The Philippines is an island archipelago located in South East Asia, South of Taiwan and Hong Kong and has one of the World’s highest levels endemism when it comes to birds. It is a popular birding destination and boasts an impressive 650+ bird list with around 230 species of endemic birds. A wide variety of habitats supports the Countries rich bird life montane mossy and lowland tropical forests support most of the endemics while freshwater marshes and coastal flats harbour migrant and resident waterbirds.
Some of the most sought – after birds in the Philippines include the majestic Great Philippine Eagle, the colourful Wattled Broadbill, the spectacular Steers Pitta, Blue Capped and Spotted Wood Kingfishers, the endemic family of Creepers – Rhabdornises, the amusing rufous and Tarictic Hornbills and an assortment of Fruit Doves, Tailorbirds, Woodpeckers and Shamas.
This tour will involve visiting three major bird areas hosting the majority of endemics: the islands of Luzon, Mindanao and Palawan. In Mindanao, we will explore the high elevation mountains of Mt. Kitanglad for the King of all Philippine Birds – The Great Philippine Eagle.
Cost: £3,448 Including Flights
Location: The Philippines
Date: 11th – 24th June 2017
Tour Leader: Barry Macdonald
Group Size: 6
Day 1: Depart London
Day 2: International arrival to Manila
Arrive Manila International Airport. Upon arrival in Manila, we transfer to a comfortable mini-bus and proceed to Subic Bay. Subic features several endemic species that are hard to see elsewhere in the Philippines. A former US naval base, it has good expanse of lowland forest. The target species here are Rufous Coucal, Blackish Cuckoo-shrike, Green Racquet-tail and Trilling Tailorbird. Other rarities here include Yellow-breasted Fruit-dove, White-lored Oriole and White-fronted Tit. Philippine Serpent-Eagle and Philippine Hawk-Eagle are likely to be seen also in this excellent site. We will arrive in the afternoon, check-in at the hotel and go out for birding in the late afternoon. Overnight at the Mountain Woods Resort.
Day 3: SubicBay
We will have a full day of birding in Subic. We will visit several sites that are good for other Luzon lowland species. We will be looking for Sooty Woodpecker, Luzon Flameback, White- eared Brown-dove, Green Imperial and Philippine Green Pigeons, Guaiabero and Colasisi (small green parrots) as well as other Luzon specialities. Early morning and night sessions we will look for Chocolate Boobook, Luzon Hawk Owl, Great-eared Nightjar, Philippine Scops Owl. Overnight at the Mountain Woods Resort.
Day 4: Subic to La Mesa Ecopark to Mt. Makiling
We will depart early and proceed to La Mesa Ecopark, a forested public park in the outskirts of Manila. We will be looking for Ashy Ground Thrush, an endemic difficult to see elsewhere. Other birds possible here include Red-bellied Pitta, Hooded Pitta, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, Lowland White-eye, among others. We will spend a few hours birding here and then proceed south to Mt. Makiling in Laguna. Depending on our time of arrival, we may do an initial afternoon birding around the adjacent University of the Philippines Los Baños Campus to look for Lowland White- eye, Spotted and Barred Buttonquails, Barred and Buff-banded Rails, Philippine Coucal, Indigo- banded Kingfisher and if lucky, Plain Bush Hen. Overnight at the SEARCA Residence Hotels at the foothills of Mt. Makiling.
Day 5: Mt. Makiling, Laguna
Mt. Makiling, Laguna is an excellent birding site, an hour or so south of Manila. It is a very good introduction to birding in the Philippines. It features Luzon lowland endemics such as Philippine Falconet, Stripe-headed Rhabdornis, White-eared Brown-dove, Black-chinned Fruit-dove, Scale- feathered and Red-crested Malkohas, Spotted Wood Kingfishers, Luzon Tarictic Hornbill, White- browed Shama and Grey-backed Tailorbird, among others. It also features rare and uncommon birds such as the Luzon Bleeding-heart and the Ashy Ground Thrush. We will board a “jeepney,”a modified American military jeep in the early morning that will take us to the more birdy areas of the mountain. In the evenings and early mornings, we will look for endemic nocturnal birds like Luzon Hawk-Owl and Philippine Scops-Owl. Overnight at the SEARCA Residence Hotels.
