Having researched accommodation in Yilan we decided on Toucheng (first town) which is an hour’s drive through the mountain tunnel road from Taipei, and nearby the highland area, Shuanglienpi, which at 400 meters elevation has some wetlands and small lakes, a site we intend to explore. There is a town more popular with visitors, Jiaoxi, famous for its hot springs and spa hotels. One evening we visited, and this town was better established than where we stayed. It was bustling with shops, restaurants full of visitors.
On 23 Feb morning we took Cathay Pacific to Taipei with a stopover in Hong Kong. The fare of S$466.40 per pax was a promotional fare worth taking even though we had to transit in Hong Kong. We had planned to take public transport on this trip and on arrival in Taoyuan Airport at 1.40 pm we proceeded to B1 to buy the tickets for the Kuo Kuang Bus 1819 to Taipei Main Station (TMS) and intended to transfer to either a train or bus to Toucheng. We bought a 10-day SIM card for NT$500 which served very well for our needs. Then it was down to B1 to take the Kuo Kuang Bus 1819 (NT$125 per pax) there was a long queue for the 3pm bus. We got into the 2nd bus and while the journey was within 60 minutes to TMS it was 4.30 pm by the time we arrived, so we took a taxi instead to Toucheng.
On 24 Feb after a sumptuous breakfast prepared by Mrs Luo the taxi we booked the day before, arrived. Our 1st destination was Shuanglienpi and on the way the driver stopped at Lung Tan Lake which proved a good location as there were ducks, moorhens and egrets on the lake. Our next destination was the Lanyang estuary which seemed difficult for the driver to locate. Nevertheless he understood we were looking for birds so he brought us to the ponds and drainage channels south of Toucheng Town and drove along the roads #2 and #191 where we saw egrets, herons, moorhens and coots.
|Taiwan Scimitar Babbler|
On 26 Feb after breakfast Mrs Luo drove us to Toucheng Train station and it was a pleasant train ride passing the mountains and towns before arriving TMS at 12:20 pm. We walked to the MRT information desk and bought our Easycards at NT$100 each that was not refundable and topped up NT$200 for our rides. Our next accommodation, Chaiin Hotel is located above the Dongmen MRT station. We took exit 8 to the ground floor and round the Post Office was the entrance to Chaiin. We were happy with this hotel, the location, spacious room, clean bed and their breakfast selection for western and Asian tastes. After checking in we went for lunch across from the hotel and it was still drizzling. As we explored the area, we found Daan Park nearby where many water birds were easily seen in the ponds, the herons, egrets well-used to visitors. We would return with camera another day.
On 27 Feb after breakfast we took the MRT to Siaonanmen Station and walked to Taipei Botanical Garden (TBG). It was still drizzling, but we managed to take photographs of the Malayan Night herons, Taiwan Blue Magpie and Grey Treepies, they were well used to visitors and feeding in the light drizzle. After TBG we took the MRT to CKS Memorial Park and checked out the ponds. The park was crowded with visitors but the garden area had less people. The Malayan Night Heron and a couple of Thrushes were out feeding in the light rain. After lunch we went to Daan Park and this time the rain had stopped so we had better photos of the birds and a Crested Goshawk was easily seen on a tree drying its wings.
|Black-crowned Night Heron|
|Taiwan Blue Magpie|
On 29 Feb although it was a Monday we found it was quieter when we took the MRT to Xindian. The weather was sunny and when we took the bus to Wulai it was full, because 29 Feb was a public holiday. Wulai lies south of Taipei at the northern extremity of the Syueshan range, the altitude being around 200 m rising to 1,000 m. When the bus arrived at the terminal station we followed signs and walked to the bridge over the Tunghou River. The area was busy and we saw the Plumbeous Redstart easily and further along the river bank a Muscovy Duck was preening itself. We wanted to take the mountain railway but on enquiring the rail was under maintenance due to damage from last year’s typhoon so everyone was walking uphill. We walked along and heard the Crested Serpent Eagle calling and sure enough scanning the rocky mountain side we saw the raptor perched on a faraway tree. Another was seen drifting high in the sky looking for prey. We left Wulai and queued for the bus and instead of Xindian we took the bus to TMS a long ride but it was only NT30. We were tired and returned to the hotel for a rest. It was a quick dinner of “meat rice” at Formosa Chang, another nice place for simple local food.
For our last day, 1 March, we decided to revisit TBG in the morning and then do some shopping in the afternoon before leaving the next day. The birds we had seen on Saturday 27th were not seen but it was a nice sunny day and we managed better shots of the Taiwan Barbet and Japanese White-eyes. We also got to see the Collared Scops Owl family of 3 resting on a tree. The afternoon was spent at Ximenting and an IT Mall at Zhongxiao Xinsheng.
Our self-birding trip yielded 7 lifers.
|Plumbeous Water Redstart-Juv|
Link to Yilan and Taipei Bird Photos
1) Olive-backed Pipit
26) Black Drongo
|2) Daurian Redstart||27) Grey Wagtail|
|3) Common Teal||28) Taiwan Scimitar Babbler (Lifer)|
|4) Long-tailed Shrike||29) White-breasted Waterhen|
|5) Light-vented Bulbul||30) Common Kingfisher|
|6) Grey Heron||31) Grey Treepie|
|7) Brown Shrike||32) Spotted Dove|
|8) Eastern Yellow Wagtail||33) Oriental Magpie Robin|
|9. Common Moorhen||34) Tiger Shrike|
|10) Little Grebe||35) Brown-headed Thrush (Lifer)|
|11) Taiwan Blue Magpie (Lifer)||36) Japanese White-eye|
|12) Tufted Duck||37) Pale Thrush (Lifer)|
|13) Cattle Egret||38) Eurasian Magpie|
|14) Emerald Dove||39) Crested Goshawk|
|15) Little Egret||40) Black-winged Stilt|
|16) Great Egret||41) Black-naped Monarch|
|17) Eastern Spot-billed Duck||42) Oriental Turtle Dove|
|18) Black-crowned Night Heron||43) Pale-legged Leaf Warbler|
|19) Common Greenshank||44) Plumbeous Water Redstart|
|20) Black-faced Spoonbill||45) Mallard|
|21) Black-tailed Gull||46) Crested Serpent Eagle|
|22) Black-faced Bunting (Lifer)||47) Muscovy Duck (Lifer)|
|23) Great Commorant||48) Collared Scops Owl|
|24) Osprey||49) Taiwan Barbet|
|25) Hoopoe||50) Japanese Sparrowhawk|
|51) Malayan Night Heron (Lifer)|