Mount Makiling is a forest area well-managed by Los Baños UP that hosts a remarkable number of Philippine endemic bird species. It s located on Laguna province, in Luzon Island and rises about 1050 m.
After arriving in Clark i was very excited to visit this place for my second time.I got into a bus to Cubao main station in Manila and after I went by another bus to Calamba.Once there i got into a jeepney to UP Campus Los Baños and went by another jeepney to the Forestry.Once you stop on Forestry,near the entrance of Mount Makiling,i found accomodation at Tree Hostel,the only available hostel inside the UP.Accomodation is simple but reliable.The price is 700 pesos per night ( about 13 euros ). Beds are not very confortable but there is a wifi area and rooms are provided with air-con.
Firstly I went to arrange transportation for next day. I talked to a motorbike driver at the main gate and we arranged a trip to the top of the mountain for a modest price, 200 pesos, go and come back ( about 3 euro ).
After lunch at the UP canteen, i start to do bird watching. The weather was not good but i was lucky enough to spot a pair of Philippine Falconets and Striped-sided Rabdornis in front of the hotel, on a dead trunk.A heavy rain came very soon, so I had to spend the rest of the afternoon at the hotel.
Next morning I wake up very early, at 6 o clock. The weather didn’t improve too much but I expect that after one hour the heavy rain would stop.We went to the top of the mountain through a rocky track until almost the top of the mountain but due to the rain was going on I decided to came back to the food stalls, beside the Mount Makiling Forest Park Area. After having breakfast and waiting for a long time I decided to come back to the hotel.
We spend all day in the hotel and I was getting on my nerves due to the rain. Fortunately on late afternoon the rain stopped and I got into a jeepney to UP campus to do our first checking. Around 5 o clock I could saw a pair of Red-keeled Flowerpecker on a tree without leaves. There is a small river near the campus where the water is dirty but we discovered that is an excellent place for finding bird species. White-throated kingfisher and Red-crested Malkoha were seen easily around this area. And around 5:30, near dusk, a Hodgson´s Hawk-Cuckoo appeared and perched on a branch. Unless my presence this unconspicuous bird let us take some good pictures for a long time.
My first birding was not as I expected but I thought that next day would be a sunny day, and a sunny day after a heavy rain means good bird activity on the tropics. Fortunately for me next morning rain stopped and the day was bright and clear. I wake up very excited and our driver was waiting for us on the main gate.Walking to the main track,near the guard station, I found a Philippine Hawk-Owl perched on a electric pole at 5:30 am and after checking its nearbies, it flew to a tree. After 20 minutes ride we stopped again on the food stalls and I started to do bird watching around this area. I could spot Balicassiaos, Scale-feathered Malkoha and Red-crested Malkoha here around 7 am.
Afterwards I continued our trip to the top of the mountain, but birding was not good there so we came back and stopped at the mud springs sign. Around there I followed a trail and I found Guaiaberos, Scale-feathered Malkoha, Balicassiaos,and Philippine Bulbuls. When I was going back to the main gate we stopped on half way and I met a Spotted-Wood Kingfisher,a stunning endemic bird,perched on a tree near one side of the track.It has a remarkable size and colourful blue and orange stripes on its head.I was overwhelmed for the beauty of this five stars bird !!!!
Around 9 am I had breakfast and I went to visit the MBG Garden, where I saw an Indigo-banded Kingfisher on my first visit, in 2009.It was Sunday and the gardens were crowded of students. As I expected the Indigo banded Kingfisher didn’t appear along the small stream.
After riding a jeepney to UP Campus I came back to the small river. Fortunately I enjoyed the sight with a pair of Indigo-banded Kingfisher fishing here around 1 o clock. One was fishing on a rock while the other one was watching out on the side of the river. Fortunately for me they spend long time doing their duty careless with my presence. I could take some pictures but my 400 mm zoom was not enough for the relatively long distance of these gorgeous pair of birds!!!
Indigo-banded Kingfisher is an unmistakable small-sized kingfisher that has 2 blue bands on its orange breast.It usually inhabits clean streams or small rivers but surprisingly these couple are adapted to this river.
Brown Shrikes, Red-keeled Flowerpeckers, Yellow-vented Bulbuls, White-throated Kingfisher were common birds that I saw around the UP Campus.
Around 5 o clock I spotted a Scale-feathered Malkoha, Philippine Bulbul, a shy Plain Bush Hen walking on the side of the river, and an Indigo Banded Kingfisher perched on a rock of the dirty river.
This day was great for me and I still remembered the amazing view of a Spotted Wood Kingfisher on my mind!!! Bird watching in Mount Makiling is not as easy as in Subic Bay but these hotspots were excellent places to enjoy birding!!!
Anyway I had a great time there and willing to do my next bird watching report from Palawan Island!!!!!
See you soon my friends!!!! 😉
Checklist of the birds I spot in Mount Makiling in Mach 2011:
Plain Bush Hen**
Hodgson´s Hawk Cuckoo*
Spotted Wood Kingfisher*
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Endemic * Near-endemic **