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A Report from

The Philippines:,

Gary and Marlene Babic

October 1-5, 2004: Mindoro and Mt Makaling
November 5-10, 2004: Negros, Bohol, and Cebu
February – March, 2005: Mt Makiling and Palawan
April 1-11, 2005: Luzon: Subic, Mt Polis and Hamut
April 7 – 15, 2006: Mindanao: Mt Kitanglad and PICOP


This is a series of five trip reports covering trips made in late 2004 – early 2006 to various parts of The Philippines. We had previously visited Cebu and Mindanao in 2000, so this was an effort to pick up birds we had not seen on the previous trip as well as in other places. We concentrated on endemics and specialties, and did not spend much time on birds we had already seen. The itineraries were put together by Tim Fisher, an outstanding birding guide based in Manila, based on our list of target birds. Tim provides much of the logistical support for major tours to The Philippines. For this reason, we had to fit our trips around his existing commitments. Tim is also a co-author of Kennedy’sBirds of the Philippines”.

Tim Fisher, struggling to coax a bird out of the undergrowth as darkness falls

Most of the major tours to The Philippines are of four weeks’ duration, and we were not able to commit this block of time to a single trip. In these five separate trips, we were able to visit several key locations, plus Mindoro which the major tours do not visit. In addition, few tours visit Negros and Cebu. Because we had a specific list of target birds, Tim was able to select the key sites for those birds for our itineraries.    

The purpose of this report is to give an idea of the birds that can be seen using such a fragmented approach – which is quite a lot. Details about specific sites are found in the various references and are not mentioned in this report unless there is some new information to add.

Birding in the Philippines is hard and slow work. Infrastructure is good in most places, but local knowledge of birding sites and places to stay is critical. Early starts and long hikes are common. Use of local guides is almost mandatory for access to many sites. Although taping of birds is a controversial subject, for many birds it would have been impossible to see them without the use of tape (either pre-recorded, or tape playback of the recorded bird). However, at PICOP the birds appeared to be “taped-out”. Habitat is very limited and disappearing quickly – as Ben King reports in his KingBird newsletter, “The Philippine Islands are the worst ecological disaster area in the SE Asia region”. We agree. Tim noticed a loss of habitat from even his previous visits to several sites. In addition, personal security is a concern with some incidents of robbery reported (another good reason to use local guides). It is also important to monitor political developments as some areas continue to have periodic problems, although these tend to be exaggerated. Obviously, we recommend contacting Tim to coordinate any private tours of the Philippines, as he knows all of these details. We opted to have Tim accompany us on all trips except Palawan, but he can also arrange for local guides for those who wish to do the trips on an individual basis or can simply assist with logistics.

Based on Tim’s estimates, the maximum theoretical number of new birds we could expect to see based on these itineraries was 120, of which 108 were endemics according to Clements. After the five trips, we had seen 101 new birds (84 % of the total) and 93 endemics (86 % of the total). Of the 19 target birds we missed, we heard 6 but a sighting eluded us; a fruiting tree or a different angle may have made the difference. During this period a new species of rail was described on Calayan Island in northern Philippines, but we did not make any plans to see this.

Common bird names are not standardized in the Philippines. The common names in this report are from Clements; where the name in Kennedy is different, it is included in parentheses. Still other names had been used in older books such as DuPont’s Philippine Birds. There are a few birds which are, according to Tim, “probable” splits, although they are not so listed in Clements. We certainly made an effort to see these just in case they become future splits. These are noted in the final bird list and the text.

Most of the locations we visited are described in Wheatley’s Where to watch birds in Asia. However, several species he lists as existing in places are no longer found there due to ongoing degradation and hunting, even in supposedly protected places. A trip or trips providing comprehensive coverage of the Philippines would need to include all of the places outlined in this trip report, as each has several endemics. Even so, we did not reach habitats for all endemics even on the islands we visited. Panay Island is another seldom-visited location with a few endemics that could be rewarding.


Trip 1: Mindoro and Mt. Makiling

Friday 1 October and Saturday 2 October, 2004.

Tim picked us up from the airport on Friday and we stayed at a hotel near the airport. We left the hotel at 4AM on Saturday for our 6:30AM flight to Mindoro. Upon arrival we were met by the driver Tim had arranged, who took us to the Sablayan penal colony. After stopping to purchase food and other supplies, we arrived at Sablayan at 11AM. A basic lunch followed. Sablayan is an “open prison”, where the inmates raise crops, do their own cooking, etc. The inmates acted as our guides and porters. This was a bit distracting once we learned that several were convicted murderers. We stayed in a concrete block building with minimal facilities, however it is the only place to stay unless you are convicted of a major crime! The penal colony area is mostly cleared for rice, but there is adjacent forest. 

There was some confusion because there was a new prison superintendent, and it took Tim a few hours in the afternoon to work things out. After heavy rain from 2 to 4PM, we drove to a nearby lake to look for Philippine Duck, which we did not see. We then walked back to the camp, getting very wet and muddy. New birds seen were Blue-naped Parrot (E) and Philippine Crested-Eagle (E) in flight. After a basic supper we tried for Mindoro Hawk-owl ( subspecies E), which we heard but it would not come in. There was no power in the building, so we had an early night and decided to try again for the owl in the early morning. 

Sunday 2 October

Up at 5AM to try for the Mindoro Hawk-owl (E), but no luck again. After breakfast we hiked up the hills behind the camp and into the forest. Marlene soon spotted a Scarlet-collared Flowerpecker (E). We heard a distant Black-hooded Coucal (E), but never got close. After hiking another few hours and not seeing much, we returned back to try again for the coucal but no luck. Tim said that this is always a difficult bird as it hides well in the high canopy. We were also keeping our eyes open for  Mindoro Bleeding-heart (E), but we knew chances were slim as Tim has not seen it in 9 trips – and we did not either.

Heavy rain again came in early afternoon, trapping us in a hut in a rice field. During slight gaps in the rain, we managed to see Mindoro Hornbill (E), Balicassiao (E) and Spotted Imperial Pigeon (E). The heavy rains had flooded our route back, so we had to wade across deep water to return to our building. The rain stopped at 5PM, so we went back to the pond for the duck (still no luck – apparently they are shot frequently there). But en route we saw a family of Plain Bush-hen (E) in the road – excellent views of a normally-secretive bird. At dusk we tried again for the owl, still no success. We then drove back to the main Mindoro town of San Juan.

Monday 3 October.

We took an 8AM flight to Manila, where upon arrival and after some errands we drove to Mt Makaling which is approximately two hours’ south of Manila. We checked into the very pleasant and comfortable dormitory rooms at the Trees Lodge of the University of Philippines Los Banos branch at the base of Mt Makaling. After a quick fast-food lunch we took a walk through the botanical garden, with nice views of Indigo-banded Kingfisher (E) on the river, and a pair of Flaming Sunbirds (E) plus a excellent nearby flight view of a calling Philippines Hawk-eagle (E). We also had fleeting and unsatisfactory views of Philippine Trogon (E) and Red-crested Malkoha (E) calling from deep into the forest. We then drove to some nearby rice fields to try for quails, but the rains again came. After the rain stopped at 5PM, we went to a location on the campus near the Dairy Husbandry building where Spotted Buttonquail (E) is often seen. We had excellent views of Barred Buttonquail and a few other rails and crakes, but no Spotted Buttonquail. We then drove to the town for supper. After supper we walked around The Trees lodge. Tim’s tape of Philippines Hawk-Owl (E) brought two diving only a few feet over our heads, and posing for great views. He then tried a Philippines Scops-Owl (E) tape, and had an immediate response. We could not find the bird, but when it did fly we realized it had been only a few feet from us on a guard rail. We walked a short distance into the adjacent open forest, and it came in again to the tape. So we saw two endemic owls in ten minutes, both within a few feet of the lodge.  

