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Apo Myna

Mount Kitanglad


Everett's Scops Owl, Bilar, Bohol



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Philippine Frogmouth

Del Monte lodge Mt. Kitanglad




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Ruddy Kingfisher, Bilar, Bohol


Yellow-wattled Bulbul, Los Banos


Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike, Subic


Philippine Falconet, Makiling


Whiskered Treeswift, Kitanglad


Philippine Tarsier, Bohol


Philippine Eagle, Kitanglad


Philippine Trogon, Bohol


Clamorous Reed Warbler, Cebu


Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Candaba


Chinese Goshawk, Los Banos









All bird photographs taken

 ‘on tour’

are opportunity shots by

Stijn De Win

Copyright ©    All rights reserved.


B2A Philippines 2013

Luzon, Bohol, Cebu and Mindanao, 3-16 February


Participants; Jean-Francois Bourhis, Rick Franks, Sharon Bostick,

Frank Bills, Colin Lunt, Martin Käch. Tour leader; Stijn De Win


Candaba Marsh, Subic Bay, Mt. Makiling, Rajah Sikatuna NP,

Alcoy Nug-as Forest, Mt. Kitanglad


+ Palawan extension (photos)


Click here for the tour bird list.



    Luzon Hornbill, Subic Bay                                               Red-crested Malkoha, Mt. Makiling


Careful planning, a good itinerary, local knowledge, great logistics… they may not be the only ingredients of a successful tour? Any tour would need a little luck perhaps, and just then turn out real great. So I believe we enjoyed some good luck on this tour! We had a nice small group of keen yet relaxed birders, found a great deal of the available birds to be cooperative and not unimportant we were lucky with the weather throughout. Especially on Mount Kitanglad some of these lucky bits are most welcome at times. The Philippine Eagles were not breeding this year (they do every other year) what made sightings less reliable (but looks good indeed for next year!) and as Carlito, the local guide on Kitanglad told me, some groups had missed the Eagle earlier this year. We had to wait a little longer than usual on the Eagle viewpoint but then got rewarded with an excellent sighting of the bird not only in flight but it also went to perch for some 20 minutes so we could make good use of our scopes. Soak up the moment in the sun, and yes, relief for sure with our sighting; -just only 2 days after our visit a tropical storm went through central Mindanao- it gave the next group up Kitanglad the odd 40? hours of rain. I heard they still got some good birds but I can only guess it may not exactly have been like pleasant birding? Anyway, no worry at all, for next year, what we did is make a new reservation for some repeated luck indeed. Cheers.


                         Grey-hooded Sunbird, Kitanglad                                                  Philippine Tarsier, Bohol


We walked away with a great many highlights on this tour; A few special ones to remember were 17 species of raptor, with six of them endemic and 1 of them “the Eagle”, a gathering of 16 Stripe-breasted Rhabdornis on Kitanglad, Philippine Tarsier and Visayan Broadbill on Bohol, at least 50 Long-snouted Flipper Dolphins to entertain those not completely taken away by ‘August Rush’ on the fast ferry crossing Bohol – Cebu, daytime stake-out owls good for excellent photos to be taken; Philippine Eagle-Owl at Angano and Everetts Scops Owl on Bohol (and daytime Palawan Scops seen on the extension as well), and then there were the Purple Needletails which I know for some birders may only count as non-endemic list additions but I’ll never forget those we saw on our way down from Kitanglad. What a spectacle! Swooping down just half a meter above the fields at such incredible speeds and some passing just meters from eh… our feet, yes that’s how low they came. Many kept coming as well and I should not forget to mention this special sound of the air gushing through their wings. My goodness, I love’em, love them a lot!


Our group on the way to Eagle viewpoint, Mount Kitanglad.



