MAIN TOUR : The 'CLASSIC' Philippine Bird Tour.
(20 days, maximum 6 people) This tour covers the 3 main islands: Luzon, Mindanao and Palawan.
Day 1 Arrival and overnight in Manila.
Day 2 Early morning departure from Manila with birding at Candaba Marsh on route to Banaue for overnight stay.
Birding around the marshes at Candaba gives us the best chance of finding Philippine Duck, Philippine Swamphen, Eastern Grass-Owl, Cinnamon Bittern and Oriental Pratincole.
Day 3 and 4 Birding 2 full days at Mt.Polis
The famous rice terraces at Banaue will be the base from where we shall explore the mountains of the Central Cordillera. Our first morning we shall bird the mossy montane forest at Mount Polis for Luzon Scops-owl at pre-dawn. Our main endemics are Flame-breasted Fruit-Dove, Luzon Racket-tail, Green-backed Whistler, Philippine and Long-tailed Bush-Warbler, Chestnut-faced Babbler, Flame-crowned Flowerpecker, Metallic-winged Sunbird and White-cheeked Bullfinch. We will also be on the lookout for the little known Whitehead’s Swiftlet and the very rare Luzon Jungle-Flycatcher. We will further be exploring the river next to the village of Bay-yo where we will spot Luzon Water-redstart and perhaps Benguet Bush-Warbler in the surrounding scrub. We have two full days to explore these higher and cool mountains of Central Luzon.
Day 5 Morning departure from Banaue to Subic Bay – afternoon birding Subic Bay.
Day 6 Full day at Subic Bay
Subic Bay is one of the very last remaining lowland forest on Luzon within an old American Naval Base. This splendid site holds about 140 bird species. We shall explore these extensive lowland forests along roads and a few trails It gives us an excellent opportunity to look out for White-fronted Tit and Green Racquet-tail, two birds that are hard to find elsewhere. We shall also keep an eye open for White-lored Oriole. Most of the time we will be birding along good roads looking out for Philippine Green-Pigeon, Blue-naped Parrot, Rufous Coucal, Blackish Cuckoo-shrike, Northern Sooty Woodpecker, Luzon Flameback, Stripe-headed Rhabdornis and Trilling Tailorbird. Subic gives us also the chance for some excellent nightbirds like Philippine Scops-Owl, Luzon Hawk-Owl or even the Chocolate Boobook. And with some luck the mighty Philippine Eagle-Owl may show. So plenty of birds to look out for!.
Day 7 Morning departure from Subic Bay - birding at La Mesa Eco Park on route to Mt. Makiling – afternoon birding at Mt.Makiling Forest Reserve.
We will spend a whole morning birding at the La Mesa Eco Park, a bird heaven in the heart of Quezon City in Manila. It has become the best site to see the Ashy Thrush as it has at least few territories within the Park. Arriving early in the morning gives the best chance to see the thrushes. Aside from the thrushes, the Park also holds Hooded Pitta. These would be the main targets for birding in the Park. Other target species include the Lowland White-eyes, which are very commonly seen. The La Mesa Eco Park is also a great spot for migrating and wintering birds and the list is still growing. Some migrants that have been recorded in the park include Scaly Ground Thrush and Pechora Pipit. The park also holds more bird species including Slaty-legged Crake, Plain Bush-hen, Philippine Coucal. The Indigo-banded Kingfisher and the Collared Kingfisher is very common. Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers are commonly heard and seen as well as White-breasted Wood-swallow , Philippine Pied Fantail. The Philippine Magpie-Robin and Grey-backed Tailorbird are also targets that can be seen here, as well as the Mangrove (Philippine) Flycatcher. There are so many possibilities for a nice morning birding at La Mesa Eco Park in Quezon City.
Day 8 All day birding at Mt.Makiling.
The university campus grounds of Los Banos at the base of the well-forested Mount Makiling. Here we shall try pre-dawn for Philippine Scops-Owl and Luzon Hawk-Owl. And at dawn the Spotted Wood-Kingfisher will give its calls. As we slowly make our way up the mountain we will be looking out for Scale-feathered Malkoha, Red-crested Malkoha, Luzon Hornbill, Philippine Trogon, White-browed Shama and, if we are lucky enough Luzon Bleeding-heart. At the campus ground we will be searching for the Indigo-banded Kingfisher along the stream and check the trees for Lowland White-eye. We will keep our eyes open for Spotted and Barred Buttonquail in the surrounding grasslands.
Day 9 Early morning flight to Cagayan Del Oro and transfer to Mt.Kitanglad with birding in the afternoon.
Day 10 and 11 Birding two full days at Mt. Kitanglad.