Tuesday 4 October

Another 5AM start, to walk up a broken road through nice forest on Mt. Makiling. Several of the specialties, in particular Ashy Thrush (E) are normally only seen at dawn. We were grumbling about having to get up so early to walk up a hill in the dark when several groups of youngsters came walking down the road to go to school. They normally walk over an hour each way to school, so our “sacrifice” then seemed minor. We did not see the Ashy Thrush, but along the road during the morning at various places we had very good views of Scale-feathered Malkoha (E), Red-crested Malkoha (E), Philippine Trogon (E), White-browed Shama (E), Yellowish White-eye (E), Spotted Wood-kingfisher (E), Red-bellied Pitta (several) and Gray-backed Tailorbird (E). We also had a distant and fleeting view of Black-chinned Fruit-dove, and heard a distant Luzon Bleeding-heart (E). We did not see the White-bellied Flowerpecker  (Buzzing Flowerpecker) (E) where it is regularly seen near the top of Mt. Makiling. Obviously Mt. Makiling is a great spot for many endemics.

After a quick lunch we tried again for the Spotted Buttonquail, but it was only 4PM which was a bit early. We then had to leave to catch our return flight to Bangkok. We decided that if we ever had a free day on one of the future trips, we would try to return to Mt. Makiling for some of the birds we missed.   

Summary of Trip 1:

New endemics seen: 25

            Mindoro: 8
            Mt. Makiling: 17

New non-endemics seen: 2

Trip 2:  Negros, Bohol and Cebu

This trip had great potential, with stops on three islands featuring 32 endemics plus a few non-endemics we had not seen. We had previously been to Cebu, but Negros and Bohol were new for us so they held great promise. Unfortunately, this great promise was unfulfilled, and we saw only 11 new species. Birds on these islands were very thin, probably due to hunting and land clearing, and most of the birds were quite wary. The few birds we saw were mostly lurking high in the canopy or scurrying in deep cover. Most would have been impossible to see without tapes.

Friday 5 November, 2004

We left Manila at 1PM and flew to Dumaguete in Negros. Upon pickup, we met our local guide Rene and dropped off our luggage at our nice hotel in Dumaguete and drove to Casa Roro. This birding site is within an hour of the city. Upon arrival, we descended 337 steep concrete and metal steps to a river, which is a popular picnic site. Our target here was Flame-templed Babbler (E) – if we saw this bird on this day, we could go to another site tomorrow to see other endemics. But the site was almost birdless. We finally saw a very distant Tarictic Hornbill (E) for our only new bird of the day. Then it was back up the steps (groan, knowing we’d be doing the same thing the next day). On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at our guide’s house and he led us to a site for Philippines Scops-owl, but this bird has a very different song (Tim speculates that this poorly-known bird could be split as Negros Scops-owl.

Saturday 6 November

Up early and back to Casa Roro, and back down the 337 steps, with the hope of early success and being able to move to a second site. But it was not to be. In fact, for the first few hours we saw almost no birds at all. Finally, at 11:30AM, a small flock came by with two Flame-templed Babblers, and a single Blue-headed Fantail (E) (sometimes split as Negros Blue-headed Fantail), which gave fleeting views. At 1 PM we saw two Red-striped Flowerpeckers (Red-keeled Flowerpeckers) (E) (this race sometimes split as Visayan Flowerpecker). We left Casa Roro, picked up bags at the hotel, and went to catch the comfortable 4:30PM high-speed ferry to Bohol. We arrived there at 5:30PM, and were picked up and brought to the nice Chocolate Hills guesthouse.

Sunday 7 November

Because we arrived after dark yesterday, we had not seen the Chocolate Hills – a bizarre set of hundreds of 100-meter-tall rounded mounds of volcanic origin. They appear like giant gumdrops on the plains. We had arranged to depart at 5AM to go to the Rajah Sikatuna National Park in the Chocolate Hills, but the driver was late so we arrived at 6:30AM. From a clearing (often called the “scout camp”) Marlene spotted a female Samar Hornbill (E), and at 7:00AM we entered the forest and some steep trails. We birded along these trails until 2PM. The morning was very quiet with no new birds seen in the forest. Around noon we saw some distant Black-crowned Babblers (E), and climbed up a rocky cliff to locate a calling Azure-breasted Pitta (Steere’s Pitta) (E). As we were leaving the forest, a Striated Wren-babbler (Streak-throated Babbler) (E) responded to tape, circling us in the undergrowth, giving several partial views. 

View of the Chocolate Hills, Bohol

Steep steps at Rajah Sikatuna

After lunch, we returned to the forest until 5PM. No new birds were seen although a few were heard. However, along the road just before dusk, we had a Black-headed Coucal (E) swoop down to investigate a taped call, and a Yellow-breasted Tailorbird (E) hopping near the ground gave some brief views.

At dusk, we tried for Philippine Nightjar and Philippine Frogmouth at a site which had been reliable, but neither was seen (some nightjars were heard in the distance).      

Monday 8 November

An earlier 4:15 AM start and a return to the park to try for the nightjar and frogmouth, but neither was seen or heard. Forest birds remained elusive, but we eventually saw some birds we had only heard the day before: Philippine Leaf-warbler (E), flyover views of an Amethyst Brown Dove (E), and a confiding Chestnut-tailed Jungle Flycatcher (Rufous-tailed Jungle Flycatcher) (E). We heard, but did not see, Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, and also heard but did not see White-bellied Flowerpecker (Buzzing Flowerpecker) (E), which we had also missed at Mt. Makiling. We had a box lunch and then departed on the high-speed 5PM ferry for Cebu, arriving 6PM. We took a taxi to the very nice Montebello hotel in Cebu City.

Tuesday 9 November

This was a very frustrating day. We left at 5AM, picked up in a nice SUV from the Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Fund (CBCF), to go to the protected site at Tabunan Forest for Cebu Flowerpecker (E). We had seen Black Shama (E) on a previous visit here, so we did not try too hard for this bird although we heard it. This is also a potential site for White-rumped Whistler (E), Black-chinned Fruit-dove, and Rusty-breasted Cuckoo. Our guide / ranger at Tabunan was Oking, who works with CBCF. There are two possible viewing areas, one more open area with a wooden platform and another in a more wooded area. We selected the latter, platform 2. Access to the site involves climbing a very steep 50-meter rock face to reach an exposed viewpoint. We made it but only with help from our Oking. The viewing site is a rocky outcrop where there is limited room for standing, and almost no room for sitting (what there is involves very sharp rocks). Movement is limited because of the tight space and shaky footing. Also, once at the top, the only rest room option is back down the rocky climb, so watch the coffee intake! We arrived at the lookout at 7:30AM. At 11AM, Marlene exclaimed she saw a “flowerpecker with a red back” – the key feature of the Cebu Flowerpecker - and as Gary tried to move near her to see it, Tim confirmed the ID. But then a Brown Shrike chased it off before Gary could see it. We waited on that rocky outcrop until 4:30PM, 9 hours total, with no further sightings than that 2-second appearance. Tim said he had not seen the Cebu Flowerpecker in the previous three years. We did not see any of the other potential life birds in Cebu. At dusk we tried for Philippine Nightjar but no success.        

