Trip Report: Anmashan (Taiwan), May 34, 1997

Wayne Hsu (F.B.Magpie), Taipei, TAIWAN; FBMagpie@usa.net or fbmagpie@geocities.com

Anmashan is considered one of the best birding sites in Taiwan that is easily accessible; it is a MUST for anyone considering to bird Taiwan seriously. It is situated in Taichung County in central Taiwan with an elevation of 2,000 meters. Much of the forest there is old and undisturbed, and provides habitat for 12 of the 14 endemic bird species of Taiwan.

We left Taipei at 10:30 at night and arrived at Anmashan at about 2:30 in the morning. It was hot as ever in Taipei, and so I did not expect Anmashan to be freezing cold when I got there. Because of the cold, I thought to myself, "Bummers, guess I won't be catching beetles on this trip!"

May 3, Saturday

At 5:00 the next morning, we, only six of us this time, walked into forest trail 210. Within the first kilometer, we saw our first pheasant. A male MIKADO PHEASANT was feeding on the forest trail. We watched in awe and wonder as the majestic bird strolled slowly out of vies, but still in on the path. Wow, the best view I have ever had of a MIKADO PHEASANT! We continued on, seeing common birds such as FORMOSAN YUHINAS, WHITE-EARED SIBIAS, STEERE'S LIOCICHLAS, RED-HEADED TITS, GREEN-BACKED TITS, ASHY WOOD PIGEONS, SPOTTED NUTCRACKERS, VIVID NILTAVAS, GRAY-THROATED MINIVETS, VINACEOUS ROSEFINCHES, a GRESTED GOSHAWK, a pair of FERRUGINOUS FLYCATCHERS, and a GRAY-SIDED LAUGHING THRUSH. About 1 km in, I startled a female MIKADO PHEASANT on the side of the road. Interestingly, she did not run off. She first circled wildly on top of a large rock with her tail fanned out like a peacock, then she ran down the mountain slope. We waited, and it climbed back up and peered over the rock. Seeing us still there, it ran back down the slope. It returned two more times before finally deciding to leave, giving us great views of her. At 8 km, it was 10:00 and the sun was already hot in the sky. As we returned, we saw another male MIKADO PHEASANT on the forest trail, but not for as long as the first one. To see so many pheasants on a sunny day seemed that we were quite fortunate.

At noon, we rode the mini-bus into forest trail 230. We got out at 18 km and walked around a bit. We saw a dozen HOUSE MARTINS building their mud nests on the underside of a large rock. There were also many SPOTTED NUTCRACKERS and FORMOSAN LAUGHING THRUSHES around. In the mud around puddles on the trail, we saw the tracks of a Mikado Pheasant; there were also many tracks of a hoofed mammal, probably from some small type of deer. On our ride back late in the afternoon, we saw another pair plus a solitary male MIKADO PHEASANT; however, these all hid before we could get a decent view of them.

After dinner, we went to the hotel at Anmashan to look for owls and flying squirrels. We heard some flying squirrels, but no owls. It was probably the tourists singing karaoke loudly that frightened them away. I began checking each street lamps for any luna moths or beetles. I was there exactly one year ago, and there were lots of a "rare" species of endemic luna moth. This night, however, there were none, although there were other moths I was not interested in. Strangely, I only caught two male stag beetles, both smaller than the one I caught a year ago, and they were both under the same street lamp.

May 4, Sunday

After breakfast, we entered forest trail 220. This forest trail is mainly broadleaf forest, suitable habitat for Swinhoe's Pheasants. We walked until near noon. I did not see any pheasants; two other people did, though not very clear views. There were quite a lot of birds, but mainly the common species we saw in the forest trail 210 and some WHITE-TAILED BLUE ROBINS, BROWN BULLFINCHES, YELLOW TITS, a GRAY-SIDED LAUGHING THRUSH, and a male ISLAND THRUSH singing.

After lunch, we went to the entrance of forest trail 210, waiting to go look for the Mikado Pheasant in the afternoon. I was not tired, so I walked along the paved road we were on to see whatever bird I could find. Within 200 m of walk, I saw my first life bird of the trip, a flock of about six WHITE-THROATED LAUGHING THRUSH. I continued walking, and within 30 minutes, I came across another flock of WHITE-THROATED LAUGHING THRUSH of about 20 birds. For almost an hour, I watched as they glided gracefully from tree to tree with their wings and tail feathers spread. Some of the birds even glided one after another over my head and across the road a couple times! It was interesting to note how they appeared to inhabit all levels of the forest; I saw them search for food everywhere from the canopy to the undergrowth.

As I left the flock, I saw an EURASIAN JAY. I did not see any more interesting birds on the way back, and I entered forest trail 210 about 3:50. The other folks had already entered earlier, and they said they saw another male Mikado Pheasant, but I missed that one. Instead, I saw a flock of a dozen BROWN BULLFINCHES.

(If you would like a more detailed description or information of a species I saw, feel free to e-mail me)

List of species seen & heard (*):

  1. CRESTED GOSHAWK
  2. CRESTED SERPENT EAGLE
  3. FORMOSAN HILL PARTRIDGE ! *
  4. MIKADO PHEASANT !
  5. ASHY WOOD PIGEON
  6. LARGE HAWK CUCKOO *
  7. MULLER'S/BLACK-BROWED BARBET *
  8. PYGMY WOODPECKER
  9. BLACK-NAPED/GREEN WOODPECKER *
  10. HOUSE MARTIN
  11. GRAY-THROATED MINIVET
  12. BLUE SHORTWING *
  13. FORMOSAN WHISTLING THRUSH ! *
  14. WHITE-TAILED BLUE ROBIN
  15. JOHNSTONE'S/COLLARED BUSH ROBIN !
  16. ISLAND THRUSH
  17. STREAK-THROATED FULVETTA
  18. GRAY-CHEEKED/WHITE-EYED FULVETTA
  19. WHITE-THROATED LAUGHING THRUSH
  20. FORMOSAN LAUGHING THRUSH !
  21. GRAY-SIDED LAUGHING THRUSH
  22. WHITE-EARED SIBIA
  23. STEERE'S LIOCICHLA/BABBLER
  24. PYGMY WREN BABBLER *
  25. RUSTY-CHEEKED SCIMITAR BABBLER *
  26. RED-HEADED TREE BABBLER
  27. FORMOSAN YUHINA
  28. WHITE-THROATED FLYCATCHER-WARBLER
  29. MOUNTAIN SCRUB WARBLER *
  30. VERREAUX'S BUSH WARBLER *
  31. STRONG-FOOTED BUSH WARBLER *
  32. THICKET FLYCATCHER *
  33. VIVID NILTAVA
  34. FERRUGINOUS FLYCATCHER
  35. RED-HEADED TIT
  36. COAL TIT *
  37. YELLOW TIT
  38. GREEN-BACKED TIT
  39. EURASIAN NUTHATCH
  40. FIRE-BREASTED FLOWERPECKER
  41. VINACEOUS ROSEFINCH
  42. BROWN BULLFINCH
  43. BRONZED DRONGO *
  44. LARGE-BILLED CROW
  45. EURASIAN JAY
  46. SPOTTED NUTCRACKER

* heard only
! endemic species

To see photos acoompanying my trip reports, visit my home page. This one will appear soon, along with the trip report of Orchid Island.

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