Taiwan Thrush and Taiwan Blue Magpie, Maolin, January 4th-5th

Birds seen:

  • Taiwan Bamboo-Partridge 5 groups
  • Malayan Night Heron 2
  • Little Egret 1
  • Emerald Dove 1
  • Taiwan Barbet 15
  • Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker 9
  • Bronzed Drongo 4
  • Grey-chinned Minivet 10
  • Black Bulbul 50
  • Taiwan Sibia 15
  • Scaly Thrush 2
  • Brown-headed Thrush 5
  • Pale Thrush 1
  • Taiwan Thrush 2 males
  • Black-necklaced Scimitar-Babbler 2
  • Taiwan Scimitar-Babbler 4
  • Maroon Oriole 12
  • Grey Treepie 20
  • Taiwan Blue Magpie 9
  • Grey Wagtail 3
  • Olive-backed Pipit 8
  • Striated Swallow 2
  • Vivid Niltava 7
  • Black-naped Monarch 4
  • Plumbeous Redstart 1
  • Grey-cheeked Fulvetta 35
  • White-bellied Erpornis 1
  • Green-backed Tit 1
  • Plain Flowerpecker 1
  • Japanese White-eye 50
  • Yellow-browed Warbler 5

My best-ever birding trip to Maolin showed how incredibly rich in birds the trail behind the De-En Gorge guesthouse can be. There was scarcely a dull moment during a 3-hour mid-afternoon walk around the heavily-forested 4km-long loop, with birds abundant most of the way. The final kilometer of the circuit (when walked clockwise) is a fairly reliable area for Taiwan Blue Magpie. I’ve seen them on 2 of my last 3 visits to this area, and today a pair duly obliged to the delight of my girlfriend for whom it was a “lifer”. My personal highlight was a Plain Flowerpecker calling loudly and showing well in a tree beside the trail, a new Taiwan bird for me and an excellent bird to get on the year list. A Scaly Thrush, an Emerald Dove, a Malayan Night Heron, five separate groups of Taiwan Bamboo-Partridges close to the trail, and a good scattering of Maroon Orioles and Vivid Niltavas rounded off a great afternoon’s birding.

The next morning I was out at first light, and thrushes were much more in evidence than they had been the previous afternoon, with Brown-headed Thrush showing well, a Pale Thrush making an appearance, and many other thrushes remaining unidentified as they slipped away among the trees or were glimpsed in flight. The latter (downhill) part of the trail was the most productive today, with a pair of the ever-skulking Black-necklaced Scimitar-Babblers showing briefly, a Malayan Night Heron flushed, and lots of big, colorful birds (Maroon Orioles, Taiwan Barbets, Black Bulbuls, Grey-chinned Minivets, Taiwan Sibias and Grey Treepies) feeding on fruits in the treetops. The best birds of the day awaited me close to the stream at the bottom, where I flushed a splendid male Taiwan Thrush which perched in the open for a few moments on a bare branch before disappearing into the forest. Then, incredibly, another male Taiwan Thrush popped up, followed by a probable third bird seen briefly. I guess this particular little group has forsaken their usual haunts higher in the mountains in favor of a winter stay in the Maolin Valley. They are rare birds in Taiwan and always tough to get to grips with, therefore an excellent bird for the year list and one I may struggle to see again all year.

Close to the De-en Gorge, I came across a group of at least 7 Taiwan Blue Magpies, which were their usual mix of curious and wary. They are truly comical to watch in flight, as their tails appear impossibly long and heavy. I wonder how many Taiwanese have never seen one of their famous national birds, despite it being readily available to see within easy reach of several major cities?

All in all, a fantastic couple of days in Maolin which has really seen the year list off to a flying start. It’s a perfect spot for some winter birding, and the De-En Gorge guesthouse is a great place to stay with a friendly welcome and excellent local food.

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One thought on “Taiwan Thrush and Taiwan Blue Magpie, Maolin, January 4th-5th

  1. Pingback: Maolin, Taiwan – Nomad Notions

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