27th February - 21st March 2011 (22 days)
Bird Tour Asia offers "Remote Philippines", a once in a lifetime experience of seeking out some of the rarest endemics not usually found on the regular bird tours.
Sitio Siete, Mindanao
The mountains of South Cotabato, Mindanao still hold some of the best preserved montane forest on the islands and theis region has several Philippine endemics which are extremely difficult to see elsewhere. The greatest prize here is the Mindanao Miniature Babbler – an inconspicuous and little-known species which was known from just a handful of field-sightings until we rediscovered here in 2008. We found them to be quite common once their habits are known and hope that they will become much easier to see now this location is known. Other specialties of the area are White-eared Tailorbird, Cryptic Flycatcher and Goodfellow’s Jungle Flycatcher but we can also expect a host of more widespread Mindanao endemics such as McGregor’s Cuckooshrike and the spectacular Blue-capped Wood Kingfisher.
Mount Apo, Mindanao
We will search the mid-altitude slopes of the Philippines’ highest mountain where among a selection of Mindanao upland endemics we will hope to find Whiskered Flowerpecker, a scarce and range restricted species which is quite common in some areas of the mountain. Mount Apo is also one of the few places where there are recent sightings of the rare Mindanao Lorikeet so we will keep our eyes and ears peeled for them whizzing over the canopy or feeding in suitable fruiting trees.
Sabalayan and Mount Halcon, Mindoro
Mindoro is host to at least 7 island endemics, all but 2 of which are restricted to the island’s highly threatened lowland forest which includes an endangered hornbill and a critically endangered coucal. We will base ourselves at Siburan on the west coast of Mindoro which allows easy access to some well preserved forest and here we will hope to find Scarlet-collared Flowerpecker, Mindoro Hornbill and Black-hooded Coucal. The critically endangered Mindoro Bleeding-heart is present here but like all members of this family they are typically elusive and we need some considerable luck to find one. At night we will venture out to search for the Mindoro Boobook, a recent split from the ‘Philippine Boobook’ complex and we are sure to be impressed by the clear vocal differences from the boobooks found on neighbouring islands.
We will also trek up the impressive Mount Halcon in the north of the island which is home to the remaining island endemics: Mindoro Imperial Pigeon and Mindoro Scops Owl. Very few birders have ever visited Halcon so these are two of the least seen endemics in the archipelago.
One of the most difficult Philippine endemics to see is the critically endangered Walden’s Hornbill which can now only be found in the most remote forests of Negros and Panay. The largest remaining areas of forest within its range are in the central mountain range of Panay and it is here that we will make our expedition in search of this spectacular bird in its last remaining stronghold. The lowland forest in which we will be searching is also likely to host other Visayan lowland forest species including Visayan Hornbill, White-winged Cuckooshrike, Visayan Shama (a split from White-browed Shama), Visayan Balicassiao and the spectacular Flame-templed Babbler. Three other recent splits – Yellow-faced Flameback (from Greater), Visayan Rhabdornis (from Streak-breasted) and Visayan Brown Dove (from Amethyst) were also seen here on our previous visits.
Our second expedition will take us higher into the same mountain range. We will camp on the slopes of Madja-as in search of one of the Philippines’ least known endemics – the Panay Striped Babbler, restricted to mossy montane forest above 1000 metres a.s.l., and yet another species seen by just a few birders. We will also be birding within the likely altitude range of Negros Fruit Dove, a species known from only a single specimen which awaits rediscovery.
Our final destination is the research centre at Sibilaw on the Pandan Peninsula. Although the forests here have low species yields, they are the best location to search for two of the most difficult Visayan endemics – namely White-throated Jungle Flycatcher and Negros Bleeding-heart – and we have a reasonable chance of finding these endangered birds.
Internal flights, inter-island ferries, overland transport, all accommodation, all main meals, water, entrance fees & guide fees
International fligts and departure taxes, insurance, drinks, and other personal expenses
Photo: Whiskered Flowerpecker by Ivan Sarenas