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Taiwan, ilha formosa

 Taiwan, Blue Elephant, Vogelreis

Taiwan: Unique endemic birds on a beautiful island


Two extremes,  Black-faced spoonbill and Fairy pitta

Fairy pitta,  Taiwan, Blue Elephant, Vogelreis

Fairy pitta

Taiwan: looking for rare birds: the black-faced spoonbill and the fairy pitta, two special bird species, which are completely different from each other. The black-faced spoonbill is a most beautiful white winter bird, and we could see this spoonbill in Taiwan on the mud flats and in the shallow coastal waters. On the other hand, the fairy pitta (Chinese pitta), is a summer bird, which could be seen in the dense undergrowth of the tropical forests. Like most pittas, the Fairy Pitta has a very colourful and splendid appearance – and we are sure to see these birds in Taiwan.

What both species have in common is that they are held in high regard. The arrival of the first spoonbill in October is important news on television in Taiwan. In the best breeding area for the pitta, the bird is seen as an additional form of income in most villages because of the attention from tourists which it attracts. The period that both bird species are in Taiwan at the same time is very short and our tour to Taiwan will take place just during this short period in Spring.

Taiwanese blauwstaart, Taiwan, Blue Elephant, Vogelreis

Taiwan bluetail

“Unknown and unloved” – or so the saying goes. This is true for Taiwan as a bird-watching island. Just like Sri Lanka, Taiwan has lots of special and unique bird species, such as mikado pheasant, Swinhoe’s pheasant, de Taiwan Blue Magpie, Collared Bush Robin and many more. The latter mentioned species belong to the 15 species which are restricted to Taiwan.

Moreover, there are 60 other subspecies of birds which are exclusively restricted to Taiwan – and 10 of these 60 subspecies could possibly be real species and not merely subspecies. For instance, the Chinese bamboo partridge and the black-browed barbet are two birds that this may apply to. In Taiwan you can see so many other birds that a bird-watching tour to Taiwan is like a big party in the breathtaking, splendid landscapes from the coast to the high mountains.

bergbeek,  Taiwan, Blue Elephant, Vogelreis

mountain stream

On this bird-watching tour to Taiwan we intend to explore the beautiful scenery of the island with its coasts, its tropical and moderate forests, high mountains with mysterious deep gorges, beautiful waterfalls and wild mountain streams. In many respects, Taiwan is a modern country with a good infrastructure, good hygienic facilities and (no less importantly!) a very good cuisine.

The island of Taiwan is an island not far from the eastern coast of China. The former name Formosa was given to the island by the Portugese who discovered the island and gave it the name “Ilha Formosa”, which means “very beautiful island” .

This is the same with Sri Lanka. Sri stands for the word “splendid”. Taiwan is in fact a mountain range rising high from the sea, with many mountaintops of up to 3000 meters. The large differences in height and the climate with its strong seasonal differences cause great biological biodiversity, which differs from area to area. During the seasons the climate may vary considerably: winters can be very cold and summers can be very hot. The differences in height mean that there are only short distances between the mud flats and shallow coastal area, the mangroves, tropical lowland forest, temperate mountain forest, coniferous forest and alpine peaks. Moreover, there are also many areas of cultivated land, marshes, wetlands, rivers and mountain creaks. All of this taken together results in a tremendous richness in varieties of birds. The most special species are most likely to be seen in the month of May, which is why our tour takes place during May.

National Parks and nature areas

This tour visits the coastal areas, lakes, estuaries and the most beautiful forests and mountains in order to go bird-watching in the best areas of Taiwan. n we gaan naar een eilandje dat tot Taiwan behoort, Lanyu eiland in het Nederlands Orchideeëneiland.

The mountains
Mikadofazant,  Taiwan, Blue Elephant, Vogelreis


The Anmashan mountains are so splendid and rich in bird life that we will stay here two nights. The special birds of these forests and alpine peaks are the Taiwan Whistling Thrush and the Taiwan Blue Magpie. We will have several stops and explore the forest for the more common birds: the great mountain tit, the black-browed barbet and the grey-headed woodpecker. This splendid area with its forests is one of the best places to see endemic species too, such as the yellow tit, Taiwan sibia, the red-flanked bluetail,

mot in de bergen,  Taiwan, Blue Elephant, Vogelreis


the Mikado pheasant and the Swinhoe’s pheasant. We will climb the mountains as high as possible to see the rusty laughing-thrush, brown bullfinch, Beavan’s bullfinch, vinaceous rosefinch and Taiwan flamecrest. Along streams and in the vicinity of the lakes we will have a good chance to see the little forktail, plumbeous redstart and brown dipper.


