Chinese Egret, Dapeng Bay, April 19th

Poor digiscoped record shot of two of the four Chinese Egrets present at Dapeng Bay on April 19th. The bird on the right is a Little Egret.
Poor digiscoped record shot of two of the four Chinese Egrets present at Dapeng Bay on April 19th. The bird on the right is a Little Egret.

I started late on Saturday, and had no clear plan for the day except to drive into Pingtung County and perhaps locate the Inda Eco-Farm, which is mentioned in some trip reports as being the best site in Taiwan for Black-naped Oriole.

Once over the huge Gaopeng Bridge, I drove north for a couple of kilometers to my usual wader spot on the east bank of the river. It’s not a particularly scenic place, and there was plenty of industrial activity today with trucks rumbling back and forth. Still, waders on the river included a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and a Marsh Sandpiper, alongside about 15 Wood Sandpipers and a handful of Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and Little Ringed Plover.

There followed a brief and fruitless search for the Inda Eco-Farm along the Wanluan Township section of route 185. I will have to do more research to locate this place, but there isn’t much information about it on the internet in English.

I decided to continue south, and call in at Dapeng Bay on my way back to Kaohsiung. It turned out to be a great decision. Mudflats at the north-east corner of the bay held plenty of waders, many of which were in their smart summer plumage. Perhaps 300 Pacific Golden Plovers were accompanied on the mud by 3 Grey-tailed Tattlers (Taiwan tick), 3 Ruddy Turnstones (Taiwan tick), 9 Curlew Sandpipers, 10 or so Mongolian Plovers, a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, 5 Red-necked Stints, and a handful of other common waders.

Nearby, two smart Black-headed Gulls were also new for me in Taiwan. But the stars of the show were no fewer than 4 summer-plumaged Chinese Egrets that rested on the mud for 30 minutes before flying off north. These birds were very distinctive with their almost comically long head-plumes blowing in the breeze, and vivid bright yellow-orange bills. There remain just 2,600 – 3,400 individuals of this sought-after East Asian endemic species, which is a rare migrant through Taiwan en route to its breeding grounds in Korea. It’s not a new bird for me (I’ve seen them in Thailand in winter), but a stunning and unexpected addition to my Taiwan list.

Chinese Egret, Black-headed Gull, Grey-tailed Tattler, and Ruddy Turnstone bring my Taiwan list to 209 and my year list to 173.

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