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Welcome to sailing yacht Alishan

Read more about the adventures and boat-projects on board of Alishan

Subic Bay

Subic Bay, Luzon

Birding in the Philippines is difficult. Many birds have been hunted for their plumage or their meat and consequently are hard to find and extremely shy.

The rainforest in Subic Bay holds a number of species, like Red Malkoha, Coleta, Black-naped Oriole and Several Woodpeckers that I saw regularly, but never managed to catch an image.

Found in town as well as the forest, the Brown Shrike

A Cuckoo, probably oriental, also sometimes seen in a residential area

Green pigeons of the pompadour family gathering for a meal at the end of the day.

I had to work hard, cycle far and wait around for hours, but I saw them: Tarictic Hornbills, only found on Luzon.

The more impressive Rufous Hornbill was very much absent and never heard either...

Blue-throated Bee-eaters at Triboa

A nest of White-breasted Woodswallows on a street lantern

Colasisi, moving fast, flying like bullets

Dollarbird, not so common here

Other wings:

Common Mormon

Great Orange Tip left and Bush Brown right

Common Posy (note the little tails on each wing!)

Small Ring, preferably resting on some dead leaves of the same color

Kingdom of bats

More bats than leaves in these trees. How do they survive? (I mean the trees)

Apparently there are 2 kinds, the Golden Crowned Flying Fox and the Philippine Giant Fruit Bat. Not sure under which flag this one sails.

‘Wildlife In Need’

Eagle training at the WIN rescue centre

Serpent Eagles, enjoying their time with the trainer

Animals that will not be able to return to the wild are trained for educational purposes, or like this Sea Eagle, taught to fly.

Even the skinks of Luzon are shy

One of many Lycaenidae; look at those blue eyes!

Lyu Dao

Lyu Dao, Green Island

All over the island you hear the call of the Brown-eared Bulbuls.

Later we heard this is the only location in Taiwan they can be seen in such big numbers.

It was breeding season for them and we found numerous nests built in shrubs and trees.

A male, keen on the look out, guarding a nest

A female, on the way to feed her chicks

One of the nests hidden in the branches was so close to the road, I could easily have peeked inside, but decided not to upset the parents more than I already did.

Bulbul is an Indian word, meaning pretty girl.


After the arid brownness of the Philippines Lyu Dao’s scenery was surprisingly green.

While the heavy rains of the rainy seasons still had to materialize.

Japanese White-eye

A Blue Lycaenidae

Left: Yellow Wagtail, right: Olive-backed (Tree) Pipit

The ripe fruit of Pandanus attracts all sorts of beetles, some endemics only found on Green Island.

Checking out the dock, a Spotted Longhorn beetle

Cattle egret, not living with cattle so much as with goats and deer that roam the island.

In breeding season their white heads turn orange.

White-spotted Chinese Skink

Another well represented specimen on Lyu Dao: Swinhoe’s Japalura

Gives you an idea how fiery the old dinosaurs must have been.

Beautiful Galangal in bloom during our visit.

Left: Chestnut Bunting; right: Brown Shrike

Hypolimnas anomala, or Malayan Eggfly

A kind of Lycaenidae again.

Hermit crabs love the shells of these land snails. The snails are edible, (we tried them in Hualien) but I recommend the crabs.

Sika deer, nearly extinct in other parts of Taiwan, are raised and farmed and allowed to run free most of the time, so long as they don’t fall into the hands of local pet-lovers, who tie them up in their yard.

The song heard every days from high rocks and buildings, Blue Rock Thrush.

The female not so blue...

...the male very, on sunny days.

Springtime: Tadpoles in a puddle

Left: Foetid Nothapodytes is native to the island and contains the anti cancer drug camptothecin; right: Dona Aurora

Orange surprise. Don’t know what this really is; a bromeliad?

Another common sight: big billy goats

And a Common Tern who shared the dock with us.



Meilun River, Taroko National Park, Mt. Liyushan and Meilunshan parks had a lot to offer, specially in the beetle world. Exploring these places often in company of local birders was a real pleasure.

Where ever we went in the lowlands of Hualien we heard the calls of Black Bulbuls.

Noisy birds, always chasing each other.

Also the Styan’s Bulbul. Its call sounds like “chocolate!”

The light-vented Bulbul looks much like the Styan’s but for its white head and the lack of tiny orange dots on the base of the bill. Apparently there are many mutations now, the original bird facing extinction some time...

