Black-necklaced Scimitar-Babbler, Tengjhih National Forest, July 27th

8.00am view from the trail to Tengjhih National Forest HQ.
8.00am view from the trail to Tengjhih National Forest HQ. A large butterfly wandered into the top of the frame, which I only noticed when editing the photo for this post!

It has taken just two weeks for Rufous-crowned Laughingthrush to tumble from “star bird” status, to not even warranting a mention in the post title. Incredibly, today I enjoyed no fewer than four separate sightings of these beautiful birds at various points along the trail to Tengjhih National Forest HQ.

I saw two flocks on the walk to the HQ, and two flocks on the way back. Timing, location and numbers (there were 3 to 6 birds in each group) suggested that probably three separate parties were involved. Some individuals – presumably young birds – were making high-pitched whining calls. Perhaps my rash of recent sightings is due to the birds becoming much easier to see at this time of year when they are attending to recently fledged young.

Today’s star bird billing goes to another rather elusive Taiwan endemic. Halfway along the trail, following up on some loud scolding calls in the undergrowth, I was surprised and pleased to discover three Black-necklaced Scimitar-Babblers. These birds showed very well for such a skulking species. While familiarising myself with their calls, I realised that I hear this bird quite often at Tengjhih, but this was my first actual sighting here.

Bird activity was fairly high again this morning. Laughingthrushes and Scimitar-Babblers aside, the best of the rest were at least four Yellow Tits along the trail. A good selection of the usual mid-elevation Taiwanese mountain birds were seen, including Green-backed Tit, White-tailed Robin, Rufous-capped Babbler, Rufous-faced Warbler, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Taiwan Yuhina, Taiwan Sibia and Steere’s Liocichla.

A male Vivid Niltava was singing again at the end of the road at Km 18, and a Black Eagle gave close views as I headed slowly back down the road.

The morning was to end very positively with a year tick: White-rumped Munia. A flock of five birds was seen in flight in grassland at the site of the large landslide (approximately Km 15.5). This is an abundant SE Asian species and supposedly also a common bird in Taiwan, but I’ve only rarely seen it here, and it’s taken me until July to get it on the year list.

Year tick: White-rumped Munia (total 218).

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