Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mahayahay, Siargao - 2nd June

My first visit to Siargao, a small island off the northeastern tip of Mindanao. It's renowned as having the best surfing conditions in The Philippines, and is the closest point to the Philippine Trench. This is a deep channel stretching up the south-east Asian archipelago from New Guinea up the eastern side of Indonesia to The Philippines. It is one of the deepest submarine trenches in the world, reaching a maximum recorded depth of 10,540m (The Marianas Trench is a mere 323m deeper). With such deep water lying not far offshore the potential for interesting pelagic birds (and mammals) is high, so I and a small group of intrepid birding friends decided to go and have a look.

Few birders have visited the island, and fewer still have published trip reports, so we spent the first afternoon exploring a small patch of forest close to a village called Mahayahay. We parked in the village, engaged a guide after first contacting the Barangay captain, and set off on foot to the forest. The habitat was generally very degraded, but there seemed to be plenty of birdlife. The route we took led us in a circle through degraded forest, secondary growth, coconut plantations and a small patch of grassland. We encountered a couple of streams, one of which flowed out of a cave which our guide said contained bats. Among the more interesting birds seen were Oriental Honey Buzzard, Barred Honey Buzzard, Philippine Serpent Eagle, Philippine Green Pigeon,  Black-headed Tailorbird, Rufous-fronted Tailorbird and Handsome Sunbird. Heard only birds (by me) included Ruddy Kingfisher, Philippine Oriole, Hooded Pitta, Koel, Black-faced Coucal and Black-chinned Fruit Dove. though some of these were seen by other members of the group.

That evening we tried looking for owls at a likely spot along the road, near Napa. We had no luck at all with any owls, but did find an interesting Fruit Bat.

Black-naped Oriole, common in this very degraded habitat.
One of three Black-headed Tailorbirds that kept us entertained for a long while. They were typically very flighty, but responded very well to playback, and stayed around us for at least half an hour.

Barred Honey Buzzard flying low overhead on the way out of the forest.

Flying Lizard spp.
Variable (Island) Flying Fox, Pteropus hypomelanus. Quite different to the one I saw on Pandan last Christmas, (link here).

No comments:

Post a Comment