|Got up at 5:15am to catch the 6:30am bus to Taroko National Park. My host Mrs. Lin arranged a taxi for me to be picked up at 6:15am. When I got to the train station by taxi, the first thing was to purchase a train ticket back to Taipei for tomorrow afternoon. According to Mr. Lin it is the hottest ticket in Taipei because there is no other transportation choice besides driving oneself. Then, I caught the 6:30am bus to the park. When we arrived the park visitor center at 8:00am, it was not open yet. I started to look for birds nearby. First, I heard chirping of a large group of birds. Walked towards them and found out they are Styan’s Bulbul. They look and behave just like Light-vented Bulbul but with a black cap instead of a white cap. This is Taiwan endemic spices. They are located only on the central to south east side. After the office was open, I consulted with the staff inside. She suggested two trails: Bulowan and Green trail.
Bulowan has a small indigenous village. They have lived there for hundreds of years. There is a hotel and restaurant that are operated by the village. On a big tree next to the bus station, I heard birds chirping. It was a mixed group: Vivid Nilvata, Taiwan Yuhina, Dauran and several very active White-bellied Erponis. I was just trying to figure out how to take photos of fast moving and small Erponis, one of them was chasing a bug and flew all the way down to the ground. I could not believe my good fortune. It is a very cute tit primarily green on the back, white on the belly and a crest on the top of the head. I saw something flying into a bush with a red tail and black body. I thought it was a bird of the size of a robin, but I could not locate it. Once I got into the garden of the hotel, I realized what I saw was a big butterfly! There were many of them on the blooming cherry trees. It has black back, red front and a long tail of red and white. There were many other butterflies also. Taiwan has several hundred kinds of butterfly but only a small portion in winter. With the blooming cherries, rhododendrons, fluttering butterflies, singing birds and green mountain, I felt I was in paradise!
Next stop was a hiking trail in the mountain. Taroko has some ancient trails created and used by indigenous tribes. During Japan occupation starting 1885 the tribe resisted Japanese for 18 years. in order to defeat the fighting tribes and control them, they enlarged the trials. Now, the tourists can follow the ancient steps to enjoy the mountain and scenery. At some sections it was carved into the granite mountain and is very narrow of only about 2ft. On the other side it is the steep cliff that goes vertically down to the river below. Taroko is the Grand Canyon of Taiwan. There were few birds along the trial, probably it is early afternoon, not the right time. I did see a Gray-capped Woodpecker, a big flock of Japanese White Eye mixed with Taiwan Yuhina, Green-Backed Tit, Black-capped Monarch and Taiwan Sibia. Picked up a small granite rock from the mountain as a souvenir. After I ran out of food and water, it was time to take the bus back.
At the night market I saw a young white man who was singing and playing guitar at one of the stages. I wondered where he came from and why. Had wild green with fresh fish soup, oyster omelet and rice in a bamboo stork.
My train leaves for Taipei at 2:0pm. I still have the morning tomorrow to enjoy the city. Mr. Lin offered to take me to a park at about 9:00am on his way to drop his granddaughter to a daycare.