Easy Philippines Feb 24—Mar 11, 2018
Posted by Dion Hobcroft
Adri and I were back on the road in the Philippines for our 2018 tour, and it was good to be back birding with my good friend in this friendly and exotic tropical country. Our first day of birding started at Candaba Marshes, this year suffering from a very low water level. It was still remarkably active, and we had very good views of the two key endemics we were targeting here—the handsome Philippine Duck and equally handsome Philippine Swamphen. Plenty of other species kept our gaze occupied including a small flock of wintering White-shouldered Starlings and at least two Eastern Marsh-Harriers, both quite scarce in the Philippines.
A good variety of more widespread Asian wetland birds showed well including Wandering Whistling-Duck, Yellow and Cinnamon bitterns, Barred Rail, White-browed Crake, two Watercocks seen briefly in flight, Oriental Pratincole, Whiskered Tern, Lesser Coucal, Common Kingfisher, Clamorous Reed-Warbler, Striated Grassbird, and Chestnut Munia. Fringing trees supported Golden-bellied Gerygone, Pied Triller, Philippine Pied-Fantail, and a few Arctic Warbler types, one of which gave the diagnostic contact call of the Kamchatka Leaf-Warbler and came down to have a look at us when we played these notes back to it. Interestingly, we found a couple of bats—one a Geoffroy’s Rousette disturbed roosting in a palm frond, and then a belfry hiding several Lesser Yellow House Bats.
After lunch at “Shakeys” we traveled through to Subic, checking into our comfortable hotel and taking a break. The afternoon session was positively cracking with stunning looks at a lot of key species. Philippine Green-Pigeon, Green Imperial-Pigeon, the superb Red-crested Malkoha, White-bellied Woodpecker, Luzon Flameback, Luzon Hornbill, Guiabero, and Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike all showed very well in the telescope. At dusk several Great Eared-Nightjars floated overhead, repeatedly sweeping past and over us. Then we found a wonderful Chocolate Boobook sitting out on the forest edge and, as we edged closer, it gave wonderful looks, rounding out what had been a very good first day on this tour.
Read Dion’s full report in his Field Report.