)

A single at Hengchun airstrip area, and 4 at Budai.

PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea)

One at the marshy creek area near Hengchun airstrip.

GREAT EGRET (EURASIAN) (Ardea alba alba)

Small numbers from the wetland sites, with 30 at Budai.

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The Lulin Giant Tree is several thousand years old and enormous! Photo by guide Phil Gregory.

INTERMEDIATE EGRET (INTERMEDIATE) (Ardea intermedia intermedia)

Half a dozen near Hengchun and some folks saw odd ones elsewhere.

CHINESE EGRET (Egretta eulophotes)

This rarity was the subject of a twitch on the way to the airport on the last day, as some had been seen at Xucoguang Marsh about 10 minutes away! Our initial look drew a blank and unfortunately Valerie had to leave, but we then found a single bird and enjoyed very nice looks. photos on Cornell and Smugmug. Henning was well pleased, and I had not seen one for about 25 years1

LITTLE EGRET (WESTERN) (Egretta garzetta garzetta)

Widespread, with 10 near Hengchun and 50 at Budai the most.

CATTLE EGRET (EASTERN) (Bubulcus ibis coromandus)

Small numbers of the Eastern Cattle Egret -an IOC split- were widespread, with 70 at Budai the most.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Widespread in small numbers, some great looks at the water bamboo area guest house at Puli.

MALAYAN NIGHT-HERON (Gorsachius melanolophus)

Taiwan is one of the best places to see this scarce species, and we had great looks at the Guguan spa area then at Puli including at the guest house and Temple of 108 Gods, with 3 at Xitou on the last day. Also heard at night near Linnei, a deep bass note.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)


45 at Budai, with maybe even an additional 30 as we had two flocks of this globally rare species.

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Morrison's Fulvetta, by participants David & Judy Smith
Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

One at Long Luan Lake.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

BLACK-WINGED KITE (ASIAN) (Elanus caeruleus vociferus)

A single near the Jacana Center, it is scarce in Taiwan.

ORIENTAL HONEY-BUZZARD (Pernis ptilorhynchus)

4 birds at Ying-do farm; the white-headed raptor we saw briefly near km 12 at Dasyueshan was probably this too.

CRESTED SERPENT-EAGLE (CRESTED) (Spilornis cheela hoya)

Seen en route to Dasyueshan and 3 at Ying-do, and heard on various other days.

EASTERN MARSH-HARRIER (Circus spilonotus)

A single at Long Luan Lake was the only sighting, raptors were sparse this trip.

CRESTED GOSHAWK (Accipiter trivirgatus formosae)

Four day records starting en route to Dasyueshan

BESRA (Accipiter virgatus fuscipectus)

Two possibles, but not seen well enough to confirm.

BLACK KITE (BLACK-EARED) (Milvus migrans formosanus)

One at the melon farm and 4 at Ying-do, this endemic race is quite rare.

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Pheasant-tailed Jacana, by participants David & Judy Smith
Strigidae (Owls)

MOUNTAIN SCOPS-OWL (Otus spilocephalus hambroecki) [*]

Frustratingly only a heard for most despite close birds at Dasyueshan, and again near Linnei.

COLLARED SCOPS-OWL (Otus lettia glabripes)

This came good with one seen and one heard near the Pitta site.

COLLARED OWLET (Taenioptynx brodiei pardalotus)

Very good looks at Dasyueshan in daylight.

NORTHERN BOOBOOK (Ninox japonica florensis)

One fine bird had caught something, maybe a swallow, by Kansun Temple near the Pitta site, and we were able to get it to respond and show.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

COMMON KINGFISHER (COMMON) (Alcedo atthis bengalensis)

A handful of singles, first from the water bamboo area at Puli.

Megalaimidae (Asian Barbets)

TAIWAN BARBET (Psilopogon nuchalis) [E]

Widespread at lower altitudes and one of the first endemics we saw, a very vocal and colorful species.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

GRAY-CAPPED PYGMY WOODPECKER (Yungipicus canicapillus kaleensis)

Three day records, best views were of 3 at the Temple of 108 Gods, and we saw 2 the day before at Guguan.

WHITE-BACKED WOODPECKER (WHITE-BACKED) (Dendrocopos leucotos insularis) [*]

Heard at Dasyueshan, and quite close at Xitou, but stayed out of sight.

