Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Taiwan Trip Report

13 - 18 February 2017

     When we went to Vietnam a few years ago we had to change planes in Hong Kong and I wondered at the time why I had not thought to plan a couple of days to discover the birds of this Asian hot spot. Subsequently my good friend Debbie Leung who is originally from Hong Kong and who returns frequently kept piquing my interest in birding there and finally I decided to go.
     Now what better to do on a trip to Hong Kong than to combine it with a visit to Taiwan, renowned for its fine birding, high number of endemic species, with many other unique subspecies representing possible candidates for future elevation to full species status?
     The die was cast!

13 - 14 February 2017
Toronto, ON - Seoul, South Korea - Taipei, Taiwan - Dasyueshan, Taiwan

     I drove to the airport with Miriam so that she could bring the car back home. She was willing to drive from the airport but not to it, so I had made arrangements with someone else to pick me up on my return. The drive was uneventful with only minor traffic delays. Everything went smoothly through check in and security and I was in the boarding lounge by 09:20 for a flight scheduled to depart at 11:30.
     

     As soon as the desk was staffed an announcement was made that they would likely be unable to accept all cabin baggage and asked for volunteers to surrender their hand luggage to be checked. I was unwilling to entrust my back pack to them for it contained my binoculars and camera, not merely expensive equipment, but susceptible to damage given the proclivity of airport handlers to toss baggage around. I guess that between compliant volunteers and the outright refusal to permit other items to be boarded the goal was achieved. Flying today never seems to be entirely simple!
     We boarded by zone and we took off about a half hour late for the almost fourteen hour trip to Seoul, South Korea.
      Various items of food were served along the way, nothing especially memorable, but one certainly does not fly for food excellence. As much as anything it breaks up the monotony a little.
      Most of the journey was in heavy cloud and very little was observed from the window, but when we got below the clouds on the approach to Incheon International Airport numerous wind farms were visible and a couple of large power plants were  belching smoke into the atmosphere. We touched down at 15:11 local time, slightly ahead of schedule.
      After a short layover of an hour and ten minutes I boarded a Korean Air flight bound for Taipei. I had not expected a meal on this flight of about two and three quarter hours but one was served and it was tasty indeed - fish with a spicy sauce, rice, tofu with a different sauce, lychees, water and coffee.
      We touched down in Taipei on time at 18:15 local time. On the plane when I filled out the entry form I was unable to complete the section that required an exact address for my destination in Taiwan. Kuan-Chieh Hung (Chuck), the guide I had hired, had simply advised that we would be spending the first night at Dasyueshan without even the name of the hotel, let alone the address. When I got to the desk they wouldn't accept that and I was yanked out of the line. They then called Chuck who was waiting for me, and I assume he provided them with what they needed, for they returned me to the line. Then I was photographed and finger printed and went through to the arrivals lounge - no sign of Chuck! I waited for about about a half hour, all the while trying to connect to the airport WIFI so that I could contact him. When I was finally successful in getting WIFI I emailed him to let him know I was waiting and he said he would walk over to meet me. Where he had been in the meantime I never did figure out.
     We went to his car and drove about two and a half hours to Chuyongshan Lodge, our lodging for the night, stopping on the way to pick up items for breakfast the next morning. The room was a  tad spartan, but it served the purpose. 


     The bed was really hard. As far as I could tell it was just a sheet of plywood covered in a bed sheet, but I was tired and was happy to lie down, following a much needed hot shower. It took a long time to get hot water, and there was no soap, but at least it was refreshing after a good deal of travel.

Accommodation: Chuyongshan Lodge   Rating: Three stars.

15 February 2017
Chuyongshan Lodge - Dasyueshan National Forest

     I was awake on and off throughout the night and finally got up at 06:00. I was unable to coax any hot water at all out of the faucet so I shaved with cold water. We left shortly afterwards and drove to higher elevations, stopping from time to time to get out and walk.
We passed several large vegetable gardens where measures were taken to protect the crop from the birds.



     We were passing through impressive country with stunning vistas all around.



     One of the first species we observed was a Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus of the distinctive Taiwan race P. fuliginosus affinis. Getting a decent picture was not easy!



