March in Taiwan, as in our home state of California, includes a good number of lingering “winter birds” plus a few early migrants along with the colorful year-around residents. The guides were regularly receiving updates on their “smart” phones from friends about the latest sightings and rarities. In the prime birding areas we would run across Richard and Stone’s colleagues and birding buddies where recent experiences and sightings would be shared.
Sharing is a very important and endearing aspect of Taiwanese culture, especially in the more remote areas. For example we’d show up at the trail head of a birding destination and next thing you know hikers from a nearby village are making the most delicious coffee for us on their portable setup and offering us fresh tropical fruit that they picked that morning from their garden. Or, the ranger of the Forest Reserve where we were birding brings around plates of in season and just sliced sweet oranges to a group of bird admirers insisting we “take a whole one”.
Our lovely hostess at a guest house in Hualien picking fresh Passion Fruit for us to enjoy on our journey.
Cherry trees have been honored and planted for many years in Alishan and the March Cherry Blossom festival is the most popular time to visit this scenic area. We arrived during what was the peak of the blossom for this year and there was plenty of eye candy awaiting. The amount of imagery being created by visitors was very impressive.
Despite the large groups of tourists scrambling off and on dozens and dozens of tour buses, we were able to share the trails with little impact to our birding. The blossoms made for some gorgeous backdrops as the birds foraged in the trees.