søndag den 31. maj 2015

Philippines 6-28/3 2015 part I

Birders often say that you should go the Philippines before it’s too late. The around 7000 islands host more than 250 endemics with more to come as the different subspecies get split. I had the pleasure to visit the country during 23 days in March this year on a tour with Birdguiding Phlippines. Bram Demeulemeester was throughout the trip a very good guide going all in to find as many rare and difficult birds for us.
There is some decent birding to be done in the capital, Manila. Ashy Thrush (Endemic) is the main species in La Mesa Eco Park which is a very popular park within the outskirts of Manila. The thrush can be found in a small section of forest within the park. The thrush used to be a very difficult bird to see (more info about the discovery can be found here).
7/3 Ashy Thrush, La Mesa Eco Park in the outskirts of Manila.
7/3 Ashy Thrush, La Mesa Eco Park in the outskirts of Manila.
Other good birds that we saw within the park included White-eared Brown Dove (E), Black-chinned Fruit-Dove (NE), Red-bellied Pitta ssp. erythrogaser, Grey-backed Tailorbird (E), Mangrove Blue-flycatcher (a possible future spilt to Philippine Blue-flycatcher) and Lowland White-eye (NE). Other good birds that one stands a reasonable chance of seeing within the park includes Indigo-banded Kingfisher (E), Spotted Wood Kingfisher (E) and Hooded Pitta.

21/3 Lowland White-eye, La Mesa Eco Park in the outskirts of Manila.
A philippine near-endemic which is most easily seen in the park where it is fairly common.
21/3 Red-bellied Pitta, La Mesa Eco Park in the outskirts of Manila.
The subspecies ssp. erythrogaster is the common subspecies found in the Philippines with the two other subspecies only found on a few islands. Ssp. erythrogaster and ssp. propinqua ( eg. birds on Palawan) are now called Blue-breasted Pitta.
7/3 Black-chinned Fruit Dove, La Mesa Eco Park in the outskirts of Manila.
Doves are hunted for eating and for the cage-bird industry all over the Philippines which results in most species being very difficult to actually see well, unfortunately!
21/3 Brown-hooded Thrush, La Mesa Eco Park in the outskirts of Manila. A scarce winter visitor.
Philippine Eagle-Owl (E) is another bird found easily close to Manila. What used to be a hard endemic to connect with has since the discovery of a breeding pair at Angono Caves been easy to see within the breeding season. Mid march is the end of the breeding season but luckily for us a juvenile bird was still present in the area. 

8/3 Philippine Eagle-Owl, Angono Caves. Not an owl to mess around with.
8/3 Philippine Eagle-Owl, Angono Caves. Look at the phalanges and bill of the bird!

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