Custom Tour to Camp Sawa the Sierra Madre Mountains 28 February - 5 March

Leader: Bram Demeulemeester

Participant: Neville Parton

Furtive Flycatcher

We had a five-day customized trip to the Sierra Madre Mountains primarily in search of the Whiskered Pitta at Camp Sawa. We started with a long walk towards Camp One and as soon as we reached the first small forested patch, we got splendid views of Luzon White-browed Shama. Another welcome sighting was that of the rapidly declining Philippine Collared-Dove. As we continued our walk to our camp, the group got a big surprise seeing a group of at least 25 Spotted Imperial-Pigeons that gave us excellent views in the nice evening light. At night in the camp, we could hear the distant calls of the Philippine Eagle-Owl.

Young Whiskered Pitta

Next morning, we started to walk towards Camp Sawa which was our final destination and home for the next 3 days. Some Guaiabero, Colasisi, and Purple-throated Sunbird showed well in a flowering tree as we left the camp. Before we reached Camp Sawa, we had 3 sightings of the Furtive Flycatcher, another target bird for the area. A noisy group of skulking Rufous Coucals came in close and one of them gave us excellent views. Other highlights of the walk to the camp were seeing Oriental Honey Buzzard, Luzon Hornbills, Blackish Cuckoo-shrike, Black-and-white Triller, and White-lored Oriole. We arrived in Camp Sawa and ended our day with excellent views of the Luzon Hawk-Owl.

Philippine Scops-Owl

We woke up the following day to the calls of the Chocolate Boobook, which gave us close views. We started to search for the Whiskered Pitta and other localized endemics around Camp Sawa. We soon heard a Whiskered Pitta calling and after some time searching, we had close views of this striking bird. We also had good views of a juvenile Whiskered Pitta. Aside from these sightings, we saw plenty more birds for the next 3 days. Here are some of the highlights recorded:  Cream-bellied Fruit-Dove, Philippine Cuckoo-Dove, Luzon Bleeding-heart which was flushed in front of us and sadly gave us only short views, Philippine Drongo Cuckoo, Scale-feathered Malkoha, Philippine Trogon, Spotted Wood-Kingfisher, excellent views of 3 Rufous Hornbills, White-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Sooty Woodpecker, Luzon Flameback, Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker, and Philippine Fairy-Bluebird which proved to be still very common in the area around Sawa.

Rufous Hornbill

Several mixed flocks where encountered during our stay holding Elegant Tit, Sulphur-billed Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Babbler, Lemon-throated Leaf-Warbler, Green-backed Tailorbird, Citrine Canary-Flycather, Luzon Blue-headed FantailYellow-bellied Whistler, and Black-naped Monarch. A single Olive-backed Flowerpecker was observed as well as two Luzon Striped-Babblers. Near our camp site, a male and female Blue-breasted Flycatcher showed well, another specialty in the area. The mega-elusive Rusty-faced Babbler (Rabor’s Wren-babbler) sadly gave us only two short glimpses. We ended our last night with lengthy close-up views of the Philippine Scops-Owl.

Sierra Madre Mountains:Camp Sawa

On the rather rainy walk out from Camp Sawa, we encountered Emerald Dove, Philippine Coucal, Brown-throated Kingfisher, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Luzon Balicassiao, plenty of Black-naped Orioles, Large-billed Crows, Long-tailed Shrikes, and a well-hidden Cinnamon Bittern. This ended our successful trip to Camp Sawa.

Read more about: Camp Sawa

We are offering Camp Sawa on our Customized Philippine Birding Tours.