Monday, June 11, 2012

Pandan Island, Palawan - 7th to 8th June

Leg two of my Palawan trip. I took a jeepney from Sabang, changed to a tricycle at the main turn off and booked a boat at the pier for Honda Bay. The boat cost PHP 2800, and they agreed to let me stay overnight. At first they were adamant that it was a day resort only, but once I let them know that I was prepared to camp, and expected no facilities they relented.

Once the main visitors had left (@4pm) I deposited my gear with one of the stall keepers, and went birding. The island is pretty small, and can be circled in an hour or so. The fruit trees are the key to finding the pigeons, and I found quite a few Grey Imperial Pigeons (10+). They were easiest to see and photograph in the morning, but were findable in the afternoon too. At the north end of the island (opposite from the main resort) the scrub is quite dense, with no trails through. There were several Hooded Pitta here calling in the morning, and responding well to playback. A Tabon Scrubfowl was also here in the morning. Off shore this is the shallowest area, and had a few Grey-tailed Tattlers, Whimbrel, Greenshank (3) and Greater Sandplover (2). An offshore sandbar held Black-naped Tern (2), Great Crested Tern (3), Common Tern (10+), Little Tern (5+) and White-winged Black Tern (1). Lots of Little Heron here, often perched on the emerging mangrove seedlings.

The Eastern side of the island has lots of mangroves with several White-collared Kingfisher, and a pair of Stork-billed Kingfisher. A Great-billed Heron flew past here as the tide was dropping, eventually being tracked down to the shallows at the north end of the island.

The southern part, with the resort, has the tallest trees, and was where I eventually found Mantanani Scops Owl. They had not been active at all at sunset, possibly due to some rain and a little wind, and is wasn't until 2:00am that I was awakened by their calls. Half an hour later I finally got views of this strange island endemic. I also heard a few Large-tailed Nightjar here.

Grey Imperial Pigeon. The birds on Pandan do not have the "pinkish grey head, mantle and underparts" that are a feature of the nominate race, D. p. pickeringii, hence my assumption this is of the endemic race langhornei. The only Imperial Pigeon I found, this was fairly common. Easiest to find in the late afternoon and early morning when they were quite vocal.

Stork-billed Kingfisher, ssp. gouldi. I found these at the mangroves in Sabang (mixed fresh/ salt water), at Pandan (salt), and on the forest stream at Iwahig (fresh). Clearly a very adaptable species, I wonder why it is not more widely distributed within the Philippines? Possibly it cannot compete with the smaller, but more aggressive White-collared Kingfisher, which this individual is defending itself against (unsuccessfully, it departed shortly after).

Little Heron. Using the mangrove saplings to hunt from on the receding tide.
Great-billed Heron. This was my first view of this hard to find Asian bird. I tracked it down to the reef at the north of the island, by then it was several hundred metres away...

... however the next morning I found it roosting on top of a tree at the north end of the island giving fabulous views. A second bird was on the west side.

Mantanani Scops Owl, possiby nominate ssp. mantanensis. This birds did not call at sunset, unlike their counterparts on Boracay (see my post). I eventually heard, then saw them, between 2 and 3 am

Hooded Pitta, ssp. palawanensis. The size of the black spot on the belly seems bigger than that of the bird I photographed on Pandan Island in Mindoro, but they are said to be "hardly seperable ... and may be considered synonymous". Possibly the difference in posture of the two birds accounts for the apparent size difference.

Female Brown-throated Sunbird, ssp. paraguae. The birds in Luzon and the north of the Philippines have been split from this, and are now considered to be an endemic species, Grey-throated Sunbird, Anthreptes griseigularis.

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