I’m on a roll when it comes to catching glimpses of Taiwan’s wild animals! Soon after an engrossing and enlightening midnight nature tour near my home, we were able to spend a few days in a thinly-populated part of Taiwan’s little developed east.
This year’s Mid-Autumn Festival, a national holiday,l fell on a Thursday; it’s always celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month on China’s ancient lunisolar calendar. Many companies and almost every school decided to take Friday off as well, so people could enjoy a four-day weekend.
We headed to a spot in Hualien known alternatively as Changhong (‘long red’) Bridge (長虹橋) or Jingpu (靜浦). The former, pictured above, crosses the Xiuguluan River just before it joins the Pacific Ocean. The latter is an indigenous community, and among the residents are Amis folk whose ancestors were likely involved in the Cepo Incident.
Compared to the lush foliage that’s commonplace in Taiwan, not much grows between the trees hereabouts because the slopeland is more scree than soil. There are few insects as a result, but also fewer hiding places for larger creatures. One evening, before seeing a banded krait slither away, we came across what was either an immature Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) or a Formosan gem-faced civet (Paguma larvata) in the drainage ditch beside the road. Unable to scramble out and take cover among the trees, it ran hither and thither before making its escape. We were grateful to get such a good, close look.
The following day I walked by myself a few kilometres along Hualien County Route 64, a narrow road on the south side of the Xiuguluan River. As I expected, I saw several Formosan macaques leaping from tree to tree, plus some gorgeous butterflies and moths. But the most satisfying moments were those spent watching a family of three crab-eating mongooses (Herpestes urva) crossing the road, crossing back again, then scampering into the forest. I took several photos with my smartphone; none are worth posting here, but they did help with identification. The mongoose image above is borrowed from this webpage, where you’ll find several other excellent pictures.