Wednesday 10 November

We departed Cebu for the domestic flight to Manila and the connection back to Bangkok.

Summary of Tour 2:

New endemics seen: 13

Negros: 4
Bohol: 8
Cebu: 1

New non-endemics seen: 1

Trip 3: Mt Makiling, Palawan

We started this trip with a one-day return visit to Mt Makiling, followed by 5 days birding and two further days relaxing/snorkeling in Palawan. We were accompanied in Palawan by a third birder, Richard Hopf. Max from the Manila Bird Club joined us in Mt Makiling, and Arnel Malliari was our birding guide in Palawan. Palawan has approximately 20 endemics and specialties, all but one of which can be seen in five days with local assistance from Arnel, who has done a lot of work to locate some of the very limited sites where the birds occur.

Friday 25 February, 2005

We rode from Manila to Mt Makiling at 1PM, arriving at 3PM, and checked into the Trees Lodge. At 4PM we went to the Dairy Husbandry site, and at 5:10PM a single female Spotted Buttonquail (E) walked slowly across the path, followed a short time later by a Barred Rail and a Barred Buttonquail. No more Spotted Buttonquail were seen.

Saturday 26 February

We were on the Mt Makiling road before dawn, walking slowly to look for Ashy Thrush, which is normally seen on the lower few kilometers of the road. However, we again had no luck with this elusive species. New birds we did see during the day on Mt Makiling were Striped (White-bellied) Flowerpecker (E) and a great view of a Black-chinned Fruit-dove, so this “make-up” trip was productive. Overall, there were fewer bird species seen on this date than on our previous trip, probably due to the presence of many Girl Scout campers hiking along the road. Late afternoon drive back to Manila, overnight at the Heritage Hotel, Manila.    

Sunday 27 February

The three of us took an early morning flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa, where we were met by our local guide, Arnel. He knew a local spot for Chinese Egret, but as we had all seen this bird we elected to go directly to the Taraw Lodge at Sabang, near St. Paul’s Underwater Park. The trip of less than 75 km took more than 3 bumpy hours due to poor road conditions. During a brief stop en route we had excellent views of Yellow-throated Leafbirds (E). We arrived in Sabang and spent a few hours birding on a path behind the Last Frontier cabins. We stayed until dusk, and saw a Javan Frogmouth that responded well to tape. However, a calling Palawan Scops-owl (E) was elusive. Overnight at the Taraw Lodge, where we enjoyed the first of several delicious meals at this simple but pleasant beach-side resort.

Monday 28 February

At 5:30 AM, we boarded our small boat for the 30-minute to St Paul’s Subterranean Park. Along the way, we saw a single Brown Booby. Upon landing at the park, Arnel brought us to a location where he assured us a Palawan Peacock-Pheasant (E) took a morning stroll. Sure enough, a few minutes later, we had very close views of the bird, which remained close by for most of the next hour as we did other birding. A great bird! We also saw three Tabon Scrubfowl (E) walking across the park compound. A group of perched and calling Blue-headed Racket-tails (E) allowed nice views. This was well before any of the day tourists going to the Subterranean Park had arrived – once these boats came in at 9AM many of the birds retreated into the bush. 

We then began to walk some of the trails near the park entrance, and then took our boat a few hundred meters down to the park headquarters area where we spent the rest of the day with a mid-day break. Key birds seen in these areas included Palawan Blue Flycatcher (E), Ashy-headed Babbler (E), Palawan Swiftlet (E), Sulfur-bellied Bulbul (E), and a very noisy but elusive Falcated Wren-babbler (E). We also saw a flock of Slender-billed Crows, sometimes split as Palawan Crow, and some Lovely Sunbirds, sometimes split as Palawan Lovely Sunbirds.

Beginning at dusk, we made several tries for Palawan Scops-owl (E), with eventual success at 8PM. We then walked the 3 km or so back to the Taraw Lodge.  A very good day.

Tuesday 1 March

Shortly after dawn we returned to the trail behind the Last Frontier cabins, where we saw two Palawan Hornbills (E) and a small flock of Palawan Tits (E) which surprisingly were not attracted to the tape. We also had reasonable views of a pair of Blue Paradise-flycatchers (E). We heard these birds often, but they were difficult to see. At 10AM we returned to the Taraw Lodge, joining Rich who had an unsuccessful morning try for Malaysian Plover which is seen on the shore, and began our drive back to Puerto Princesa. At a mangrove near Sabang we had a large number of Copper-throated Sunbirds, as well as a pair of Striped Flowerpeckers (E). After lunch en route, we went to the Balsahan Trail. This is located inside the Iwahig Penal Farm and Colony, just outside Puerto Princesa. There does not appear to be any special access permits required, and a spring near the trail is being developed as a tourist spot!

The Balsahan Trail follows a small river and has lots of birds. It also has a lot of foot traffic from inmates and some locals who live in the area, and some of the brush showed signs of recent cutting even though this is supposed to be a protected area. Therefore, the best birding areas are likely to shift around as the forest and brush continue to be cleared. The trail was good for Palawan (Melodious) Babbler (E), which gave excellent views – normally this noisy bird is difficult to see. There was also a Palawan Flycatcher (E) along the trail that circled us but never gave anything resembling a good look. After trying for an hour or so to see this bird, we gave up and drove into Puerto Princesa and the very nice Asturius Hotel. The hotel is outside of town but is one of the nicer local hotels we saw.

Wednesday 2 March

An early start this morning to drove south towards Narra. At KM24 along this road, there is a stretch called the “Zig Zag road”, where Arnel has located a Palawan Flycatcher (E). We went to the site, and soon heard the bird. However, it took about an hour before we all got a good look at this skittish bird which kept circling around us. 

We then drove back to Balsahan to make a second try for the non-endemic Ruddy Kingfisher and Pechora Pipit, both of which Arnel has recently seen along the trail. However, we did not see either. We then drove four hours south to Narra and had a late lunch at the La Vista resort in Narra, our hotel for the night. At 3:30PM we boarded our boat for the 30-minute ride to Rasa Island, one of the few remaining strongholds of the Philippine Cockatoo (E). Fortunately, as we approached, we saw two flocks of 10+ birds perched high in the trees, giving good views. Upon landing and wading ashore, we were able to approach one group of Philippine Cockatoos and had several very close views before they flew off to the other side if the island, where they roost. Note that the boats cannot land on the beach due to coral, so wading ashore is required – a good pair of wading shoes is essential.

We then waited until dusk when several Mantanani Scops-owls began to call. However, the next several hours were very frustrating, as we were unable to see the birds yet they called around us. Finally, at 11PM, we located a single owl and had a good view. Because the tide had gone out, we had a very long walk back to the boat and returned to the lodge for a meal just before midnight!  

