Trip report: The Philippines (Mar 2011) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Keith BarnesThis was a custom tour.

This tour took the form of three distinct stages, concentrating on the three most accessible, endemic rich islands in the sprawling Philippine archipelago, that encompasses more than 7,000 islands in total. We began first on Mindanao, the second largest and most southerly of the main islands, that is especially noteworthy for birders as the last stronghold of the Philippine National Bird, the magnificent Philippine Eagle; we then hit the ‘main’ island of Luzon, the largest of all the islands and where the bustling capital Manila is located; then and finally the thin tropical island strip of Palawan, that sits between the Sulu Sea to the east and the South China Sea to the west, that divides this paradise island from the huge island of Borneo further west. Biogeographically Palawan is very interesting, sharing more in common with the typically southeast Asian avifauna of Borneo to the west than the other Philippine islands to the east. However, despite this there are almost 20 endemics on this lush forested island, that is bordered with pristine white sandy beaches that make it an idyllic holiday retreat for birders, snorkelers and backpackers alike. We ensured we spent time in both montane and lowland areas on both Luzon and Mindanao to target the endemics particular to those elevations, before finishing on the idyllic beach-covered island of Palawan, for some of the Philippines’ easiest and most satisfying birding.

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