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ULTIMATE PHILIPPINES

Saturday 14th January - Friday 17th February 2017

Dani Lopez-Velasco

Philippine Frogmouth (Dani Lopez-Velasco)

Philippine Frogmouth (Dani Lopez-Velasco)

This year´s Birdquest "Ultimate Philippines" tour comprised of the main tour and two post-tour extensions, resulting in a five-week endemics bonanza. The first three weeks focused on the better-known islands of Luzon, Palawan and Mindanao, and here we had cracking views of some of those mind-blowing, world´s must-see birds, including Philippine Eagle, Palawan Peacock-Pheasant, Wattled Broadbill and Azure-breasted Pitta, amongst many other endemics. The first extension took us to the central Visayas where exciting endemics such as the stunning Yellow-faced Flameback, the endangered Negros Striped Babbler or the recently described Cebu Hawk-Owl were seen well, and we finished with a trip to Mindoro and remote Northern Luzon, where Scarlet-collared Flowerpecker and Whiskered Pitta delighted us.

Our success rate with the endemics– the ones you come to the Philippines for- was overall very good, and highlights included no less than 14 species of owl recorded, including superb views of Luzon Scops Owl, 12 species of beautiful kingfishers, including Hombron´s (Blue-capped Wood) and Spotted Wood, 5 endemic racket-tails and 9 species of woodpeckers, including all 5 flamebacks. The once almost impossible Philippine Eagle-Owl showed brilliantly near Manila, odd looking Philippine and Palawan Frogmouths gave the best possible views, impressive Rufous and Writhed Hornbills (amongst 8 species of endemic hornbills) delighted us, and both Scale-feathered and Rough-crested (Red-c) Malkohas proved easy to see. A pair of Ashy Thrushes gave amazing views, and Celestial Monarch, getting very rare these days, was seen nicely as well. 14 species of flowerpeckers, including the rare Whiskered, a Birdquest lifer, were seen, as well as no less than 16 species of sunbirds, including the seldom seen Lina´s Sunbird, together with the 3 world´s rhabdornis (formerly placed in their own family and now considered to be “just” starlings), including the rare Grand Rhabdornis.

Deforestation is a very serious issue in the Philippines. In no time and unless urgent conservation work takes 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.

Ashy Thrush (Dani Lopez-Velasco)

Ashy Thrush (Dani Lopez-Velasco)