Sunday, 27 July 2008

Huben Birding Stories - The Fairy Temple

The Fairy Temple

“Your Local Patch,” I looked at the heading again. It got me thinking. I had never really thought of having a local patch. Did I have one? Well, I do more birding around the Tian-sheng Gong Temple in Huben than any other place around, so it must be my local patch, and now that I think of it, I really like the idea.

This afternoon at 3:30 I headed out of the small town where I live to my LOCAL PATCH. It takes 15 minutes to get there. I parked my red scooter in the temple grounds, looked up and scanned the sky. I looked and looked, they weren't there. Looking for the resident pair of Crested Serpent Eagle is kind of a "starting to bird now” ritual before I head off into the forest. If I see them soaring above, I feel good and think the birding is going to be good. Well no eagles!

I get into the forest and it's quiet, too quiet. The forest is quiet sometimes. I’ve noticed that it can be very noisy and then silence. When this happens, I’ve often seen one of the small raptors put in an appearance a few moments later. I guess everyone kind of disappears when a Besra or Crested Goshawk is seen looking for a meal.

Well the silence went on for quite sometime, and I didn't see any raptors. When there are no birds around, the low altitude forests of Taiwan can be very uncomfortable places. I think the name low altitude forest is a name that they put in field guides because they don't want to scare birders. The truth is these low altitude forests are a 35 degree in the shade jungle with about a 100% humidity factor and full of starving mosquitoes.

I walked up and up, I was cursing and puffing. All I had seen by the time I got to the top of the hill was a Black Bulbul, a few Chinese Bulbul, and two Grey-cheeked Fulvetta. I turned around and started to walk back down.

I must have been about a third of the way down when I heard was a Fairy Pitta. Now, the area is famous for Fairy Pitta, but I still get blown away every time I see one. Instantly I was transported from the state of birding in the *@#* mosquito jungle to the Utopian state of looking for forest Fairies in low altitude forest. The Pitta was close. I could hear by the call. I stopped to listen and look. The calling stopped. I didn't move. I listen....and wait for the calling to start. I'm standing next to a tree. A moment later there's a movement and the Pitta lands not more than 3metres from me. It has no idea that I'm there. It hops from perch to perch. It must have spent two to three minutes hopping about in front of me before moving off, and so ended the best sighting I've ever had of Taiwan's Forest Fairy.

Also see:

Other Huben Birding Stories
Birding in the Huben-Hushan Area (Fairy Pitta)
Birding in Yunlin County
Huben-Hushan Bird List
Threatened Birds of the Huben-Hushan area
Fairy Pitta and Huben Bird Gallery
Taiwan Bird Books

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