Yunlin and Chiayi counties, along with Greater Tainan, are to hold a marathon-style bird-watching race for the first time in November to raise environmental awareness and promote ecotourism on the island, organizers said yesterday.
The race is to be held over a 5,400km2 area in southwestern Taiwan and will require competitors to follow birds from the mountains to the sea, the Taiwan Ecotourism Association said.
“It will be a true marathon, physically and mentally,” said association project manager Elva Hsu, who estimates that the 30-hour challenge will draw about 100 Taiwanese and foreign contestants.
The object of the competition is straightforward: Spot as many different bird species in the 30-hour time limit as possible.
However, successfully completing the task is another story, Hsu said.
Each team will need to cover a vast area ranging from the mountainous Alishan National Scenic Area to the coastal Budai Salt Pan Wetlands (布袋鹽田濕地), as well as the Cigu Wetlands (七股濕地), which places a premium on planning the run because getting from the mountains to the coast can take five hours, Hsu said.
However, the hard work will be worth it, organizers said, because participants should have great opportunities during their trip to spot the endangered black-faced spoonbill, a migratory bird that usually inhabits the southwestern Taiwan coastline from October to April.
The race follows a successful bird watching competition in central Taiwan’s Dasyueshan National Forest Recreation Area earlier this year, when 152 bird species were documented by nearly 200 bird watchers, she said.
Meanwhile, the event’s co-host, the Tourism Bureau, said it hoped that similar events could help showcase both the country’s rich biodiversity and environmentally friendly credentials.
“The birdathon is a good start to introduce southwestern Taiwan’s unique natural environment to foreign tourists,” said Cheng Rong-fong (鄭榮峰), acting director of the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area.
The bird watching race is to run from 8:30am on Nov. 23 to 2:30pm the following day. For registration information, visit: http://en.taiwanbirdathon.org.