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BEST OF THE PHILIPPINES

Saturday 6th February - Sunday 28th February 2010

Simon Harrap

The Philippines is one of my very favourite destinations. Not only are there some great birds, but also the logistics are generally good and the people some of the friendliest and most helpful that you could hope to meet. On the down side, rampant habitat destruction, often combined with hunting or trapping for the cage bird trade, means that the avifauna is one of the most threatened in the world. And, with a rapidly increasing population, the pressure on the land is continually increasing and at most sites (Palawan and Subic excepted) the habitat is deteriorating steadily year on year. We were mostly ‘lucky’ with the weather, with blue skies and very little rain, but the lack of rain, due to El Niño, was in fact a problem, depressing bird activity. Despite this, we recorded a total of 306 species including an extremely high proportion of the available endemics (the exact total of endemics depends upon the taxonomy followed). Highlights included the awesome Philippine Eagle, Palawan Peacock-Pheasant, a superb set of kingfishers (including the beautiful Silvery, Spotted Wood and Rufous-lored Kingfishers), five endemic hornbills, Red-bellied and Azure-breasted Pittas, brilliant nightbirds (including Philippine and Chocolate Hawk-Owls, Luzon and Palawan Scops Owls, Spotted Wood Owl, and Philippine and Palawan Frogmouths), Falcated Ground-Babbler, six endemic sunbirds and nine endemic flowerpeckers.