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9th Asian Bird Fair: A Rainbow of Friendship

by Tin Telesforo

As has been my tradition since 2010, I once again joined the Asian Bird Fair (ABF) last November 16-20, this time in the beautiful city of Chiayi in Taiwan. It is the home of the famous High-Heel Church and the known gateway to Alishan forest, a prime birding destination in Taiwan. This was the 9th ABF and the 3rd to be held in Taiwan, after Tainan in 2011 and Taipei in 2013.

The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) usually sends big delegations to the ABF, and it was no different this year. Other than Mike Lu and Maia Tanedo who were among the ABF organizers, Team WBCP also had myself, Arnel Telesforo, Anna Gonzales, Jessie Severino, Lolet Tan, Gwen So, the Albanos–Heherson, Rose and Kiko, and Scott Weaver who is based in Taiwan.

For the first time, we also had delegations from Philippine local governments: Balanga City, Bataan, Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat,, and Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

This year’s theme trained the spotlight on Taiwan’s readiness as a birding destination. The star bird was the graceful Pied Avocet, rendered in the event logo (designed by WBCP’s Arnel Telesforo) as a rainbow bird to symbolize the coming together of people from different cultures united only by a common love for birds. And true enough, this year’s ABF gathered the largest number of participants in the fair’s history, with more countries from almost all continents represented.

The snapshots below show highlights from the main fair as well as the ecotours on the last day. The 10th ABF will be on 27-39 September 2019 in the City of Kuching in Sarawak, Malaysia. WBCP members interested to join should follow the Asian Bird Fair website for updates.

High Heel Park: The main fairground was right at the High Heel Park in the Budai Township of Chiayi.
Team WBCP: L-R (sitting) Mike, Maia, Arnel, Tin; (standing) Jessie, Rose, Anna, Lolet, Gwen, Scott
WBCP booth: We took turns manning the booth. Gwen and Scott also had interpreter duties at the forum hall while Arnel had drawing classes at the Art Zone.
WBCP merchandize: Our t-shirts and bird stickers were popular. We also gave away Philippine bird-themed coloring sheets.

Art Zone: Arnel was one of three artists assigned to the Art Zone. He is pictured here (L) teaching the cup technique for quick field sketches with his young interpreter, Josh; and (R) with some of his students who completed the exercises.

ABF dinners: Among the ABF highlights I look forward to each year is the food. This is a seafood steamboat, the star dish of a 10-course meal that’s common in Taiwan.

Flag turnover: The City of Kuching in Sarawak, Malaysia will host the next Asian Bird Fair on 27-30 September 2019.

Ecotours: At the Zhecheng Cultural Park where the old Suan Tou Sugar Factory is located, trains that used to transport sugar cane from the farm to the mills are now used to ferry tourists.

Ecotours: The goddess Mazu is believed to be the first deity to come to Taiwan, and her temple in Xingang is said to be the oldest of temples dedicated to her. Early seafarers and fisherfolks are among her devotees.

Ecotours: The Bantaoyao Crafts Studio of Jiao-Zhi Pottery & Chien-Nien features traditional ceramic pottery and mosaics, and I can tell the artists here are a bit cat-obsessed.

Ecotours: Haomeili is known for sea-themed 3D paintings, but for us the attraction would be the birds the come to the village’s ponds and coasts. Among species spotted that day wer Pied Avocets, Eurasian Spoonbills, and Black-Faced Spoonbills.

Ecotours: The Jingzaijiao Tile-Paved Salt Fields is tecnically no longer in Chiayi but in neighboring in Tainan. It is said to be the oldest salt field in Taiwan, and is now also a tourist attraction. There is a tower offers that a good vantage point for birding.

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