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Peter Ericsson | profile | all galleries >> Tripreports! >> Infanta rd, Luzon, Philippines 3 day trip, November 2018 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Infanta rd, Luzon, Philippines 3 day trip, November 2018

I have only visited the Philippines once before and that was to the island of Bohol.

This time it worked out for a short stint to Luzon and a site not far from Manila. There is a road that is simply called the road to Infanta which goes up to around 700m and passes through some forest. Here some sought after species has been found of late such as Whiskered Pitta, Bicol Ground Warbler, Flame-breasted and Cream-bellied Fruit Doves.

There are no trails to explore so all birding is from the road side. Traffic isnt bad as I suppose the township of Infanta isnt very big. The road however is good so the main obstacle is to get out of Manila.

My good friend Stijn de Win from www.birding2asia.com met me at the airport in a nice brand new Honda Civic with driver.

Our first stop was at Angono Petroglyphs Museum which is a known site for Philippines Eagle Owl. We got to spend some time with 2 of these Bubos in midday light.
Another new bird for me was Lowland White-eyes.

There was no time to go up the mountain so we checked out the area around our hotel, Bakasyunan Resort, the best if not the only hotel in the area.

As expected the menu was not very exciting. Bring your own spices/chili if you want something with a little taste. Best thing on the menu was cold St Miguel Pale Pilsner, a beer that is better then any of the local Thai beers I am used to.

The rooms were adaquate with AC and hot showers

No breakfast at the hotel so we stopped at a 7-11 in a little township along the way. Yoghurt, coffee, bananas and off we went.

The main target birds would be bonuses for me but since I have birded so little in the PI I had a lot of more common things to see.

We choose some healthy looking forests between km 91-98 and worked these areas. The temperature was pleasant even midday, temperate I would say and with a steady breeze/wind.

The Philippine Bulbul is the dominant bird here and found all over. It has a lot of different sounds and seem to flourish in the area. Besides the Bulbul, Glossy Swiftlets were all over. I was told it is now called Ridgetop Swiftlet but donít ask me how it differ from Glossy.

Some mixed species flocks were encounteredÖ.Yellowish White-eye, Elegant Tit, Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker, Yellow-breasted Whistler, Blue-headed Fantail and Philippine Fairy Bluebird being the main ingredient but at times other smaller passerines.

We had 5 different Flowerpeckers: Bicolored, Olive-backed, Pygmy, Buzzing and Orange-bellied.
Arctic Warblers were seen a number of times and particularly Kamchatka with one clear sighting of Japanese. No sighting of nominate Arctic.

It is always interesting to be in a field with many endemic birds. But it is also interesting to get on to birds that are common and also found at home. I was surprised how common Brown Shrike was for example. Coppersmith Barbetes ringing our their calls was another familiar sound as was the rather common Yellow-vented Bulbul.

Stijn got excited to see and photograph a female Narcissus Flycatcher. A rarity for the PI.

Grey-backed Tailorbird was commonly heard but actually seen only once.

We encountered a good number of raptors with the Phiippine Honey Buzzard leading the way.
Also Philippine Crested Serpent Eagle and Rufous-bellied Eagle and a single Peregrine Falcon.


So what about the target birds?

Rufous Hornbill: We were told there were some scenic lookout point at the peak where birds can be seen but we drew a nil on that. Actually, we didnít see much at all besides the Swiftlets, Tit, Paddyfield Pipits and Swallows.

Whiskered Pitta: The stakeout must be a well kept secret. We tried at several places but never heard the birds.

Bicol Ground Warbler: Stijn is 20 years younger with his hearing intact. These birds have a very high pitched sound and I just couldnít hear it. Stijn did hear it at several locations and had fleeting glimpses. Since I couldnít hear it and only had dark shadows of movement I did not put this bird on my list.

Cream-breasted Fruit Dove: Not a sniff

Amethyst Brown Dove: One heard

Flame-breasted Fruit Dove: Heard calling on each day. Impossible to tape in. Finally we managed to get one bird through the thick foliage but no images as it didnít reveal itself for long. However the views were definite and having heard the bird calling for so long one felt the experience was valid.

For lunch on day 1 we tried a local restaurant on top but I would say it had almost the worst food I have ever had in my life. Not sure why it was called a restaurant even.

On day 2 we tried a better looking restaurant lower down and that was pretty good actually, even sporting cold beer.

On day 3 we had a few hours in the morning and the best was a lengthy encounter with Tawny Grassbird, a bird I have seen in Australia and Sulawesi as well. All different races.
Photography wasnít easy with most birds being far away. Basically, birding was difficult in every way and best enjoyed by listening and waiting for little moments of joy.

In the end I had around 20 new birds, a new birding site experience, lovely weather, good camaraderie and sounds and sights from a country I am not very familiar with.

Peter
Peter
Philippine Eagle Owl
Philippine Eagle Owl
Philippine Eagle Owl
Philippine Eagle Owl
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Yellowish White-eye
Yellowish White-eye
Yellowish White-eye
Yellowish White-eye
Yellowish White-eye
Yellowish White-eye
Blue-headed Fantail
Blue-headed Fantail
Elegant Tit
Elegant Tit
Elegant Tit
Elegant Tit
Elegant Tit
Elegant Tit
Sulphur-bellied Nuthatch
Sulphur-bellied Nuthatch
Sulphur-bellied Nuthatch
Sulphur-bellied Nuthatch
Sulphur-bellied Nuthatch
Sulphur-bellied Nuthatch
Flaming Sunbird
Flaming Sunbird
Tawny Grassbird
Tawny Grassbird
Tawny Grassbird
Tawny Grassbird