     The trees were filled with bird song and we spotted Grey-cheeked Minivet Pericrocotus and the endemic Grey-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe morrisonia in short order, followed by a Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyridopsis ruficeps which sang loudly and incessantly but revealed itself for only the briefest of moments. 



     The cherry blossoms were superb and attracted a variety of species, especially nectar feeders.



       We kept on moving to higher elevations and finally we stopped at an area where people have gotten to know that some of the mountain pheasants are present and have taken to strewing seed along the ground to entice them to come in closer. The pheasants come and so do the photographers -  hordes of them, cameras at the ready, running quickly back and forth as one or the other sights a bird. The equipment in use that day stretched well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and the rapid-fire clicking and the excited conversation were at times a serious distraction for me. Chuck said that most of the people there could hardly differentiate one bird from another - the picture was everything.
     Here is a female Swinhoe's Pheasant Lophura swinhoii.



     Females outnumbered the males by a good margin at this location and I had little success getting a decent shot of a male. This would change the next morning as you will see.
     Taiwan Partridge Arborophila crudigularisa, a truly delightful little bird, was also attracted to the feeding bonanza. The name Arborophila surely means tree-loving, but I never saw them anywhere but on the ground.



     Often the two species foraged together.



     Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae was a common species and it too had learned to take advantage of a regular morning smorgasbord. I always delighted in observing this species - about as a common a species as a Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata is at home, and perhaps equally underappreciated.




     The treepies had become so bold they would walk between your legs and in among the tripods, as people munching away would drop crumbs on the floor or sometimes toss away a half eaten sandwich. Chuck and I breakfasted on items we had picked up in the store and poured hot water onto powdered milk tea - and you know, it wasn't bad at all. It was cool, probably about 5°C and any kind of hot drink tasted good.
     We were in impressive mountainous country probably little visited by non-birders or hikers. I did not see another western tourist at all during my visit other than for two other birders you will learn about later.



     After an hour and a half or so we left the pheasant feeding frenzy and moved up even higher entering the Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area.



     It was around lunch time so we went to the visitors' centre, which was an impressive edifice with an interesting array of sculptures outside the building.





     Chuck had made a reservation for us to stay in one the cabins in the park and completed the arrangements at the desk, following which we had lunch in the restaurant there. I selected a vegetarian hot pot and a fine choice it was.



     There were various types of accommodations available at the park and everything was laid out in a very pleasing fashion.



     We birded during the afternoon, primarily around the visitors' centre where we were happy to encounter small flocks of the endemic Taiwan Yuhina Yuhina brunneiceps, a species found only in the hill forest region of Taiwan.



     This Collared Bush Robin Luscinia johnstoniae seemed to be finding lots of food in the parking lot and entertained us for several minutes.



     We checked into our cabin, a lovely rustic unit, and went for dinner at the restaurant where the food was served buffet style. I did not record what I chose, but it was unexceptional and certainly not as good as the hot pot I had for lunch.
     Following dinner we went for a night drive to see some of the unique mammals of Taiwan and were blessed with good success. We encountered numerous Chinese Giant Flying Squirrels Petaurista alborufus, a truly enchanting creature, as well as Reeves's Muntjac Muntiacus reevesi, a dimutive deer and Taiwan Serow Capricornis swinhoei, a small sheep. We had our fingers crossed for an owl too, but struck out in that regard.
     We turned in for the night after a very successful day.

Accommodation: A cabin in Dasyueshan National Forest.  Rating: Four stars.

All species 15 February 2017: Taiwan Partridge, Swinhoe's Pheasant, Taiwan Barbet, Grey-chinned Minivet, White-bellied Epornis, Black-naped Monarch, Eurasian Jay, Grey Treepie, Large-billed Crow, Coal Tit, Chestnut-bellied Tit, Green-backed Tit, Rufous-faced Warbler, Yellow-bellied Bush Warbler, Black-throated Bushtit, Taiwan Scimitar Babbler, Rufous-capped Babbler, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Steere's Liocichla, White-eared Sibia, Taiwan Yuhina, Flamecrest, Eurasian Nuhatch, Scaly Thrush, Island Thrush, Eyebrowed Thrush, Brown-headed Thrush, Vivid Niltava, Collared Bush Robin, Red-flanked Bluetail, Taiwan Whistling Thrush, Plumbeous Water Redstart.