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Taiwan Fulvetta (a bit like a Wrentit, don't you think?), by participants David & Judy Smith


Good views at Dasyueshan and the viewpoint near the Giant Tree at Lulin, this taxon is split by some as Black-naped Woodpecker.

Pittidae (Pittas)

FAIRY PITTA (Pitta nympha)

Ah yes, one of the birds of the trip, mega views of two pairs at the Pitta Sanctuary near Linnei, such a beautiful bird and pittas, like owls, should count double! This was actually a First Sighting for Phil, promoting the species out of the limbo of heard only. The Pitta cafe nearby was also entertaining and had some nice pitta-related merch.

Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)

GRAY-CHINNED MINIVET (Pericrocotus solaris)

Great views at Dasyueshan and Yushan; the males are wonderful fiery red and black birds.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

WHITE-BELLIED ERPORNIS (Erpornis zantholeuca)

We saw just 2 at Guguan, this is the only member of the Vireo family in the Old World.

Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)

MAROON ORIOLE (CRIMSON) (Oriolus traillii ardens)

This splendidly colorful bird was seen well at the Temple of 108 Gods near Puli, and again at Pingtung Ying-do farm. This must be a good candidate for a split, as it's crimson and not maroon.

Dicruridae (Drongos)

BLACK DRONGO (Dicrurus macrocercus harterti)

Quite common in the central and southern lowlands.

BRONZED DRONGO (Dicrurus aeneus braunianus)

Seen at the Temple of 108 Gods near Puli, heard as we came up to Dasyueshan. and one at Shih Jhuo near Firefly Lodge.

Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)

BLACK-NAPED MONARCH (Hypothymis azurea oberholseri)

Two singles from the water bamboo guest house and Ying-do Farm.

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Taiwan Blue Magpie, quite the eyeful. Photo by participants David & Judy Smith.
Laniidae (Shrikes)

BROWN SHRIKE (Lanius cristatus)

4 around the water bamboo area near Puli, and singles at Shalun and Budai.

LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius schach)

Two singles from the Hengchun area.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

EURASIAN JAY (HIMALAYAN) (Garrulus glandarius taivanus)

Seen well at Xitou only, and heard at Dasyueshan, a distinctive endemic taxon split as Plain-capped Jay by BirdLife.

TAIWAN BLUE-MAGPIE (Urocissa caerulea) [E]

Lovely views of 2 at Shimen, and 3 at the Temple of 108 Gods near Puli. A gorgeous colorful endemic.

GRAY TREEPIE (Dendrocitta formosae formosae)

7 day records, it was quite common at the lower and mid-levels.

ORIENTAL MAGPIE (Pica serica) [I]

3 at Puli and 4 at Xucoguang, a split from Common Magpie, with a very dark face and rather different call. Maybe introduced to Taiwan.

EURASIAN NUTCRACKER (SOUTHERN) (Nucifraga caryocatactes owstoni)

A distinctive island race; I am surprised it is not yet split as it has a largely plain mantle. Seen at Dasyueshan and Yushan, where it was very vocal.

LARGE-BILLED CROW (LARGE-BILLED) (Corvus macrorhynchos colonorum)

Small numbers from the lowlands only.

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Collared Finchbill, by participants David & Judy Smith
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

COAL TIT (CHINESE) (Periparus ater ptilosus)

Seen well at Dasyueshan and Yushan; this race has a small crest and is rather different to European birds.

CHESTNUT-BELLIED TIT (Sittiparus castaneoventris) [E]

Seen well at Guguan; it seems uncommon and is a Taiwanese endemic now that it is split from what was Varied Tit.

GREEN-BACKED TIT (Parus monticolus insperatus)

Small numbers from the lowlands and hills.

TAIWAN YELLOW TIT (Machlolophus holsti) [E]

Very nice looks at 2 at the mid-levels as we came to Dasyueshan, an uncommon endemic.

Alaudidae (Larks)

ORIENTAL SKYLARK (Alauda gulgula)

Singing well around the melon fields.

Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)

STRIPED PRINIA (Prinia striata striata) [E]

This proved troublesome but we finally got one near Firefly Lodge. IOC and Birdlife split this as Swinhoe's Prinia too, and it is actually a Taiwan endemic.

