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Remote Philippines; Tablas, Mindoro, Sierra Madre, Negros, Bohol, Cebu, Camiguin & Mindanao

28th February - 23rd March 2019


Leaders: Rob Hutchinson (Tablas, Mindoro, Negros, Bohol) and Pete Simpson (Cebu, Camiguin, Mindanao)

Group size: 7

Please note: this tour can be combined with a Pre-tour extension to Palawan, Sierra Madre Mountains and Subic Bay. Please click here for details.

Day 1:
International arrivals into Manila. Night in Manila.

Day 2:
Morning flight to the rarely-visited island of Tablas. When we arrive we will transfer directly to our base in the sleepy town of San Agustin and in the afternoon we begin our birding and make our first attempts to see the recently described endemic Romblon Boobook, with a good chance of Mantanani Scops Owl too. Night in San Agustin.

Day 3:
Full day birding within the nearby Dubduban Watershed, the only substantial remaining patch of forest on the island. We will be looking out in particular for the island endemics; Tablas Bulbul, Tablas Fantail and the spectacular lyre-tailed Tablas Drongo. There will be other more widespread endemic present, the pick of which is the recently split Dimorphic Kingfisher if we didn’t already fine them on Camiguin Sur, but in the past we’ve also seen Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove, Blue-crowned Racquet-tail, Philippine and Hooded Pitta, Rufous-lored Kingfisher and Luzon Paradise Flycatcher. Night at Kamella Inn or Travellers Lodge, San Agustin.

Day 4:
Another morning birding in the watershed either securing better views of species already seen or looking for other Philippine endemics with Dimorphic Kingfisher, Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove, Blue-crowned Racquet-tail and Rufous-lored Kingfisher all present. Return to Manila in the afternoon for an overnight stay. Night in Manila.

Day 5:
Day trip into the southern Sierra Madre Mountains to the northeast of Manila where roadside birding gives us chances to find Whiskered Pitta, Flame-breasted, Cream-bellied Fruit Dove and Northern Rufous Hornbill. Rarer possibilities include Black-crowned Babbler, Grand Rhabdornis and Bicol Ground Warbler. Night in Manila.

Day 6:
Early morning flight to San Jose, Mindoro then transfer to Sablayan. The remainder of the day will be spent birding within Sablayan Penal Colony. We will begin our searches for the islands endemics and also remain after nightfall to search the forest edge for Mindoro Boobook. Night in Sablayan.

Day 7:
Full day birding at Sablayan Penal Colony. The penal colony has some of the last remaining forest on the island and here we will hope to find Scarlet-collared Flowerpecker, Mindoro Hornbill and Black-hooded Coucal. We will also expect to find the Mindoro Bulbul, a cryptic member of the former ‘Philippine Bulbul’ complex, and the recently split Mindoro Racquet-tail. We will also have a chance of several tricky Philippine endemics that are now easier to find here than elsewhere in the islands such as Spotted Imperial Pigeon, Pink-bellied Imperial Pigeon and Black-bibbed Cicadabird. In the evening we will return to San Jose for an overnight stay.

Day 8:
Today we return first to Manila, connecting with a flight to Bacolod on Negros for an overnight stay. Night in Bacolod.

Day 9:
Morning birding at Gawahon Ecopark where will target two species rarely seen elsewhere; White-throated Jungle Flycatcher and Southern Indigo-banded Kingfisher although both are extremely difficult. We also have a good chance of finding the spectacular Flame-templed Babbler and other commoner visayan endemics like Black-belted Flowerpecker, and Visayan Fantail. After our morning birding we drive south to Dumaguete for a three-night stay.

Days 10-11:
We have two full days to explore various sites near Dumaguete with a whole suite of endemics awaiting us; Visayan Hornbill, Visayan Shama, Visayan Fantail, Visayan Brown Dove, Visayan Tailorbird, Visayan Balicassiao, White-winged Cuckooshrike, Maroon-naped and Magnificent Sunbirds, Black-belted Flowerpecker and at night Negros Scops Owl. If not already seen, then Flame-templed Babbler is a big target and the rare Yellow-faced Flameback is possible. There will also be more opportunities to see Visayan Balicassiao, Visayan Fantail and other nice species such as White-vented Whistler, a local form of Yellowish White-eye, Lemon-throated Leaf Warbler, Blue-crowned Racquet-tail, Pink-bellied Imperial Pigeon and Philippine Needletail. We should also look out for the rare Visayan Rhabdornis which sometimes sits up on open branches in the early morning, and there are further opportunities for Black-belted Flowerpecker in the lowlands. On one day we ascend the steep slopes of Mount Talinis which is one of a very few places on Negros where we can find the islands only true endemic; Negros Striped Babbler, with the local form of White-browed Shortwing which is surely a future armchair split. Nights in Dumaguete.

