Mugimaki Flycatcher, Red-flanked Bluetail and Goldcrest, Qigu, November 4th

Highlights:

  • Goldcrest 1
  • Mugimaki Flycatcher 2 (1 male)
  • Red-flanked Bluetail 1 female
  • Daurian Redstart 6 (3 males)
  • Yellow-browed Warbler 2
  • Arctic Warbler 1

A significant change in the weather on Monday, with much cooler air across southern Taiwan, raised hopes that something good might finally have arrived at Qigu.

Nonetheless – being well used to disappointment at Qigu over the last few weeks – I reined in my enthusiasm, slept a little later than usual, had a leisurely breakfast, and finally arrived at the coastal forest at 9.30am. Initially it didn’t look promising, with no birder’s cars parked at the site – which is usually an indication that nothing much is around.

The first part of the forest seemed quiet, with the only bird of note a female Daurian Redstart. Then, near the pond, a lone Taiwanese photographer (English name Gordon) got me onto a bird he had just found. After something of a team effort, we managed to get reasonable views of a beautiful adult male Mugimaki Flycatcher. It was very mobile and stayed high in the trees, often obscured by branches, making photography difficult even for Gordon’s long lens.

Already the trip was worthwhile, and I wandered off along the eastern shore of the pond, where two male Daurian Redstarts were chasing each other around, and then an ever better bird appeared – a female Red-flanked Bluetail giving great views perched on a fallen log. I went to find Gordon, who managed some excellent shots of the bird.

My favorite area of Qigu coastal forest is also the area that is hardest to access, because it’s the part that’s covered with the most driftwood and damp gullies. It’s about two-thirds of the way through the forest, on the landward side, and today it seemed especially sheltered from the breeze and rich in insects here. In one small area, I quickly found two Yellow-browed Warblers, a second Mugimaki Flycatcher (this one a female), an Arctic Warbler, and outstandingly a Goldcrest, which was calling frequently and keeping to the tops of the pines. I went to fetch Gordon again, who spent an hour or so at the spot and eventually came away with some very satisfactory photos of this difficult-to-photograph species. Goldcrest is a rare migrant in Taiwan, especially so in the south of the country.

Leaving the forest, a drive along the length of the Qigu embankment produced a couple of Richard’s Pipits, another Daurian Redstart, and plenty of extremely distant Black-faced Spoonbills and Caspian Terns on the mud.

At Cheting Marshes, halfway back to Kaohsiung, I spent an enjoyable twenty minutes in the viewing tower, from which large numbers of herons, ducks and other water birds can be easily seen. Perhaps notable were three Garganey, an Avocet, two Whiskered Terns, plenty of Sacred Ibis, a Eurasian Kestrel, and a beautiful Long-tailed Shrike.

Taiwan ticks: Mugimaki Flycatcher, Goldcrest (total 261).

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