16 February 2017
Dasyueshan National Forest - Holsun Forest Area - Douliu
     
       I had a good night's sleep in a comfortable bed but I doubt that the cabin had any insulation at all so the temperature inside was pretty much the same as it was outside, barely above freezing at our elevation of around 2,300 metres.


Our cabin
     We went for a walk before breakfast through the forest along trails that provided a strenuous start to the day.





     It was a fine way to work up an appetite and see a few birds too. Every time I visit Asia I am always entranced by flocks of laughingthrushes so it was with particular pleasure that we came across a noisy group of Rusty Laughingthrushes Garrulax poeciloryhnchus working their way through the forest understory.





     We met a group of birders from the Taiwan Birdwatching Society and they were able to put us on to a White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopus leucotos aggressively exploring every nook and cranny of a tree in search of food. This was our first woodpecker of the trip and a species I had never seen before.




     We took breakfast at the buffet in the restaurant where I had rice with a little pork sauce poured over it, a steamed bun, cabbage, scrambled eggs and carrots, tofu and coffee. Those brisk early morning walks will open up a hole in your stomach!
     We started downslope and birded along the way, seeing many interesting species, including our best looks at Flamecrest Regulus goodfellowi. We actually looked down upon this species in a tree below us and were treated to flashes of the vivid crest for which it is named. We also added two endemic Taiwan Barwings Actinodura morrisoniana, a couple of Yellow Tits Machlophus holsti and were followed hither and yon by nice flocks of Taiwan Yuhinas.
     Once again the sheer grandeur of the country impressed me to no end.



     Before leaving the park we checked out an area near to the exit gate where Swinhoe's Pheasants are known to descend from the hill slopes to feed around the ranger station. Although not as reliable as the area where we had encountered the photographers the previous day we were lucky and a pair came down to see us. The female arrived first.


 
   As is so often the case if a female is in the neighbourhood a male is sure not to be far behind, avian or human! 




     Perhaps romance was in the air. They left together!



     We stopped for lunch at the restaurant attached to the lodge where we stayed the first night and even though its uninspiring appearance suggested a second rate facility the meal turned out to be well prepared. It was very agreeable indeed.



      We drove on to Hoisin Forest Area, site of a major Taiwan university and a very reliable location for Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus. Taiwan has in fact become one of the easiest places to find this species. As may be clearly seen from the pictures below the adult bird is quite different from an immature.


Adult

Immature
     It did not take long to find several of them. They could easily be located walking around the various buildings on the campus.
     The other marvelous Taiwan endemic in this area is Taiwan Blue Magpie Urocissa caerulea and several small flocks were moving through the forest - a magnificent sight to be sure.



     Other species seen in the general vicinity were Taiwan Varied Tit Sittiparus castaneoventris, Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus and Pacific Swallows Hirundo tahitica shown in sequence below.






     We travelled on towards Douliu where we would be staying for the night, stopping en route for dinner. It was dark when we arrived in the city and we were able to get really good looks at a couple of Savanna Nightjars Caprimulgus affinis flying around the buildings, no doubt feasting on the plentiful insects attracted to the bright lights of the city. 
     We were unable to park at the hotel and had to find an indoor parking garage and walk back over there. The city was bustling with people and was decorated for Chinese New Year. We stayed at the KD Hotel, a nice little local hostelry, with hot water in the shower and good towels. Well refreshed, I settled in for a good night's sleep.

Accommodation: KD Hotel, Douliu.   Rating: Three and a half stars.

All species 16 February: Taiwan Bamboo Partridge, Swinhoe's Pheasant, Malayan Night Heron, Eastern Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Crested Honey Buzzard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Savanna Nightjar, White-backed Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker (H), Black Drongo, Taiwan Blue Magpie, Grey Treepie, Large-billed Crow, Coal Tit, Chestnut-bellied Tit, Green-backed Tit, Yellow Tit, Light-vented Bulbul, Black Bulbul, Pacific Swallow, Rufous-faced Warbler, Taiwan Hwamei, Rusty Laughingthrush, Taiwan Barwing, White-eared Sibia, Taiwan Yuhina, Japanese White-eye, Flamecrest, Javan Myna, Collared Bush Robin, Taiwan Whistling Thrush, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail.

