Monday 20 November 2023

Palawan - November 2023 : Part 3

Day 6 -

The weather forecast predicted some rain for the day, the dark clouds in the morning was not a good sign, but we had to push on anyway. We were heading over to Sabang to see some of the birds in that area, I was hoping to get Malaysian Plover along the beach, and Totic was going to try the Palawan Scops Owl near Sabang later in the evening. Our day started at a fruiting tree by the river, where we stopped to take a look, here we saw plenty of Pink-necked and Thick-billed Green Pigeons.

Fruiting tree by the river

Pink-necked Green Pigeon

The fruiting tree also attracted many Palawan Bulbuls and Black-headed Bulbuls. Common Hill Mynas were also present. I spotted a pair of Palawan Fairy-Bluebirds feeding there, the male gave brief views. A female Blue Paradise Flycatcher was also in the area.

Palawan Bulbul

Black-headed Bulbul

Common Hill Myna

Palawan Fairy-Bluebird - male

Blue Paradise Flycatcher - female

Not long after I said 'wouldn't it be great to have a Black-chinned Fruit Dove here?', a male materialised out of nowhere! It gave fairly good views for everyone, despite being a bit far! This was a lifer for me, having missed the one Kenneth spotted last time we were in Palawan.

Black-chinned Fruit Dove

We went to another, hoping to try for the Red-headed Flameback that's been eluding us on this trip, and unsurprisingly we heard nothing. We did find a few Palawan Rock Frogs by the river, which is an endemic frog that inhabits fast flowing streams.

Palawan Rock Frog

With no luck for the Red-headed Flameback, we went back to the fruiting tree to see if anything else arrived, we only added a few Palawan Hornbills and an Osprey. A few Pygmy Swiftlets were flying around, separated from the usual Philippine Swiftlets with the white rump and smaller size.

Palawan Hornbill - female


Pygmy Swiftlet

Enroute to Sabang we stopped by a mangrove area, where we tried for Copper-throated Sunbirds, a pair showed very well and gave great photo opportunities. 

Copper-throated Sunbird - female

Copper-throated Sunbird - male

Nearby we added Eastern Cattle Egret and a Common Kingfisher. A Lesser Frigatebird also drifted past us.

Eastern Cattle Egret

Common Kingfisher

Lesser Frigatebird - female

Since it was raining, we stopped at the viewpoint between Puerto Princesa and Sabang, where we just sat and hoped the rain would clear up. Interestingly, James found a Palawan Horned Frog right by the side of the road! This was a good thing as we could not bird outside in the terrible weather anyway.

Palawan Horned Frog

It was lunchtime by the time we got to Sabang, rain was getting heavier. Totic knew a place for both birds and food and suggest we can wait there for weather to improve. At lunch we added a few Palawan Tits, as well as a confiding Lovely Sunbird. After lunch before the rain came in again, I had close views of Ashy Drongos on the raised platform in the restaurant garden. Unfortunately, heavy rain came in and carried on all afternoon. It was most disappointing, but there was nothing we could do about it. We decided we were probably better off resting in the hotel and headed back into Puerto Princesa.

Palawan Tit

Lovely Sunbird - male

Ashy Drongo

That evening after dinner, Totic first suggested we go look at the Large-tailed Nightjar, this was like a plan B for not being able to look for the Palawan Scops Owl near Sabang. To be honest, I wasn't much interested in this option, but since we had nothing better to do we went along with it anyway. 

By the time we got to the sports ground for the nightjar, the weather had improved. Totic decided then we should change tactic and try for the Palawan Scops Owl at Irawan Eco Park anyway, a decision I had no objection to! We got there and walked into the forest, Totic played the call of the Palawan Scops Owl to see if any would respond, I wasn't particularly hopeful to begin with, but we heard one calling back not too far away! And soon, we were all looking at a Palawan Scops Owl in its full glory! It wasn't easy to get a clear shot with so many branches in the way, but everyone managed to get some decent photos in the end. This bird totally saved our miserable day!

Palawan Scops Owl - no doubt bird of the day!

We even added a Western Hooded Pitta (Yes, they split this species into 5 species) that was sleeping above us, with help of my infrared censor! Definitely a bonus of the evening!

Western Hooded Pitta

Day 7 -

Since Totic had to attend to other work, Marcon took over as our bird guide for the last two days, we know he is more than capable at finding birds for us, so we were happy with this arrangement. We headed over to Zig-zag Road for the morning, a site we didn't visit during the bird race. The weather was clear and dry, a huge difference from the previous day! Things started off fairly well, with many common species including Black-headed Bulbuls and Yellow-throated Leafbirds. An Asian Brown Flycatcher was also seen.

