Daxueshan revisited

Daxueshan revisited

When:  December 2019               Weather:  8-18C

Nikon P900.  Leica M10P 35mm Summilux

 

Last year when I was here, we did a day trip from Taipei and whilst we did see a reasonable number of birds, the weather had been a bit wet and it was a bit of a rush.  This year, we decided to stay at the Government rest houses at 43km and we were blessed with brilliant hot sunshine….the birds were however more challenging!

We set off from Taipei at 530am on a Monday morning with an initial target location of Ba Hsien Shan or Eight Fairy mountain at the foot of Daxueshan… things looked hopeful when we stopped at a station along the way….

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Black drongo

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Long tailed shrike

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Light vented bulbul

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A little detour brought us to Basianshan or eight fairy mountain

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The nicest bird we saw here and on the whole excursion was the chestnut bellied tit, a Taiwan endemic

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chestnut bellied tit

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the mountain had many poinsettias in bloom

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Down near the river, a female plumbeous redstart

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Female plumbeous redstart

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then the very smart male plumbeous redstart showed

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male plumbeous redstart

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grey wagtail

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a colourful Daurian redstart presented itself

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Daurian redstart

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Black bulbul

 

It was a bit of a disappointing detour to Ba Hsien Shan as far as bird yield was concerned and we soon went up Daxueshan to look for the pheasants etc… we stopped at various locations on the way up…

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A collared finch

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Collared finch

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Grey cheeked fulvetta

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A large crested serpent eagle eyed us from afar

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And at the usual place by the side of the road where we had been last year, this appeared

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the female Swinhoe’s pheasant

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whilst the male Swinhoe’s gets the attention, I think the pattern on the female is stunning

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female swinhoe’s pheasant feather detail

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Here a shot taken with my Leica M10P and a 75mm summilux lens…not your usual birding setup

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female swinhoe’s by Leica M10P

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the much more colourful male Swinhoe’s pheasant

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Male Swinhoe’s pheasant

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totally different looking male and female Swinhoe’s pheasants….one the sought after birds in Daxueshan

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This charming fellow then showed….a Taiwan blue whistling thrush

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Taiwan blue whistling thrush

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By late afternoon, the scenery got more spectacular as the sun got lower.. the sea of clouds

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Setting sun

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magnificent scenery

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Taiwan Yuhinia

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Taiwan Yuhinia

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Ashy Wood Pigeon

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as the sun got even lower, the light got warmer

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and the view from our hotel got more romantic

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the government resthouses at 41km mark

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Eurasian or spotted nutcracker

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and final bird of the day was this female red flanked blue tail….a hint of blue can be seen in the tail….another lifer!

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a beautiful location to spend the night…cold though!

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a night ramble reveled this red and white giant squirrel

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Sunrise the next day….we headed up the mountain to 50km to seek the Mikado

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our actual lodge in the hills

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there are many tunnels on the road

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the Mikado did not show but this white whiskered laughing thrush did…apparently the Mikado is now rarely seen….so I’m glad I shot him last year

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white whiskered laughing thrush

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female rosefinch

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Another interesting mammal the muntjac or barking deer

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Muntjac

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a few photographers were gathered around a tree trying to shoot this shy fellow

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I’m told it was a flamecrest but it was really difficult to see and shoot

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so we descended the mountain..

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and revelled in the warm sunlight

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last bird of the trip was this splendid vivid niltava

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Vivid niltava

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close up vivid niltava

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yellows, reds and greens… colours of daxueshan in winter

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apart from the birding, the scenery is stunning

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and the red leaves bade us farewell

An overnight stay on Daxueshan was ultimately much more relaxed than our previous day trip…it’s cold though so bring lots of warm clothing and a towel…they don’t provide towels here!  Recommended.

 

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