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ULTIMATE PHILIPPINES

Sunday 18th January - Friday 13th February 2015

Dani López-Velasco

Palawan Peacock Pheasant (Dani López-Velasco)

Palawan Peacock Pheasant (Dani López-Velasco)

This year´s Ultimate Philippines tour was yet again another highly successful tour to this avian endemic paradise. The first three weeks focused on the better-known islands of Luzon, Palawan and Mindanao, and here we saw some of those mind-blowing, world´s must-see birds, including Philippine Eagle, Palawan Peacock-Pheasant, Azure-breasted Pitta and Luzon Bleeding-heart (singing from a branch!), amongst many other endemics. The extension took us to the central Visayas where exciting endemics such as Negros Striped Babbler or the recently described Cebu Hawk-Owl were seen well. Our success rate with the endemic targets – the ones you come here for- was overall very good, and highlights included no less than 12 species of owl recorded, including mega views of Philippine Eagle-Owl, 11 species of beautiful kingfishers, including Hombron´s (Blue-capped Wood) and Spotted Wood and the 5 possible endemic racket-tails. Odd looking Philippine and Palawan Frogmouths gave the best possible views, impressive Rufous and Writhed Hornbills (amongst 7 species of endemic hornbills) delighted us, and both Scale-feathered and Rough-crested (Red-c) Malkohas proved easy to see. A pair of Ashy Ground Thrushes were seen at point blank range, skulking Falcated and Striated Wren-Babblers were lured into view, an amazing male Celestial Monarch, getting very rare these days, was seen nicely after a lot of effort, together with Short-crested Monarch, and the rare White-fronted Tit gave also prolonged scope views as it sang from a dead snag. 12 species of flowerpeckers, including the scarce Flame-crowned, were seen, as well as no less than 14 species of sunbirds, including Apo and the recently split Magnificent Sunbird. A critically endangered male Baer´s Pochard was a huge bonus at Candaba, and the Yellow-browed Warbler we found at Polis was probably the first documented record in the Philippines. Deforestation is at its worst in these islands, and seeing the forest disappear in front of your eyes is always a sad sight. In no time and unless urgent conservation work takes place, some of these exciting endemics will no longer exist, so it´s a bit of a privilege every time you get to see these endangered birds.

Philippine Eagle Owl (Dani López-Velasco)

Philippine Eagle Owl (Dani López-Velasco)