Trip Report – March 2019
Comments: This was a bit of a lazy birding trip for 8 nights on the way back from Australia – we stayed on the main island (Luzon) but if we had had a little more time I would have added a couple more of the islands – maybe Palawan and Bohol. As usual I have only listed life birds.
Day 1: The day started very early (3.30 am!!) but we had already had 2 lazy days at Raffles Hotel so we were rested and ready to go. We drove 2 hours east of Manila to an area called Infanta where we spent some time birding along the road and it was great. Philippine Bulbul, Philippine Cuckoo-dove, Elegant Tit, Flaming Sunbird, Scale-feathered Malkoha, Rusty-Bellied Cuckoo, Grey-rumped Swiftlet, Whiskered Pitta, Blue-headed Fantail, Trilling Tailorbird, Yellow-bellied Triller, Yellowish White-eye, Philippine Fairy Bluebird, Olive-backed Flowerpecker, Philippine Serpent-eagle, Philippine Hawk-eagle and Rufous-bellied Eagle. Quite a good start
After lunch we drove on down to Los Banos where we were staying at the university. We started birding again around 4pm and we had 4 life birds right outside the guest house, Grey-streaked Flycatcher, Stripe-headed Rhapdornis, Purple-throated Sunbird and White-throated Kingfisher, Elegant Tit, Scale-feathered Malkoha, Sooty Woodpecker, Stripe-headed Rhapdornis and Whiskered Treeswift.
Then it was up to the high point in the university grounds to finish the day with Grey-backed Tailorbird, Pygmy & Streaked Flowerpecker, Philippine Coucal and Philippine Hanging-parrot. Dinner at a restaurant in town, Luzon Hawk-owl on the way home and then night at the Guest House.
Day 2: Another early start to meet our Jeepney driver to take us up Mt Makling, It started with some great birds Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Black-chinned Fruitedove, Red-crested Malkoha and Spotted Kingfisher. Then things slowed down while we tired to track down a calling Bleeding-heart. We never did get to see it but we did get brief views of a female Philippine Trogon while we were waiting, along with Guaiabero and Luzon Hornbill.
It was Sunday and the park was very busy so we gave up early and headed back for a snooze.
Our afternoon outing started with sightings of the Indigo-banded Kingfisher at the bridge in the University and Gray-headed Buzzard overhead.
We then went into the Botanical Gardens but it was very quiet until we had great sightings of Red-keeled Flowerpecker and Philippine Falconet.
The final spot we covered was some grasslands out side town – we were looking for a few things (pittas and Munia) but, while it was quite birdy our only life was Barred Rail. Night at the Guest House.
Day 3: Decided to give Mt Makling another try so up early again to meet the Jeepney driver. The park was quieter today so we went right up to the top and took the small trail that starts where the road ends. This turned out to be a good choice and, although we still only heard the Bleeding-heart, we got great views of White-browed Sharma, Amethyst Brown-dove and Yellow-wattled Bulbul.
Headed back to Manila for a lazy couple of days at the Shangri-la.
Day 5: Our day started with a stop at the Mesa Eco-park for the Ashy Thrush, Mangrove Blue-flycatcher and Lowland White-eye, all of which we got in less than an hour. We were then driving out to Subic. A stop along the way gave us Chestnut Munia (along with non-lifers like Blue-tailed Bee-eater, White-browed Crake and Clamorous Reed Warbler).
Then on to Subic, On the drive into our accommodation we had Coletto and Blackish Cuckooshrike. We had a lovely casita at the hotel overlooking the water so enjoyed a lazy time before our afteroon outing.
This afternoon we birded the road leading to the hospital and had the most amazing experience with a huge breeding colony of Rufous-crowned Bee-eaters. While we were enjoying those we then saw a number of Whiskered Treeswift. Two stunning birds in the binoculars at the same time.
Further along the road our guide called in a Yellow-breasted Fruitdove – which is a great bird sighting – and Philippine Hawk-cuckoo did several close fly-bys. We were losing the light by this time so headed back to the lodge and enjoyed fantastic views of Chocolate Boobook on the wires and Great-eared Nightjar sitting on a post. What a day! Night at Kamana Sanctuary.
Day 6: Our last day of birding and we started with an amazing view of Sooty and White-bellied Woodpeckers and Luzon Flameback. It was incredible and although that was it for the morning it was worth it. Our afternoon trip was back to the road for the hospital. Our targets were Green Racquet-tail and Rufous Coucal and, unbelievably we got good views of both within a very short time.
On the way back we stopped in a residential area to watch an enormous flock of Blue-naped Parrots come in to roost. With that we had basically run out of new species so we decided to make the most of our last night in our lovely Casita.
Guides & Resources
Guides: Birding Philippines both planned and guided us.
Lonely Planet guide for points of interest