The Phillipines Islands is a bird paradise for discover,with almost 600 species of birds, and 172 species found only there. Birdwatchers usually travel to other areas of South East Asia and forget this lovely and very interesting place to enjoy nature.
Most of the Philippines land is cultivation area but still remains excellent virgin jungle on the north of Luzon, Sierra Madre, Mindanao, and other few places in the Visayas Islands that still hosts lots of birds and mammals.Mindanao still preserves wide areas of virgin jungle and it´s a great hotspot for birdwatchers as it hosts many endemic species found in only this island.However some parts of the island are not advisable for tourists because of political problems.
Birdwatching in the Philippines is an excellent and interesting activity for spotting endemic species and maybe found new species that are not discovered yet !!
The best time for birdwatching is on the dry season, from December to July.On the wet season it´s hard to spot most of the interesting birds, except a few exceptions, like pittas, when they started their mating activity ,moving around and making their typical calls.
There are some good national parks and reserves for birdwatching as :
- Luzon: Subic Bay Forest Reserve, Northern Sierra Madre National Park, Mount Pulag National Park, Candaba Marshes, Quezon National Park and Mount Makiling.
- Visayas: Rajah Sikaturna National Park, Mount Kanlaon National Park, Lake Danao National Park.
- Mindanao: Mount Apo National Park, Mount Hamiguitan National Park, Mount Kitanglad National Park, Mount Malindang National Park and Agusan Marsh Wildlife Santuary.
- Palawan: Tabon Caves National Park, El Nido-Taytay Protected Area, Balbac Island, Coron island.
- Batanes: Batanes Islands Protected landscapes and seascapes.
Subic Bay Forest Reserve is the first excellent location that any birdwatcher should go.It´s a wide area of virgin jungle,that hosts many birds that are very easy to see. In one day you can find more than 100 species ! Parrots, falconets, coletos, malkohas, rabdornis, hornbills , trogons, and all species of philippine woodpeckers are quite common there.You can go there by bus or van from Dau, in Clark , to Ologanpo.In Ologanpo you can find accomodation easily but after you need transportation to move inside the reserve.Along Baretto Beach there are many hotels where you can sleep and rent a bike for an affordable price.
Along the road, inside the reserve, is a great place to spot many of these birds.One of the best places to see birds are in Hill 394,where on the left of the road you can find a good birding trail.I recommend you to spend more time in this area.The road to Nabasan Beach,the road to the water station,and the Apalin trails area are other hotspots for birdwatching as well.In Subic Heights residential unit you can see many common birds on the nearbies.
The most interesting birds here are the Blue-naped parrot, Red-crested and Scale-feathered Malkoha, Coleto, Rufous Coucal, Tarictic Hornbill,Rufuous Hornbill, Guayabero, Green Raquetail, Balicassiao, Philippine Cockatoo, Whiskered Treeswift, White-eared Brown Dove, Amethyst Brown-Dove, Philippine Falconet, Philippine Pigmy woodpecker, Sooty Woodpecker, Philippine Bluebird, Philippine Bubul, Striped-headed and Grand Rabdornis and Red-bellied Pitta.
Other interesting birds in this reserve are Spotted Buttonquail, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Green Imperial Pigeon, Emerald Dove, Reddish Cuckoo Dove, Blue throated Bee-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Hooded Pitta, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Black-naped Oriole, White-fronted Tit, Ferrugineous Flycatcher and more.
Mount Makiling, an ancient extinct volcano, is another hotspot for birdwatching. Located in Laguna province, it´ s an excellent rainforest area.It hosts about 180 species of birds, with a high rate of endemicity, and 45 species of mammals.This area is well-managed by the U.B. Los Baños.However it s not easy to arrive here by yourself and once there you need a four wheels or a good jeepney to go to the top of the mountain.There are just a few accomodations before the checkpoint area.I suggest you to go to the top of the mountain by taxi-bike and after checking the surroundings,walk down along the track to the checkpoint.
The most interesting birds are the Philippine Falconet, Red-crested Malkoha, Spotted-Wood Kingfisher, Indigo-banded Kingfisher, Stripe-sided Rhabdornis, Philippine Hawk-Owl, Philippine Pigmy Woodpecker, Guayabero, Luzon Tarictic Hornbill, Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike, Philippine Bulbul, and Balicassiao.
Rajah Sikaturna National Park is a national park located in Bohol Island, near Bilar, and another great place to observe beautiful and endemic birds.It´s the widest remaining forest in the Philippines and probably the number one national park for birdwatching.It s well comunicated.You can arrive by bus and stop at Pilar town.There are not many accomodations where to sleep, however you can sleep inside the national park for a modest price but rooms are not very confortable.The road to the entrance,between Bilar and the headquarters is a great place to spot birds.On the nearbies of the headquarters there are many trails available but you need experienced eyes to find some of the most interesting birds or to rent a guide for an affordable price.
Great birds to see there are Steere´s Pitta, Philippine Trogon, Rufuous-lored Kingfisher, Silvery Kingfisher an d Wattled Broadbill.Most of them located on the southern Visayas islands and Mindanao.
Other interesting birds to see are Philippine Hawk-Owl, Philippine Frogmouth, Brush Cuckoo, Black-faced Coucal, Philippine Nightjar, Philippine Coucal, Pygmy Swiftlet, Nightbirds, Yellow-wattled Bulbul, Streaked Ground-Babbler,Mindanao Bleeding-Heart, Brown Tit-Babbler, Red-keeled Flowerpecker, Metallic-winged Sunbird, Pink-bellied Imperial Pigeon, White-bellied Woodpecker,Reddish Cuckoo Dove, Red-bellied Pitta, Philippine Oriole, Everett’s White-eye, White-eared Brown-Dove, Tarictic Hornbill, White-bellied Woodpecker, Black-crowned Babbler, Blue Fantail, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Yellow-bellied Whistler, and Bicolored Flowerpecker.
There are other amazing national parks to go in Mindanao, Palawan and Batanes and I am willing to go soon !!!