Thursday 3 March

We left at 5AM for a final try at Balsahan, but did not see anything new. We then dropped Rich off at the airport. In the short time in Palawan, we managed to see all the endemics except the Palawan Striped-babbler, which lives only in the remote mountains, as well as some other specialty birds, in comfortable surroundings. Much of this success was due to Arnel’s knowledge of where the small populations of some of these birds reside. 

Friday 4 March and Saturday 5 March

Palawan is touted as having excellent snorkeling, so our plan for Friday was to snorkel at the nearby islands. This requires some preparation, as the only island resort that provides an all-inclusive package is the Dos Palmas resort. For US35, they will pick you up at your hotel, provide snorkel equipment and lunch and transportation to their exclusive island resort for the day. Overall, this is not a bad deal. The do-it-yourself alternative we selected was to rent snorkel equipment from one of the dive shops in Puerto Princesa (200 pesos /person / day), bring along lunch and adequate water, take a van to Honda Bay which is 20 minutes north of Puerto Princesa, and then hire a boat for the day to island-hop (800 pesos/day). We went first to Snake Island (30 minutes’ ride), which had good snorkeling just off the beach. This beach also had a few covered huts for sun protection. We then took the boat to an offshore reef close to Starfish Island, which also had good snorkeling. Lastly, we landed on Starfish Island (30 peso / person fee), but the snorkeling there was only average, perhaps due to the high tide. However, Starfish Island did offer a small snack shop with cold drinks.

Summary of Tour 3:

New endemics seen:

Mt Makiling: 3
Palawan: 19
New non-endemics seen:
Mt Makiling: 0
Palawan: 2

Trip 4: Subic, Mt. Polis and Hamut

This part of the trip consisted of several different areas. Subic is the site of the former US Navy base at Subic Bay, on the western coast of Philippines on the Bataan Peninsula. It is accessible by road or ferry in about the same time, but the road can be congested so the ferry is more reliable. The Subic area is now a freeport, but it still has tightly controlled access so the forest is preserved. By contrast, the area beyond the fences is completely deforested.

A permit, which Tim arranged, is required to enter the forest. I am not sure of the details, but this permit was checked several times at checkpoints, so it seems mandatory.  In addition, we were told we required security guards to join us in the forest, because of the presence of “bad men” who live in the forest. This seemed, at best, an exaggeration. The forest itself is in good condition, but the main path is being widened with concern that forest lodges may be built.

About two hours north of Manila is the Candaba Marsh, a nice area which has resisted being converted into rice fields because the local mayor has declared it his own environmental sanctuary. Let’s hope he continues his support or it will disappear in a flash. This was the only place were we had good views of Philippine Duck, but there were many other waterfowl also present.

Banaue is the site of the famous 2000-year old rice terraces, and is also the access point for Mt Polis in the Cordillera Mountains. Banaue is a total of 8 hours drive from Manila, and the Candaba Marsh is along the route. This site is at 1500 meters and has a good mix of montane birds, However, the weather was not good during our visit, and that apparently is the norm, as the following sign at the mountain shows:  

Far in the northeast corner of Luzon is Tuguegarao, at the base of the Sierra Madre mountains. Unfortunately, much of this area is deforested despite having national park designation. Several years ago, a Danish group did a survey of the Sierra Madre birds, and their legacy is the two camps we visited. Camp 1 is at the eastern edge of the remaining forest in the Sierra Madres, at an elevation of 500 meters. It is a long, moderately difficult 12 km walk over rolling hills that takes about 4 hours from Baliwag, which is itself an hour’s drive east of Tuguegarao. There is almost no cover during the entire walk, so it is important to avoid making the walk in mid-day heat. Camp 2, or the “Hamut camp”, is a further 15 km walk along forest trails that is mostly uphill and takes 6+ hours. Hamut is at about 1500 meters.

There are no permanent facilities at either camp. For our expedition, we had 12 porters and a cook, carrying food, supplies and camping equipment. Water was boiled from streams and tasted much better with a bit of powdered “Tang” drink in it. Both campsites were basic, but overall comfortable. However, we enjoyed perfect weather with pleasantly cool evenings. Either camp would be a disaster in the rain. In addition, the trails, especially to Hamut camp (below), would in some places be impassable in the rain.

The paths around camp 1 and especially around Hamut camp are very hilly. We walked 10+ km on these trails daily and were very tired by the end of the day. Being in good physical condition is a prerequisite for enjoying this part of the trip. Unfortunately, hunting and logging are also reaching the camp 1 and Hamut camps. We missed a few birds that are normally seen, and Tim said that the numbers of birds seemed lower than on previous trips. We did see several groups of hunters, and in fact our porters also hunt on these trails. It is only because this area is so difficult to reach there are any trees left at all, but simply viewing the vast areas that have already been deforested makes it clear how quickly that could change.             

Friday April 1, 2005

We met Arne Jensen, a local birder, and took the ferry from Manila to Bataan, departing at 5:30PM and arriving at 6:30PM. We met our driver and rode to Subic, arriving at the comfortable Day’s Inn hotel in Subic at 8:30PM after a brief stop for supplies.

Saturday April 2

5:30AM start to go to the Forest Office to check in, and where Arne convinced the manager we did not need security guards to accompany us. However, when we arrived at the gate to the forest, the guards there did insist we needed some guards who listlessly joined us. Fortunately, they had no interest in walking in the forest and stayed behind. Birding here was along the main path up to “hill 394”. Birding was good, with nice views of Green Racket-tail (E) two groups of Rufous Coucal (E), Luzon Hornbill (E), Sooty Woodpecker (E), Blackish Cuckoo-shrike (E), and Purple Needletail common at the top of the hill. Back to the hotel for lunch, and a stop at the shore to try for Philippine Duck. We eventually did see some at very long distance. We returned to the pier to catch the 5:30PM ferry, arriving in Manila at 6:30PM and to the Heritage Hotel in Manila. 

Sunday April 3

Departed the hotel at 6AM with Tim Fisher and Richard Hopf to head north to Candaba Marsh, arriving at 9AM for a one-hour stop. The marsh was filled with birds, with 100+ Philippine Duck. There was a large assortment of other shorebirds and ducks, with especially fine views of Pheasant-tailed Jacana. We left Candaba at 10AM, and continued on to Banaue, arriving at 5PM. Overnight at the Banaue Hotel. Unfortunately, due to mist/fog, we did not get views of the rice terraces.    

Monday April 4

3:00AM breakfast and a 3:30 departure to reach the Mt Polis site for Luzon Scops-owl (E) by 5:00. However, the weather at the summit was wet and foggy. We arrived at the owl site, which required walking through some gardens and forest edge, but had no response to the tape. After dawn, we tried some birding along the road but the wet weather kept all the birds down. We only saw the common Luzon Bush-warbler (E). At 10AM we decided to drive down the other side of the mountain towards Bay-Yo, where the weather was clear and where we scoped a Luzon Water Redstart (E) along the river from the road. Just up the road from Bay-Yo we heard a Benguet Bush-warbler (E), and managed eventually to get good looks at this skulking bird. We returned back towards the summit but the weather remained poor. We did get a scope view of Flame-crowned Flowerpecker (E) plus some Chestnut-faced Babblers (E) in between breaks in the rain. Mt Polis is also a site for flyover Flame-breasted Fruit-Dove (E) and Luzon (Montane) Racket-tail (E), but visibility limited our chances. Returned back to the hotel at 4PM. 