Day 12:
Final morning near Dumaguete before transferring to the neighouring island of Cebu. Night on Cebu.

Day 13:
Morning on Cebu where we will be looking for Cebu Boobook, Black Shama, Cebu (Streak-breasted) Bulbul, White-vented Whistler and others. In the afternoon take the fast ferry to the neighbouring island of Bohol which is most famous for its ‘Chocolate Hills’, a bizarre geological formation of more than 1200 hills, but which has an exciting set of endemics too. Night on Bohol.

Days 14-15:
We have two full days within Rajah Sikatuna National Park which protects the most extensive forests on Bohol. There is excellent birding on a network of trails where we might hope to find all major targets; Visayan Wattled Broadbill, Yellow-breasted Tailorbird, Black-crowned Babbler, ‘Samar Hornbill’ which is split from the birds on Mindanao by some authorities, and the recently split Bohol Sunbird and Visayan Blue Fantail. There will be plenty more to keep us entertained and this is an excellent place to see the likes of Rufous-tailed Jungle Flycatcher, Streaked Ground Babbler, Rufous-lored Kingfisher, Amethyst Brown Dove and Steere’s Pitta. At night we will try to find Philippine Frogmouth and the Everett’s Scops Owl, a recent split from the former Philippine Scops Owl. Nights on Bohol.

Day 16:
Morning ferry back to Cebu to connect with our afternoon flight to the small volcanic island of Camiguin Sur. Night on Camiguin.

Day 17:
We have a full day on the island searching for the island endemic Camiguin Hanging Parrot but also making sure to see ‘Camiguin’ Yellowish Bulbul and distinctive taxa of Black-naped Monarch and Yellowish White-eye. Dimorphic Dwarf Kingfisher is not uncommon on the island and at night we will look for the recently described Camiguin Boobook. Night on Camiguin.

Day 18:
After any final birding on Camiguin if required we take a ferry back to the main island of Mindanao and travel south to Bislig for a two-night stay.

Day 19:
The lowland forests of the former PICOP logging concession are badly degraded but are still the best place to find a number of endemics. Prime target here is the spectacular Celestial Monarch but we might also find Pinsker’s Hawk Eagle, Handsome Sunbird, Orange-tufted Spiderhunter, and at night Giant and Everett’s Scops Owl, and Mindanao Boobook are possible. Mindanao Wattled Broadbill and Mindanao Bleedingheart are present but very rare. Night at Bislig.

Day 20:
A final morning at PICOP before transferring to the Compostella Valley, the most accessible area in the eastern Mindanao mountains.

Day 21:
A full day at higher altitudes within the Compostella Valley where Lina’s Sunbird is the main target. Mindanao Brown Dove is present but usually difficult to see and other possibilities include Mindanao Lorikeet, the extremely skulking Bagobo Babbler, and interesting forms of McGregor’s Cuckooshrike and Long-tailed Bush Warbler. We will look for Bukidnon Woodcock at dusk and Mindanao and Giant Scops Owls are present.

Day 22:
Today is mostly a travel day as we head to the town of General Santos in the south of the island but we will stop along the way to look for Whiskered Flowerpecker and Cryptic Flycatcher. Orange-tufted Spiderhunter is also present if we haven’t seen it already. Night in General Santos.

Day 23:
Full day birding on Mount Matutum to try and fine T’boli Sunbird and Mindanao Miniature Babbler. There is alsoan undescribed taxon of the Long-tailed Bush Warbler complex here that is a likely future specie. Giant Scops Owl is present if we haven’t seen it already. Night in General Santos.

Day 24:
The main tour concludes with an early morning flight back to Manila for connecting international flights.

Tour Photo Albums

Remote Philippines custom, April-May 2016

Remote Philippines, 2013

Remote Philippines, 2011