Black-faced Spoonbill and Chinese Egret, West Coast Wetlands, September 23rd

Two big white birds take top honours for an all-day visit to Qigu, Budai, Beimen and Aogu, but there was plenty else to be seen in the area as post-typhoon migration really seems to be picking up.

First stop were the Km 134.5 pools at Budai, where many of today’s 23 wader species were seen, albeit in generally smaller numbers than on my last visit here. Many of the birds have dispersed to neighboring pools where the water levels have become favorable. Pick of the bunch here: 11 Avocets, over 100 Eastern Black-tailed Godwits, three Gull-billed and a single White-winged Tern, five Garganey, and high numbers of Sacred Ibis.

I headed north to Aogu, where water levels have fallen slightly but are still a little too high for waders. Nonetheless, bird activity here was noticeably higher than recently – in another month or so it will probably be worth visiting again. Today, Aogu’s best offering was a Green Sandpiper at a reed-fringed pool. This is an uncommon migrant in Taiwan, and one which I see only rarely, as it generally prefers secluded pools and shuns open wetlands.

Heading south again, I had a quick look at the Km 146 area near Beimen. All the usual wader species were here in much-reduced numbers compared to my last visit, plus an Oriental Pratincole.

At Qigu, my first stop was the embankment area where I saw Long-billed Dowitcher on Saturday. No sign of any dowitchers today, but four newly-arrived Black-faced Spoonbills feeding close to the south side of the embankment were a fine sight. Turning the telescope 180 degrees, I could enjoy two Chinese Egrets on the north side from the same spot.

Continuing west along the embankment, several interesting migrants were seen: a Richard’s Pipit, a Blue Rock Thrush, plenty of Brown Shrikes, and best of all a flock of 18 White-shouldered Starlings which departed high to the east. Waders were represented by a lone Whimbrel and two Grey Plovers.

My final Qigu stop was the belt of pine trees north of the Tsengwen river mouth. My personal bird of the day was on the beach here: a winter-plumaged Sanderling. In the forest, good numbers of Brown Shrike, a briefly-seen juvenile cuckoo (probably Oriental), a Blue Rock Thrush, and a Common Sandpiper. A group of photographers were staking out an area under the trees, but nothing seemed to be happening and several of them began to drift away so I didn’t hang around. Finally, offshore about ten Great Crested Terns were lingering, and occasional groups of Common and Little Terns headed south. Unfortunately I was out of time, but it will be worth spending some time checking the passing terns here during the autumn for the rare but regular Aleutian Tern.

Taiwan tick: Sanderling (total 248).

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