Bird Watching

IJsselstein, Monday, 10 June 2002 03:42:54

Bohol is a favourite bird-watcher's destination in the Philippines. Famous of course is Olango Island, between Mactan Island and Bohol, and part of the province of Cebu, but also Bohol itself has much to offer in the shape of the Rajah Sikatuna National Park in the inlands, near the town of Bilar. With its 90 square kilometers, Rajah Sikatuna National Park is the largest remaining natural forest in Bohol. In the headquarters, is a small hostel, and you can find a birders’ logbook and visitors’ book here, which is useful to read.

A number of trails have been set out. Following the trails through the park, you can come across many species of birds. It will take some patience, and may really help if you bring along tapes with bird calls to tempt the often shy birds from their hiding places. With some luck you can come across some rare and endangered species, such as the Philippine Eagle Owl, Bubo philippensis.

Among others, the following birds have been seen in Rajah Sikatuna National Park:

Metallic-winged sunbird Aethopyga pulcherrima
Silvery kingfisher Alcedo argentata
Philippine frogmouth Batrachostomus septimus
Philippine Eagle Owl Bubo philippensis
Brush cuckoo Cacomantis sepulcralis
Philippine nightjar Caprimulgus manillensis
Black-faced coucal Centropus melanops
Philippine coucal Centropus viridis
Pygmy swiftlet Collocalia troglodytes
Large-billed crow Corvus macrorhynchos
Red-keeled flowerpecker Dicaeum australe
Spangled drongo Dicrurus bracteatus
White-bellied woodpecker Dryocopus javensis
Pink-bellied imperial pigeon Ducula poliocephala
Great eared nightjar Eurostopodus macrotis
Mindanao bleeding-heart Gallicolumba criniger
Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus
Brahminy kite Haliastur indus
Philippine trogon Harpactes ardens
Whiskered treeswift Hemiprocne comata
Black-naped monarch Hypothymis azurea
Philippine bulbul Ixos philippinus
Brown tit-babbler Macronous striaticeps
Purple-throated sunbird Nectarinia sperata
Philippine hawk owl Ninox philippensis
Black-naped oriole Oriolus chinensis
Rufous-fronted tailorbird Orthotomus frontalis
Yellow-breasted tailorbird Orthotomus samarensis
Philippine scopsowl Otus megalotis
Yellow-bellied whistler Pachycephala philippensis
Mindanao hornbill Penelopides affinis
Amethyst brown dove Phapitreron amethystine
White-eared brown dove Phapitreron leucotis
Arctic warbler Phylloscopus borealis
Philippine leaf warbler Phylloscopus olivaceus
Red-bellied pitta Pitta erythrogaster
Steere´s pitta Pitta steeri
Blue-crowned racquet-tail Prioniturus discurus
Olive-backed flowerpecker Prionochilus olivaceus
Black-chinned fruit-dove Ptilinopus leclancheri
Streaked ground babbler Ptilocichla mindanensis
Yellow-wattled bulbul Pycnonotus urostictus
Rufous-tailed jungle flycatcher Rhinomyias ruficauda
Blue fantail Rhipidura superciliaris
Philippine serpent eagle Spilornis holospilus
Black-crowned babbler Stachyris nigrocapita
Drongo cuckoo Surniculus lugubris
Rufous-lored kingfisher Todiramphus winchelli
Everett´s white-eye Zosterops everetti

Getting There and Accommodation.

Catch a bus to Bilar, which is near the park. From there take a habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) to the accomodation in the park at Logarita. The caretaker and ranger here is John, a helpful person, who can take care of the food, and can provide accommodation in the hostel. The hostel is pretty basic, with three double rooms at P50 a night. There are also a number of very basic chalets at Camp Magsaysay, a Scout Camp and Nature Centre in the park. Entrance to the park is P20. If you want somewhat better accomodation, you can stay at the Chocolate Hills Complex near Carmen, not far from Bilar.

The address is:

Rajah Sikatuna National Park,
Logarita, Bilar, Bohol.
(038) 4112357

Further Reading

Don't leave home without a good bird guide.

A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines, by Robert Kennedy, et al., is the first and only guide that covers all 572 species of birds known to occur in the Philippines.
A Photographic Guide to Birds of the Philippines, by Tim Fisher, with photos by Nigel Hicks, is a compact, easy-to-use bird identification guide, suitable for any birdwatcher in the Philippines. The book contains descriptions of 216 species, thumbnail silhouettes for ease of use, up-to-date tips and information on bird biology and behaviour.

The website of Philippine Wildlife has a small documentary about the Philippine Cacatoo in Palawan (in Tagalog).

More information about bird watching tours to the Philippines can be found on the website.

Also worth a visit is the Olango Bird Sanctuary on Olango Island, between Bohol and Cebu.

Jeroen Hellingman