YELLOW-BELLIED PRINIA (CHINESE) (Prinia flaviventris sonitans)

Three records of singles, with the first at the Taiwan Hwamei spot, another near Puli and one near Hengchun it's uncommon and split by IOC as Chinese Prinia

PLAIN PRINIA (Prinia inornata flavirostris)

The most widespread prinia, seen at several lowland sites.

ZITTING CISTICOLA (DOUBLE ZITTING) (Cisticola juncidis tinnabulans)

Seen well at Long Luan Lake near Hengchun; this species is long overdue for splitting up as these sure don't sound like the European birds.

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Styan's Bulbul, by participants David & Judy Smith
Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)

TAIWAN BUSH WARBLER (Locustella alishanensis) [E]

A great view of one singing at km 50 at Dasyueshan, video posted on Cornell and Smugmug. It's a high altitude endemic and not very common, with no chance of seeing it unless it's singing. It was heard at Yushan as well.

Pnoepygidae (Cupwings)

TAIWAN CUPWING (Pnoepyga formosana) [E]

Vocal at the montane sites and seen quite well at Dasyueshan. Formerly a wren-babbler but now in their own family.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

GRAY-THROATED MARTIN (Riparia chinensis chinensis)

Just 3 day records, with good views at Beauty Spring Lodge and the Jacana site.

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

Widespread in small numbers in the lowlands, most around Hengchun.

PACIFIC SWALLOW (PACIFIC) (Hirundo tahitica namiyei)

Small numbers on 5 days, most at Hengchun and the water bamboo area.

STRIATED SWALLOW (Cecropis striolata striolata)

For day records of this large rufous-rumped species with the pale underwing coverts, with 1 at Guguan the first,

ASIAN HOUSE-MARTIN (Delichon dasypus)

Four day records from higher altitude areas, starting from the bridge at Dasyueshan.

Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)

COLLARED FINCHBILL (Spizixos semitorques cinereicapillus)

Uncommon; this odd distinctive bulbul was seen well near Firefly Lodge.

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Fairy Pitta celebration at the Fairy Pitta cafe! Photo by guide Phil Gregory.

STYAN'S BULBUL (Pycnonotus taivanus) [E]

The main reason for going down to Hengchun, and seen well several times. It's a restricted range Taiwan endemic, and hybridizes with the common Light-vented Bulbul where they overlap.

LIGHT-VENTED BULBUL (FORMOSAE/ORII) (Pycnonotus sinensis formosae)

A common species in the lowlands.

BLACK BULBUL (GRAY-WINGED) (Hypsipetes leucocephalus nigerrimus)

Seen a few times in the hill forests.

Scotocercidae (Bush Warblers and Allies)

RUFOUS-FACED WARBLER (Abroscopus albogularis)

This delightful little warbler is the one with the trilling call like a distant telephone; it was seen well at Dasyueshan and iYushan.

BROWNISH-FLANKED BUSH WARBLER (TAIWAN) (Horornis fortipes robustipes) [*]

We heard this at a lunch stop at km 12 Dasyueshan, but did not come across it again which was unexpected.

YELLOWISH-BELLIED BUSH WARBLER (Horornis acanthizoides concolor)

This one has an amazing ascending high-pitched song, it was quite common by voice in the mountains and we saw them well at Dasyueshan and Houhanshan.

Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)

BLACK-THROATED TIT (BLACK-THROATED) (Aegithalos concinnus concinnus)

This delightful little species with the small bill and short tail was seen at Dasyueshan and Xitou.

Sylviidae (Sylviid Warblers, Parrotbills, and Allies)

TAIWAN FULVETTA (Fulvetta formosana) [E]

This high altitude endemic was seen at Hohuanshan and then at Yushan; it is low density and quite retiring.

VINOUS-THROATED PARROTBILL (Sinosuthora webbiana bulomacha)

We saw this at a site near Beauty Spring Guesthouse at Puli, uncommon in Taiwan. It's sibling Golden Parrotbill was missing in action despite several attempts.

Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)

TAIWAN YUHINA (Yuhina brunneiceps) [E]

Vocal and active in noisy flocks in the montane forest, with a cute brown cap on the crested head.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Taiwan Barbet, by participants David & Judy Smith

SWINHOE'S WHITE-EYE (Zosterops simplex simplex) [E]

Widespread, formerly part of Japanese White-eye but now split.

