Local government touts birdwatching

HOTSPOT::Last year as many as 30,000 tourists visited the Taijian National Park to see the migratory birds, and the authorities expect even more to come this year

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Feb 09, 2013 - Page 4

Greater Tainan has become the world’s most important wintering site for migratory black-faced spoonbills after it reported the highest annual flock of the birds in history at a national park this year, the Greater Tainan Government said.

The local government is inviting travelers to take advantage of public transportation to explore the birdwatching site at the Taijiang National Park.

The Taiwan Tourist Shuttle’s birdwatching route is scheduled to provide more services between Cigu Salt Mountain and the Black-faced Spoonbill Birdwatching Pavilion during the Lunar New Year holiday, from today until Sunday next week, city government officials said.

The bus will depart from Salt Mountain in Cigu (七股) every hour, starting at 10:55am, and the last bus will leave at 4:55pm every day.

This birdwatching route is also open on Saturdays and Sundays during the birdwatching season from October to April every year, the officials said.

To catch the birdwatching bus, travelers can take the No. 99 Taijiang service, departing hourly from Tainan Park between 8:45am and 3:45pm, and which passes by Tainan’s railway stations en route to Cigu Salt Mountain.

According to data compiled by the Taijiang National Park Administration, the number of tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of these highly endangered birds averaged between 5,000 and 10,000 every month during previous migratory seasons.

Data reveal that at least 30,000 tourists showed up at the site during the last Lunar New Year holiday, from Jan. 22 to Jan. 29 last year, it added.

The Taijiang National Park Administration said it expects more people to go to the pavilion to watch the black-faced spoonbills if the weather is good.

A volunteer working at the pavilion said that the rare water birds hide in mangroves to take refuge from the cold during windy days, so it can be difficult for visitors to spot their presence on the wetlands.

According to the latest two-day census released by the Hong Kong Bird Society on Jan. 13, 1,533 black-faced spoonbills were spotted in southern Taiwan this year, accounting for about half of the total global population.