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BEST OF THE PHILIPPINES

Sunday 31st January - Saturday 20th February 2016

Daniel Lopez Velasco

The superlative Palawan Peacock Pheasant (Dani Lopez-Velasco).

The superlative Palawan Peacock Pheasant (Dani Lopez-Velasco).

This year´s Birdquest “Best of Philippines” tour was yet again another highly successful tour to this avian endemic paradise. During the 3 weeks we visited various spots in the islands of Luzon, Palawan and Mindanao, where we saw some of those mind-blowing, world´s must-see birds, including Philippine Eagle, Palawan Peacock-Pheasant or Azure-breasted Pitta, amongst many others. Our success rate with the endemics– the ones you come here for- was overall very good, and highlights included a good assortment of owls, such as the rare Luzon Scops Owl, 12 species of colourful kingfishers, including Hombron´s (Blue-capped Wood) and Spotted Wood Kingfishers, and 4 endemic racket-tails. Bizarre-looking Philippine and Palawan Frogmouths gave the best possible views, impressive Rufous and Writhed Hornbills (amongst 5 species of endemic hornbills) delighted us, and both Scale-feathered and Rough-crested (Red-c) Malkohas were seen well. A pair of Ashy Thrushes showed at point blank range, shy Falcated and Striated Wren-Babblers were lured into view and a flock of three stunning Celestial Monarchs, getting rare these days, gave fair views, together with Short-crested Monarch. The very rarely seen and ultra skulking Benguet Bush Warbler showed itself, and no less than 12 species of sunbirds, including the very localized Apo, were observed.

Deforestation is a very serious issue in the Philippines. In no time and unless urgent conservation measurements take place, some of these exciting endemics will go extinct, so it´s a bit of a privilege every time you get to see these endangered birds.

A gorgeous Azure-breasted Pitta pictured near its nest (Dani Lopez-Velasco).

A gorgeous Azure-breasted Pitta pictured near its nest (Dani Lopez-Velasco).