Wetlands and the coast
kustgebied,  Taiwan, Blue Elephant, Vogelreis

coastal area

Taiwan has a number of very special wetlands such as the Long Luan Lake. In winter and during migration time the lakes are important to overwintering and migratory birds. During spring and summer a small number of these birds stay in this area. That is why we will have the chance to see the black-faced spoonbill, a very rare and threatened species. During the month of May we explore this area for to search out breeding birds such as the slaty-legged crake, pheasant-tailed jacana, Pacific reef egret and ruddy kingfisher. We also have a good chance to watch painted snipe, Asian dowitcher, great knot, Mongolian plover, greater sand plover and clamorous reed warbler. Other species of the wetlands are the crested hawk, Taiwan bulbul, brown shrike and the bronzed drongo.

Open landscape
zuidzeezwaluw,  Taiwan, Blue Elephant, Vogelreis

Pacific swallow

The open landscape is mostly cultivated land and this is where we will see the birds which are native to cultivated land. We will have a good chance of seeing the imperial eagle, black eagle, large-billed crow (very common), grey treepie, oriental honey buzzard, striated, yellow-bellied and plain prinia, jungle mynah, Pacific swallow, bay-backed shrike and brown-headed parrot bill.

Orchid island Lanyu

The small isle of Lanyu is situated south-east of Taiwan and can be reached by a local flight of 20 minutes. Most inhabitants of the isle belong to the original Yami people. After arrival we explore the island for the most interesting birds: a subspecies of the Philipine cuckoo-dove, which is endemic to Lanyu, the black and white Japanese paradise flycatcher, brown-eared bulbul and lowland white-eye. At night we will try to hear and see the unique elegant scops owl, a species only existing on this island. We will have an overnight stay on the island and the next day we have a boat trip to Taiwan. During this boat trip we have a good chance of seeing wedge-tailed shearwater, Swinhoe’s storm petrel and Bulwer’s petrel.


Although we are on a bird-watching tour, we will also explore the area for other animals and plants. It is worth noting that we regularly see the Taiwanese macaque and the red-bellied squirrel and sometimes also the Formosan striped squirrel.

diverse population

tai-meditatie,  Taiwan, Blue Elephant, Vogelreis

The native inhabitants are people closely related to the people of the Philippine archipelago. During the 17th century Taiwan was for a period of 30 years a Dutch colony, as you can see from the Fort Zeelandia in Taiwan. The Dutch were chased away by Chinese people, who did not want to obey the emperor and they then mixed with the local people.

In 1949 Chjang Kai-chek’s army (800.000) with  700.000 civilians fled to tai-straat3,  Taiwan, Blue Elephant, VogelreisTaiwan and founded the present state. Now there are around 23 miljion Taiwanese, friendly and hospitable people.


Practical information
Tour price: € 3750,- £ 2960 international flights excluded.
Guarantee: Blue Elephant is a member of GGTO
Date of tour: 27 april t/m 12 mei 2015
Tour code: 15Tai (Please mention code when booking)
Single room supplement: € 450,- £ 
Arrival and departure: Taipei 
Itinerary: will be sent four weeks before departure
Local transport: Van or bus with airco, local flight and fast ferry to Lanyu
Walking effort: Light walks on some days with some moderate to fairly strenuous walks on others; we do not walk fast. Enjoying the tour is our priority.
Participants minimum 6, maximum 12
Accommodation: Good hotels with en suite bathrooms, half board
Itinerary: English speaking tourleader and local guide
Weather: Warm pleasant weather with an occasional shower. In the mountains it could be distinctly cold in the evenings and at night.
day 1: Leave home;
day 2: Arrive Taipei and transfer to hotel or to Dong Shi Sasyushan National Forest Recreation Area. Overnight stay in hotel or guesthouse in NP.
day 3: Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation area in Anmashan Mountains. Overnight stay in Dasyushan Second Guest House
day 4: Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation area in Anmashan Mountains. Overnight stay in Dasyushan Second Guest House;
day 5: Dasyeshan NP in Anmashan Mountains and transfer to Huisan Forest Overnight stay in Huisan Forest Station (770 m)
day 6: Dasyeshan NP in Anmashan Mountains and transfer to Huisan Forest Overnight stay in Huisan Forest Station (770 m); (same as day 6)
day 7: Huisan Forest Station and transfer to ChiGu reserve to find the black-faced spoonbill. Overnight stay in Guest House Formosa Farm, Kenting;
day 8: Whole day in Kenting wetlands. Overnight stay in Kenting;
day 9: Whole day in Kenting wetlands. Overnight stay in Kenting;
day 10: From Kenting by boat to Lanyou island. Overnight stay in guesthouse in Lanyou;
day 11: After a bird-watching excursion we leave the island by either boat or plane, depending on the weather, and transfer to Taroko Gorge NP;
day12: Taroko Gorge NP and the Hehueanshan National Forest Recreation Area. Overnight stay in Hehuanshan Guest House;
day 13: like day 12
day 14: Hehueanshan National Forest Recreation Area. End of the day transfer to Wulai Spring Resort and overnight stay;
day 15: Wulai and Guanda Nature reserve Park; evening flight back home
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