Birding in Taichung, Taiwan- Alishan 阿里山观鸟

From Taichung (台中), I drove all the way to Alishan ( 阿里山) !! The drive was treacherous as the steep bends were more than challenging, but nonetheless, my driving skills came in handy! *SCREECH*

It was a hot summer August, but high altitudes at Alishan exuded cool weather, very ideal for hiking, and definitely bird watching! There were some fancy hotels around the area, but we stayed at a dodgy hotel called the Alishan Gou Hotel! This “hotel” is well known among birders for it location for birding, as the garden behind the hotel and trails around the area are frequented by local endemics! 😛

Birds seen and photographed included:

1. Johnstone’s Bush Robin or Collared Bush Robin (Tarsiger johnstoniae)

2. Brown Bullfinch (Pyrrhula nipalensis)

3. Taiwan Barwing or Formosan Barwing (Actinodura morrisoniana)

4. Vinaceous Rosefinch (Carpodacus vinaceus) ssp.

5.  White-whiskered Laughingthrush (Trochalopteron morrisonianum)

6.  Golden Parrotbill (Suthora verreauxi)

7. White-browed Bush Robin (Tarsiger indicus)

From left- Brown Bullfinch, Taiwan Barwing

From left- Brown Bullfinch, Taiwan Barwing

From left- white whiskered laughingthrush, golden parrotbill

From left- white whiskered laughingthrush, golden parrotbill

From left- Collared Bush robin, White-browed bush robin

From left- Collared Bush robin, White-browed bush robin

Many have recommended to see the sunrise in Alishan and so after our stargazing activity at 2:30am, and before that, bat-watching at the “hotel”, we got on a very crowded train that took us to the sunrise viewing platform! But to our dismay, there were not just 10 or 20 people, but probably over hundreds of noisy people at the platform! Grrr!

It was a new experience watching sunrise with big crowds..lol! But we quickly comforted ourselves with hot meatballs sold at the vendors!  🙂 It was 0630am and having filled up our growling tummies, we made our way back to the hotel. With chirping birds, glowing sun, and walking downhill instead of up, we had a very enjoyable walk and reached the “hotel” at 0815. Just in time for another breakfast! :))

Oh, here’s a photo of the stars at night

Star gazing at night!

Star gazing at night!

Taiwan, Taichung- Anmashan (great snow mountain) 台湾大雪山赏鸟

Dear friends, Anmashan is also known as dasyueshan (大雪山 great snow mountain)! When I planned for the trip a few years, ago, I was so confused by the names, but they are no doubt the same place! I took a bird guide, recommended by a friend..and we headed off to Taichung from Taipei! But this was a long 5 hour drive, Zzzz! Anyway, the adventure began when there was some mis-communication with the guide, so in the end he dropped me off at my accomodation on the mountain and then I was on my own (gasp)!!

Now, without a car, it would be very difficult to bird at Anmashan, because the bird locations were widespread along the steep mountain! I was lucky to bump into a western couple at the place I was staying, who was very kind to let me join them.

Anyway, birding on the mountain started as early as 6am! So even though the hotel provided breakfast, you would probably have to skip it! Since birding was just up and down the mountain, you would find quite a number of birders along the the way and side treks were easy to walk, so birding was relatively easy!

Here are some of the birds taken on my 3 day bird trip at Anmashan! 😛

Mikado and swinhoe pheasant

Mikado and swinhoe pheasant

Eurasian Jay and Eurasian nutcracker

Eurasian Jay and Eurasian nutcracker

collared bush robin male and female

collared bush robin male and female

rosefinch male and female

rosefinch male and female

white whiskered laughing thrush

white whiskered laughing thrush

white browed bush robin

white browed bush robin

white tailed robin

white tailed robin

In my humble opinion, the best way to get to Taichung is to take a train from Taipei and then for arrange your rented car to be picked at the train station!

The only available accomodation on the mountain is An Man Hotel (鞍馬山莊). http://tsfs.forest.gov.tw/cht/index.php?code=list&ids=27   😛

Phone reception is poor up there, definitely no internet access, and there are only 4 TV channels (all in hokkien). The room itself is pretty basic and because its real cold up there, heated blankets are provided! 😛  This place is only good for hikers and birders, so if your spouse doesn’t do any of those, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT bring him/her to Anma Shan!