      Indigo-banded Kingfisher, Makiling Botanical Garden                            Handsome Sunbird, Alcoy, Cebu


Of course many of the harder to get ‘classics’ were found and enjoyed well; White-fronted Tit, White-lored Oriole, Azure-breasted Pitta, Black Shama, McGregors’ Cuckooshrike, Northern Silvery Kingfisher, Spotted Buttonquail, Scale-feathered Malkoha, Mindanao Racquet-tail, Yellow-breasted Tailorbird, Handsome Sunbird, Philippine Trogon, Streaked Ground Babbler, Black-and-Cinnamon Fantail,…  -and since you ask- yes, all are endemic. Superb isn’t it?


Mindanao Racquet-tail                                                      Mt. Kitanglad                                              Olive-capped Flowerpecker


Candaba Marsh, at the start of the tour, provided us with a pleasant morning birding on our way to Subic. Traditionally it comes with the first endemic seen, Philippine Duck, but there’s plenty other stuff to enjoy before dropping into the Philippine forests for most of the remainder of the tour; Purple Swamphen –rare in the Philippines-, a Common Pochard –a rarity in the Philippines-, Dusky Warbler –very rare vagrant in the Philippines-, a male Eastern Marsh Harrier, Wandering Whistling Ducks, White-browed Crake, Cinnamon Bittern…


Long-tailed Shrike                                                             Mt. Kitanglad                                                            Mountain White-eye


At Subic on our first afternoon the Philippine endemic birds came in quick succession. Green Racquet-tail, Coleto, Guaiabero, Luzon Hornbill, Elegant Tit, Philippine Woodpecker, Philippine Serpent Eagle, Rufous-crowned Bee-eater, White-eared Dove and Philippine Bulbul gave us a nice introduction to the forest birding. Of course on the next days we focused on the Subic specialties which we all managed in the end. Good to remember were White-fronted Tit, Blue-naped Parrot, White-lored Oriole, White-browed Shama, Blackish Cuckoo-shrike, Blue-headed Fantail, Lowland White-eye, Sooty and White-bellied Woodpecker, Luzon Flameback, Philippine Tailorbird, a surprise Oriental Hobby and a bonus Rufous-bellied Eagle.


                                  Kitanglad scenery                                                               Chocolate Hills viewpoint, Bohol



Philippine Duck, Candaba                                                           Wandering Whisling Duck and a vagrant Common Pochard


Daytime owls are great! And so we went for the new stake-out Philippine Eagle-Owls at Angano. The news about this family Eagle-Owls so easily spotted in the daytime only came out in April last year. This means that the Owls have been on show for quite a while but in fact this is only the first of our tours in February to have been able to visit and fill up some memory cards. Lucky participants!


Pied Fantail                                                                        Mt. Kitanglad                                                               View on 'Eagle Hill'


Mt. Makiling started with some worries as we found the main birding track up the mountain to be closed for visitors, and for no any good reason it appeared. So, after some unwilling officials etc. it was clear to us that our tour wasn’t just about luck. In the Philippines, very often, things simply don’t work easily, in the Philippines one very often has to make things work. And so we did! Birding around the Botanical Garden, university grounds and Scout camp gave us just about the same birds we could have expected on the track. Possibly we may have scored better even; Spotted Kingfisher, Scale-feathered Malkoha, Philippine Hawk Eagle, Philippine Falconet, Indigo-banded Kingfisher, Spotted Buttonquail, Yellowish White-eye, Yellow-wattled Bulbul, Red-crested Malkoha, Balicassiao, Stripe-sided Rhabdornis, Grey-backed Tailorbird…


Guaiabero                                                                                   Subic                                                                   White-lored Oriole


On Bohol everything went smooth to say the least. It may not always be the easiest of birding at Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape but in the end we got rewarded with all the main targets and a couple bonuses on top. Another daytime Owl we could enjoy and photograph from just a few meters away certainly was a great bonus (Everett’s Scops Owl) and a Ruddy Kingfisher that seemed glued to its perch managed to delay our lunch by quite some time. Home-made ice-cream, Tarsiers and Chocolate Hills are some other bonuses on Bohol but mentioning these doesn’t mean the special birds let us down; Visayan Broadbill on view for all, Yellow-breasted Tailorbird, Philippine Trogon, Azure-breasted Pitta, Rufous-lored Kingfisher, Black-faced Coucal, Philippine Cuckoo-Dove, Philippine Drongo-Cuckoo, Silvery Kingfisher, Philippine Fairy Bluebird, Streaked Ground Babbler, Visayan Blue Fantail, Buff-spotted Flameback, Pygmy Swiftlet, Samar Hornbill, Philippine Leaf-Warbler, Rufous-tailed Jungle-Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Whistler… a long list I know.


