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A Report from

Palawan Bird Trip – November 2011,

Graeme Wright

This was a trip designed to see all the 27 of the 28 Palawan endemics (or 19 of the 20, or 14 of the 15 depending on your view of sub-species) plus Philippine Cockatoo.  The missing endemic being Stripped Babbler, which although easy to see (apparently) requires a 2 day trek up Mount Victoria, although I was told that xx Warbler was also a possibility there, so perhaps a trip for another day.

While you could arrange the trip yourself I choose to organise everything (including guiding) via a local bird guide -  ROMMEL M. CRUZ 9

PCSD Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit
ECAN Zone Management and Enforcement Division (EZMED)
Palawan Council For Sustainable Development
PCSD Bldg, Rafols Road, Santa Monica Heights, Puerto Princesa City (5300)
Palawan, Philippines
M: +63 929 572 3469

Rommel works for the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development and has a very good knowledge of the endemics and where to find them. He also has a lot of lot of local contacts and is committed to ensuring that visiting birdwatchers contribute to the local community and hence support local conservation.

It is worth saying, however, that he is strongly against the use of playback and some people might feel this reduces your chances of seeing some key birds (such as Babblers) however with the exception of Facilitated wren-babbler I do not think I suffered and I certainly respect his thinking.

The trip was very well organised and although the pace was moderate we managed to see all my targets bar 1 with plenty of great surprises thrown in.

Top 5 five birds

1)      The Peacock Pheasant walking across camp at Underground River
2)      The Scoops owl on Pandan (Palawan and Mantanani)
3)      Cockatoos’ flying overhead from the beach at Naara
4)      Grey Imperial at Pandan island
5)      Palawan Hornbill at St Pauls


Palawan Flycatcher – heard 3 times but not even a glimpse


Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher – great views at Crocodile farm
Ruddy Kingfisher – great views at Penal Colony
Blue and White and Narcissus Flycatcher near Naarn
Great Frigatbird and Far Eastern Curlew at Pandan

Day by Day

Day 1 – Afternoon Trip to Penal Colony (Iwahg,Puerto Princesa).  Romel works here with another local birdwatcher:  Eduardo ‘Arding’ Madrinan (, he knows the Pena colony and Pandan very well.

Got my first endemics – Flowerpecker, Leafbird and Taylorbird and Lovely Sunbird plus excellent views of Ruddy Kingfisher.  But this is also a great place to see the endemic Babblers, however you need to ford 3 rivers to get to the right place and as it had rained recently these were too difficult to cross (we came back on my last full day and had more success.

Stayed at J-Lais guest house in PP (

Day 2 – Early start for birding on Liyang Rd(the main rd to St Pauls) got Palawan Blue Flycatcher and Blue Paradise Flycatcher quickly, however spent a couple of hours hearing but not seeing Falcated Babbler and then White-vented Shama quickly at the guest house (called Robert’s I think).  In the afternoon went back along the nearest parts of the Liyang Rd and found Palawan Tit very quickly along with Pygmy Flowerpecker

Day 3 – Got a 5.30 boat over to the ‘caves’ so was ready at the Rangers office at daybreak to wait for the Peacock-Pheasant (large number of tame Long-tailed Macaque and around 11 6 foot Monitor Lizards.  Sure enough the Peacock-Pheasant arrived after an hour walking straight across the camp, accompanied by 2 rather shy Tabon Scubfowl.  We followed this with a trip to the cave where we Palawan Swiftlet are supposed to breed – there where a lot of Swiftlets even deep in the cave and they could well have been the endemics, but who knows.  Along the beach good views of Peregrine and Reef Egret.

In the afternoon back up the Liyang Rd where we got good views of Hornbill, Hill Myna, Palawan Crow and Cuckoo-Dove. In the evening spent some time looking for Javan Frogmouth and although we heard it a few times it was elusive

Day 4 - Started again with a look for the Frogmouth which this time gave short views as did a Hooded Pitta, Great Slatty Woodpecker and Black-chinned Fruit dove.  Better views of Pinked-necked green pigeon and Sulphur-bellied Bulbul. 

