In addition to a number of new bird species for my life list including the Fulvetta above and a Swinhoe's Pheasant, I ran into a group of at least 20 Formosan Rock Macaques who were foraging through the canopy around 9:00AM. When I stopped and got out of the car the were interested and then the alpha went crazy and charged the car before breaking off his charge and retreating to the thicket along the road to chastise me with the rest of the group:
Anna painted a field of flowers this morning, which was a welcome respite in a week otherwise defined by disappointment, anger, and frustration.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
~Mary Oliver (excerpt from "The Summer Day" New and Selected Poems. 1992.")
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).
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