17 February 2017 
Douliu - Yushan National Park (Tataka Region) - Guanghua Village

     After a good night's sleep we got ready to leave the hotel. Chuck went over to get the car from the parking garage while I checked out and met him down in the lobby.
     We drove through town to a small fast food restaurant where we had breakfast outside in a postage stamp sized garden. I had ordered a turkey bagel (I had no idea what it might be but it sounded fine; in fact it was sliced turkey, tomato and lettuce on a croissant.  Chuck had also ordered little pancake type things, one with egg, one with cheese and they were delicious. I had a latté which was quite good too.
     We then drove, off meandering down small roads and lanes, stopping now and then to get out and bird for a while. This tree, laden with some kind of epiphyte I presume, was interesting.




     At one point we heard a Black-necklaced Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus erythrocnemis singing loudly and we kept getting glimpses of it, but it never did reveal itself a hundred percent. This is the best shot I could get.



      While we were birding at one spot a fellow came along on a motor cycle and seemed quite interested in our odd pursuit. The fact that he had a couple of dogs with him didn't help the birding, but he put a little fruit on a post and a Light-vented (Chinese) Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis wasted no time in having a snack.



     We moved on to a small town where Chuck knew from past experience that Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques was often easily found and we were not disappointed. A bird was detected on a wire within minutes of getting out of the car.



     At this stop a Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii flew across from one side of the river to another and disappeared into the foliage. Later it flew back the other way and was also instantly hidden from view. Both Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica and Pacific Swallows Hirundo tahitica were present so it was a great opportunity to compare the two species. Striated Swallows Cecropis striolata completed a trio of hirundines. We also saw two Vinous-throated Parrotbills Sinosuthora webbiana but I wasn't quick enough to get a photograph. You have no idea how often it crossed my mind that if Franc Gorenc had been with me we would have returned with an entire collection of great shots.
     We entered Yu-Shan National Park a while later where we planned to have lunch and search for the endemic Mikado Pheasant Syrmaticus mikado
     

     It was here that we ran into Richard Foster, a fellow bird guide who Chuck knew, with a couple of clients, Desmond and Yoko O'Connor. Richard is an expatriate from Northern Ireland who is married to a Taiwanese lady and has lived in Taiwan for more than twenty years.
     We all took lunch in the restaurant at the visitor centre and I chose a pork dish. As you may see from the picture below the pork was in reality a hunk of fat - needless to say I did not permit it to assail my arteries!


     There is a large population of Formosan Rock Macaques Macaca cyclopsis in the park and they are not hard to find.


     In fact, as is evidenced by the sign below, it would be a good deal better for humans and simians alike if contact between the two could be minimized.


     The macaques have become a problem because of their aggressive nature in soliciting food from people in the park, but in fact humans are the problem and not the monkeys. If only people would have the common sense to let these creatures remain wild and not feed them, and to follow the directions clearly posted, they would still be able to enjoy the animals without jeopardizing their future well being or their own safety.



     Our only Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes was spotted high atop a pine tree.


     These skeletal trees have become a real tourist attraction and many people go to visit them. I think that newly married couples are especially prone to visiting this site, but my memory is a little fuzzy on this issue. They certainly are stark, and interesting in a sculptural sort of way.


     This Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos had found a tasty morsel and was about to fly off with it. The picture is not particularly good but it does illustrate why this bird is called large-billed.


     A few Muntjacs were also spotted along the edges of the road.


     This is the kind of terrain where we searched for Mikado Pheasant.

    
     Richard was engaged in the same quest with Desmond and Yoko and at one point five of us were scanning with binoculars and straining our ears to try to locate the species. Both Richard and Chuck played tapes, but all to no avail. None of us would add Mikado Pheasant to our list on this trip.
     Before heading to the Firefly Lodge, our destination for the night, we all went to dinner in a nearby town, and because there were five of us we were able to order one of those memorable Asian meals where a variety of dishes are placed on a turntable and you take off whatever you wish as you rotate the dishes towards you. Richard chose our selection and it was clearly the best meal of the entire trip. The photographs below are courtesy of Desmond. And they don't show it all!



     The Firefly Lodge is a delightful spot with some anomalies, however. The decor seems a tad surprising to say the least.


