Birding in Taiwan: 1. Taiwan Scimitar-babbler

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“My wife and I just returned from a visit to Taiwan to enjoy nature there. Half the time was spent cycling or walking and the other part of the trip bird watching. We were very pleased to have Richard Foster take us around and share his experience of the local birds. My intention was to try and get to know some of the birds found there, endemic or otherwise. As a field guide I mainly used Mark Brazil’s Birds of East Asia: China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and Russia (Princeton Field Guides) 2009. Richard made available a number of excellent local guides (great pictures or images) but the text is all in Chinese. Bird watching in Taiwan is excellent – good facilities, very helpful local population and with even the police being supportive!

“I hope to post some of the many birds we saw and I am starting with the Taiwan Scimitar-babbler (Pomatorhinus musicus) which is endemic to Taiwan (above, below). I was surprised to find how relatively easy it was to watch this scimitar-babbler. It is fairly common and often found in a small flock of 2-6 birds, at times joining mix foraging parties. I saw mix foraging parties with the Taiwan Scimitar-babbler twice at the Kenting National Park, Hengchun Peninsula of Pingtung County Taiwan on 17/12/2014. Once a pair foraging in bamboo and another time a flock of 5. Other birds in the mix foraging party included a flock of Black Bulbuls (Hypsipetes leucocephalus), Grey Treepies (Dendrocitta formosae), Styan’s Bulbul (Pycnonotus taivanus), Brown-headed Thrushs (Turdus chrysolaus), Bronzed Drongo (Dicrurus aeneus) and more.

“The Taiwan Scimitar-babbler is very distinctive with a dark eye mask and broad white supercilium, a lovely chestnut nape or collar, and a two toned bill (lighted in lower mandible, looking almost pale yellow). The upper breast is white splashed with large black streaks. Although the iris is described as ‘lemon-yellow’, I found that is some birds it was a darker orange-red (especially further north). They are not shy birds but tend to travel fast through the undergrowth making unobstructed images a delightful challenge.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
17th and 21st December 2014

Location: Kenting National Park, Hengchun Peninsula, Pingtung County, Taiwan
Habitat: A trail in a national park consisting of forested areas and thick bamboo.
Location: Shihmen Reservoir, Longtan Town, Taoyuan County, Taiwan
Habitat: Secondary growth around the Shihmen Reservoir


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