Tuesday April 5

We decided on an earlier start to maximize chances for the owl, so we ate at 2:45AM (!) and left the hotel at 3AM. Unfortunately, the weather was even worse than the previous day. We had to stop our drive up the winding road to Mt Polis due to heavy fog. By about 5AM the fog had cleared to the point where travel was possible, but visibility was still only a few meters and birding was impossible so we did not even try for the owl. Instead, we turned our focus to the remaining target birds of Mt Polis: Grey-backed (Mountain) Shrike (E), Green-backed Whistler (E), and Long-tailed Ground-warbler (E). Of these, we eventually did see one Green-backed Whistler (E), and also two groups of distant in-flight Luzon (Montane) Racket-tail (E) before we left the mountain. We were disappointed to miss the scops-owl, shrike and ground-warbler, but the weather really hurt the birding. We departed Mt Polis at 11AM, picked up bags and ate lunch at the Banaue Hotel, and drove to Tuguegarao, arriving at the Lorita Hotel at 7PM. 

Wednesday April 6

Breakfast at 4:30, pickup at 5AM to go to the village of Baliwag, one hour away. Baliwag is the home of Aquilino Escobar, who coordinated the birding expedition to the camps. After collecting porters and sorting out details, we began the walk to camp 1 at 6:30AM, arriving 11AM. This was a tiring walk with some open-country birding en route, including a fine pair of Pied Harriers. Upon arrival, we unpacked, had lunch, rested and then did some birding around the camp area. We saw Luzon Striped-babbler (E), Philippine Tailorbird (E), Blue-headed Fantail (E), and Lemon-throated Leaf-warbler (E).  Dinner at 7PM of beef stew and rice.  

Thursday April 7

Breakfast (oatmeal) at 5AM, followed by some birding around the camp. We visited a site with seeding bamboo where Tim saw Green-faced Parrotfinch (E) in 2004, but none was seen. We did get fleeting flight views of White-fronted Tit (E). Other birds previously-seen at Mt Makiling included Buzzing Flowerpecker (E) and Yellowish White-eye (E). We departed for camp 2 (aka Hamut camp) at 7AM, arriving at 5PM. This is a very challenging walk on forest trails with some steep ascents. En route we saw White-lored Oriole (E). We arrived exhausted. Sandwiches for lunch en route; rice, beans and corned beef for supper. 

Friday April 8

Breakfast (oatmeal) at 5AM, birding around the camp all day, primarily on “the ridge”. We started near the camp looking for Whiskered Pitta (E), and after a short time we all got good views of a single male bird hopping across an open area. Very little else new seen here, but both Flame-breasted (E) and Cream-fronted Fruit-doves (E) were calling. Golden-crowned Babbler (E) was seen. We also had good views of Spotted Wood-kingfisher (E) and White-eared (Brown) Fruit-dove. Returned to Hamut camp at 4PM, after noisy cicadas drowned out all birding sounds. Sandwiches for lunch; and rice, beans and corned beef for supper.

Saturday April 9

Breakfast (oatmeal) at 5AM, birding around the camp all day, including the ridge and several miles back towards camp 1. We again heard the fruit doves but no sightings. The only new birds seen were Bicolored Flowerpecker (E) and Blue-breasted Flycatcher (E). However, another member of the group (Richard) did see the rare Ashy-breasted Flycatcher (E) at the overlook when the ridge trail and the trail to Hamut camp meet. We tried to track it down, but unsuccessfully. We did finally see one of the noisy Philippine Hawk-cuckoos (E) during lunch. There were plenty of Philippine Swiftlets (E) overhead. Sandwiches for lunch; rice, beans and corned beef for supper.

Sunday April 10

Breakfast (oatmeal) at 5AM, birding around the camp and the ridge until 11AM, and then walked back to camp 1, arriving at 6PM. Target birds were the fruit-doves and Grand (Long-Billed) Rhabdornis (E), but we did not seen any of them. Along the trail we flushed a Luzon Bleeding-heart (E) and managed a flight view before it disappeared into the brush. Around lunch time (sandwiches), the high-pitched call of the Rabor’s (Luzon) Wren-babbler (E) was heard. Eventually, the bird flew across the path, giving the briefest of flight views. That was all we saw of this skulking bird, although its call continued around us. Sandwiches for lunch; rice, beans and corned beef for supper.

Monday April 11

Left camp at 4:45 to try unsuccessfully for Philippine Frogmouth (E) which Richard heard the night before; had breakfast (oatmeal) at 6AM, left camp 1 at 6:30 and arrived at Baliwag at 10:30AM. Reorganized our luggage and left for Tuguegarao at 11AM and our 1:40 flight back to Manila and the end of our trip. Enjoyed pizza and ice cream at lunch, a nice change!

Summary of Tour 4:

New endemics seen: 25

Subic: 5
Polis: 6
Hamut: 14

New non-endemics seen: 2

            Subic: 2
            Polis: 0
            Hamut: 0

Trip 5: Mindanao – Mt. Kitanglad and PICOP

This trip was set up in an effort to pick up birds we had missed on our previous Mindanao trip, as well as to search for birds in some new areas. We visited a high-altitude site at Mt Kitanglad as well as a mid-level forest at the foot of Mt Kitanglad, each of which had potential for new birds, but only saw one new bird over four days. Tim had not been to either site before so he did not have a clear idea what birds were possible or where they might be seen. Overall, these sites were a disappointment but the high-altitude camp could be better with more time dedicated. We then transferred to the standard sites at Eagle Camp at Mt Kitanglad and then to PICOP, each of which is amply described in other trip reports. We did better at these sites, notably with excellent views of Philippine Eagles, but still missed some target birds – in retrospect, we should have concentrated first at the standard sites and, once we had seen the expected birds at those sites, checked out the new sites.

Saturday April 8, 2006

Took 5AM flight from Manila to Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao, then transferred to a van for the four hour drive to an eco-lodge operated by a gentleman named Henry, located at 1800 meters on Mt Kitanglad. After lunch, we hiked to our camp site at 2200 meters up Mt Kitanglad. The first half of the hike was difficult but on a road, the rest was more difficult and on a muddy forest track. En route, one of us saw a Sunda Ground Thrush but it had flushed before others could see it – a disappointment to Tim, who has not seen this bird. However, this was an indication that this higher elevation holds some unique birds. After dusk, Tim was able to spotlight a calling Mindanao Scops-owl circling over the campsite, only Tim’s second sighting.   

Sunday April 9

We were fortunate that the porters had set up a solid camp site, because overnight rain had drenched the camp area. After breakfast, we started out on a trail that had been reported to hold Goodfellow’s Jungle Flycatcher. We did not see this bird despite walking all morning, but intermittent rain disrupted the birding. Especially frustrating was a patch of heavy rain when a flock of Mindanao Lorikeets flew overhead and probably perched, but we simply could not locate them in the rain. This was the only time we heard them. Other endemic high-elevation specialty birds were common, such as Apo Myna, Mount Apo Sunbird and McGregor’s Cuckoo-shrike.

After lunch, we descended to the road, intending to walk further up the road to possibly spot any passing flocks. However, despite information to the contrary, the road ended quickly, so we ended up simply sitting around most of the afternoon waiting for something interesting to fly by. Nothing did. During the walk back down to Henry’s lodge we checked out several shrikes to unsuccessfully try to turn one into a Mountain Shrike.

