Chiayi is one of the counties of Taiwan in the southern part with many attractions for Ecotourism and birdlife of Taiwan. Amongst those, I would like to highlight a few birding hotspots you should visit while you are in Taiwan e.g. Aogu Wetland, Alishan, and Dayuashan.
Because of Chiayi is abundant in biodiversity and cultures, Birdathon is held every year within this county supported by the local government and managed by Ecotourism Taiwan. Thanks to the President of Ecotourism Taiwan — Mr. Victor Yu and The Director of Southwest Coast Scenics Areas — Director Hsu for your invitation and companies.
Why Birdathon? Well, the event is similar to the Bird Races in other countries in Asia but named in a different way. This event happens every year in Chiayi with 25 different teams from locals. There are 5 international countries every year except 2019 Birdathon there were 6 countries — Cambodia, Singapore, South Korea, America, Africa, and Canada. “There were 100 participants and each team is unique as they have their own vehicle and team up within their family,” said Victor Yu. Based on my experience, this case makes Birdathon unique! I could see the teams came with their children carried binoculars, Field Guides, compact and DSLR cameras out in the fields on a sunny day. The race is only 24 hours and each team is required to submit their lists on eBird by 10:30am. There are two different categories: The Winner of Most Endemics and The Winner of Most species sightings and each category divided into 3 prizes (I was not explained what the prizes are).
I teamed up with my friend from Singapore and we went birding together with another team from South Korea and our Bird Guide Mr. Chung Han Wu and his student/assistant Ms. Lin. We started from Beimen Visitor Center to Yunlin County including Aogu Wetland and many other sites that I cannot remember those Chinese names but I would recommend Ecotourism Taiwan to you if you wish to bird here and of course our guide Mr. Chung Han Wu who has lots of experiences in birding for the Southwest Coast Scenics Areas.
We had a really good time during the Birdathon and many species were seen including rare and endemic birds e.g. beautiful Northern Lapwing, Black-faced and Eurasian Spoonbills, etc.
Conclusion: Birdathon is not only birds and it’s a good opportunity for making friends and seeing friends. It also lets us understand more about local life e.g. culture, food, sceneries and other undescribed things around Taiwan. I would recommend the organizer to create more categories for international participants if Taiwan wants to promote its birding activities to the world to benefit local businesses and improve the English speaking to locals.
Here are some pictures from Birdathon…