Taiwan Blue Magpie and Plain Flowerpecker, Maolin, December 28th

Birds seen (33 species):

  • Crested Serpent Eagle 2
  • Grey-faced Buzzard 1
  • Black-eared Kite 2
  • Peregrine 1
  • Spotted Dove 2
  • House Swift 8
  • Taiwan Barbet 10
  • Grey-capped Woodpecker 5
  • Grey-chinned Minivet 4
  • White-bellied Erpornis 3
  • Maroon Oriole 6
  • Bronzed Drongo 8
  • Black Drongo 1
  • Black-naped Monarch 10
  • Taiwan Blue Magpie 4
  • Grey Treepie 20
  • Barn Swallow
  • Pacific Swallow
  • Striated Swallow 2
  • Collared Finchbill 1
  • Chinese Bulbul 1
  • Black Bulbul 40
  • Yellow-browed Warbler 6
  • Arctic Warbler 3
  • Japanese White-eye 50
  • Taiwan Scimitar-Babbler 5
  • Grey-cheeked Fulvetta
  • Vivid Niltava 2
  • Pale Thrush 12
  • Brown-headed Thrush 1
  • turdus sp. 15
  • Plain Flowerpecker 5
  • White Wagtail 7
  • Grey Wagtail 3

An enjoyable but – unusually for winter – slightly rainy three hours at Maolin, walking the 4km-long De-En Gorge loop trail.

This fairly low-altitude trail in the foothills of much higher mountains is excellent for several birds that can be hard to find in Taiwan, notably Taiwan Blue Magpie, Maroon Oriole (common here), Plain Flowerpecker, and White-bellied Erpornis, all of which I saw today. Plain Flowerpeckers were especially vocal, with at least five birds heard. I saw one bird very well but had to be content with “heard only” or brief flight views for the others – they can be hard to locate in the treetops.

Winter visitors were represented by many thrushes, which due to their flighty nature were mostly just glimpsed or heard-only. The ones I did get a better look at were mainly Pale Thrushes, and one splendid adult male Brown-headed Thrush. Last winter, I saw several Taiwan Thrushes here, down from the higher mountains for the cold season – this rare species is well worth keeping an eye out for. I’ve also seen Scaly Thrush fairly regularly here in winter. Vivid Niltava is another bird that descends for the winter, and I saw two of them today. Other winter visitors seen included several Yellow-browed and Arctic Warblers, but surprisingly no Taiwan Sibias which can be numerous here in winter. Another no-show today that can usually be guaranteed here is Taiwan Bamboo-Partridge – I usually see several groups of them during a circuit of the trail.

A few raptors were out and about, despite the weather: two Black-eared Kites, several Crested Serpent Eagles, a fly-through Peregrine, and best of all a Grey-faced Buzzard – probably one of the small number that winters in southern Taiwan (this species can be abundant on migration in spring and autumn).

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