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WINGS Birding Tours – Itinerary


Sunday 5 April to Monday 20 April 2020
with Susan Myers as leader

Price Pending

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Palawan Peacock-Pheasant, a spectacular Philippines endemic Photo: Susan Myers

The geographic location and geological history of this amazing country have conspired to create a suite of fascinating endemic species—birds, mammals, reptiles, plants, and more. Wedged between China, Japan, Malaysia, and Indonesia, the 7000-plus islands of the Philippines have experienced successive invasions from different biogeographic zones that have fueled a spectacular adaptive radiation of species. Of the almost 600 bird species, an extraordinary 170 or more are endemic, and with names such as Great Philippine Eagle, Scale-feathered Malkoha, Steere’s Pitta, Blue Fantail, and Celestial Monarch, the birds of the Philippines are without doubt some of the most exciting in the world. This tour provides an opportunity to explore all the most important birding areas of this vast archipelago. We’ll visit the islands of Luzon and Mindanao, where we’ll search lowland and montane habitats for the special birds each island has to offer. We’ll also explore the island of Palawan with its stunning beach scenery, treasure trove of bird endemics, and an avifauna that has more in common with Borneo than with the rest of the Philippines.

Day 1: Participants should arrive in Manila no later than this evening. Night in Manila.

Day 2: We’ll depart early for a morning at Candaba Marsh before proceeding to Subic Bay, where we’ll bird the old Subic Naval Magazine and adjacent forests. Our initial foray will be along a very quiet and narrow road, and we can expect to see endemics such as White-eared Brown-Dove, Yellow-breasted Fruit-Dove, Guaiabero, Red-crested Malkoha, Luzon Hornbill, Black-and-white Triller, Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker, Coleto, and many others. Night in Subic Bay.

The Philippines tour was excellent and Susan superb, as always. She knows the birds and helps all to see them. She made an extra effort to support my physical needs, even getting a horse to take me up the mountain. (Just getting over broken ankle) 

Anne Kahle, June 2014

Day 3: We’ll spend all morning and the afternoon birding in Subic’s forests along the Nabasan road, and other areas. Specialty birds could include White-fronted Tit (increasingly difficult but we’ll try!), White-lored Oriole, Sooty Woodpecker, and Blackish Cuckoo-Shrike, and many other endemics can be found here as well. Night in Subic Bay.

Day 4: We’ll have time for some early morning birding in Subic before departing north for the long drive to Banaue and the Cordillera Mountains in Northern Luzon. Along the way we’ll stop to look for such birds as Indigo-banded Kingfisher, which favors rapidly flowing streams. We’ll arrive in Banaue in the early evening. Night in Banaue.

Day 5: We’ll spend all day on Mount Polis. During the morning we’ll bird along the road in search of various Luzon montane endemics such as Luzon Racquet-tail, Flame-breasted Fruit-Dove, Mountain Shrike, Chestnut-faced Babbler, Long-tailed Ground-Warbler, Luzon Bush-Warbler, Green-backed Whistler, Metallic-winged Sunbird, and Flame-crowned Flowerpecker. At midday we’ll drive to the small village of Bay-Yo and look for the endemic range-restricted Luzon Water Redstart on the river in the valley below. Night in Banaue.

Day 6: If we have timewe’ll return to Polis, looking for any birds we may have missed the previous day. In midmorning we’ll begin the long drive back to Manila for a night’s stay in preparation for tomorrow’s flight to Palawan. Night in Manila.

Day 7: We’ll leave Manila for our flights to Cagayan de Oro, in North Mindanao. We’ll then have a long drive—four to five hours—to the small village of Damitan, where our guides and horses for luggage will meet us. We’ll have to walk from here to our lodge. The walk is moderately strenuous and takes around 2-3, or longer if we stop for birding. The lodge has a large open room upstairs for dormitory-style sleeping. All bedding is provided, and large tents are also available. There are basic bathing and Western-style toilet facilities. A delightful local family who cooks and caters will look after us very well. We should have time for some afternoon birding after we arrive. Night on Mount Kitanglad.

Days 8-9: We’ll have two full days birding in search of the Great Philippine Eagle and 20 or so Mindanao montane endemics. Birding here involves a daily walk uphill on narrow but well-worn trails; much of the area is open and under cultivation. The camp is situated at around 4400 feet, and on at least on one day we’ll walk up a little higher in search of such birds as MacGregor’s Cuckooshrike and Apo Mynah. Our target bird will be the Great Philippine Eagle, which we have a good chance of finding. Other birds—all endemics—include Bukidnon Woodcock, Giant Scops-Owl, Philippine Frogmouth, Philippine Swiftlet, Yellow-breasted Fruit-Dove, Mindanao Racquet-tail, Philippine Hanging-Parrot, Philippine Nightjar, Blue-capped Kingfisher, McGregor’s Cuckoo-Shrike, Stripe-breasted Rhabdornis, Bagobo Babbler, Rufous-headed Tailorbird, Long-tailed Ground-Warbler, Black-and-Cinnamon Fantail, Mountain Shrike, Gray-hooded Sunbird, Olive-capped, Flame-crowned, and Buzzing Flowerpeckers, Black-masked White-eye, Cinnamon Ibon, Red-eared Parrotfinch, and White-cheeked Bullfinch. Nights on Mount Kitanglad.

Day 10: We plan to depart camp after breakfast this morning and return to Damitan, where vans will be waiting to take us on our long drive across Mindanao to Bislig and on to PICOP, a large logging concession where we’ll spend three days birding. Although the forest is disappearing, it’s still rich in birds. Upon arrival, we’ll be met by our local guide Zardo, and in the afternoon we’ll visit the nearby airport (dependent on arrival time), where many wetland birds can be found, including Philippine Mallard, Wandering Whistling-Duck, Philippine Swamphen, Watercock, Black Bittern, and Australasian Grass-Owl. We’ll stay in a small but comfortable and friendly hotel. Night in Bislig.

