Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

A very happy Earth Day. What did you do for the earth today?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Local farmer sets up a Fairy Pitta reserve

Mr. Chang Sun-Chih, a local Huben farmer, along with a number of concerned Huben village residents under the guidance of Fairy Pitta researcher Dr. [Scott] Lin Reuy-shing, have set up a small 1ha Fairy Pitta reserve on Mr.Chang's farm. This is a very positive development. The land area of the reserve remains small but when one considers the high price of land on Taiwan this is a most generous gesture.

The reserve is a small forested area bordering the the village main street less than 200 meters down from the Fairy Pitta Cafe. Fairy Pitta always nest and feed in this area. Two bamboo walls with a special viewing area have been put up under Dr. Lin's direction along the two roadside borders of the forest to keep people out. This forest area is open to Chang's orchards and the forested hillside along the two farmside borders. The 1ha protected core area borders on a fairly large forested hillside which together is a good sized area of valuable pitta habitat.

Taiwan bird enthusiast, Mark Wilkie, explains that the basic idea idea of the reserve is to establish an area where people can come and actually see a Fairy Pitta during the breeding season and can learn about them.

The reserve is a valuable natural area where nesting pitta forage for earthworms, the major food item in their breeding diet. Visitors will be able to watch foraging pitta from the viewing hide. This will help keep visitors away from nesting pitta in the forest that can be disturbed by noisy visitors.

We'll be following this development closely and will post regular updates.

Entrance to the Fairy Pitta viewing area:- photo courtesy of Mark Wilkie

Bamboo roadside wall of the Fairy Pitta reserve:- photo courtesy of Mark Wilkie

Also see:
Fairy Pitta reserve update

Fairy Pitta reserve update: old banded male back on his turf

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Songshan update: case against activists dismissed

The charges brought by the Taipei City Government against the environmental activists arrested over the recent Songshan protests have been dismissed by the prosecutor. A decision not to indict was received on Friday. This is yet another example of Taipei City Government and police folly. Environmental groups also brought an action against the Environmental Protection Administration similar to the one filed against them on the Hushan Reservoir.

Disregard for the legal process:- The last of the great Songshan camphor trees

Update: Disregard for the legal process - The last of the great Songshan camphor trees

Update: It's gone ! Total disregard of the legal process - The last of the great Songshan camphor trees has gone !

More on the Songshan Tree issue

Songshan: Before and After Photos

Update (May 2011):
Songshan update: Taipei Dome gets the go ahead

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rare Maroon Orioles spotted

A rare male Maroon Oriole (Oriolus trailli ardens) photographed on Sunday 12 April 2009 in the Huben/Hushan forest. The beautiful red-listed Maroon Oriole is one of the endangered residents of the area that will be displaced by the Hushan Dam.

The endemic subspecies of Maroon Oriole (Oriolus trailli ardens) is listed on the IUCN Red List as Endangered. The Taiwan endemic subspecies, race ardens, was discovered by Victorian naturalist Robert Swinhoe in 1862. Taiwan's Maroon Oriole population is between 200-500 individuals according to the Guide to Threatened Birds of Taiwan (Fang 2005). Maroon Oriole are a rare resident in the Huben/Hushan area. A pair was seen on Sunday April 12 in remaining forest close to an area that will be flooded by the Hushan Dam when it is complete. Taiwan's Maroon Oriole population is declining through habitat loss.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

They're Back !

A feeding Fairy Pitta photographed in Huben during the 2007 season.

The first Fairy Pitta of the season was heard calling in the greater Linnei area (Linnei Township includes Huben village) at around 11am this morning. It called intermittently during the fifteen minutes researchers monitored the area. No response calls were heard. The majority of the Huben Fairy Pitta should arrive during the next two to three weeks.