                               White-browed Crake, Cebu                                       White-lored Kingfisher, Rajah Sikatuna, Bohol


From Bohol getting to Cebu, it seems, may very often holds some surprises. Last year a delayed fast-ferry actually got us an Aleutian Tern in the harbor and to my delight, errhhh!!, this year I got noticed the odd 2 hours before our departure that our scheduled journey on the Supercat got cancelled. Off to the harbor I went while our guests have lunch in the hotel. So I quickly managed new tickets on the Ocean Jet which got us to Cebu at about the same time we had planned previous, and not without seeing the many Dolphins mentioned earlier in the highlights paragraph! I’ve made this crossing so many times… and this is the first time any Dolphin shows up for me. Excellent! I’m already looking forward to the next delayed or cancelled boat trip. We’ll make this work anyhow!


Sooty Woodpecker                                                                    Subic                                                                           Luzon Hornbill


Cebu always is a nice stop-over on our tour. A daytrip to Alcoy in our brand-new van is a good way to catch some extra birds for the tour. That this includes an endangered single island endemic is good to know. No need to hide our tradition, we got the Black Shama less than 5 minutes after we got out of the vehicle. The near-endemic White-vented Whistler, endemic Handsome Sunbird, Eastern Crimson Sunbird and possibly to be split ‘black-tailed’ Oriental Magpie Robin are some other species not seen elsewhere on the tour. The birding at Alcoy is pleasant and the air surprisingly cool up at 650m altitude. Hooded Pitta, Philippine Hawk Cuckoo, Black-chinned Fruit-Dove, Elegant Tit, Pygmy Swiftlet, Rusty-breasted Cuckoo and Mangrove Blue Flycatcher all help to make this a delightful daytrip. The return journey to Cebu held a German restaurant complete with ‘snitzel’ and another stop provided with some easy birding around some seaside ponds which held waders, White-browed Crake, singing Clamorous Reed Warblers…


Philippine Woodpecker                                                            Subic                                                        Stripe-sided Rhabdornis



Candaba marsh and Wandering Whistling Ducks


Mount Kitanglad for many is the highlight of any trip to the Philippines, and no wonder; camp in the middle of nature with some good food on top, hear Philippine Frogmouth and Bukidnon Woodcock from your sleeping bag… that is, no need to get up, you’ve had plenty good looks already… easy as it is! Most of the birding on Kitanglad isn’t that hard indeed. Sit on the viewpoint until the Eagle appears. Watch the flocks with Cinnamon Ibon, Black-and-Cinnamon Fantail, Mountain White-eyes, Mountain Verditer Flycatcher… Apo Myna and Stripe-breasted Rhabdornis aren’t especially skulking… same with Mindanao Racquet-tail. Anyway, what I want to say is most of the area along the trail to the viewpoint is quite open with pockets of forest to provide good productive forest edge birding; Grey-hooded Sunbird, Sulphur-billed Nuthatch, Pinsker’s Hawk Eagle, Whiskered Treeswift, Mindanao Hornbill, Olive-capped Flowerpecker, Yellow-breasted Fruit-Dove, Short-tailed Starling, Apo Sunbird, McGregor’s Cuckoo-shrike, Eye-browed Thrush, Philippine Nightjar, Buzzing Flowerpecker… and the Purple Needletails on the walk down, to be remembered. 


                            Blue-naped Parrot, Subic                                                        Spotted Water Snake juv., Bohol


Subic;                                         Dollarbird                      Luzon Flameback                  Rufous Coucal                              ;Subic


Full trip list  /  Palawan extension photos


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