Philippines birding trip report, 2-17 March 2012  -  John van der Woude -
Photos of birding sites and some birds  -  see also report

Caylabne Bay resort, at the end of the road through Mt. Palay Palay national park, c. 60 km SW of Manila. We spent one night here as a private pre-tour, birding one afternoon and one morning mainly along the road in the national park.

Road through Mt. Palay Palay NP towards Caylabne Bay. Stops possible on many places.

Whiskered Treeswift along the road in Mt. Palay Palay NP.

Candaba freshwater marsh one hour North of Manila and our first site of the group tour. Good for many species, like Philippine Duck on photo below.

Striated Grassbird Candaba marsh.

Chestnut Munia Candaba marsh

In the ricefields a bit away from Candaba marsh. More Philippine Duck, and several Oriental Pratincole.

Typical half open woodland of the Subic Bay birding area. Rich in bird species, and easy access.

Large fruit bats (flying foxes) in the Subic Bay area.

Philippine Falconet.

Coleto, an endemic myna.

Open forest with bamboo in Subic Bay, along the 'Hill 394' trail in the bunker area.

The small, deserted roads towards the bunkers, through splendid half open forest and woodland.

More of these bunker roads.

Stripe-sided Rhabdornis (Stripe-headed Creeper).

One last go for the endemic and near-threatened White-fronted Tit along the bunker roads, with success.

Mt. Makiling area, here at the back of the university campus area. Spotted Buttonquail on the track below.

On the broad Mt. Makiling forest track. From left to right: Erkki, Stijn, Iain, Rob, Paul, Nollie.

After dipping the Indigo-banded Kingfisher at the campus stake-out, Stijn expertly led us to his plan-B site in the nearby botanical garden. We were glad to note that Stijn often has a plan-B should a bird not be present at a stake-out.

First stop on Bohol island, on our way to the national park. Good for Chinese Egret and Grey-tailed Tattler (photo below, by Rob Fray), and several other waders.

The headquarters compound of Rajah Sikatuna NP. Good to start birding here for canopy species.

Philippine Trogon along a forest trail in Rajah Sikatuna NP.

For a lunch break away from the forest trails we went to the famous Chocolate Hills.

Another must-see on Bohol is the Tarsier reserve. This is the smallest primate of the world (this one was about 12 cm, without tail), and now renamed after Carlito who gives them shelter against feral cats etc. So these tarsiers are really wild, but come to roost in his walled-in, fenced-off ground to prevent being harrassed by cats during their day roost time. Many people visit this place, and we were here during a light rain shower hence its wet fur. Philippine tarsier,
Carlito syrichta.

The mediterranean-like low woodland in the hills of Cebu island, our third island (after Luzon and Bohol). We quickly had Black Shama but also several other good species like Hooded Pitta (see the species list in the report, look for 'Ceb').

As on Bohol, we also had some coastal sites on Cebu, while driving back to town. Three Chinese Egret here, one on the photo below (right) with Little Egret left. Also a hundred Red-necked Stints.

The double mountain, in the Mt. Kitanglad area of our last island Mindanao, where many birders must have looked up to for many hours over the last decades. This shelter is one of the watchpoints to try to get a glimpse of the main prize of the Philippines, (Great) Philippine Eagle. The above photo is at the oldest watchpoint, but several more watchpoints are in use now (like the one below), all along the same track up the mountain pass.

This is our view of the eagle on the first day. Of course we were very glad to have seen it, but on the next day the view was much better.

Along the main track of Mt. Kitanglad many mountain birds can be found in the open woodland bordering the true forest area higher up.

Close-up of Philippine Frogmouth near the lodge of Mt. Kitanglad.

The stay on Mt. Kinatglad essentially involves walking the same track several times, but we enjoyed every minute of it.

Philippine Serpent-Eagle (split from Crested Serpent-Eagle), immature and adult.

The dense forest higher up the Mt. Kitanglad trail, good for a few different species like Apo Sunbird and McGregor's Cuckooshrike.

At a higher eagle watchpoint along the Mt. Kitanglad trail, where we were rewarded with a splendid view of Philippine Eagle on the photo below. Photo taken with my Lumix TZ-5 through the bright Kowa scope of Dani of the Spanish group.

Watching the eagle of the photo above. From left to right: Carlito (the lodge owner), Dani with his new Kowa scope, and Stijn digiscoping too.

One of the commoner mountain birds here, Mountain Verditer Flycatcher (now renamed Turquoise Flycatcher).

Even on our third and last day on Mt. Kitanglad we saw Philippine Eagle, although not so close as on our second day.