     Furthermore, Chuck had advised that they do not provide towels. It was obviously impractical for me to bring a towel from Canada; it would occupy space and weight in my suitcase and would be wet after I had used it on the day I would fly out to Hong Kong. Chuck had brought a towel but when we checked in they gave us three tiny little towels barely bigger than a dish towel. The place was spacious, the rooms were immaculate, (we had to take off our shoes before going through the front door) soap and shampoo were provided, hot water was available - but no towel. Go figure that one!
     I turned in around 21:30. Chuck was wandering around outside and I have no idea what time he made it back to the room. The bed was comfortable and I slept well.

Accommodation: The Firefly Lodge.    Rating: Four stars

All species 17 February: Little Egret, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Rock Dove, Red Turtle Dove, Spotted Dove, Brown Shrike, Black Drongo, Green-backed Tit, Collared Finchbill, Light-vented Bulbul, Black Bulbul, Barn Swallow, Pacific Swallow, Striated Swallow, Taiwan Wren-Babbler (H), Black-throated Bushtit, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Black-necklaced Scimitar-Babbler, Dusky Fulvetta, White-whiskered Laughingthrush, Taiwan Fulvetta, Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Flamecrest, Eurasian Nuthatch, Javen Myna, White-rumped Shama (H), White-browed Bush Robin, Collared Bush Robin, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Scaly-breasted Munia. 

18 February 2017
Guanghua Village - Chiayi - Taipei Airport

     Chuck and I were joined by Richard, Desmond and Yoko and we all birded around the grounds with excellent results.
     The owner of the lodge grows tea and it was amazing to me how much the tea bushes were patronized by birds, especially Japanese White-eyes Zosterops japonicus and White-rumped Munias Lonchura striata. I can only assume that there was a large population of insects on the bushes since there was no seed or other food for birds.

Tea

Japanese White-eye
     Numerous other species were in and around the tea too, including the ubiquitous Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus, White Wagtail Motacilla alba, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe morrisonia and Plain Flowerpecker Dicaeum minullum.
     Breakfast was served outside which was pleasant indeed. There was ample food, good coffee and the owner's tea.

Chuck, the owner's wife. the owner, Yoko, Desmond, Richard

     After we left the lodge we visited a traditional residence in the area, where the patriarch of the house was drying herbs in the sun in the time-honoured fashion.




     The residence is comprised of living quarters at each side with a temple at the end.


     The lady of the house was making sticky rice wrapped in lotus (?) leaves and showed me exactly how she did it. I have eaten this delicacy many times in dim sum establishments in Canada so it was really interesting to watch it being put together. Here is a whole batch of them ready for sale to local restaurants.



     There was a special carriage against the temple wall and it was explained to me that when a woman gets married she is carried to the ceremony in this conveyance. 


     After a very interesting visit we stopped in the nearby village to look for Brown Bullfinch Pyrrhula nipalensis and found it in very short order. As we were about to leave Richard showed up with Desmond and Yoko looking for the same bird, so this is obviously the place to find it.
     We were heading inexorably towards the airport and did not do a whole lot of birding en route, except that we visited an agricultural area where Chuck knew there were large flocks of Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus. 
     I found it curious in this area that every single pineapple was fitted with a kind of collar, the purpose of which I could not determine. It must be a very labour-intensive operation to fit each individual fruit with this device.


     We stopped at a huge shopping mall adjacent to the highway and had bubble tea, following which we drove directly to the airport, arriving in good time to make my flight to Hong Kong.
     A successful birding adventure in Taiwan had come to an end.

All species 18 February: Little Egret, Crested Serpent Eagle, Rock Dove, Red Turtle Dove, Spotted Dove, Brown Shrike, Black Drongo, Green-backed Tit, Collared Finchbill, Light-vented Bulbul, Black Bulbul, Barn Swallow, Pacific Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Rufous-faced Warbler (H), Striated Prinia, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Plain Prinia, Taiwan Scimitar Babbler (H), Rufous-capped Babbler, Dusky Fulvetta, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Japanese White-eye, Crested Myna, Javan Myna, White's Thrush, Daurian Redstart, Plain Flowerpecker, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, White-rumped Munia, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Brown Bullfinch.