Timaliidae (Tree-Babblers, Scimitar-Babblers, and Allies)

RUFOUS-CAPPED BABBLER (Cyanoderma ruficeps praecognitum)

A vocal species, we saw them at km 15 at Dasyueshan and 3 other sites later in the tour.

TAIWAN SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Pomatorhinus musicus) [E]

Also seen at Shimen Reservoir, and again at Guguan and near Hengchun.

BLACK-NECKLACED SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Erythrogenys erythrocnemis) [E]

We saw this at Shimen Reservoir early in the tour, the only sighting, though it was heard at Hengchun airstrip scrub.

Pellorneidae (Ground Babblers and Allies)

DUSKY FULVETTA (Schoeniparus brunneus brunneus)

An uncommon species, we saw them well at km 15 at Dasyueshan.

Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)

MORRISON'S FULVETTA (Alcippe morrisonia) [E]

Seen at Dasyueshan and Yushan, small numbers only and more often heard than seen.

WHITE-WHISKERED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Trochalopteron morrisonianum) [E]

The exception to the rule that laughingthrushes are skulkers, this one parades around in the open at high altitudes!

WHITE-EARED SIBIA (Heterophasia auricularis) [E]

Very vocal and widespread in the mountains, a rather lovely bird.

TAIWAN BARWING (Actinodura morrisoniana) [E]

Uncommon, we got it as Houhanshan and near the Giant Tree only.

STEERE'S LIOCICHLA (Liocichla steerii) [E]

This beautiful bird is quite common in the mountains and we had multiple nice looks, with a pair nesting not far from the cabins at Dasyueshan.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Taiwan Barwing, by participants David & Judy Smith

TAIWAN HWAMEI (Garrulax taewanus) [E]

Arco had a good site en route to Dasyueshan, and we saw it again at Guguan, not common.


Seen well at Dasyueshan, with 4 birds one day and 6 the next, quite vocal but somewhat skulking.

RUSTY LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Pterorhinus poecilorhynchus) [E]

Good views of a single and then 2 birds at Dasyueshan, it's the hardest of the endemic laughingthrushes

Regulidae (Kinglets)

FLAMECREST (Regulus goodfellowi) [E]

This beautiful high altitude endemic showed nicely at Dasyueshan around km 50, but was very hard to photograph.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

EURASIAN WREN (EURASIAN) (Troglodytes troglodytes taivanus)

Good views from Houhanshan, this is an endemic subspecies.

Cinclidae (Dippers)

BROWN DIPPER (Cinclus pallasii)

Seen on the river near Guguan.

Sturnidae (Starlings)

BLACK-COLLARED STARLING (Gracupica nigricollis)

Henning saw this at the water bamboo zone at Puli in the rain.

COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis)

A few sightings only, this one is not very common here.

JAVAN MYNA (Acridotheres javanicus) [I]

The default myna of the trip, seen most days except in the mountains. Strangely enough it's now quite rare in the natural range!

CRESTED MYNA (Acridotheres cristatellus formosanus)

Seen at the hotel in Taoyuan on arrival day, and at the water bamboo area at Puli, it's an uncommon bird and may be declining due to competition with introduced myna species.

Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)

FERRUGINOUS FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa ferruginea)

One at Dasyueshan, singing atop conifers at high altitude, a lifer for Phil.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Taiwan Bamboo-Partridge, by participants David & Judy Smith

WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA (Copsychus malabaricus) [I]

This introduced species seems to be spreading apace, I had not seen it previously but we had them at Guguan and also at the Pitta site.

TAIWAN VIVID NILTAVA (Niltava vivida) [E]

This beautiful bird is a good songster, it was seen well at Dasyueshan and Houhanshan.

TAIWAN SHORTWING (Brachypteryx goodfellowi) [E]

Heard a few times at Dasyueshan and Houhanshan, and seen quite well at Km 50 after a bit of a duel.

TAIWAN WHISTLING-THRUSH (Myophonus insularis) [E]

Good views of this endemic on 5 days and heard on a couple of others, seen at all the montane sites except Xitou.

WHITE-TAILED ROBIN (WHITE-TAILED) (Myiomela leucura montium)

This one very well several times at Dasyueshan, with one by the cabins allowing an i-phone video- see the Cornell site. Also heard at the other montane sites but more typically stayed unseen there.

