Birding trip to Subic Bay and Mt.Makiling
With a very early start from Manila, we arrived before dawn at Subic Bay. Soon enough, we had our first view of a Chocolate Boobook which was a very nice start for our birding trip in Subic. We had good, long views of the rare White-fronted Tit, our first specialty for the morning. We also saw a large flock of Ashy Minivets along with one Ashy Drongo, a bird that is rarely seen on Luzon.
Birding along the roads in Subic Bay, as well as on the trail going towards Hill 394, is a very rewarding birding experience and one of the best in the Philippines. On the morning of our first day, we had excellent views of Philippine Green-Pigeon, Green Imperial-Pigeon, Guaiabero, Blue-naped Parrot, and Green Racquet-tail, another specialty of Subic Bay which showed quite a number of times. A number of woodpecker species such as the Luzon Flameback, Northern Sooty Woodpecker, and White-bellied Woodpecker were commonly seen. Other species that were spotted include Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike, Luzon Balicassiao, and Stripe-headed Rhabdornis. At least three White-lored Orioles were also spotted. Towards midday, we had a look at the colony of the Rufous-crowned Bee-eaters in a residential area which appears to be the best site to observe these beautiful Bee-eaters. Afternoon birding along the roads resulted in more goodies. We saw quite a few Red-crested Malkohas, several noisy groups of Rufous Coucals, and Luzon Hornbills. We ended our day with some nocturnal birding and a Luzon Hawk-owl showed well, as well as a second Chocolate Boobook for the day.
We started our second morning in Subic Bay again at pre-dawn, seeing two Chocolate Boobooks. Subic is surely the best site to observe this Owl species. The White-fronted Tit showed well again and we had more excellent views of Green Racquet-tails and Luzon Hornbills. We were able to get nice observations of Coletos, a very common bird in Subic, and a large group of Rufous Coucals entertained us for some time. We also had good views of Blackish Cuckoo-Shrike which were the highlight of the morning. We left Subic later that day and we made our way to Angono Cave in Rizal where we had excellent views of the immature Philippine Eagle-Owl. It was a nice way to end a very successful birding trip.
We started our pre-dawn session in Mt. Makiling with mega views of a Philippine Scops-Owl. This was followed with stunning views of a Spotted Wood-Kingfisher and later on, a Luzon White-browed Shama. We were also able to find a Luzon Hawk-Owl in its day roost. A Philippine Hawk Cuckoo gave short views on the way down the mountain and a Pechora Pipit was spotted in the dense undergrowth. A Luzon Flameback was also seen as we were walking downhill.
We spent one morning birding at the Botanical Gardens where we saw many of the specialties of Mt.Makiling starting with great views of the endemic Indigo-banded Kingfisher. Other birds that gave rather stunning views were Scale-feathered Malkoha, Red-crested Malkoha, Grey-backed Tailorbird, Purple-throated Sunbird, and Handsome Sunbird. In the afternoon, we birded in the open grassy areas to look for Spotted Buttonquail which showed very well along the path. Two Barred Buttonquails where seen, as well as a Plain Bush-hen. A nice-looking Barred Rail walked towards us in the dwindling afternoon light. On our last morning in Mt. Makiling, we spotted two Luzon Hawk-Owls and had very nice views of a Philippine Trogon. We spent some time observing a fruiting tree with several Striped Flowerpeckers and Bicolored Flowerpecker feeding on the fruits.
A short visit to Mt. Makiling allowed us to see many of the specialties that can be seen on the mountain. We are offering trips to Subic Bay and Mt. Makiling on our Short Tour and Main Tour.