Sunday, April 8, 2012

Boracay - 1st to 9th April

A family holiday on the tropical paradise of Boracay. As it has what is generally regarded as one of the best beaches in the world it is now jammed solid with people every holiday, and has been 'developed' extensively. Consequently much of the original habitat has disappeared. There is still a small patch of forest clinging on at the northern tip of the island, near the 'bat caves' marked on the map below, and this became my temporary local patch. All the tricycle drivers know the area, and will take you to the end of the tar road for 150 pesos. From there it is a walk of about a kilometre to the caves. The habitat is degraded forest and scrub, with the odd patch of decent forest. The birds are fairly typical of this habitat, but with a couple of surprises. Above the forest were Glossy Swiftlet and Asian Palm Swift, with Barn Swallows and Pacific Swallows. Pink-necked Green Pigeons commuted between forest patches early in the morning. The scrub had Zebra Dove, Chestnut Munia, Striated Grassbird, Olive-backed Sunbird, Brown Shrike and Yellow-vented Bulbul. A big surprise in this area was a group of three Chestnut-eared Starlings. On the edges of the forest there were lots of Pied Trillers, Philippine Coucal and Koel. Inside the forest itself I found White-eared Brown Dove, Philippine Magpie-Robin and Visayan Bulbul. One of the caves didn't have bats, but did have nesting Glossy Swiftlets which flew out of the cave and along the forest trails, which was quite alarming at first.

An evening visit to the area paid dividends with Mantanani Scops Owl, Philippine Hawk-Owl and Philippine Nightjar all calling. The Scops in particular seemed common, with at least 5 birds calling near the paths to the bat cave. No luck in seeing them however!

The beach areas were populated almost entirely by those species that thrive in the presence of man, i.e. Asian Glossy Starling, Tree Sparrow, Chestnut Munia and Yellow-vented Bulbul, with lots of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters overhead. A lone Brahminy Kite flew past on Saturday afternoon.

In the evenings the birds are replaced by a large population of gigantic Fruit Bats which roost at the northern end of the island.

 Pied Triller. Very common.
The biggest surprise of the week, two of three Chestnut-eared Starlings that were near the bat cave.
 Philippine Coucal
Juvenile Asian Glossy Starling, almost the commonest birds on the island.

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