WHITE-BROWED BUSH-ROBIN (TAIWAN) (Tarsiger indicus formosanus)

This is a scarce species and a long overdue split, we saw it on the trail near Tataka Visitor Centre and by a car park there.

COLLARED BUSH-ROBIN (Tarsiger johnstoniae) [E]

Quite common in the mountains and showed nicely.

SNOWY-BROWED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula hyperythra innexa)

Seen nicely at Dasyueshan.

PLUMBEOUS REDSTART (Phoenicurus fuliginosus affinis)

Nice views of a pair on the river near Shih Jhuo and Firefly Lodge.

Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)

SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA (Lonchura punctulata)

Small numbers on some 4 days.

Prunellidae (Accentors)

ALPINE ACCENTOR (Prunella collaris fennelli)

A great bird in the car park at Houhanshan summit in the fog, I almost stepped on it and it was very confiding and surprisingly colorful.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)


Widespread, the urban sparrow here.

Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)

EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL (GREEN-HEADED) (Motacilla tschutschensis taivana)

Only seen around Guguan, most have gone through by now.

WHITE WAGTAIL (CHINESE) (Motacilla alba leucopsis)

Just a few sightings, most around Guguan wetlands.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

TAIWAN ROSEFINCH (Carpodacus formosanus)

Great views up at Houhanshan where they were quite tame, but the only site we saw them, luckily in a gap in the fog!

TAIWAN BULLFINCH (Pyrrhula owstoni) [E]

Heard daily at Dasyueshan but proved the very devil to see, we did better at Yushan and saw 2 birds on two days near Tataka.


FORMOSAN ROCK MACAQUE (Macaca cyclopis) [E]

Noisy and seen well at Dasyueshan.

PALLAS'S RED-BELLIED SQUIRREL (Callosciurus erythraeus)

Seen a few times at Dasyueshan, does not seem to have a red belly here.


Seen at Dasyueshan and Yushan.

GIANT FLYING SQUIRREL SP. (Petaurista alborufus)

A large and spectacular black and white nocturnal flying squirrel seen nicely near the cabins at Dasyueshan.

MUNTJAC SP. (Muntiacus reevesi)

Good views at Dasyueshan where they were quite vocal too, the loud barks were very persistent at Km 50.

TAIWAN SEROW (Capricornis swinhoei) [E]

Henning saw one at Dasyueshan.


A very interesting and enjoyable tour, the star birds much as expected with the pheasants and Fairy Pitta as stars and Chinese Egret as a late addition!

Also a some nice butterflies, though unless distinctive or photographed generally left unidentified hence few blues, yellows, or skippers. The i-Naturalist site was a great help here with some Taiwanese butterfly guys being very helpful:

Red Helen (Papilio helenus),

Chinese Windmill (Byasa alcinous),

Six-bar Swordtail (Pazala euros),

Rebel (Papilio paris),

Chinese Peacock (Papilio bianor),

Formosan Swallowtail (Papilio thaiwanus),

Common Albatross (Appias paulina),

Indian Cabbaga White (Pieris canidia),

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae),

Orange Migrant (Catopsila scylla),

Great Orange-tip (Hebemoia glaucippe),

Single-ring Bush-brown (Mycalesis sangaica),

South China Bush-brown (Mycalesis mucianus),

Common Evening Brown (Melanitis leda)

Straight-banded Tree-brown (Lethe verma)

Common Tiger (Danaus genutia),

Two-band Crow (Euploea sylvester),

Blue-banded King Crow (Euploea eunice)

Purple Crow (Euploea tulliolus)

(Penthema formosanum)?,

(Ypthima tappana),

Yellow Labyrinth (Neope armandii)

Pallas' Sailer (Neptis sappho formosanum),

Common Lascar (Pantoporia ribodona),

Danaid Eggfly (Hypolimnas misippus),

Orange Oakleaf (Kallima inachis),

Yellow Coster (Acraea issoria),

Metallic Cerulean (Jamides alecto)

Herps were largely absent beyond some skinks at Tataka at Yushan, and we saw just a single dead ratsnake at km 15 on Dasyueshan.

Totals for the tour: 158 bird taxa and 6 mammal taxa