Days 11-13: We’ll have two days to bird the vast PICOP logging concession, which has many different sites. We’ll be traveling around in a jeepney, which is able to navigate the rough roads. It will probably take 40 to 90 minutes to get to the birding sites in the morning and the vehicles will stay with us all day. Among the many fabulous birds that we hope to see are Philippine Hawk-Eagle, Barred Honey-buzzard, Amethyst Brown-Dove, Black-chinned Fruit-Dove, Pink-bellied and Spotted Imperial-Pigeons, Blue-crowned Racquet-tail, Blue-backed Parrot, Black-faced Coucal, Philippine Drongo-Cuckoo, Philippine Needletail, Silvery and Rufous-lored Kingfishers, Rufous, Mindanao, and Writhed Hornbills, Sooty Woodpecker, Mindanao Wattled Broadbill, Steere’s and Red-bellied Pitas, Black-bibbed Cuckoo-Shrike, Philippine Leafbird, Philippine Bluebird, Yellowish and Yellow-wattled Bulbuls, Philippine Oriole, Streaked Ground-Babbler, Pygmy and Rusty-crowned Babblers, Brown Tit-Babbler, Philippine Leaf-Warbler, Black-headed and Rufous-fronted Tailorbirds, Rufous-tailed Jungle-Flycatcher, Rufous Paradise-Flycatcher, Little Slaty-Flycatcher, Blue Fantail, Celestial (difficult) and Short-crested Monarchs, Lovely Sunbird, Naked-faced Spiderhunter, and Olive-backed Flowerpecker. There are several interesting nightbirds in the area, including Chocolate and Mindanao Hawk-Owls. Nights in Bislig.

Day 14: This morning we’ll bird at Bislig before traveling 4-5 hours to Davao for our flight to Manila. Night in Manila.

Day 15: We’ll fly to Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan. Before setting off to St. Paul’s National Park, we’ll visit nearby coastal areas for shorebirds and other waterbirds, including the rare Chinese Egret. Later in the morning we’ll drive to the delightful coastal town of Sabang near the World Heritage site, St. Paul’s National Park. Along the last 20 miles of our drive we have a good chance for birds such as Ruddy Kingfisher, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Palawan Tit, and Blue Paradise-Flycatcher, so we’ll take our time, stopping at a lookout to try for highly endangered Philippine Cockatoo, arriving in Sabang in the late afternoon. Night in Sabang.

Day 16: We’ll spend the day in St. Paul’s National Park and other areas surrounding Sabang. The park is beautifully located between high limestone cliffs and white sandy beaches and is covered in pristine forest. It’s the home of the Underground River, and in the early morning we’ll take a boat directly there to the best birding site. Later in the morning we’ll board our boat again and return to Sabang. The area is rich in birds, and there is a good chance of seeing a majority of the endemics and specialties, including Tabon Scrubfowl, Palawan Peacock-Pheasant, Blue-naped Parrot, Palawan Swiftlet, Palawan Hornbill, Hooded Pitta, Yellow-throated Leafbird, Sulphur-bellied Bulbul, Ashy-headed Babbler, Falcated Ground-Babbler, White-vented Shama, Palawan Blue Flycatcher, Lovely Sunbird, and Palawan Flowerpecker. In the afternoon we’ll go to another site in search of many of these species as well as Palawan Scops-Owl and Javan Frogmouth in the evening. Night in Sabang.

Day 17: We’ll return to Puerto Princesa this morning but we’ll bird the whole way back to search for any birds we may have missed so far. In the evening we’ll take a pleasant 30-minute boat trip to an offshore island in search of the very range-restricted Mantanani Scops-Owl (if permission is granted). Night in Puerto Princesa.

Day 18: We’ll visit the Iwahig penal colony this morning - this is the best place to find the endemic Blue-headed Racquet-tail, as well as Melodious Babbler and Palawan Flycatcher. We’ll also explore the nearby rice paddies and fishponds for wetland birds. Night in Puerto Princesa.

Day 19: We’ll catch our early morning flight to Manila and drive directly to Los Baños, which is located south of the city. On arrival, we’ll bird on the lower slopes of Mount Makiling, the Botanic Gardens, and elsewhere on the University of the Philippines campus. In particular, we’ll look for Red-keeled and Pygmy Flowerpeckers, Indigo-banded Kingfisher, and Scale-feathered Malkoha. In the late afternoon we bird another section of the campus for Lowland White-eye and Spotted Buttonquail. Night in Los Baños.

Day 20: We’ll spend all day on Mount Makiling, which holds a great selection of Luzon birds and more than 50 endemics. Some of the birds we’ll look for are Philippine Serpent-Eagle, White-eared Brown-Dove, Luzon Bleeding-heart (very difficult), Black-chinned Fruit-Dove, Guaiabero, Philippine Hawk-Cuckoo, Luzon Hornbill, Scale-feathered  Malkoha, Spotted Wood Kingfisher, Sulphur-billed Nuthatch, Striped-headed Rhabdornis, White-browed Shama, Gray-backed Tailorbird, Yellow-bellied Whistler, Flaming, and Lovely Sunbirds, and Red-keeled, Pygmy, Buzzing, and Striped Flowerpeckers. Late in the afternoon we’ll return to Manila for an overnight stay in preparation for our flights home tomorrow. Night in Manila. 

Day 21: The tour concludes this morning in Manila.


Updated: 12 September 2014


  • 2020 Price Not Yet Available
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Maximum group size 10 with one WINGS leader and local guides.