Siberian Blue Robin, Qigu, September 28th

Black-faced Spoonbill monument on the south side of the Tsengwen estuary.
Black-faced Spoonbill monument on the south side of the Tsengwen estuary.

Highlights:

  • Siberian Blue Robin 1 immature male
  • Asian Brown Flycatcher 1
  • Malayan Night Heron 1
  • Greater Painted-Snipe 1 + 3 small chicks
  • Ruff 1
  • Black-shouldered Kite 1
  • Peregrine 1
  • Gull-billed Tern 1
  • White-winged Tern 3
  • Arctic Warbler 5
  • White-shouldered Starling 3
  • Richard’s Pipit 4
  • Blue Rock Thrush 1
  • Oriental Magpie Robin 4

An eclectic mix of highlights from today’s six hour visit, showing that migration is well and truly under way along the coast of south-western Taiwan.

Easily the highlight was an immature male Siberian Blue Robin in Qigu’s coastal forest. It didn’t give itself up very easily, and spent lots of time hidden in cover, before suddenly running out to feed in the open for a minute or two, only to quickly disappear again. The cacophony of camera shutters was a good indication of when the bird was in view!

Elsewhere in the coastal forest, bird activity was a lot higher than last week. A brief but well-seen Asian Brown Flycatcher – ironically while I was searching for a reported Grey-streaked Flycatcher – took the runner up spot today, while at least five Arctic Warblers generally showed well.

As happens fairly often at this exciting time of year, there was the one that got away. I got on to a small bird with a bright blue crown, back and tail, facing away from me, at about head height in some pines. My first thought was Red-flanked Bluetail. No sooner had this reaction entered my head than the bird turned to face me, for a fraction of a second. At  that point, I saw that it didn’t have orange flanks, but a complete pale orange breast extending in a wedge up the throat. Naturally, it then flew off, never to be seen again. I’m wondering if it was perhaps a Hill Blue Flycatcher, a bird I am very familiar with from Thailand but which I assume would be a first for Taiwan …..

A little frustrated at failing to relocate my mystery bird, I left the coastal forest for a circuit of the embankment, where it was business as usual with three White-shouldered Starlings and four Richard’s Pipits still.

The “Long-billed Dowitcher pools” still held plenty of waders, but nothing unusual, although a Gull-billed Tern and three White-winged Terns were perhaps noteworthy.

I spent some time on the south side of the Tsengwen Estuary today. Pools to the south of the embankment, within a kilometer of Highway 17, were excellent, with huge numbers of Long-toed Stints, Wood and Marsh Sandpipers, and Black-winged Stilts. Among them, a lone Ruff was a good bird for this part of Taiwan, and a Greater Painted-Snipe with three small chicks was also an excellent sighting.

I continued all the way around the southern embankment, which finally turns inland through some thick pine forest. One can only imagine how many migrants pass through here undetected, but the area is largely unworkable. I wandered along a forest trail, hearing an Arctic Warbler, and disturbing a Malayan Night Heron from a pool, while near the beach a Black-shouldered Kite drifted overhead.

Taiwan tick: Siberian Blue Robin (total 249). Year tick: Asian Brown Flycatcher (total 239).

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