We often went to Meilunshan, a park in the middle of the city, where we found an amazing amount of beetles, in many colors and sizes, all looking very exotic and photographable.

Mating rhino beetles on the left. We found 2 dozen on a single tree. The other beetle and ants were found nearby.

Green scarab beetle

I nearly got arrested for taking photos of these Parrotbills when they flew from tree to tree, right into a military area next to the park.

On rainy days we saw many snails, but most days were sunny and huge butterflies would appear from nowhere.

A magnificent Papillion. Blue Peacock?

Big butterflies, these Straight-lined Mapwings are over 7 cm long

A Pieridae of some sort left and a Taiwan spotted tiger beetle on the right

Spotted Crow (no, it's not a mistake)

Grey Treepie

Black-crowned Nightheron at the riverbank

Little Egret with breeding plumes upstream the Meilun river

More insects around the riverbanks. Complete parties of them feasting on the sap of trees.

A Palm King butterfly, a stag beetle and some orange-eyed flies

A longhorn beetle taking a close look

A birding day at Mt. Liyushan produced a pair of Maroon orioles, showing off their red feathers in the green forest. Here the male.

A Taiwanese Rock Monkey, watching us from a safe distance, sometimes shaking the tree ferociously.

My first-ever photo of a Black-naped Monarch pair. Male left, female right

Swinhoe’s frog

Little lily flowers, seen all over Hualien.

Another pretty butterfly: the White Eggfly

This White Wagtail lived around the harbor where it often stopped on our dock to investigate our Nori and Wakame. Very brave little bird.

More insects of Mt. Liyushan. The caterpillar on the left looks strange; it seems to have a tumor on its head.

Some tortoise, dreaming in the sun

Even cicadas have colors. Damselflies sure do

A Tiny Grass Blue, this one not so tiny

I cannot leave out the lizards, they always fascinate me.

Blending in with the garden greens

Popping out of the fog

Hunting for juicy hoppers etc. But how did this one on the left end up with a caterpillar on its nose? It walked the end of its body to the tip of the tail, where it got off.

Haughty and proud, as suits a descendent of the majestic dinosaurs

Looking down the marble rocks in the Taroko Gorge we discovered a Blue Whistling Thrush (left) and Plumbeous Water Redstarts (fem, right) hopping about.

Another White Wagtail, this one living some 1000m higher then our harbor resident

Lunchtime on Mt Liyushan

An exotic looking bee on an equally exotic flowering tree. One day I hope to name them.

Taroko National Park

Taroko National Park

The Hualien Wild Bird Federation day trip on June 6th took us through the Taroko Gorge, up the mountains as high as 3100m. Driving up we stopped at various altitudes starting at 1200m. Where we entered a different world.

One of the first birds we saw was the Coal Tit. It brought memories of the Netherlands where they were very commonly seen in our gardens.

As we climbed the vegetation changed. Familiar flowers, trees and most of all mosses now dominated the landscape.

Looking at this shot I can almost feel the drop in temperature again.

Wild daisies, long time no see

Flowering foxgloves (left) appear at the same location as the Vivid Niltava (right), depicting a medley of moderate climate and tropical wildlife

Another familiar bird, the Eurasian Jay or Vlaamse Gaai

These plants looked so familiar, yet I cannot remember their Dutch nor English name. Can anybody help me out?

Taiwan Yuhina

A Streak-throated Vulvetta watching me with its beautiful sharp eyes, trying to keep his nesting place secret.

Soaring over 2000m high the Mountain Hawk Eagle paid us a short visit.

Higher up these Azaleas bloomed just these 2-3 weeks, turning the slopes purple. Lucky me!

Ever seen purple pine cones before? Certainly not me.

Less colorful but not less interesting flowers that were a delight to the botanists who joined us on this trip.

ALISHAN Gentians!!! They made my day.

They almost outdid these White-whiskered Laughing Thrushes.

But not the Vinaceous Rosefinches.

There were at least 4 pairs and they weren’t even that shy.

Another lucky sighting: the White-browed Bush Robin, with his best catch of the day: a high mountain Daddy Longleg of some sort. We also saw a Collared Bush Robin.

There were many more birds we saw that day, Flycatchers, Sibias, Liocichlas, Parrotbills and a family of Mikado Pheasants. This was undeniably my best ever high elevation bird watching day. Thank you every member of the HWBF who made this possible, specially Cassie!