Black-headed Bulbul

Yellow-throated Leafbird

Asian Brown Flycatcher

A Palawan Gliding Dragon was an interesting sighting, although I can never quite photograph them in mid flight. There were plenty of fruiting trees in the area, which attracted many Common Hill Mynas, a few Sulphur-bellied Bulbul was a welcoming sight, I find this to be the least common of the bulbuls in Palawan. Palawan Fairy-Bluebird was also attracted to the area.

Palawan Gliding Dragon

Common Hill Myna

Sulphur-bellied Bulbul

Palawan Fairy-Bluebird

We saw a lot of Green Imperial Pigeons flying around, surely a sign of a fruiting tree somewhere nearby, although probably not visible from the road, as they flew behind the trees and out of sight. A Philippine Cuckoo Dove was heard, although we were unable to locate it. We even heard a Philippine Pitta down in the gully, we tried for a good half and hour but it never came into view despite coming in quite close.

Green Imperial Pigeon

By the road, we added a few Ashy-headed Babblers, as well as Common Ioras within a feeding flock. There were also a few Blue-naped Parrots.

Ashy-headed Babbler

Common Iora

Blue-naped Parrot

I noticed a green bird in the tree above, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a Blue-headed Racquet-tail! This is quite a difficult endemic species to get up close, we only saw them flying past in the last few days but never been able to get a clear view! We had incredible views of these endemic parrots, and allowing us to take some decent photos.

Blue-headed Racquet-tail - male

Blue-headed Racquet-tail - female

After this relatively successful morning, we carried on back towards Puerto Princesa, along the way we stopped to try for Red-headed Flameback again but had no luck, we only had a few confiding Palawan Crows and I had a very friendly Palawan Flowerpecker. A few Brown-backed Needletails also came through.

Palawan Crow

Palawan Flowerpecker - female

Brown-backed Needletail

Since James and Gomen have yet to visit Randy's Place, we decided to head over there in the afternoon for some 'easy birding'. The usual birds were there, such as Ashy-fronted Bulbuls, Philippine Pied Fantail and Asian Glossy Starlings.

Ashy-fronted Bulbul

Philippine Pied Fantail

Asian Glossy Starling

The pair of Mangrove Blue Flycatcher was again there to greet us, at least two different individuals of Pale Spiderhunters came through.

Mangrove Blue Flycatcher - female

Mangrove Blue Flycatcher - male

Pale Spiderhunter

We found the the female Brown-throated Sunbirds were the most aggressive species here, they constantly chased each other and other species away. A male Brown-throated Sunbird only came in briefly before getting chased away by the females, although a few Palawan Sunbirds did came in to feed.

Brown-throated Sunbird - female

Brown-throated Sunbird - male

Palawan Sunbird - male

The male Palawan Flowerpecker did not visit as frequently as the other day, but a pair of Copper-throated Sunbird was a new addition for us at this birding spot.

Palawan Flowerpecker - male

Copper-throated Sunbird - male

Other new additions includes a surprising Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, which unfortunately we were unable to photograph. A Collared Kingfisher dropped by briefly, as did a pair of Asian Emerald Doves. 

Collared Kingfisher

Asian Emerald Dove

I was very happy when a flock of White-bellied Munias decided to drop in for a drink, giving us much better views than at Iwahig. The Blue Paradise Flycatcher only showed briefly this time, not wanting to pose for us.

White-bellied Munia

Blue Paradise Flycatcher - male

Later in the afternoon we headed over to the Spotted Wood Owl site near Princesa Garden, it didn't take long for us to locate it, as it was mobbed by a bunch of Palawan Drongos. We had quite close view this time as it eyed us from above.

Spotted Wood Owl

In the final daylight hours we headed into Princesa Garden Island Resort to photograph the Philippine Cockatoos, we got there slightly earlier than expected, so it was cold drinks at the bar first, once we heard the Cockatoos coming in we walked over to their roosting trees. A few White-breasted Woodswallow perched quite low, allowing good views.

White-breasted Woodswallow

It is always a joy to see the Philippine Cockatoos, they are just so playful and active! They are always interacting with each other, which makes watching them so much fun, whether they are chasing each other or dangling upside down from the coconut tree. It is still very hard to comprehend this species that is living in such close proximity to people is a critically endangered species with a global population of just around 1,000 birds.

Philippine Cockatoo - star bird of Princesa Gardne

Totic joined us after dinner, since we were successful with the Palawan Scops Owl the night before, we thought we would focus on some herping. We headed back into Irawan Eco Park and walked along the stream there. The Busuanga Wart Frogs seems to be the most common, followed by the Philippine Toad. 

