Monday, January 10, 2011

Jan 7th to 9th - Kitanglad, Mindanao

The second leg of my birding week. I flew from Puerto Proncessa to Cagayan do Oro, via Cebu, a seemingly short distance made unduly complicated by odd routing decision by Cebu Pacific. Another night in a (really crummy) hotel, then off to Kitanglad by car. The permits process takes a while, but I got to Carlito's by 9am, and was up the trail shortly after. Lots of birds about, many new to me, including Cinnamon Ibon, Mountain White-eye, Sulphur-billed Nuthatch (ssp apo), Elegant Tit (ssp mindanensis), Brown Tit-Babbler, Philippine Leaf Warbler, Mountain Verditer Flycatcher, Black-and-Cinnamon Fantail, Short-tailed Glossy Starling, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, MacGregor's Cuckoo-Shrike and Barred Honey Buzzard. No luck at the eagle viewing platform, so we pushed on and met Nicky Icarangal with his tour. A great bunch of guys from the US, David, Pete, Ian and George. They were on their way down, so I followed as they'd seen the Eagle that morning (and had a scope!). Back at the platform we quickly found the nest-site they'd located the previous day (after 11 hours of looking!). No eagle, but a few minutes later Carlito spotted what looked like a juvenile Eagle on top of a tree miles away. We got very excited, but the "juvenile" didn't move the whole time, and I become more and more convinced we were looking at a funny shaped branch. The heat haze didn't help as when you stared long enough at the branch it did seem to move! Eventually Danny (Carlito's son) let out a yell that he'd found another bird which we got onto. This one was real, a beautiful adult Philippine Eagle! It was on a branch, with what looked like a Macaque in its claws. After a while it took off and flew across the valley to another tree where it sat for about an hour giving great, but distant views. Thank goodness for the scope! Then it was back down the trail again to the lodge. That night the Bukidnon Woodcock flew past at an incredible rate, and we successfully taped out an incredibly obliging Philippine Frogmouth, but only heard Giant Scops Owl.

Next morning an early start looking for the Blue-capped Wood Kingfisher, which we heard but did not see, then I went up the trail with Carlito. His bird mimicry skills are remarkable, and he soon whistled up a gorgeous Mountain Tailorbird. Several bird parties this morning, with new birds such as Little Pied Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Whistler, Philippine Woodpecker, Olive-capped Flowerpecker, Grey-hooded Sunbird and Eye-browed Thrush (large numbers near the lodge). The "juvenile" Eagle from the previous day was still in exactly the same pose, surely a branch not a bird! We pushed on higher looking for Apo Sunbird, which proved very difficult. I eventually got brief views of two birds, a real rarity. Other birds at this altitude included Mountain Leaf Warbler, Black-masked White-eye, Philippine Trogon and Mindanao Montane Racquet-tail. Back down at the platform a pair of Mindanao Hornbills entertained for a while, and I had good views of a perched Philippine Falconet. On the way back to the lodge a surprise was a decent view of a Red-eared Parrotfinch, common here but very tough to see. At the lodge itself a Greater Flameback (ssp montanus) in a nearby tree, and a flock of Yellow-breasted Fruit Doves by the start of the trail.

Philippine Bulbul, ssp. saturatior

Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove. A blocker unblocked for me. I've dipped on this in several places so was glad to get it here.

Sulphur-billed Nuthatch ssp. apo. Differs mainly from the race at Makiling (isarog) by the tone of the underparts.

Short-tailed Glossy Starling, ssp todayensis. In The Philippines restricted to Mindanao

Philippine Woodpecker, ssp. fulvifasciatus. Differs from validirostris in increased red on the crown in males, and a boldly-barred back

Philippine Serpent Eagle

Philippine Falconet, ssp. meridionalis, slightly larger than erythrogenys in Luzon.

Olive-capped Flowerpecker, a Mindanao endemic

Little Pied Flycatcher, ssp. rabori. A common bird in the forests on Kitanglad.

Grey-hooded Sunbird. A Mindanao endemic

Greater Flameback, ssp. montanus. Another distinctive race. This is a female, the male has a red crest

Cinnamon Ibon. Common Mindanao endemic at Kitanglad

Philippine Frogmouth. This fantastic bird was incredibly obliging, responding quickly to playback, and allowing extremely close approaches.

Not sure if I prefer the dilated or undilated pupils!

Mountain White-eye, outside our area extends to Java.

Mountain Verditer Flycatcher (ssp. nigriloris)

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