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.
Anna wanted to go swimming on her 7th birthday, so this morning we headed off into the mountains above Sandimen in Pingtung County in search of Shalawan waterfall (for the geographically-inclinded: 22°39'27.2"N 120°43'13.8"E). After a few wrong turns, guided by GoogleMaps and a great set of instructions, we arrived without incident and set off on the 1.5km hike.
Anna and Lucy did a great job on the hike in, which afforded us some amazing views. The series of waterfalls in the photo above descends 600m from a hanging valley high in the mountains, and I lost count of the number of waterfalls we saw on the drive in. 40? 50? For the most part, the trail to Shalawan was wide and well maintained. It looked like 4X4s actually used to drive in, however this landslide now prevents all but foot and scooter traffic.
But once we descended the 150m in elevation from the parking lot, we were rewarded with this view.
Imagine the volume of water it would have taken to destroy that suspension bridge! With the careful assistance of some adults, the kids crossed the stream at the rope and played in the pools next to the water, on the stone beach, and climbed around on the rocks. Anna made herself a stone knife and opened up shop teaching the other kids (and adults) how to break rocks to make stone tools. Lucy just loved the water.
We hear it's possible to trace the river upstream to the 160m Deer Creek waterfall. There is just SO MUCH to explore at this particular location. We didn't even make it to the big Shalawan waterfall downstream because the trail was steep and this particular spot was AMAZING. The hike back up to the parking lot was tiring for Anna's legs, but Lucy managed to run the entire way up the switchbacks.
The terrain here is just spectacular to me. I got lost clicking around the terrain level of GoogleMaps last night for a few hours (am I the only one who can get lost in GoogleMaps for hours?). We parked around 750m ASL and then descended to just below 600m. If you look up the valley the terrain quickly rises to the 3000m ridge that divides the eastern and western watershed on Taiwan, only about 4km to the east. We'll be back - there are so many cool things to explore here and it only took about 2 hours from walking out the door at home to swimming.