Busuanga Wart Frog

Philippine Toad

A few Yellow-bellied Puddle Frogs were seen, both striped and non-striped individuals. We also saw quite a few crabs along the stream, which should be an Isolapotamon species.

Yellow-bellied Puddle Frog

Isolapotamon sp.

The best frog of the night was probably a Palawan Spadefoot Toad, these quirky looking frogs inhibits lowland rainforest near streams.

Palawan Spadefoot Toad

Unfortunately we didn't see a lot of snakes, I found us our only snake of the night, an Oriental Whip Snake, which is actually a new species for me surprisingly, as it is suppose to be one of the most common snake throughout much of South East Asia. We also had two sleeping Rufous-backed Dwarf-Kingfishers.

Oriental Whip Snake

Rufous-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher

Day 8 -

Since we already seen most of our main targets, we left the itinerary of this day quite open. Gomen's flight was earlier than most of ours and had to leave early in the morning, hence missing the last day of our trip. James wanted to get some more footage of the Falcated Wren-Babbler, so we headed back into Napsan for another try. Just like last time, the birds 'performed' so very well, at one point both birds came calling on the log! This is now certainly one of my favourite bird species in the world now!

Falcated Wren-Babbler

After that we just did some casual birding along the road, but it was mostly quiet. There were other wildlife for us to enjoy, including a few Cyclophaea cyanifrons along the stream, a young Common Sun Skink, as well as a Palawan Bronzeback, which unfortunately we could not get a hold of and it slithered up the slope and disappeared.

Cyclophaea cyanifrons

Common Sun Skink

At another location near Irawan Eco Park, Marcon wanted to try for Red-headed Flameback again, I've completely given up on it at that point, but went along with him, good thing we did as we ended up with a nice confiding Blue Paradise Flycatcher.

Blue Paradise Flycatcher - male

We packed our things back at the hotel and checked out at noon. In the afternoon we just relaxed and did some shopping. Later in the afternoon, Totic agreed to show us the roosting site of the Flying Foxes. We were not disappointed, there were hundreds and hundreds of Flying Foxes at the roost, at one point they filled up the sky and was truly a spectacle. I initially thought these were Palawan Flying Foxes, but upon some research it seems these were actually Large Flying Fox, which I've previously seen in Subic Bay in Luzon, but the scale of the colony was nowhere close to this one!

Large Flying Fox

After dinner, we bid farewell to Totic and Marcon at the airport. It had been quite a journey and I am glad we spent more time exploring the island, as there was much to see here on Palawan. Unfortunately for us, the Philippines Airline changed our flight time on our return trip, therefore we ended up spending 11 hours at Manila Airport, otherwise the whole trip was relatively hiccup free.

We ended up with 119 species in our 8 days on Palawan, we probably could have added a few more species if our day at Sabang wasn't ruined by the rain. With the addition of Palawan Scops Owl and Falcated Wren-Babbler, I've now seen all but one endemic birds on Palawan, the only remaining endemic is the Palawan Striped Babbler, which will require a three days hike up to Mount Victoria. I am sure we will be back again someday to find this final endemic of Palawan.

Trip List:

Species NameScientific Name
1Red JunglefowlGallus gallus
2Rock DoveColumba livia
3Spotted DoveSpilopelia chinensis
4Zebra DoveGeopelia striata
5Asian Emerald DoveChalcophaps indica
6Pink-necked Green-PigeonTreron vernans
7Thick-billed Green-PigeonTreron curvirostra
8Black-chinned Fruit-DovePtilinopus leclancheri
9Green Imperial-PigeonDucula aenea
10Philippine Cuckoo DoveMacropygia tenuirostris
11Greater CoucalCentropus sinensis
12Chestnut-breasted MalkohaPhaenicophaeus curvirostris
13Square-tailed Drong-cuckooSurniculus lugubris
14Philippine Hawk-CuckooHierococcyx pectoralis
15Palawan FrogmouthBatrachostomus chaseni
16Large-tailed NightjarCaprimulgus macrurus
17Brown-backed NeedletailHirundapus giganteus
18Pygmy SwfitletCollocalia troglodytes
19Philippine SwiftletAerodramus mearnsi
20White-breasted WaterhenAmaurornis phoenicurus
21Black-winged StiltHimantopus himantopus
22Common SandpiperActitis hypoleucos
23Wood SandpiperTringa glareola
24Common GreenshankTringa nebularia
25Oriental PratincoleGlareola maldivarum
26Whiskered TernChlidonias hybrida
27White-winged TernChlidonias leucopterus
28Lesser FrigatebirdFregata ariel
29Rufous Night HeronNycticorax caledonicus
30Malayan Night HeronGorsachius melanolophus
31Little EgretEgretta garzetta
32Striated HeronButorides striata
33Javan Pond HeronArdeola speciosa
34Eastern Cattle EgretBubulcus coromandus
35Great EgretArdea alba
36Medium EgretArdea intermedia
37Grey HeronArdea cinerea
38OspreyPandion haliaetus
39Crested Honey-BuzzardPernis ptilorhynchus
40Crested Serpent-EagleSpilornis cheela
41Grey-faced BuzzardButastur indicus
42Crested GoshawkAccipiter trivirgatus
43White-bellied Sea-EagleIcthyophaga leucogaster
44Palawan Scops OwlOtus fuliginosus
45Mantanani Scops OwlOtus mantananensis
46Spotted Wood-OwlStrix seloputo
47Palawan HornbillAnthracoceros marchei
48Common KingfisherAlcedo atthis
49Blue-eared KingfisherAlcedo meninting
50Rufous-backed Dwarf-KingfisherCeyx rufidorsa
51Stork-billed KingfisherPelargopsis capensis
52Collared KingfisherTodiramphus chloris
53DollarbirdEurystomus orientalis
54Spot-throated FlamebackDinopium everetti
55Great Slaty WoodpeckerMulleripicus pulverulentus
56White-bellied WoodpeckerDryocopus javensis
57Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinus
58Philippine CockatooCacatua haematuropygia
59Blue-headed Racquet-tailPrioniturus platenae
60Blue-naped ParrotTanygnathus lucionensis
61Philippine PittaErythropitta erythrogaster
62Western Hooded PittaPitta sordida
63Golden-bellied GerygoneGerygone sulphurea
64Fiery MinivetPericrocotus igneus
65Bar-bellied CuckooshrikeCoracina striata
66Pied TrillerLalage nigra
67Ventriloquail OrioleOriolus consobrinus
68Black-naped OrioleOriolus chinensis
69White-breasted WoodswallowArtamus leucorynchus
70Common IoraAegithina tiphia
71Philippine Pied-FantailRhipidura nigritorquis
72Ashy DrongoDicrurus leucophaeus
73Palawan DrongoDicrurus palawanensis
74Black-naped MonarchHypothymis azurea
75Blue Paradise FlycatcherTerpsiphone cyanescens
76Brown ShrikeLanius cristatus
77Palawan CrowCorvus pusillus
78Citrine Canary-FlycatcherCulicicapa helianthea
79Palawan TitPeriparus amabilis
80Rufous-tailed TailorbirdOrthotomus sericeus
81Zitting CisticolaCisticola juncidis
82Striated GrassbirdMegalurus palustris
83Sand MartinRiparia riparia
84Pacific SwallowHirundo tahitica
85Barn SwallowHirundo rustica
86Palawan BulbulAlophoixus frater
87Sulphur-bellied BulbulIole palawanensis
88Black-headed BulbulMicrotarsus melanocephalos
89Ashy-fronted BulbulPycnonotus cinereifrons
90Pin-striped Tit-BabblerMixornis gularis
91Palawan BabblerMalacopteron palawanense
92Ashy-headed BabblerPellorneum cinereiceps
93Falcated Wren-BabblerPtilocichla falcata
94Velvet-fronted NuthatchSitta frontalis
95Asian Glossy StarlingAplonis panayensis
96Common Hill MynaGracula religiosa
97Grey-streaked FlycatcherMuscicapa griseisticta
98Asian Brown FlycatcherMuscicapa dauurica
99White-vented ShamaCopsychus niger
100Blue-and-White FlycatcherCyanoptila cyanomelana
101Palawan Blue FlycatcherCyornis lemprieri
102Mangrove Blue FlycatcherCyornis rufigastra
103Palawan FlycatcherFicedula platenae
104Palawan FlowerpeckerPrionochilus plateni
105Pygmy FlowerpeckerDicaeum pygmaeum
106Brown-throated SunbirdAnthreptes malacensis
107Purple-throated SunbirdLeptocoma sperata
108Copper-throated SunbirdLeptocoma calcostetha
109Palawan SunbirdCinnyris aurora
110Lovely SunbirdAethopyga shelleyi
111Pale SpiderhunterArachnothera dilutior
112Palwan Fairy-BluebirdIrena tweeddalii
113Yellow-throated LeafbirdChloropsis palawanensis
114Scaly-breasted MuniaLonchura punctulata
115White-bellied MuniaLonchura leucogastra
116Chestnut MuniaLonchura atricapilla
117Eurasian Tree SparrowPasser montanus
118Grey WagtailMotacilla cinerea
119Paddyfield PipitAnthus rufulus

No comments:

Post a Comment