Monday April 10

After an overnight stay at Henry’s, we drove to the foothills to what Tim understood was a patch of lowland forest at 800-1000 meters, lower than the Eagle Camp. We arrived at the forest, which is a cinchona tree reserve. Cinchona is a source of quinine, once the main source of malaria medication but now primarily found in the “tonic” of gin and tonics. The cinchona reserve is now a park. Unfortunately, the actual elevation of the forest was closer to 1200 meters, the same as Tim’s Eagle Camp and therefore it was unlikely that any of the hoped-for lowland birds would be there. Birding here was along a main road. Long-tailed Ground-warblers were giving their high-pitched calls along the road all day long, but the only time we appeared to be close to seeing one a patch of rain interfered. Among birds of interest seen were Besra, Yellow-bellied Whistler, and Buzzing Flowerpecker. After a fruitless day we drove to the town of Malaybalay where we stayed at a very nice hotel.

Tuesday April 11

After breakfast we drove to Dalwangan and hiked 1.5 hours to Eagle Camp. After unpacking and having lunch, we headed up to try for a sighting of the Philippine Eagle. There was a fledging on the nest, but no adult. We waited until about 4PM looking for an adult to fly in or to be perched around the area, but had no success. However, we met another birding group in the late afternoon who pointed out a Mountain Shrike and told us where they had seen a flock of Red-eared Parrotfinches in the morning. We managed to see a single parrotfinch as we returned to the camp. After supper, we did some quick nightbirding and Tim and Carlito, his local guide at the Eagle Camp, quickly located a Philippine Frogmouth. Later, a Philippine Nightjar was spotlighted on the plowed field next to the camp. At about 11PM, we heard the call of the Giant Scops-owl, but could not locate it. At about 2AM it called again close by, and all of us got up to try again, unsuccessfully, for it. It has a very loud call but it only calls a few times and then is silent – maddening.

Wednesday April 12

This morning we went directly to the eagle nest area. After about an hour, Tim located an adult perched and we enjoyed a nice scope view. Over the next several hours, we saw both the male and female adults, including the male coming in carrying a small squirrel. We also had a very close fly-by of an adult about 25 feet above us. These excellent views were the birding highlights of the day. We waited the rest of the day hoping for a passing Mindanao Racquet-tail or, even less likely, a Mindanao Lorikeet (normally only seen at the very highest elevations). During our return to camp we made a stop at a site where Tim said a Birdquest tour had spotted a Goodfellow’s Jungle Flycatcher earlier in 2006 – no luck on this in mid-afternoon. The only interesting birds seen on the trip down were Philippine Coucal and McGregor’s Cuckoo-shrike. That night, at 1AM, we were awakened by the loud and familiar cry of the Giant Scops-owl. This time Carlito had a good idea where it was – but it appeared to be in dense bamboo. After several minutes, we gave up. Suddenly, as we were almost back to our tents, Carlito heard a slight grumble sound, and located the perched Giant Scops-owl – amazing.       

Thursday April 13

Travel day. Departed camp, made the 7 hour drive to Bislig with a stop for lunch at Pizza Hut. Arrived at the Paper Country Inn. .

Friday April 14

3AM (!) breakfast, then off to find owls. We located a “Mindanao Hawk-owl” (subspecies of Philippine Hawk-owl) just as dusk broke. Unfortunately, the rest of the day was on-and-off rain and few birds. Although the logging at PICOP is finished, the “reserve” area is becoming populated with communities of illegal squatters eking out a living. This usually involves cutting down trees and planting some crops, fragmenting the already limited forest. Another feature of PICOP is that there appears to be a limited number of locations where everyone goes birding – consequently, the birds here are no longer responsive to tapes. Our target birds here were White-browed Tailorbird, which we did see flitting around us, and Celestial Monarch, which we did not see; interesting birds seen included Blue Fantail and White-browed Brown-dove. At 4PM went to the Bislig airport to look for waders and owls. Waders included a nicely perched Black Bittern and a White-browed Crake; Tim spotted two Australasian Grass-owls a mile away over the fields. 

Saturday April 15

Another 3AM breakfast and an unsuccessful try for Chocolate Hawk-owl. Intermittent rain again came in after dawn. We did see Writhed and Tarictic Hornbills, but no Celestial Monarchs (plenty of Black-naped Monarchs to distract us however). Departed PICOP at 10AM for the long drive to Davao and our flight to Manila.

Summary of Tour 5:

New endemics seen: 8

Mt Kitanglad: 7

New non-endemics seen: 1

            Mt. Kitanglad: 0
            PICOP: 1

Bird List (Endemics in bold)

Note: this list does not contain any “heard only” birds, but these are noted in the text because in many cases the birds were heard well but not seen, and could be seen with a bit more luck. Potential splits and subspecies are also noted in the text but not in this list. Because we had target birds to see, we did not go to some locations where more of the commoner birds could have been seen.  

Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) - common

Cotton Pygmy-goose (Nettapus coromandelianus) – seen on Palawan

Eurasian Wigeon (Anas Penelope) – a few at Candaba swamp

Philippine Duck (Anas luzonica) – 100+ at Candaba swamp, also distant views at Subic

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) – some at Candaba swamp

Garganey (Anas querquedula) – large numbers at Candaba swamp

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) - common

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - common

Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes) – reported common in winter at Palawan

Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea) - common

Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) - common

Great Egret (Ardea alba) - common

Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) - common

Striated (Little) Heron (Butorides striatus) - common

Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) – a few at Candaba swamp

Black Bittern (Ixobrychus flavicollis) – at Bislig airport

Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus) – several at Candaba swamp

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) – one injured near St Pauls Palawan

Oriental Honey-buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus) - common

Crested Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis cheela) – common in Luzon

Philippine Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis holospilus) – at Makiling

Eastern Marsh-Harrier (Circus spilonotus) - common

Pied Harrier (Circus melanoleucos) – a pair in fields en route to Hamut

Besra (Accipter virgatus) – a pair at Mt Kitanglad

Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) – a pair and a fledgling at Mt Kitanglad

Rufous-bellied Eagle (Hieraaetus kienerii) – one seen at Hamut

Philippine Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus philippensis) – several in Luzon

Tabon Scrubfowl (Megapodius cumingii) – at St Pauls in Palawan

Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) - common

Palawan Peacock-Pheasant (Polyplectron emphanum) – at St Pauls, Palawan

Spotted Buttonquail (Turnix ocellata) – at Mt Makiling near Dairy Husbandry bldg    and at Hamut

Barred Buttonquail (Turnix suscitator) – at Mt Makiling near Dairy Husbandry bldg

Barred Rail (Gallirallus torquatus) - common

Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis) – common

White-browed Crake (Porzana cinerea) – at Bislig airport

Watercock (Gallicrex cinerea) – at Bislig airport

Plain Bush-hen (Amaurornis olivaceus) – several seen on Mindoro

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) – at Candaba swamp

Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) – at Candaba swamp

Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus) – at Candaba swamp

Swinhoe's Snipe (Gallinago megala) – in fileds at Mt Makiling Dairy Husbandry bldg

Gray-tailed Tattler (Heteroscelus brevipes) – one seen while waiting for ferry on Bohol