In the afternoon long drive to Naarn.

Day 5

Early start to be at the Beach for first light when Cockatoos fly over from their breeding island to the mainland to feed, saw around 40 over head plus Great billed Heron, Osprey.  Spent the morning driving around looking for feeding Cockatoos without success but did come across some unexpected passerines such as Blue and white Flycatcher and Narcissus Flycatcher (in same tree).

In afternoon drove back to PP via a small ‘nature reserve’ run by a local farmer - malatgao Nature Park.  Although the park is known for its Owls we did not see any but good views of Rufus Night Heron and Blue-eared Kingfisher

Day 6

Trip to Penal Colony for Babblers – walk involved fording 3 rivers twice but only fleeting views of Melodious Babbler, Palawan Flycatcher was seen by the guides but I missed it.

Afternoon trip to Pandan Island – which turned out to be the highlight of the trip.  The Island is only accessible during the day and boats stop going out at 3pm.  It is however great for Pigeons, owls and Waders.  We walked round the Island which had small numbers of a large variety of Waders including: Far Eastern Curlew, Grey-tailed Tattler, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Whimbrel, Kentish Plover and Turnstone, also good views of Great-billed Heron and Little Heron.  The most numerous Pigeon was Pied and it was almost dark before we found two Grey Imperials.  Arding was with us and managed to find us a Palawan Scoops Owl at a regular roost.  The highlight though was great views of Mantanani Scoops Owl which can be seen just by the rubbish tip. Nice surprise was 4 Great Frigatbirds.

Day 7

Visit to Crocodile farm and zoo at PP - large numbers of Wandering Whistling Duck nearby and Rufus Night Herons but highlight was Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher which was very obliging.

Full List


Philippine Megapode Megapodius cumingii – easy by subterranean caves


Palawan Peacock-Pheasant Polyplectron napoleonis  - walks by rangers hut at caves daily


Wandering Whistling Duck Dendrocygna arcuata  - numerous around PP


Malaysian Night Heron Gorsachius melanolophus – easy at crocodile farm and malatgao
Striated Heron Butorides striata – several on Pandan
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis – v common
Great-billed Heron Ardea sumatrana  - several on Pandan
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea – seen occasionally
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia  - v common
Little Egret Egretta garzetta  - v common
Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra  - common by sea

Waders – All Pandan

Grey Plover
Kentish Plover
Far Eastern Curlew
Common Redshank
Common Greenshank
Wood Sandpiper (widespread across island)
Grey-tailed Tattler
Ruddy Turnstone
Black-winged Stilt (occasionally across island)


Great Frigatebird Fregata minor – 4 over Pandan

Accipitridae etc

Osprey Pandion haliaetus – seen several times
Grey faced Buzzard – seen several times
Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela – seen once
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus – seen several times
Peragrine Falcon – seen near underground cave


White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus – seen near PP


Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis  - seen once


Philippine Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia tenuirostris – st Pauls
Pink-necked Green Pigeon Treron vernans – at Penal colony
Black-chinned Fruit Dove Ptilinopus leclancheri – by Liyang rd
Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea – fairly common
Grey Imperial Pigeon Ducula pickeringii – 2 seen on Pandan
Pied Imperial Pigeon Ducula bicolor  - common on Pandan
Zebra Dove - common
Spotted Dove - common


Philippine Cockatoo Cacatua haematuropygiaEndemic (country/region) - 2 at St Pauls and at Naara
Blue-headed Racquet-tail Prioniturus platenaeEndemic  - several at St Pauls
Blue-naped Parrot Tanygnathus lucionensis – common at St Pauls


Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus  - seen atNaarn
Common Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus – heard regulaly
Chestnut-breasted Malkoha Zanclostomus curvirostrisseen round St Pauls
Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis


Palawan Scops Owl Otus fuliginosus – seen on Pandan
Mantanani Scops Owl Otus mantananensisEndemic (country/region) - seen on Pandan
Spotted Wood Owl Strix seloputo – hear regularly


Horsfield's Frogmouth Batrachostomus javensis – seen on Liyang Rd


Pygmy Swiftlet Collocalia troglodytes – seen often
Philippine Swiftlet Aerodramus mearnsiEndemic (country/region)
Palawan Swiftlet (Aerodramus palawanensis) – seen near underground cave
Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis – around PP


Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis  - seen near St Pauls


Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis – seen on Pandan
Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda  - at Penal Colony
Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris  - seen often
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca – seen at Crochodile Farm
Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting –  seen at malatgao


Palawan Hornbill Anthracoceros marcheiEndemic  - seen around St Pauls


White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis - seen on Liynang Rd
Common Flame-backed Woodpecker Dinopium javanense – seen regularly
Greater Flame-backed Woodpecker Chrysocolaptes lucidus - seen on Liynang Rd
Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulverulentus – seen on Liynang Rd


Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida - seen on Liynang Rd


White-breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorynchus – seen regularly


Common Iora Aegithina tiphia – seen regularly


Pied Triller Lalage nigra – seen regularly
Fiery Minivet Pericrocotus igneus – seen regularly


Brown Shrike - Lanius cristatus – seen regularly


Dark-throated Oriole Oriolus xanthonotus - seen on Liynang Rd
Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis seen on Liynang Rd


Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus  - seen regularly
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus  - seen regularly


Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica – seen occasionally


Blue Paradise-flycatcherTerpsiphone cyanescens – on Liyang Rd


Slender-billed Crow Corvus enca  - Seen regularly


Palawan Tit Parus amabilis – St Pauls


Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica - common


Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis – heard occasionally

Genera Incertae Sedis

Grey-backed Tailorbird Orthotomus derbianus – seen regularly


Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps  - seen regulaly
Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier - seen regulaly
Olive-winged Bulbul Pycnonotus plumosus - seen regulaly
Grey-cheeked Bulbul Criniger bres - seen regulaly
Sulphur-bellied Bulbul Iole palawanensis – on Liyang Rd


Ashy-headed Babbler Malacocincla cinereiceps – Liyang Rd
Melodious Babble rMalacopteron palawanense – penal colony
Falcated Wren-Babbler Ptilocichla falcata hear often along Liyang
Striped Tit-Babbler Macronous gularis - common


Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella  - occasional


Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis  - common
Hill Myna Gracula religiosa – regular along Liyang


White-browed Shortwing Brachypteryx montana


Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica – at St Pauls
Grey Streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa griseisticta - regular
Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis - regualr
White-vented Shama Copsychus niger  - regular at St Paul’s
Palawan Flycatche rFicedula platenae - heard at Penal colony
Blue and White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana – Naarn
Palawan Blue Flycatcher Cyornis lemprieri - Liyang
Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina - Naarn


Yellow-throated Leafbird Chloropsis palawanensis – seen regularly


Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra - occasional


Palawan Flowerpecker Prionochilus plateni – at Penal colony
Thick-billed Flowerpecker Dicaeum agile - - seen occasionally
Pygmy Flowerpecker Dicaeum pygmaeum  - seen occasionally


Brown-throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis - regular
Purple-throated Sunbird Leptocoma sperataLyang Rd
Copper-throated Sunbird Leptocoma calcostetha - regular
Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis  - regular
Handsome Sunbird Aethopyga bella - regular


Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus  - common


Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata  - common
Black-headed Munia Lonchura malacca  - common


Richard's Pipit Anthus richardi – at St Pauls
Grey Wagtail – Penal Colony
Yellow Wagtail – rice fields


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