Custom Tour to Palawan from 17 May - 21 May
Leader: Bram Demeulemeester
Participants: Lim Kim Chuah & Abdelhamid Bizid
We started our first afternoon exploring the Irawan Ecopark as soon as we arrived. We were alerted by the calls of the Palawan Hornbills and we got nice views of at least four birds. Our main target bird here was the elusive Falcated Wren Babbler that we soon found and gave us excellent views. Seeing one of the main Palawan endemic target birds on our first afternoon was more than welcome and a very nice start for the following days. At the Ecopark we also had splendid views of Rufous-backed Kingfisher, Blue Paradise Flycatcher, Palawan Blue-Flycatcher, Ashy-fronted Bulbul, White-vented Shama, Lovely Sunbird, and Pale Spiderhunter. In the evening, we visited a site for the Spotted Wood-Owl that showed soon after we arrived. We had an early morning start the following day in the Balsahan trail in search of Palawan Flycatcher. We were able to find the bird very soon as well as the Melodious Babbler. We also got another splendid view of the Pale Spiderhunter and saw our first Yellow-throated Leafbird of the trip. Several Palawan Flowerpeckers were observed during our visit to the Balsahan trail. A stop at the mangrove area before the penal colony resulted in quick, good views of the extremely beautiful Copper-throated Sunbird. After lunch, we made our way to Sabang Beach. Our first stop was an excellent birding walk along the road towards Sabang. The road is a forested patch and proved to be very birdy with most of the Palawan endemics seen along the road. Great Slaty Woodpecker showed very well on several occasions during our stay. It is always good to see this prehistoric-looking Woodpecker. Common Iora was seen and heard often and we also had great views of Fiery Minivets while making our way towards Sabang. Ashy Drongo was also commonly seen. We got long observations of the Palawan Tit and a few Sulphur-bellied Bulbuls towards the evening. We posted ourselves on the viewpoint to scan for Philippine Cockatoo and saw at least 5 birds together with one Blue-headed Racquet-tail. We also got nice views of a single Black-chinned Fruit-Dove and plenty of Green Imperial Pigeons. It was a good way to end our first full day birding in Palawan.
Spotted Wood Owl
We started very early the next day at pre-dawn searching for Palawan’s nocturnal birds. After getting splendid views of Palawan Frogmouth, we were ready to take the boat out to St. Pauls National Park to see our main target bird of the trip, the famous Palawan Peacock-Pheasant. As soon as we arrived, it didn’t take too long before we had the most amazing views of this extremely beautiful Pheasant. A must-see bird for every birder visiting the Philippines. We also spent some time observing Philippine Scrubfowls as well as the Palawan Swiflets which were flying above the underground river entrance. Soon, we made our way back to Sabang for more birding along the road. Philippine Cuckoo-Dove, Emerald Dove, several Thick-billed Pigeons, and Blue-naped Parrots were seen with more birds heard. Several Violet Cuckoos remained very high in the canopy and an Asian Koel showed once. Chestnut-breasted Malkoha was seen several times while birding along the road. Palawan Hornbills showed well later that afternoon and we had nice flight views of this great Hornbill species. Several White-bellied Woodpeckers and Spot-throated Flamebacks were seen during stops along the road as well as Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and Dark-throated Oriole, although the latter was more often heard than seen. The very common Hair-crested Drongo (a future split to Palawan Drongo) and the Slender-billed Crow (a potential split to Palawan Crow) were commonly seen throughout all the birding areas we visited during our trip. Blue Paradise Flycatcher was heard often and gave some crippling views at several times. More Palawan Tits, Ashy-fronted Bulbuls, Palawan Bulbuls, and Sulphur-bellied Bulbuls were seen during our stay while Palawan Blue-Flycatcher and White-vented Shama were heard often and seen several times. The skulking Ashy-headed Babbler was seen several times in the dense undergrowth. Pin-striped Tit-Babbler was another very common bird throughout the area while the Common Hill Myna was more often heard than seen. We also had several good views of the Yellow-throated Leafbird. We saw a single Brown-backed Needletail and we ended our day with an Oriental Hobby before we started our nocturnal birding session in search of the Palawan Scops-Owl. The Owl gave several short but excellent views, another good way to end a successful day in Palawan.
The next day was spent mostly birding along the road again with plenty of Palawan endemic birds seen. We spent some time inside the forest trails where we had splendid views of the very common Hooded Pitta and Red-bellied Pitta. We made our way slowly back to Puerto Princesa with one more stop in the late afternoon. We spent some time at an amazing fruiting tree holding Palawan Flowerpecker, Striped Flowerpecker, and Pygmy Flowerpecker. The Lovely Sunbird showed well along with Purple-throated Sunbird and the very common Olive-backed Sunbird. Black-chinned Fruit-Dove also visited the fruiting tree once.
Our last day was spent again at the Irawan Ecopark with crippling views of the Falcated Wren-Babbler, plenty of Hooded Pittas, and several Red-bellied Pittas. Several observations of the amazing Blue Paradise Flycatcher, including a nesting pair, was a good end to our customized tour to Palawan. We include Palawan on our Short and Main tours and can be also visited on our custom tours.
Palawan Scops Owl Photo: Abdelhamid Bizid
Palawan Blue-Flycatcher photo: Abdelhamid Bizid
Falcated Wren-Babbler photo: Lim Kim Chuah
Palawan Hornbill photo: Lim Kim Chuah