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) – at Candaba swamp

Oriental Pratincole (Glareola maldivarum) – at Candaba swamp

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus) – common

Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) – common

Red Collared-Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica) - common

Philippine Cuckoo-Dove (Macropygia tenuirostris) - common

Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) – common, esp at Mt Makiling

Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) - common

Luzon Bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba luzonica) – one seen at Hamut camp, often heard

White-eared (Brown) Dove (Phapitreron leucotis) – common at Hamut and PICOP

Amethyst (Brown) Dove (Phapitreron amethystine) – flyovers at Raja Sikatuna, Bohol

Pink-necked (Green) Pigeon (Treron vernans) – common on Palawan

Pompadour Green-Pigeon (Treron pompadora) – several at Subic

Black-chinned Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus leclancheri) – a few at Mt Makiling

Spotted Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula carola) – at Mindoro

Guaiabero (Bolbopsittacus lunulatus) - common

Luzon Racquet-tail (Prioniturus montanus) – some flyovers at Mt Polis

Blue-headed Racquet-tail (Prioniturus platenae) – a few at St Pauls on Palawan

Green Racquet-tail (Prioniturus luconensis) – good views at Subic

Blue-naped Parrot (Tanygnathus lucionensis) – at Mindoro and Subic

Philippine Hanging-Parrot (Colasisi) (Loriculus philippensis) - common

Philippine Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia) – flocks on Rasa Island, Palawan

Violet Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus) – two at PICOP

Philippine Hawk-Cuckoo (Cuculus pectoralis) – seen at Hamut, heard constantly

Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) – a few at Hamut

Red-crested Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus superciliosus) – several at Mt Makiling

Scale-feathered Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus cumingi) – several at Mt Makiling

Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) - common

Philippine Coucal (Centropus viridis) - common

Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis) – several locations

Black-faced Coucal (Centropus melanops) – one at Raja Sikatuna, Bohol

Rufous Coucal (Centropus unirufus) – two flocks at Subic

Australasian Grass-Owl (Tyto longimembris) – Two at Bislig airport

Mindanao Scops-Owl (Otus mirus) – Mt Kitanglad upper camp

Mantanani Scops-Owl (Otus mantananensis) – common on Rasa Island, Palawan

Philippine Scops-Owl (Otus megalotis) – widespread, seen at Mt Makiling

Palawan Scops-Owl (Otus fuliginosus) – widespread on Palawan, seen at St Pauls

Mindanao Eagle-Owl (Giant Scops-Owl) (Mimizuku gurneyi) – Eagle Camp at Mt    Kitanglad

Philippine Hawk-Owl (Ninox philippensis) – widespread

Philippine Frogmouth (Batrachostomus septimus) – Eagle Camp at Mt Kitanglad

Javan Frogmouth (Batrachostomus javensis) – one seen on Palawan

Philippine Nightjar (Caprimulgus manillensis) – Mt Kitanglad

Great Eared-Nightjar (Eurostopodus macrotis) - common

Whiskered Treeswift (Hemiprocne comata) – common at Hamut

Gray-rumped Swiftlet (Aerodramus marginata) – at Mt Makiling

Pygmy Swiftlet (Aerodramus troglodytes) - common

Palawan Swiftlet (Aerodramus palawanensis) – common at St Pauls Palawan

Philippine Swiftlet (Aerodramus mearnsi) – common at Hamut

Purple Needletail (Hirundapus celebensis) – common at Subic

House Swift (Apus nipalensis) - common

Philippine Trogon (Harpactes ardens) – common, seen at Mt Makiling and PICOP

River (Indigo-banded) Kingfisher (Alcedo cyanopecta) – one at Mt Makiling Botanical  Gardens

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) - common

Spotted (Spotted Wood) Kingfisher (Actenoides lindsayi) – seen at Mt Makiling and Hamut

Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus) – common in Luzon

Rufous Hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax) – several at Hamut

Luzon Hornbill (Penelopides manillae) – at Hamut

Tarictic Hornbill (Penelopides panini) – one at Casa Roro, Negros; several at PICOP

Samar Hornbill (Penelopides samarensis) – at Raja Sikatuna, Bohol

Writhed Hornbill (Aceros leucocephalus) – several at PICOP

Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala) - common

White-bellied Woodpecker (Dryocopus javensis) – several at Subic

Common Flameback (Dinopium javanense) – at Subic

Greater Flameback (Chrysocolaptes lucidus) - common

Sooty Woodpecker (Mulleripicus funebris) – several at Subic

Hooded Pitta (Pitta sordida) – one seen at trail at Iwahig, Palawan

Azure-breasted (Steere’s) Pitta (Pitta steerii) – one at Raja Sikatuna, Bohol

Whiskered Pitta (Pitta kochi) – one seen at Hamut, commonly heard

Red-bellied Pitta (Pitta erythrogaster) – several at Mt Makiling

Green-backed Whistler (Pachycephala albiventris) – one seen at Mt Polis

Yellow-bellied Whistler (Pachycephala philippinensis) – common on Luzon

Blue Fantail (Rhipidura superciliris) – several at PICOP

Blue-headed Fantail (Rhipidura cyaniceps) – common at Hamut

Black-naped Monarch (Hypothymis azurea) - common

Rufous Paradise-Flycatcher (Terpsiphone cinnamomea) – common at Hamut

Blue Paradise-Flycatcher (Terpsiphone cyanescens) – several on Palawan

Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus) – common on Palawan

Balicassiao (Dicrurus balicassius) – common, widespread

Slender-billed Crow (Corvus enca) – several on Palawan

Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) – common, widespread

White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus) – common at Mt Polis

Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia) – common on Palawan

White-lored Oriole (Oriolus albiloris) – one seen at Hamut

Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) – common, widespread

Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina striata) - common

Blackish Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina coerulescens) – seen at Subic and Hamut

McGregor’s Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina mcgregori) – at Mt Kitanglad

Fiery Minivet (Pericrocotus igneus) – several on Palawan

Scarlet Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus) – common, widespread

Asian Fairy-bluebird (Irena puella) – common on Palawan

Philippine Fairy-bluebird (Irena cyanogaster) – common on Luzon

Yellow-throated Leafbird (Chloropsis palawanensis) – several on Palawan

Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) – common, widespread

Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach) – common at Hamut

Gray-capped (Mountain) Shrike (Lanius validirostris) – Mt Kitanglad

Sunda Thrush (Zoothera andromedae) – one at Mt Kitanglad

Island Thrush (Turdus poliocephalus) – several on Mt Polis

Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis) - common

Crested Myna (Acridotheres cristatellus) – common on Luzon

Apo Myna (Basilornis miranda) – Mt Kitanglad upper camp

Coleto (Sarcops calvus) – fairly common, widespread

Chestnut-tailed (Rufous-tailed) Jungle-Flycatcher (Rhinomyias ruficauda) – one  seen at Raja Sikatuna, Bohol

Little Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula westermanni) – at PICOP

Palawan Flycatcher (Ficedula platenae) – at “zigzag road” on Palawan

Blue-breasted Flycatcher (Cyornis herioti) – common at Hamut

Palawan Blue-Flycatcher (Cyornis lemprieri) – a few on Palawan

Citrine Canary-flycatcher (Culicicapa helianthea) – common on Luzon

Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis) – around Mindanao

White-browed Shama (Copsychus luzoniensis) – common on Luzon, noisy but difficult to see