Mt. Kitanglad is one of the most popular birding destinations in the Philippines and is well known as the best site for the Philippine Eagle, probably the main target bird for anyone visiting the Philippines. Here we have an excellent opportunity to encounter the eagle which is one of the biggest raptors in the World. With the help of our local guide we shall explore the mountain forest over the next days. The mountain holds most of the Mindanao montane endemics. The area around our camp gives the best chance of finding Hombron's Kingfisher in the early morning. In the surrounding forest we should find Black-and cinnamon Fantail, Yellow-bellied Whistler, Sulphur-billed Nuthatch, Stripe-breasted Rhabdornis, Grey-hooded Sunbird and Red-eared Parrotfinch. As we make our way to the higher levels we will be looking out for McGregor’s Cuckoo-Shrike, White-cheeked Bullfinch, Apo Myna, Apo Sunbird, Mountain Shrike and Mindanao White-eye. At night we have a good chance to find Philippine Frogmouth and we may spot the Giant Scops-Owl. At dusk and dawn we will be looking out for the Bukidnon Woodcock and Philippine Nightjar.
Day 12 Early morning departure from Mount Kitanglad followed by a drive to Bislig
Day 13,14 and 15 Birding three full days at the P.I.C.O.P forest.
This once vast area of lowland forest within the former P.I.C.O.P Concession has now largely been reduced to small patches of forest. The area has the biggest list of endangered Philippine endemics. We shall therefore concentrate on some of the really hard and endangered species that still survive in these forest patches. Celestial Monarch and Short-crested Monarch are our main target birds here as both are very hard to find elsewhere in our selection of bird destinations. Among the many other species that this area holds are Writhed Hornbill, Rufous Hornbill, Steere’s Honey Buzzard, Pinsker’s Hawk Eagle, Southern Silvery Kingfisher, rufous-lored(Winchell's) Kingfisher, Mindanao Wattled Broadbill, Azure-breasted Pitta, Black-headed Tailorbird and Philippine Oriole just to name a few. Mindanao Hawk-Owl and Everett's Scops-Owl will be our night target birds. We also have the chance to look for Eastern Grass-Owl and Philippine Duck at the old Bislig airport.
Day 16 Early morning drive to Butuan. Flight to Manila then connecting flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan for overnight stay .
Day 17 Early morning Balsahan Trail - mangrove visit - then birding along the beach at Puerto Princesa – afternoon Mantanani Scops-owl search.
We will set off very early in the morning to reach the Balsahan Trail within the grounds of the Iwahig Penal Farm. This trail leads us through some patches of bamboo before it leads to nice patches of lowland forest. We will concentrate on finding the two specialties of the area: Melodious Babbler and Palawan Flycatcher. The area also holds many species that we can find at our next destination:Subteranean River National Park. We will go out looking for Chinese Egret and waders on the beach near Puerto Princesa. In the afternoon we will take a short boat ride to a small island where we will search for the near-endemic Mantanani Scops-owl.
Day 18 Morning and afternoon birding on route to Sabang Beach.
Day 19 Birding in the early morning at Subterranean river national park– afternoon birding along the forest road.
Subteranean River National Park is truly paradise. This amazing untouched forest next to the sea and its white beaches makes this a favourite destination for many birders, as it also holds most of the Palawan endemics. Within the Park we will be looking for the magnificent Palawan Peacock-Pheasant, Palawan Hornbill, Red-headed Flameback, Palawan Swiftlet, Blue Paradise Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Leafbird, Palawan Blue-Flycatcher, White-vented Shama, Palawan Bulbul, Ashy-fronted Bulbul, Sulphur-bellied Bulbul, Ashy-headed Babbler, the hard to find Falcated Wren-Babbler, Palawan Tit, Palawan Crow, Palawan Flowerpecker, Lovely Sunbird and Pale Spiderhunter. Plenty of other birds can be found within the Park and we will also be searching for some of these specialities along the forest road back towards Puerto Princesa. Night walks will give us the chance to find Palawan Scops-owl and Palawan Frogmouth.
Day 20 Birding around Sabang Beach. Then back birding along the road towards Puerto Princesa – afternoon flight to Manila to connect with international flights or overnight stay in Manila.
Blue-headed Fantail always seen in the mixed Bird flocks at Mt.Polis
Forest at Mt.Polis
Flame-crowned Flowerpecker on of our manny target species at Mt.Polis
Luzon Hawk-Eagle at Subic Bay
Philippine Eagle-owl at Angono Cave
Ashy Thrush best change to see it at La Mesa Eco Park
White-browed Shama from Mt.Makling can be seen also at Subic Bay
Philippine Eagle in flight above the Eagle viewpoint at Mt.Kitanglad
Bukidnon Woodcock on the ground at Mt.Kitanglad
Forest view at Mt.Kitanglad home to the Philippine Eagle
Celestial Monarch we make a good change at P.I.C.O.P
Giant Scops-owl at P.I.C.O.P also possbile at Mt.Kitanglad
Writhed Hornbill one of the tree Hornbill species that still can be seen at P.I.C.O.P
Mantanani Scops-owl a near endemic seen at a small island near Puerto Princesa
Plenty of stunning views on Palawan
Pale Spiderhunter the best views at Sabang Beach Palawan
Palawan Frogmouth this one is from Puerto Princesa
Palawan Peacock-Pheasant this is sure the most wanted on Palawan
Palawan Scops-owl a tricky species mostly seen near Sabang Beach
Red-headed Flameback from Balsahan Trail