Cinnamon Bittern and Broad-billed Sandpiper, West Coast Wetlands, August 9th

Highlights:

  • Avocet 1
  • Eastern Black-tailed Godwit 2
  • Broad-billed Sandpiper 40
  • Curlew Sandpiper 50
  • Dunlin 5
  • Red-necked Stint 80
  • Marsh Sandpiper 25
  • Common Greenshank 2
  • Common Redshank 7
  • Common Sandpiper 3
  • Black-winged Stilt
  • Mongolian Plover
  • Kentish Plover
  • Little Ringed Plover 1
  • Cinnamon Bittern 2
  • Yellow Bittern 2
  • Whiskered Tern 3
  • Little Tern
  • Long-tailed Shrike 4

It’s been raining a lot in southern Taiwan recently. Over the last four days, parts of Kaohsiung have experienced more than London’s entire annual rainfall. Consequently, I’ve been unable to get much birding done. The mountains are potentially very dangerous, with rock falls and even major landslides common during wet weather, so locations such as Tengjhih are currently best avoided.

Saturday dawned rainy as usual, but I was completely fed up with being indoors so I decided to go out anyway. I headed north, as the forecast for Chiayi was slightly better than for the southern counties of Taiwan. It rained most of the way, but as I neared Budai, in northern Tainan County, the weather improved slightly. An area of pools at Km 134.5, along Highway 17, is always worth a look and so it proved today. Shorebird migration was much in evidence, with fourteen wader species showing well here, including Avocet and Eastern Black-tailed Godwit as well as good numbers of Broad-billed and Curlew Sandpipers.

This was as good as it got for today. Further north, at Aogu, the water level was too high for wading birds – a quick loop of the seawall revealed just four Long-tailed Shrikes of note. Similarly, at Qigu, further south near Tainan, there was no mud at all for passage waders. Finally, nearer Kaohsiung, the rains have transformed Cheting Marshes from an almost completely dried-out dust bowl to a lush reed-fringed marsh. Unfortunately, it was raining hard so I didn’t spend much time here, but it should be worth a look as the autumn wader season progresses.

The only other birds of note today were fly-overs: two separate Cinnamon Bitterns, including one at exactly the same spot – Km 123 on Highway 17 – where I found a dead one a few months ago.

Cheting Marshes: from dried-out dust bowl to lush marshland in just three months.
Cheting Marshes: from dried-out dust bowl to lush marshland in just three months (photo taken August 19th).
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