Yellow Tit and White-tailed Robin, Tengjhih National Forest, January 1st

Birds seen:

  • Green-backed Tit
  • Yellow Tit
  • Black-throated Tit
  • Taiwan Yuhina
  • Taiwan Sibia
  • Black Bulbul
  • Japanese White-eye
  • Rufous-faced Warbler
  • Rufous-capped Babbler
  • Taiwan Scimitar-babbler
  • Vivid Niltava
  • White-tailed Robin
  • Steere’s Liocichla
  • Yellow-bellied Bush Warbler.

What better way to start the New Year than to take an early-morning drive out to the wonderful and little-visited Tengjhih National Forest? This morning dawned cool and crisp, and it was a pleasure to wrap up in multiple layers and still feel a delicious chill in the air as I cruised out of Kaohsiung on the Ninja. The national holiday today, coupled with a national hangover for most people, meant that traffic was extremely light. A quick stop at Liugui’s 7-11 for coffee, then the air temperature fell still further as I climbed the minor road into the mountains.

Among the first birds to greet me as I stepped off my motorcycle, right at the edge of the village, was a Yellow Tit in a small mixed feeding flock. This is an uncommon and difficult-to-find endemic of Taiwan’s mountains, but the Tengjhih area has been fairly reliable for them so far this winter. As often seems to be the case, it was accompanied by several Green-backed Tits and Black-throated Tits. The first section of track revealed a good selection of the usual birds here, including Taiwan Yuhina, Taiwan Sibia, Rufous-faced Warbler and Rufous-capped Babbler.

Things then went rather quiet as I proceeded along the trail, but a White-tailed Robin in its usual spot in a damp corner was a welcome year tick, and the abundant Steere’s Liocichlas were frustratingly active and skulking as usual. Behind one of the rest platforms, three Yellow-bellied Bush Warblers skulked in bamboo but responded well to “pishing”. This was my first record of this high-altitude species for this site in my five visits since the beginning of the winter; I think they must have recently descended as the weather gets colder higher up.

Not many birds on the back part of the loop, either: there was no sign of last week’s White-bellied Green Pigeons, and unusually little in the way of feeding flocks although several Taiwan Scimitar-Babblers showed themselves, and a Vivid Niltava was my first record for this site.

Overall, a quiet visit but I was pleased to get the tricky Yellow Tit under the belt for the year.

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