Spot the difference

New research by the Milner Centre for Evolution academics in collaboration with Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou (China) shows that Southern and Northern breeding populations of plovers in China are in fact two distinct species: Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) in the North and white-faced plover (Charadrius dealbatus) in the South.

Spot the difference: Two identical-looking bird species with very different genes

Koh Sam Seb

Located in the Eastern Plains of Sambo Wildlife Sanctuary, this community is managing Ecotourism with technical support from NTFP. It’s nice place for camping trip on the island of Mokong and experience swimming, boating and Birdwatching for Mekong iconic species — Mekong Wagtail, River Lapwing, River Tern, Small Pratincole and many more DDF species e.g. Woodpeckers, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Lesser Adjutant, White-shouldered Ibis, Giant Ibis etc. You may need at least 2 nights to explore this tremendous landscape of Mekong and Cambodia Bird Guide Association may help arrange this trip with bird experts and you may reach them by http://www.birdguideasso.org

Asian Woollyneck
River Lapwing
White-shouldered Ibis
Black headed Woodpecker

2019 Taiwan Birdathon

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…

Birding in India

India! I know a little about it after my travel in July 2019 for two weeks to many parts of India in the North with a few friends from England and Taiwan. Thanks to our best friends, from Asian Adventures who has been operated for more than 25 years, Mohit Aggarwal and his great bird guides and driver Mahesh, Pawan and a few more that I cannot remember all their names.

We began our journey from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Pangot, Corbett, Chambal Sanctuary, Keoladeo National Park, Jhalana, Sokhaliya, then Delhi.

Pangot is the most interesting birding spot amongst others which we enjoy the pheasants, and the weather is great. We stayed at Jungle Lore Birding Lodge for 2 nights before heading to Corbett for megafauna. The manager of the lodge is very friendly and helpful to us… Food is nice with reasonable portions, the room is clean and private surrounded by trees, birds and Himalayan Monkey. If you don’t want to go far, you may sit in a hide and enjoy looking at many species come down to the water and leftover food from the restaurant. Bird of Pangot was Brown fronted Woodpecker — a cute little woodpecker perching on a dead trunk which everyone manages to have nice pictures before the sleeping Asian Barred Owlet. We saw Koklas and Khalij Pheasants but not Cheer Pheasant because of heavy rain up there.

Along the way to Corbett we saw Tawny Fish-Owl perching nicely by the stream. Corbett is more to Megafauna than birds. We saw Tiger and Elephant on the same morning after a short ride from the Tiger lodge. A tigress was secretly creeping for her prey deer herd but she missed her chance possibly because of our Jeep. On the way back along the main road, there was a male elephant with single tusk crossing right behind our Jeep for just 20m. We were explained that the elephant lost his task because he lost his fight for a female in the forest and he has to leave the forest after his loss and he can be very aggressive for that reason. Besides those, we also saw some interesting birds, e.g. Indian Silverbill, Orange Headed Thrush, Bristled Grassbird, Jungle Babblers, Ashy Prinia, Bengal Bushlark, Indian Golden Oriole, Gray Hornbill, etc.

On the way to Chambal, we met Mr. Mohit, the owner of Asian Adventures, and travel together to Chambal Safari Lodge. This place is a family running a business with some historical buildings from the British Colony. Again, this is another nice place for Safari and birding lodge I would recommend. The owner and staffs are nice with experienced guides and drivers. We didn’t take the cruise tours because of the tide is high and strong current. We spent a couple hours in the morning safariing and birding. We filled our checklist with Blackbucks, Yellow-wattled Lapwings, Jungle Babbler, Spotted Owlets, and Indian Peafowls, etc.

Keoladeo is the busiest place during the trip as it’s the wetland with many water birds being bred. Many Indians are on remorques in the hot day back and forth every 15 minutes as I noticed. There are many storks flying over with camera clicks all over the places. Our list was Painted Stork; Great, Intermediate, Little, Cattle Egrets; Black-necked Storks; Indian Cormorants; Indian Pond-Herons; Stork-billed Kingfishers; Spotted Owlets, etc. before heading to the next town.

Jhanana is a famous Leopard Safari place in India. We took Jeep for 2 hours moving around 3km in the park. We saw a male Leopard briefly before he went deeply into the bush. Indian Cuckoos, Chestnut-winged Cuckoos, Red-wattled Lapwings, Indian Nightjars, Breen Bee-eater, Gray-headed Pygmy-Woodpeckers, etc. before another lying Leopard up high in the rocky mountain.

The Leopard day has gone over after we arrived in Sokhaliya. We stay in a small town with lots of temples decored with Hanuman Lord. I was not well that afternoon so I didn’t see many birds besides Scarlet Minivets and Black Drongos while my travel mates went for more birding. The next morning, we went to see the Lesser Florican — a rare species strictly being conserved. We were so lucky to have the officer taking us to the location for Florican and Owl. Only one male displaying florican was seen far away but good enough for seeing. The final list for us today included Lesser Florican, Indian Thickers, Indian Rollers, larks, Indian Eagle-Owl, Savannah Nightjar, etc. We headed to Delhi for our last night in India and say goodbye to our friends.

Conclusion: India is a good country regarding bird watching whether in Dry or monsoon season. Monsoon doesn’t rain the whole day but some time of the day so you still have enough pace to flavor your holiday. I would recommend Asian Adventures to you if you wish to visit India.