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Blue-throated Bee-eater, Subic


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Grey-tailed Tattler, Bohol


Chinese Egret, Bohol


Baclayon Church, Bohol

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Rajah Sikatuna NP



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Sooty Woodpecker, Subic Bay


Balicassiao, Subic Bay


White-cheeked Bullfinch, Kitanglad



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White-bellied Woodpecker, Subic


Whiskered Treeswift, Subic Bay


Green Racquet-tail, Subic Bay


White-breasted Woodswallow

Subic Bay





All birds photographed ‘on tour’

are opportunity shots by

Stijn De Win



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B2A – Philippines 2010

Mindanao, Cebu, Bohol & Luzon

16 February – 1 March


Text and tour photos by Stijn De Win                             Tour report page 2  /  Full trip list.


Monday 22 February 2010

Coral flats near Baclayon were visited first this morning. Our stake-out for Chinese Egret produced 4 birds which we watched nicely showing their feeding techniques. They’re classified as vulnerable with an estimated world population of just 4000 individuals and consequently always a good one to see.

Usually highly wanted and nearly always present here is Grey-tailed Tattler of which we found no less than 6 birds amongst some other more common waders.

Still pretty early when we entered the forest again at Rajah Sikatuna and Steere’s Pittahad been pointed to as 1 of the most wanted birds today…actually, it took less than 5 minutes before we got the Pitta to pose in the open on a bare branch at close range! A Yellow-wattled Bulbul didn’t do exactly the same and gave only a couple brief looks before the same Steere’s Pitta started calling again on a slope were we found it again for prolonged scope views.

We encountered some good flocks again and added Scarlet Minivet to the trip list. Philippine Oriole wasn’t easy to get a view of as they kept high above closed lower canopy. Half an hour perhaps before 1 gave good views as it perched briefly exactly in that little visible bit of the tree we had anticipated for looking through a tiny gap in the lower canopy.

We had lunch at the extraordinary shaped Chocolate Hills before returning to the reserve seeing a Greater Painted Snipe en-route and went for more and better Silvery Kingfisher looks before entering the forest again. Birding in the afternoon was a bit slow but we did add another Philippine Trogon before watching Great-eared Nightjars coming out at dusk. A Philippine Scops Owl called a couple times before it flew high overhead across the clearing to forest on the opposite slope.


Black-chinned Fruit-Dove                                         – Bohol –                                       Philippine Serpent Eagle


Tuesday 23 February 2010

Our last morning on Bohol and on the trails again at Rajah Sikatuna. A couple rufopunctatus Greater Flameback showed well before we detected ‘bill snapping noise’! Visayan Wattled Broadbills! Soon a female posed for scope views for all, then disappeared and did exactly the same again on exactly the same perch a little while later. Some more birds were definitely around and calling quite well but didn’t show.

Time was somewhat limited this morning in the forest as we had to catch our flight to Luzon. Nothing to worry as we had seen almost all possible targets although some Blue-crowned Racquet-tails were heard only…and good to hear as a very scarce species not regularly recorded. Also 3 Striated Wren Babblers performed quite well on our walk out.

Lunch in Tagbiliran, flight to Manila and transfer to Subic for dinner.


Chinese Egret, feeding on coral flats near Tagbiliran, Bohol.


24 + 25 February 2010

Our two full days at Subic Bay were ideal to catch up with the birds of Luzon and of course the site specialities while we additionally did add no less than 5 new species for the area list incl. the second ever sighting of Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike for Philippines.

Bird activity on the first morning was a bit low but we did got both White-lored Oriole and White-fronted Tit, both difficult to get targets at Subic. Further on enjoyed Philippine Tailorbird, Subic’s parrots with Green Racquet-tail, and plenty Blue-naped Parrot are always superb with both Guaiabero and Colasisi common. Woodpeckers of course are a feature of the area and at some point got 3 species together in a single tree. Sooty, Greater [Luzon] Flameback and White-bellied Woodpecker together! For another White-bellied we almost needed ear-plugs as it was to drum its head off on playback response!

Our evening session held perfect looks of staked-out Philippine Nightjar and Philippine Hawk Owl.

Here’s some other specialities and goodies we recorded at Subic ; Blackish Cuckoo-shrike, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Luzon Hornbill, Dollarbird, Emerald Dove, Philippine Green Pigeon, Lowland White-eye, Chinese Goshawk, Philippine Serpent Eagle perched, the elusive White-browed Shama posing in the open, Philippine Falconet, Philippine Cuckoo-Dove, White-eared Dove, plenty groups Rufous Coucal, 2 Purple Needletails, Red-crested Malkohas, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, Black-naped Monarch, Elegant Tit , Pygmy Flowerpecker, Balicassiao, Red Junglefowl, Coleto and last but not least a member of the only bird family endemic to the Philippines, the Stripe-sided Rhabdornis.


Luzon Hornbill, male                                                   - Subic –                                      Luzon Hornbill, female


Friday 26 February 2010

After a last enjoyable morning birding at Subic, lunch and check-out, we left for Candaba Marsh, a 2 hours drive away.

