Collared Finchbill, (Spizixos semitorques), from a photo taken at Poseidon's Pools in Pingtung, Taiwan
I returned for the second time to this area near Gaoshu in Pinging County, Taiwan today to check the water levels and time the various segments of the trip. The weather was muggy and overcast though the rain held off except for a few raindrops.
I brought along a variety of toys with me this time: binocs, my telephoto lens, fly rod, and my watercolors. It's tough to bird by ear along a river because of all the noise from the water, but I did hone in on a Collared Finchbill (a new bird for my life list), which inhabits a rather specific ecological niche - the ecotone between woodland, forest, and cultivation below 1,500m.
It's a great location and is only 45 minutes from our apartment, making it an enticing place to visit on hot days. Tomorrow I'm taking a small group of middle school students from MAK out for a hike along the river up to the pools and back. Looking forward to getting to know the 海神宮 area a little bit better every time.
I had the opportunity to head back up into the mountains on Monday through Majia village to the Shalawan waterfall area with my fly rod in tow. Having seen several good 8-10" fish in this pool above the waterfall earlier in the season, I hoped to snag a bite or two, but the fish stayed at the bottom all afternoon. The water was incredibly clear and I could easily spot them on the bottom a good 15' down without sunglasses. It also didn't help to have two wild girls running through the water and climbing around on the edges of the pools, but then again, fishing was not the primary goal for the trip and the place is so spectacular it was hard to be too upset!
If you haven't made the trip to Shalawan, the drive alone is worth the time even without the short hike at the end. The access road climbs along the contours of the river valley below, snaking eastward and upward toward the northwestern flanks of Beidawushan北大武山 the southernmost 3000m peak on Taiwan. There are several good blog guides to the area. We used Taiwan's Waterfalls the first time we visited, but Follow Xiaofei also has some great photos and videos of the area. Incidentally, if there are any birders out there, I've seen and heard Plumbeous Redstarts around the pools above the waterfall every time I've been there (August & October 2015, March 2016).
This video showed up in my FB feed a couple of weeks back. The timing is so good; I still laugh every time that I watch it. If you bird, or live with a birder, there are probably a few lines in here that you'll identify with.
Kate was looking for a new banner for her website, sounds & bites. She had a general idea in her head of what she was looking for but it was tough to decide without actually seeing it, so about a week back I put her ideas together into a sort of working draft (sounds & bites 1, posted below). Using that, we tweaked color selections for brighter, more standard colors. We also decided to swap out the vintage radio for the Tivoli Model One that we have, use, and love. Here's the final result, which I'm quite pleased with.
Congratulations to my wonderful wife on completing the US naturalization process!
While sitting with the 8th grade language arts class in the library at school today, I picked up the National Geographic Expeditions Atlas and happened to flip it open to the photo above, which shows a French expedition crossing the Ruaha River in 1925, not far from where we used to live. This struck me for a few reasons:
To contextualize this photo, the 1924 Citroën Central African Expedition crossed the African continent from north to south as a publicity stunt to demonstrate the robust nature of the automaker's vehicles. In 1924, eight halftracks custom-built on Citroën B2 frames set out southward from Algeria across the Sahara. In Kampala the expedition split into four sub-groups. One carried on to Nairobi and the Kenya coast, while the other three headed south across Lake Victoria into Tanganyika (Tanzania). In Tabora, Tanganyika these three parted ways: one heading east to Dar es Salaam, one south through Iringa to Nyasaland (Malawi) and Mozambique, and one west into Congo, and then south through the Rhodesias. All four groups eventually met up at Cape Town in 1925, making this the first longitudinal motorized transect of Africa.
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