Taiwan not only harbours some of Asia’s most wonderful avifauna, but a host of other highlights that make it the perfect destination for a comfortable and relaxing birding tour. With 29 currently recognised endemics and over 50 endemic subspecies, several of which will almost certainly be elevated to full endemic species status in the next few years, Taiwan has much to offer both the serious and casual birder alike. Located 100 km east of China, just south of Japan and Korea, and slightly north of the Philippines, this small island is less than 400 km long and 150 km wide with rugged central mountains interspersed with deep valleys, and boasts a high biodiversity in a very manageable package.
Our Taiwan in Winter tour is a comprehensive tour of Taiwan that focuses on the endemics and other East Asian specialities in the nation’s largely pristine and well protected forests. Highlights will include legendary species like the magnificent Swinhoe’s and Mikado Pheasants, Taiwan Partridge, the spectacular Taiwan Blue Magpie, Chestnut-bellied and Yellow Tits, Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler, Flamecrest, Collared Bush Robin, Taiwan Whistling Thrush, Malayan Night Heron and Black-faced Spoonbill to mention just a few! Most of our time will be spent in the mountains, but we will allow some time in the lowlands and along the coast in order to search for wetland and coastal species, including various endemic sub-species and other specialities that are otherwise very difficult to see anywhere else.
When circumstances allow, we will also make time for exploring and enjoying the numerous other aspects of Taiwan’s natural biodiversity, the fascinating human culture and, of course, for chasing any reported notable vagrants! In addition, the Taiwanese are a super-friendly and welcoming people who have blended the best parts of unspoiled, traditional Chinese culture with the influence of colonial Japan and the native Austronesian culture. Taiwan is free and democratic, has good infrastructure and is extremely safe for tourists, all of which should ensure a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding birding adventure!
Taiwan Blue (Formosan) Magpie, Swinhoe’s & Mikado Pheasant, Taiwan Partridge, Taiwan Bamboo Partridge, Mandarin Duck, Black-faced Spoonbill, Taiwan (Formosan) Whistling Thrush, Ashy Wood Pigeon, Whistling & White-bellied Green Pigeon, Philippine Cuckoo-Dove, Mountain Scops Owl, Crested Myna, Maroon Oriole, Collared Finchbill, Taiwan Barbet, Taiwan Hwamei, Taiwan & Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler, Rusty Laughingthrush, Japanese Robin, Siberian Rubythroat, Vivid Niltava, Steere’s (Taiwan) Liocichla, Taiwan Yuhina, White-browed & Collared Bush Robin, Taiwan, Brown-flanked & Yellow-bellied Bush Warbler, Lowland White-eye, Styan’s (Taiwan) & Brown-eared Bulbul, Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, Golden Parrotbill, Taiwan Barwing, Yellow Tit, Taiwan & Dusky Fulvetta, Grey-headed Bullfinch, Taiwan Rosefinch, Flamecrest, Chinese & Japanese Grosbeak
Taiwanese Macaque, Red-bellied Squirrel, Formosan Striped Squirrel, Giant & White-faced Flying Squirrel, Taiwan Serow
subtropical lowland forest, coniferous temperate forest, mountains, rivers, marshes, lakes, coastline, islands
comfortably warm in lowlands, cool/cold in the highest areas
10 with 1 Rockjumper leader & local birding leader
moderate pace with easy walking
basic but comfortable
mostly unchallenging with some tricky species
excellent food, fantastic scenery, great people and cultural attractions, varied habitats, wide array of flora and butterflies, good infrastructure, comfortable, safe and clean
The tour was a bit more strenuous than advertised, with many early mornings and breakfasts on the fly. I am not complaining, as that is how to get the birds, but just pointing it out. Also, the bus was anything but comfortable. Fortunately for me, Glen and the group allowed me to sit in the only seat that allowed me to sit with my knees in front of me (I am 196 cm tall). Overall, though, this was an excellent trip. We saw all the endemics, mostly because of the perseverance of the guides, who were excellent. Richard know where the birds occurred, and Glen was fantastic at finding them. We had a very good group, which makes a big difference, and several of the tougher species were initially spotted by the participants. I was especially impressed with Glen (again), as he is dogged at getting the very special birds. He concentrates on these "special" birds - endemics, near-endemics, and specialty birds that are difficult to find elsewhere. Case in point: Mountain Scope-Owl, an extremely difficult bird that is almost impossible to see elsewhere, not that it is easy to see in Taiwan. We tried for this bird three times, the last time an early morning foray with just a few of us going out on foot with the indefatigable Glen. We had almost given up and were heading back when the owl called nearby. A few minutes of looking and the owl popped up in front of us for great, unobstructed views. It doesnt get any better than that. Glen was as excited with the sighting as the three of us out that morning. An unforgettable experience.
Both David and our local leader did a splendid job taking care of us and finding as many birds as possible. Perhaps one day less on Kinmen Island would have been better as we ran out of new birds to look for over there quite quickly. The bus driver was also spectacular
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