On arrival at Candaba in the mid-afternoon, plenty new birds greeted us with birding in the more open surroundings easy. The heron colony seemed to hold more birds than last year, the Purple -and Grey Herons and Black-crowned Night Heron all featured beautiful breeding plumage. The duck flock held Tufted Duck and a few Garganey but we also recorded 3 Eurasian Teal, which are very scarce in Philippines. More exciting of course were the endemic Philippine Ducks. Good to see at Candaba are the Purple [Philippine] Swamphens and I believe an Eastern Marsh Harrier was new for my Philippine list! Even better to find was the scarce Island Collared Dove with others added to our list to include Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Pied Bushchat, brief Blue-breasted Quail, heard Oriental Pratincole, both Yellow –and Cinnamon Bittern, White-browed Crake, Oriental Reed Warbler and Blue-tailed Bee-eater.


Philippine Duck                                                – Candaba March –                       Purple [Philippine] Swamphen


Saturday 27 February 2010

Today we first had to travel to Los Banos, where after check-in and lunch the swimming pool was welcome during the mid-day hot hours before our afternoon birding session. Mt.Makiling indeed was the first site to visit on this trip that has bird activity during the hot hours near to zero, luckily it can be very good in the morning and late afternoon.

Anyway, on arrival by the dairy farm, we got straight onto at least 6 Barred Buttonquail who used a freshly ploughed field to forage.

Then, positioned on the track we waited for Spotted Buttonquail to cross and indeed it didn’t took long before 1 bird did exactly that. A little later on a pair crossed and even more excitement came with a couple Plain Bush-hen sightings as they crossed a nearby field showing in the open.

Long-tailed and Brown Shrikes, Tawny Grassbird, Striated Swallows, Asian Palm Swift and Oriental Pipit were some other species noted in the area.


Stripe-sided Rhabdornis                                                                                                           Mount Makiling


Sunday 28 February 2010

An early start is necessary at Mt.Makiling and dawn saw us walk up the track with Spotted Wood Kingfishers calling nearby. Before we got a male of this species for excellent scope views at another location, we first connected with Handsome Sunbird and one of the most stunning birds of Philippines, the Scale-feathered Malkoha which allowed a couple good looks in the foliage.

Also Red-crested Malkoha made an appearance and allowed for better looks than we have had earlier on during this tour.

Other birds seen this morning were a very cooperative Rufous Paradise-Flycatcher, Pygmy Flowerpecker, a perched Chinese Goshawk being mobbed by Yellowish White-eye, Striped Flowerpecker, a beautiful Purple-throated Sunbird, Black-chinned Fruit-Dove, Yellow-wattled Bulbul, Luzon Hornbill, Philippine Drongo-Cuckoo for scope views, Philippine Falconet, Stripe-sided Rhabdornis and 8 Purple Needletails overhead.

Indigo-banded Kingfisher was our quest for the afternoon. They might be fairly easy to find by the bridges on the campus in the morning but one doesn’t really want to loose a morning for that in the forest with afternoons there usually very slow. It didn’t work for us at first by the bridges although we had a brief fly-by, got Lowland White-eye, Philippine Woodpecker and Philippine Coucal. Time for plan B and we gained ‘special’ permission in the otherwise ‘off limits to visitors’ botanical garden and here down by the river we soon found our Indigo-banded Kingfisher perched for ideal scope views.

With time left decided to visit the dairy farm area again were the Barred Buttonquails performed once more and we found a pair Spotted Buttonquail in a nearby location when they scurried slowly across the road giving excellent prolonged views. Also the Barred Rail we wanted for better looks made an appearance no less than 4 times. Just before dusk also added another endemic to our list, a calling Philippine Hawk Cuckoo was quickly located perched in a tree by the roadside.


Black-naped Oriole                                              – Subic Bay –                                    Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike


Monday 1 March 2010

Last day of the tour and last morning on Mt.Makiling. While targets were few after yesterday’s success, we did add Olive-backed Pipit, Ashy Minivet and Pacific Swift for the trip list. Highlight of the morning perhaps was a Scale-featered Malkoha to perform impossibly well for such a skulking species. What an opportunity and after some digiscoping action was consequently converted soon to ‘photo of the trip’.

Flaming Sunbird unfortunately proved one of very few birds to keep eluding us on this tour but quite a few other goodies showed again, Rufous Paradise-Flycatcher, a brief Spotted Wood Kingfisher, good views of Red-crested Malkoha and Philippine Hawk Cuckoo, Philippine Serpent Eagle, Guaiabero, Luzon Hornbill, Pygmy Flowerpecker, Plain-throated Sunbird, Yellowish White-eye…


After lunch and some rest by the pool, time came to head for Manila and look back on a most successful tour.


Greater [Luzon] Flameback, Subic                                                                                           Candaba Marsh


Go to page 1                                      This report has 3 pages.                                Go to full trip list.


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