Golden-headed Cisticola and Savanna Nightjar, east bank of the Gaoping River, August 15th

Highlights:

  • Savanna Nightjar 1
  • Cinnamon Bittern 3
  • Green Sandpiper 1
  • Lesser Coucal 1 heard
  • Golden-headed Cisticola 1
  • Zitting Cisticola 1
  • Little Ringed Plover 1
  • Common Sandpiper 2
  • Grey-throated Martin 40

A brief stop here on the way home from Dapeng Bay was very worthwhile, with several uncommon bird species encountered.

A very productive spot is a short stretch of a Gaoping River tributary, on the east (Pingtung) side of the river less than a kilometer north of the old railway bridge. A fast-flowing section of water has several bushy riverine islands with muddy edges, adjoining grassy meadowland. It’s only a small area but bird diversity and activity always seems high here.

On arrival, the first thing I noticed were several large fish in the road, a full 10 feet higher than the current water level. Further inspection revealed that the bushy islands had clearly been swamped by a huge volume of water recently, and a low bridge formerly used by trucks has completely disappeared. The recent very heavy rains must have created some quite spectacular flash flooding here.

Two scarce birds showed before I even got off my scooter: a Savanna Nightjar flushed from the roadside, and a Green Sandpiper on a muddy island shore. The latter species is a scarce passage migrant in this part of Taiwan, greatly outnumbered by Wood Sandpiper.

No fewer than three Cinnamon Bitterns were seen during my short visit: a male and a female flew over, a few minutes apart, and another female showed well in the open at the edge of one of the islands.

A Golden-headed Cisticola gave good views as it sang constantly from a bushtop throughout my visit, while a song-flighting Zitting Cisticola completed the Taiwan cisticola “double”.

Nearby, an unseen Lesser Coucal sang from a thick bush. This particular individual has had its territory significantly degraded by the flood waters, which have more or less stripped bare the bushes on the main riverine island.

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