We arrived in the mid-afternoon of 7th June, after a journey involving planes, cars, motorbikes, horses and shanks' pony. The first Kitanglad birds were several Bukidnon Woodcock that gave prolonged displays around the lodge, they were to do so at about 6:00pm every night, with a shorter visit at about 4:50am every morning. Both Philippine Nightjar and Great-eared Nightjar also showed at sunset, and at every subsequent sunset as well.
Day 1: The first day's birding started brightly, but as soon as we got to the eagle viewing point the clouds dropped, and we spent a frustrating 6 hours waiting for the eagle to show. It was not a total washout of course, the dry spells produced a range of birds including Mindanao Hornbill (1), Montane Racquet-tail (12), Black-masked White-eye (5), Red-headed Tailorbird (2), Cinnamon Ibon (2), Stripe-breasted Rhabdornis (2), Short-tailed Glossy Starling, White-browed Shortwing (calling everywhere, and 1 tempted into the open), Peregrine (1 ssp. ernesti), White-cheeked Bullfinch (4) and Apo Myna (1).
We descended the mountain at about 2:00pm in pouring rain, and gave up for the day.
Day 2: The next morning was duller than the first, and we our expectations were low when we approached the eagle view point. We set up the scope as before, and started scanning. A mere 30 minutes into the day we had it, a Philippine Eagle perched on the mountain, about halfway up, fantastic. It soon disappeared and we spent a frantic 10 minutes trying to relocate it when Danny picked it up, much closer. It soon moved again, flying directly towards us, landing about 150m away. We watched for over an hour, getting fantastic scope views as it searched through the canopy for prey. Eventually it dropped below our sightline, and we moved up towards the higher elevations, absoultely delighted with our views. The rest of the day was excellent, with plenty more Montane Racquet-tails (20+), Cinnamon Ibon (50+), White-cheeked Bullfinch (5), Black-masked White-eye (4), Apo Myna (8), White-browed Shortwing (1) and Stripe-breasted Rhabdornis (8). We also found several species new for the trip, including Oriental Honey Buzzard (1), Besra (1), Buff-spotted Flameback (1), MacGregor's Cusckooshrike (10+), Apo Sunbird (1) and Red-eared Parrtofinch (1).
On the way down we found two raptors near the camp. The first was a Pinsker's Hawk-Eagle, the second a Black-shouldered Kite, my first for The Philippines, and a totally unexpected bird.
Day 3: Our third and last day was spent on an easy wander to areas near the lodge, looking for whatever we might find. The slower pace was rewarding, and we found and photographed Red-headed Tailorbird and Snowy-browed Flycatcher. While looking at this last Carlito jumped up and called out 'Eagle'. The Philippine Eagle was perched on a branch about 100m away! While we watched it took off and flew directly towards us, landing on a tree about 40m away. We wrestled briefly with the vegetation, but soon got fantastic views. I don't really have words for how we felt, any birder reading this will know....
In summary, birding Kitanglad in June is a real test of any birder's waterproofing arrangements. Our waterproof jackets weren't, and our feet and clothes were permanently sodden. In addition the leeches were rapacious (I won the leech count with 45). On the other hand, the birds were great. All the endemics are there, and most are breeding. Many species seem to be easier to see than at other times of year, though definitely not all, missing the owls was a big disappointment. If you're well prepared, can protect your camera, and have stocked up on leech socks (and I really mean that!) then you've got a great chance to see some great birds.
Psammodynastes pulverulentus. On the trail high up on Kitanglad.