White-vented Shama (Copsychus niger) – a few on Palawan

Black Shama (Copsychus cebuensis) – on Cebu

Luzon (Luzon Water) Redstart (Rhyacornis bicolor) – one seen at Mt Polis

Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata) – common on Luzon

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis) – common on Luzon

Sulphur-billed Nuthatch (Sitta oenochlamys) – on Palawan

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) - common

Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica) - common

Black-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus atriceps) – common on Palawan

Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) – common, widespread

Gray-cheeked Bulbul (Alophoixus bres) – common, Palawan

Sulphur-bellied Bulbul (Ixos palawanensis) – one seen in forest, Palawan

Philippine Bulbul (Ixos philippinus) – common, widespread

Yellowish White-eye (Zosterops nigrorum) – seen at Mt Makiling and Hamut

Golden-headed Cisticola (Cisticola exilis) – common

Philippine Bush-Warbler (Cettia seebohmi) – common on Mt Polis

Middendorff’s Grasshopper-Warbler (Locustella ochotensis) – in Manila

Benguet Bush-Warbler (Bradypterus seebohmi) – single bird seen well on lower part of Mt Polis, heard several times  

Philippine Tailorbird (Orthotomus castaneiceps) – several at Hamut

Gray-backed Tailorbird (Orthotomus derbianus) – at Mt Makiling

Rufous-tailed Tailorbird (Orthotomus sericeus) – on Palawan

Yellow-breasted Tailorbird (Orthotomus samarensis) – one at Raja Sikatuna, Bohol

White-browed Tailorbird (Orthotomus nigriceps) – at PICOP  

Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis) – a few at Hamut

Philippine Leaf-Warbler (Phylloscopus olivaceus) – a few at Raja Sikatuna, Bohol

Lemon-throated Warbler (Phylloscopus cebuensis) – common at Hamut

Mountain Leaf-Warbler (Phylloscopus trivirgatus) – a few at Hamut

Tawny Grassbird (Megalurus timoriensis) – a few on Luzon

Striated Grassbird (Megalurus palustris) – common at Candaba swamp

Richards Pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae) – a few at Hamut

Ashy-headed Babbler (Malacocincla cinereiceps) – one seen at St Pauls, Palawan

Palawan (Melodious) Babbler (Malacopteron palawanense) – at Iwahig, Palawan

Striated Wren-Babbler (Ptilocichla mindanensis) – one at Raja Sikatuna, Bohol

Falcated Wren-Babbler (Ptilocichla falcate) – one at Raja Sikatuna, Bohol

Luzon (Rabor’s) Wren-Babbler (Napothera rabori) – brief glimpse at Hamut

Golden-crowned Babbler (Stachyris dennistouni) – in flocks at Hamut

Black-crowned Babbler (Stachyris nigrocapitata) – a few at Raja Sikatuna, Bohol

Flame-templed Babbler (Stachyris speciosa) – one at Casa Roro, Negros

Chestnut-faced Babbler (Stachyris whiteheadi) – fairly common on Mt Polis

Luzon Striped-Babbler (Stachyris striata) – in flocks at Hamut

Stripe-sided Rhabdornis (Rhabdornis mysticalis) – common

Stripe-breasted Rhabdornis (Rhabdornis inornatus) – at PICOP

Elegant Tit (Pardaliparus elegans) – common, widespread

Palawan Tit (Pardaliparus amabilis) – a few seen on Palawan

White-fronted Tit (Sittiparus semilarvatus) – brief flight glimpse at Hamut

Red-eared Parrotfinch (Erythrura coloria) – one at Mt Kitanglad

Nutmeg Mannikin (Lonchura punctulata) - common

Chestnut Munia (Lonchura atricapilla) – common

Gray Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) – in Mindanao

Palawan Flowerpecker (Prionochilus plateni) – widespread on Palawan

Striped Flowerpecker (Dicaeum aeruginosum) – seen on Palawan

Flame-crowned Flowerpecker (Dicaeum anthonyi) – one on Mt Polis

Bicolored Flowerpecker (Dicaeum bicolor) – one flock at Hamut

Cebu Flowerpecker (Dicaeum quadricolor) – one on Cebu

Red-striped (red-keeled) Flowerpecker (Dicaeum australe) – common, widespread

Scarlet-collared Flowerpecker (Dicaeum retrocinctum) – a few on Mindoro

White-bellied (Buzzing) Flowerpecker (Dicaeum hypoleucum) – widespread on Mt Makiling, Hamut and PICOP

Pygmy Flowerpecker (Dicaeum pygmaeum) – common, widespread

Purple-throated Sunbird (Nectarinia sperata) - common

Copper-throated Sunbird (Nectarinia calcostetha) – common on Palawan

Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis) - common

Flaming Sunbird (Aethopyga flagrans) – at Mt Makiling Botanical Gardens

Metallic-winged Sunbird (Aethopyga pulcherrima) – common

Grey-hooded Sunbird (Aethopyga primigenius) – Mt Kitanglad

Mount Apo Sunbird (Aethopyga boltoni) – Mt Kitanglad upper camp

Lovely Sunbird (Aethopyga shelleyi) – common

Little Spidehunter (Arachnothera longirostra) - PICOP

White-cheeked Bullfinch (Pyrrhula leucogenis) – several on Mt Polis

The following six birds were heard only – could be seen under different circumstances and have been reported as being seen at these sites by others:

Flame-breasted Fruit-Dove (Ptillnopus marchei) - Hamut

Cream-breasted Fruit-Dove (Ptillnopus merrilli) – Hamut

Mindanao Lorikeet (Trichochoglossus johnstoniae) – Mt Kitangald upper camp

Black-hooded Coucal (Centrops steerii) - Mindoro

Celestial Monarch (Hypothymis coelestis) - PICOP

Long-tailed Bush-Warbler (Bradypterus caudatus) – Mt Polis and Mt Kitanglad

Acknowledgements and References

Robert S. Kennedy, Pedro C. Gonzales, Edward C. Dickinson, Hector C. Miranda Jr and Timothy H. Fisher, A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines, Oxford University Press, 2000.

Nigel Wheatley, Where to watch birds in Asia, Princeton University Press, 1996

J. E. duPont, Philippine Birds, Delaware Museum of Natural History, 1971.

Note: a recent trip report covering essentially the same sites and territory, but squeezed into a single visit, is at:

Other reports / information at:


Tim Fisher, e-mail: (note: this is a new e-mail address for Tim)
Arnel Malliari, Palawan guide, mobile tel: 0919-2288420
Wild Bird Club of the Philippines,
Trees Lodge, Mt. Makiling,, tel: 63-49-536-2639
Heritage Hotel, Manila, tel: 632-854-8888, fax: 632-854-8833, e-mail:, website:
Bethel Hotel, Dumaguete, Negros, tel: 63-35-225-2000; fax: 63-35-225-1374
Hotel Asturias, Puerto Princesa, Palawan,
Days Inn Hotel, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, tel: 63-47-252-9865; fax: 63-47-252-9864
Banaue Hotel, tel: 63-74-386-4087, fax: 63-74-386-4088
Lorita Hotel, Tuguegarao, tel: 63-78-844-1390


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