We reached a clearing in the forest before first light and played our calls in order to tempt out an owl. We were rewarded remarkably quickly with a call in response, and then a close but quick fly-by, a newly described endemic, Cebu Hawk-Owl, Ninox rumseyi. We were treated to two or three further flight views over the course of the next half hour or so, and several bouts of calling, but never got a perched view, let alone a photo opportunity. The birds seemed quite common however, and a sustained visit, possibly involving camping in the clearing would surely result in much better views.
As the light grew Philippine Giant Fruit Bats, Pteropus vampyrus, emerged, but no further owls were seen or heard. We continued on, with raised spirits. On the way to the platform that Oking has built to view the canopy of the forest we paused to call up Black Shama. It was extremely obliging, and gave good, but brief views, however its preference for the gloomiest parts of the forest meant the photography was extremely difficult.
After a steep and awkward scramble we reached the platform and settled down to wait for the legendary Cebu Flowerpecker. Despite rumours of its extinction Oking maintains it was seen in November, so we waited in varying states of expectation. There were other birds to see of course. Amongst the most obvious were the Coppermiths, the endemic cebuensis race of which has an all red head. We heard many, before one perched on a nearby tree and gave excellent views. A pair of white bellied Balicassiao also performed well. Their behaviour seems somewhat different to those of Luzon, being more ready to use exposed perches, and occasionally venturing to the outer part of the canopy. This may be a reaction to local conditions, but it is something I have noticed with this mirabilis race in both Negros and Cebu.
A Crimson Sunbird and a Streak-breasted Bulbul (ssp. monticola) also made an appearance, as did several Mangrove Blue Flycatcher (ssp. philippinensis).
post from 18/12/11) and other islands in the western Visayas.