Day 6– Makiling to Manila to Bohol
We will have our last morning birding here in Makiling if needed and then travel back to Manila to catch a short 1.5 hour flight to Tagbilaran, capital city of Bohol. Bohol is one of the small islands in the south central Philippines and contains several species similar to that of lowland Mindanao as well as species that can be only be seen on this small island. Bohol is famous for its Chocolate Hills, geologic formations that are shaped like Hershey’s Kisses that turn to chocolate brown during the summer months. We do our initial birding in the afternoon at Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape.
Day 7 – Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape.
We will be spending one full day in this superb lowland park situated in the center of the island of Bohol. We will be looking for the Yellow-breasted Tailorbird, a very localized bird that is only found in Bohol and nearby islands. We will be going inside forest trails and we will be looking for Rufous-tailed Jungle Flycatcher, Blue Fantail, Philippine Trogon, Philippine Fairy Bluebird and the skulker Black-faced Coucal. We will also take time and effort to locate Steere’s Pitta, one of the several colourful birds of the forest floor. If lucky, we might also see Visayan Wattled Broadbill, one of the specialties of the Park and Mindanao Bleeding-heart. In the early mornings, we will target Rufous-lored Kingfisher while the nearby forest streams might also produce Silvery Kingfisher.
Day 8 – Bohol to Manila to Cagayan de Oro to Mt. Kitanglad
We will take a morning flight out to Manila and then connect to a flight to Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao. Upon arrival, we transfer to mini-buses and proceed to Mt. Kitanglad. We will be staying in very basic and rustic accommodations at the foothills of the mountain. We will do a bit of birding in the camp looking for the more common Mindanao montane birds such as Elegant Tit, Sulphur-billed Nuthatch, Black and Cinnamon Fantail and Cinnamon Ibon. In the evenings, we will try to look for Bukidnon Woodcock, Philippine Frogmouth and if lucky, Giant Scops-owl.
Day 9,10 – Mount Kitanglad Mountain Range
We will have two full days in Mt. Kitanglad to search for Mindanao montane endemics. Our main target will be the Great Philippine Eagle, one of the biggest raptors in the world. Other endemics that we will be looking for are the funky-looking Apo Mynah, Red-eared Parrotfinch, endemic flowerpeckers and sunbirds such as the Olive-capped Flowerpecker and Grey-hooded Sunbird, Black and Cinnamon Fantail, Cinnamon Ibon, Mindanao Ibon (or Black-masked White- eye), McGregors’s Cuckoo-shrike and Yellow-bellied Whistler among others. On at least one day, we will be climbing up to 1800 meters to look for the high-elevation endemic Apo Sunbird.
Day 11 – Mt. Kitanglad to Cagayan de Oro to Manila to Palawan
We will break camp and then head back to Cagayan de Oro airport and proceed to Manila where we will connect with another local flight to Puerto Princesa in Palawan. This island southwest of Luzon has 11 island endemics and other birds that are very similar to those from mainland Asia. We then drive to Sabang, stopping at some sites in search of Palawan endemics. Later in the afternoon, we search for Palawan Scops Owl and Palawan Frogmouth. We stay at Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort for 2 nights.
Day 12 – Puerto Princesa (St. Pauls) Underground River National Park
Today, we will ride a motorized outrigger boat and travel for 20 minutes to reach Puerto Princesa (St. Pauls) Underground River National Park. This park supports most of Palawan’s specialties but we will be focusing on our main target here: the stunning Palawan Peacock Pheasant. Other birds present here include Tabon Scrubfowl, White-vented Shama, Stork-billed and Blue-eared Kingfishers, Palawan Blue Flycatcher, Lovely Sunbird, Palawan Hornbill and Blue- headed Racquet-tail. We return to Sabang for lunch and in the afternoon we will go out again for to look for other Palawan specialties.
Day 13 – Sabang -Puerto Princesa – Manila
We will have our last day birding looking for other Palawan specialties and then we will return to the city then catch an afternoon flight back to Manila. We will then bring you to the international terminal to catch your flights back home.
Day 14 – Arrive London
One of the 17 Mega diverse countries, with approximately 7,000 islands making up the Republic of the Philippines, wildlife holidays to the Philippines will never disappoint, incredible diversity, spectacular views and glistening ocean, these tropical islands have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The landscape ranges from vast forests, volcano mountains to stunning oceans, species of animal are incredible. With reportedly the highest diversity of water species in the world, See the countries national bird, the spectacular Philippines eagle or one of the 194 endemic species, a breath taking monitor lizard or the forest turtle, or venture out and see a rare humpback whale.