Birding in Phillipines was an amazing experience that i didn t expect.I found many endemic especies but others were quite hard to find.Some national parks are not easy to reach,you need to ask to the locals and you have to be ready to go by jeepneys and motorbikes lots of times.
Subic Bay Forest Reserve was my first location where i started my birdwatching.It´s a wide area of virgin jungle,that hosts many birds that are very easy to see. In one day you can find lots of birds along the road and forest trails of this amazing reserve. Parrots, woodpeckers, coletos, doves, hornbills and malkhoas are quite common there.
Along the main road is one of the best places where I spot many interesting birds.I found Blue-naped Parrots ,eating fruits without effort on the nearbies of trails and roads in Subic many times. Green Raquetails were perched on exposed branches without leaves near the main road. Guaiaberos are other species that i saw many times flying very fast. Coletos are endemic birds that can be usually seen perched on electric wires. were also exposed on the wires along the road, flying sometimes in circles and coming back to the same place. Whiskered Treeswifts.All the filipino woodpeckers are in Subic and i could spot them in only one week.I could delight the view of a White bellied Woopecker,hunting on the trunk of a tree. I also saw the female of a Greater Flameback ,very close to me,undisturbed with my presence.Early in the morning i spotted the two endemic woodpeckers, the Sooty Woodpecker, on a trunk, and the Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker, unmistakeable, moving on the top branches of a tree.
Inside the forest was more tricky to locate birds.However I spotted a White-browed Shama perched on a branch on the understorey inside the forest.I met a Philippine Fairy Bluebird on the left side of a trail.The Rufuous Coucal was another great bird to see, moving and making noise among bamboo sticks.When i approached to him, this shy bird moved nervously to another sticks.Red-crested Malkohas was a common bird that i spot aong the road and trails in Subic.Someone told me that this area is a good place to find the awesome Red-bellied Pitta.I passed many times at different hours around there but i was unluck.
Other interesting birds I spotted in this reserve were Spotted Buttonquail, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Amethyst Brown Dove, Green Imperial Pigeon, Emerald Dove, Reddish Cuckoo Dove, Philippine Cockatoo, Colasisi, Scale-feathered Malkoha, Blue throated Bee-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Hooded Pitta, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Philippine Bulbul, Black-naped Oriole, White-fronted Tit, Grand Rabdornis, Stripe-headed Rabdornis, Ferrugineous Flycatcher.
My next destination was Mount Makiling.An amazing pristine primary area forest.It was not quite difficult to arrive there.You need to change jeepneys several times.Once there there aren´t many facilities.I found only one acommodation near the park and i went to eat in a restaurant on the UB Los Baños.It´s quite cheap and the food is not bad.Philippine Falconet was the first bird i saw perched on a dead tree near the acommodation site.
Afterwards i tried to go to the top of the mountain but i need someone who pick me up.There is only one jeepney per day but i was luck and a friendly local brought me to the top for a modest price.Red-crested Malkoha see above, was the first bird that i saw there foraging on the leaves of a tall tree..Once there I started to walk down trying to find another endemc bird,the Spotted Wood-Kingfisher, one of the most awesome filipino birds to see. Unfortunately i couldn´t find any of them.Another birds that i didn´t meet were the Philippine Trogon and Rufous Hornbill.I felt very upset when i arrived at my room.
Next day i went to the MBG garden early in the morning.I passed through the trail that is near the river many times and i couldn t see anything remarkable.But later, I watched an Indigo-Banded Kingfisher, see above .It was very quite perched on a branch and after seeing it for a short time,it flew away very fast into the forest.I am one of this privileged people that could spot this superb kingfisher !!!
Bohol Island was my second stop on my travel.After arrived i rented a bike and i went straight to see one of the smallest monkeys in the world,the Philippine Tarsier. It s a small animal with wide eyes and suction pads on its fingertips that inhabit on trees.After seeing this magnificent animal i went to the Rajah Sikaturna National Park trying to spot a Steere´s Pitta , the number one bird in the Philippines, and 2 endemic kingfishers that someone told me are difficult to see, Silvery Kingfisher and Rufous Lored Kingfisher.
I went by bike to the main town and after i turned left to the headquarters,about 2 km from the main town.I just could sleep on a “bed” that was full of acars and other creatures.Mosquitos were everywhere at any time.Next day i went along the trails all morning but i couln t spot anything intersting.So I decided to go to other parts of the park with the guide.We could find a Steere´s Pitta perched on a dead trunk deep inside the forest. It remained still for a long time.Next day around this area I could distinguish a Rufous Lored Kingfisher motionless on the top of a tree .
I try to find another endemic bird,the Wattled Broadbill, along the trails many times but i couldn t see it.The Philipine Trogon and the Rufous Hornbill still refused to appear in front of me .However, on my last day i spotted a magnificent Silvery Kingfisher, perched on a branch on a small river at midday !!
It was great to discover these bizarre and beautiful birds in this beautiful archipelago.After this travel i decided to spend more time in the Philippines living for almost one year.I would like to go to Mindanao to see the amazing endemic species found only there,but i will wait unti the political situation will be better.However, I already planned to visit other islands that hosts many odd birds that only inhabit there.