Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Palawan Birding - Day 1 - Tick

Day one of our trip to Palawan didn't start well. Our flight to Puerto Princesa was delayed for over an hour. We were somewhat ticked off - we had to wake up at 1:30 am so we could be at the airport about 2 hours before our schedule departure - and then had to wait (inside the plane!) until the mechanical problem had been fixed and we were finally allowed to take off.

We arrived at Puerto Princesa at past eight am. Since we would not be able to check in at our room at the Princesa Garden Island Resort until 3 pm, Cynthia and I decided to check out the premises if there were some birds. We did see some but opted not to take photos yet. At 9 am we went to Badjao Seafood Restaurant which was not that far. The area in front of this restaurant is a good place to see Copper-throated Sunbirds, Stork-billed Kingfisher and Pale Spiderhunter. Unfortunately none of these species were present when we arrived. As we walked on the boardwalk towards the dining area we noticed something yellow flitting among the mangrove trees. It turned out to be three Common Ioras - a species that have not yet been reported being seen here before. One of them even posed unbelievably close!

After the Ioras left, there was once again a dearth in bird activity. There were two kinds of kingfishers, the Common and the Collared, that showed up but both preferred to stay at quite a distance resulting only in some very bad documentary shots. After a delicious lunch, we again staked out the parking lot. Still nothing. Cynthia suggested that she would go back to the dining area and wait for the Stork-billed while I would remain to wait for the Pale Spiderhunter. While I was roaming around I noticed a Grey Wagtail perched on a branch. Not far from it was a Grey-streaked Flycatcher hunting for insects.

Grey Wagtail
Grey-streaked Flycatcher
While I was taking shots at the two greys, I heard a loud clapping coming from the motorcycle parking area. I looked and it was one of the caretakers. He was frantically waving at me and pointing to a nearby tree. I ran toward him and as I got close he directed my attention at some movement among the tiny orange flowers. It was a male Copper-throated Sunbird!

At 1:30 pm we returned to the hotel and thankfully we were allowed to check in. After resting and taking a short nap, we returned to the area behind the hotel. This time we took pictures of the birds seen there: A Great Egret, a Little Egret, and a White-bellied Sea Eagle.

Little Egret
Great Egret
White-bellied Sea Eagle
A little after 5 pm, my wife went to the restaurant to order a take out dinner. It was during that time that a flock of Red-vented Cockatoos (one of our target birds) came flying in. They tried to perch on the tall palm trees but because of the blustery winds blowing from the sea, they had a difficult time doing so. Most of them did some thermalling and showed off the reason for their name. I called Cynthia and excitedly told her that the Cockatoos had arrived. She ran to where I was and began taking photos herself.

It was already getting dark so we decided to return to our room. Despite a bad start, our first birding day in Palawan ended well as we ticked off our first photo lifer.

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