Trying to see 100 species in a day in the Kaohsiung area, January 13th

Today I came up with the vague plan of seeing 100 bird species in a single day in the Kaohsiung area. I started rather late and visited just three birding spots, before calling it a day well before sunset – but even so, managed to see 83 species. My conclusion is that 100 species in a day is perfectly possible in winter, with good weather, a little luck, and an early start.

My first port of call was the east bank of the Gaoping River, a couple of kilometers north of the big Kaohsiung-Pingtung bridge. Fast-flowing sections of river here create excellent feeding grounds for ducks and waders, which gather in big flocks to intercept fish and invertebrates caught up in the fast-moving water. Huge numbers of Black-winged Stilts and Common Teal were accompanied by smaller numbers of other waders, including a Green Sandpiper at a backwater – a speciality of this site. Other regular birds here such as Lesser Coucal and Golden-headed Cisticola were not seen today, but a couple of Black-shouldered Kites provided some compensation.

I then drove to Maolin, which was rather quiet compared to Sunday with no sign of the male Japanese Thrush. Birds here which I didn’t see during my last visit included two Taiwan Bamboo-Partridges, an Emerald Dove and a Black-eared Kite. Black-necklaced Scimitar-Babbler and White-bellied Erpornis also put in an appearance, showing once again how excellent this site is for both of these uncommon species.

Conveniently, Highway 28 starts just a kilometer from the end of the Maolin valley, and 49km later terminates just a stone’s throw from Cheting Marshes – most useful for any birders trying to get a decent day list! Many of the usual suspects were on show at Cheting, but I failed once again to find the recently reported Ferruginous Duck, although at least three female Tufted Ducks with gleaming white undertail coverts were present. I didn’t see anything unusual here today, although a flock of 20 Chestnut-tailed Starlings in the late afternoon was an excellent count – presumably they were heading to roost somewhere in the area.

I think 100 species in day would be fairly straightforward in winter if one made a dawn start at Tengjhih, spent a few hours at Maolin, a couple of hours at Cheting, then stopped off en route back to Kaohsiung for birds like Pheasant-tailed Jacana.

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