Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Puerto Princesa Birding, Part II - Stop and Go

The road to Sabang is arguably one the prime birding places in Puerto Princesa. There are several spots along the 80 kilometer stretch where one can find beautiful birds, many of which are found only in the island of Palawan. It was practically a stop and go kind of birding for us.

Jojo, our driver and companion for the next three days, was very punctual. At 5:30 in the morning we were already cruising the famed highway of birds. One hour later we chalked our first lifer of the day: the strange dinosaur-like Great Slaty Woodpecker. Just as soon as we parked our van, three of these huge birds flew into the tall tree next to us, all the while calling raucously.

At our next stop, it was Jojo (who was also interested in birds and is himself a bird photographer) pointed to us our second lifer: the Palawan Tit.

Further along the road, we saw a Chestnut-breasted Malkoha basking in the morning sun.

At one of the lookout points we flushed a colorful Black-headed Bulbul.

The rest of the way we just saw the usual Palawan suspects: Palawan and Ashy-fronted Bulbuls, Streaked Flowerpecker and White-vented Shama. 

We stopped by the DabDab Resort for some refreshments and to look for our target bird. After an hour of waiting, we finally were rewarded with quick views of the very active Pale Spiderhunter, our 3rd lifer of the day.

Happy and hungry, we proceeded to a nearby unnamed restaurant where we had a leisurely buffet lunch for only P200 per head.

Half past two and we were on the road again. The same Puerto Princesa - Sabang road, only this time we were on the way back. We planned to stop by the viewdeck and wait for the Red-vented (Philippine) Cockatoos to appear. It was a long two-hour wait which we used to look for other birds in the area. We saw some Chestnut Munias (up in a mountainside and away from ricefields!), and a young Blue-headed Racket-tail.

It was here also that we got our fourth lifer, the Philippine Drongo-Cuckoo. I almost overlooked this one, thinking that it was just another Hair-crested Drongo (which was also quite common in the area).

A little after 5 pm, Jojo yelled, "Cockatoos!" Sure enough, three lovely white birds were flying in the distance - too far and too fast for us to be able to take their pictures.

Joyfully we returned to Sabang, stopping for a few minutes to look for the Palawan Frogmouth and failing badly.

Evening fell, Cynthia and I had a quiet dinner at our hotel's restaurant while Irene joined her Aunt and Uncle at the Sheridan Hotel. Jojo said he'll be alright by himself.

By nine o'clock my wife and I are fast asleep.

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