Taiwan

I stopped on Taiwan between flights, and ended up having two nights and two days there. A tropical storm was passing over the island on the first night.

Xucuogang Wetlands (25.088216N 121.176293E) are just 15 min from Taipei International Airport. Many fields were flooded and by scanning unflooded islets of soil/vegetation I spotted a striped field mouse and then an insular mole; the mole was close enough to be photographed, but as I was getting my camera out, a night-heron fell on the poor mole like a hawk and took it away.

I went to the tunnels along the access road to Daxueshan to see if bat species present there will be different from those found in November (see my trip report). Indeed they were: instead of many spp. that were there in autumn I found only a colony of great leaf-nosed bats in the smaller tunnel. The forest was very quiet and the road covered with leaves and broken branches; the only mammals I saw were two giant flying squirrels, one Oldfield white-bellied rat, one masked palm civet (reportedly unusually abundant in Taiwan this year), and five (!) shrews crossing the road: one at km 7 was rather small and light-colored, so likely Crocidura shantungensis, one at km 18 was very dark so probably C. rapax, others couldn’t be IDed. A black-and-white tubenose bat flew across one of the side trails near the first tunnel; coloration suggested Murina gracilis. A small brown Myotis sp. was hunting moths around the light at the park entry gate; I got it on my bat detector but can’t ID until my Bats of Taiwan book arrives to New Jersey.

By dawn the wind subsided and I went to Mt. Hehunshan, the highest place in Taiwan accessible by road; there were lots of nice birds there but no least weasels, only a black rat at the summit parking lot.

From there I drove all the way to Formosan Golden Bat Home and was told that there were no “golden bats” because they all had left when the storm was approaching (presumably to their still-undiscovered winter roost). I was very upset (it was my second attempt), but after searching all trees with my thermal imager for 40 min I found one Hodgson’s myotis. There was one Asian particolored bat among Japanese pipistrelles in one of the bat boxes, but I’m not 100% certain about the ID because it was in a very narrow slit.

I tried to go to Yushan National Park, but some roads were still closed. In Alishan Forest Recreation Area I spotted a Formosan mole-shrew in roadside gutter, but it escaped into a crack before I could catch it. I also found a beautiful golden-cinnamon Myotis night-roosting under a bridge (23.508253N 120.800878E); I think it was Myotis soror, but it took off before I could get a photo.

I scanned many more flooded fields that night and eventually found another black rat, a smaller rat that I think was a Polynesian rat, an Oriental field mouse, and a Chinese hare near Fangilao (the hare was at 22.412213N 120.601961E).

Then I walked a few km along Jinshuyuing Historic Trail (22.414991N 120.726394E) looking for pangolins (there are old reports), but saw only one mammal, a hairy-footed flying squirrel.

Kenting National Park in the far south of the island is the closest thing to true tropical rainforest on Taiwan. There are tame reintroduced Formosan sika deer around the visitor center, and lots of bats flying along and across forest trails. I spent a lot of time trying to connect what I was seeing with what I was getting on the bat detector (or not getting, because tube-nose bats are usually too quiet to be detected – but that’s an IDing feature by itself, especially combined with their easily recognizable flight, slow and Saturnid moth-like). I’ve never seen so many tube-nosed bats in one place, they were fluttering through dense undergrowth. Very tiny golden ones were likely M. recondita, numerows brownish ones were M. puta, and dark ones likely Harpiola isodon; I kept looking for larger Harpiocephalus harpia but never saw one I could be more or less certain about. Flying along trails were small Taiwanese horseshoe bats and some small brown Myotis. I also saw a painted Myotis; seemed to be too dark for Hodgson’s so probably black-and-red myotis.

That area was worst hit by the storm, so there was a lot of broken trees and flooding. I kept scanning flooded areas and spotted a tiny hot thingy sticking out of a clump of mud; turned out it was a mole snout. Mogera kanoana is the only species in this part of Taiwan. It was the third Mogera species I saw in two weeks thanks to typhoon flooding – looks like a good method.

In the morning I took a ferry to Lanyu Island, hoping for Blainville’s beaked whales that are often seen there, but no such luck. The only mammal seen on the island was a small shrew near the weather station (22.036996N 121.558551E), presumably C. rapax as it’s the only shrew on the island other than house shrew, as far as I could find.

5 Comments
  1. Cathy Pasterczyk 4 months ago

    Does anyone know whether the bat volume of Handbook of Mammals of the World will include vocalization information? Spectrograms?

    • Profile photo of Vladimir Dinets Author
      Vladimir Dinets 4 months ago

      No spectrograms visible in the sample pages on their website, and only some of species accounts have brief descriptions of calls.

  2. Profile photo of Conuropsis
    Conuropsis 3 months ago

    Nice sightings as always Vladimir. I’d love to go with you when you see all this stuff:-) My buddy went to several of the places you mentioned, but he was there for plants, not animals. He said they were beautiful places, at least before the storm.

    Andrew

    • Author
      Vladimir Dinets 3 months ago

      I’ll probably guide a few tours in the next 12 months – stay tuned.

  3. Profile photo of Vladimir Dinets Author
    Vladimir Dinets 3 months ago

    Update: the small brown Myotis at the entrance gate of Daxuyeshan was apparently M. fimbriatus (echolocation at 35-80 kHz). The ones flying along trails in Kenting were probably M. frater (35-120 kHz).

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