General comments
     Taiwan was a very interesting country (the Chinese might dispute that it is a country) to visit and I was impressed by the excellent infrastructure and the modern, efficient network of highways. All of the road signs were in both Chinese and English and I could imagine that it would be relatively straightforward to rent a car and bird the whole country independently, and for North Americans you don't even have to get used to driving on the "wrong" side of the road.
     The national parks and forests were spectacular, clean, well-maintained and contained an exciting array of flora and fauna.
     I would recommend Taiwan as a birding destination to anyone contemplating a visit to Asia. Given its relatively small size, well-maintained highways and high number of endemic species, it would provide a splendid introduction to Asian birding or the opportunity to add many new species for the seasoned veteran.

My Guide
     Kuan-Chieh Hung (Chuck) was a knowledgeable guide who knew the birds well and where to find them. 






18 comments:

  1. Sounds great. It's not so far from Japan, there's even a direct flight to Tapei from our local airport. I really should go.............

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  2. Hello David,
    I'm happy to see you here ! Was a long time ;-)
    All birds are beautifull, Swinhoe's Pheasants are very very marvelous !
    Thank's for your sharing and all these birds !

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  3. Wow. Lots of beautiful birds. The photographs were a couple of familiar birds to me.

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  4. Wonderful trip with nice pictures David.
    Pretty different types of birds that you could photograph.
    Greetings Tinie

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  5. Very good report David, and I agree Taiwan is a great place to bird! And some great selection of species you got there, especially White-backed Woodpeckers and Rusty Lauhingthrushes, both birds I missed on my last trip over there.

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  6. Seems you had a wonderful time.
    Enjoyed reading all and looking at your bird photos.

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  7. Looks like you had an eventful if tiring trip David. I did not realise how far the journey might be. I think it would be quicker from here.

    Most of those birds I have never heard of, let alone seen. Full marks for your pre-trip homework in naming them all.

    I'll bet your were ready for a good meal when you arrived back in Canada.

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  8. We missed the partridge when we went to Taiwan so I'm jealous and will have to go back!

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  9. HI David and what a wonderful trip, looks a magical place to visit birding. I was only reading the other day how the Laughing Thrush is being devastated by trapping. Great post. All the best. John

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  10. Dear David - Very interested to read about your visit. I am the author of 'A New Guide to the Birds of Taiwan (1976), which I did with Dr. Sheldon Severinghaus while I was in Taiwan with the USAF. A lot has changed since I was there - including many of the bird names!

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  11. So lovely to read about and see the great selection of photographs here.
    What an amazing trip.
    The scenery looks lovely, and the birds are so colourful.

    Good wishes for the month of March

    All the best Jan

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  12. Hello David,
    Aha, there we are, you finally got your post published!
    What an exciting trip although I can't imagine spending a night on that bed!! LOL!
    How great to get the bird in such proximity, I hope you got to see all the species you were after!
    I can't comment on each pohoto but the Taiwan Blue Magpie is a real beauty!
    The Collared Bush Robin has incredible markings and the pair of Swinhoe's Pheasants is gorgeous!
    I have a soft spot for White eyes since I raised and kept one for 5 years in SA!!
    Lovely to travel through your lens, wish I were there!
    I am planning my trip to Madagascar...
    Keep well and warm hugs to share with Miriam :)

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  13. David this sounds like an amazing trip an if it were no for the fact that we have just had a fabulous South African trip I might well be jealous! Some wonderful photos. t is going to take me ages to get through all the photos I have taken, as usual just too many!!!! Cheers Diane

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  14. Beautiful trip abroad David, I loved the Pheasants, they are fabulous.

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  15. Hi David. Sorry to take so long to get round to reading your post. We've been busy helping Melanie clean and decorate a property after 'rogue tenants' left it in. I waited, therefore, until I had time to give this epic work of yours the full attention that it deserves!

    The wildlife, the countryside, and the culture all look fascinating and beautiful. I'm not sure, however, that I could cope with the food, and would have great difficulty in coming to terms with a very hard bed. Lindsay and I have even been out to buy matress toppers in the past to cope with hard UK beds in holiday rental properties!

    I'll now eagerly move on to your follow-up post on Hong Kong

    Love to you both - - Richard

    I've rea

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    1. The food is one of the best parts of the whole trip! By and large it is quite wonderful.

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  16. A wonderful record framed with beautiful pictures.
    Seen and eaten delicious. A trip you will never forget.
    It's nice to be able to experience this through your post.
    Kind regards, Helma

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