April 6, 2004 Arrived in Manila, where I met my partner at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and we checked into one of the more lower end hotels in Makati. It is not really worth a mention, since after our stay, I would not recommend it. Lesson learned ... while staying in Manila, it is better to pay a little more then normal, or one could be disappointed by the room and the service.
April 7 , 2004 American Cemetery - Forbes Park, Makati, Metro Manila. Was open to walk through, despite it being Holy Thursday holiday in the Philippines. Make sure to bring ID or passport to show guard at the gate, and sign in. Birds seen were PIED BUSHCHAT (3 - 2 males , 1 female), BROWN SHRIKE (12), BLACK-NAPED ORIOLE (1), YELLOW-VENTED BULBUL (2), RED TURTLE DOVE (4), ZEBRA DOVE (9), PIED TRILLER (2), BARRED RAIL (3 in dry gully area), STRIATED GRASSBIRD (1 also in dry gully area), WHITE-COLLARED KINGFISHER (7), PACIFIC SWALLOW (6), GLOSSY SWIFTLET (10), SPOTTED DOVE (1), LOWLAND WHITE-EYE (flock of 40+), Philippine Squirrels - white, bushy tail, seen in every large Narra tree.
April 8, 2004 Good Friday was a day to remember, but not for birding. We had tickets to board the WGA Superferry 12, setting sail at 7 pm for Cebu. We decided to take a taxi to the pier.. early, to avoid the last minute crowds boarding the ship. We expected high security at the terminal. As soon as the taxi unloaded us, we were pushed back by armed police and the whole pier area roadway entrance was soon barricaded off and we were informed that the Superferry had not unloaded it's passengers yet that arrived from Cebu. Moments later many police vehicles from Manila's finest came through and then the bomb squad vehicle. Someone (possibly from an extremist group) left a suspicious package in the CR at the ferry terminal and it was discovered that it was indeed a bomb. The bomb was harmlessly exploded by the bomb squad outside in open roadway area. Was this intended for our ship? Did the person carrying this in find that the security was too tight and abandon their plans? All were questions that we pondered with the other passengers . Well you can imagine what a mess it was getting into the terminal several hours later after the passengers disembarked from Cebu. Everyone's luggage was taken apart piece by piece, slowly, and then searched and sniffed by dogs before entering the terminal, patted down and body searched and then searched and sniffed again just before boarding the boat, at around 11:30 pm. We knew we were going to be safe on this trip, and my hat's off with respect to the fine Filipino security and police that caught this (after the disastrous incident at sea aboard Superferry 15, several months earlier). If it was the extremists .. this time they were foiled. We fell asleep in our cabin suite before the ship set sail, probably after 1am. The first class food and cabin suite accommodation aboard the ship was very good and I would not hesitate to travel on the WGA Superferry again, but would not downgrade to another cabin or the economy food.
April 9, 2004 Superferry 12 at sea, bound for Cebu. STREAKED SHEARWATER (1 gliding low over the waves with just a few wing beats now and then. Seen off the port side of the ship, at fairly close range, somewhere between Panay and Masbate, with no land in sight). WHISKERED TERN (2 - mating pair in the water)
April 14, 2004 from the seaside beach park at Talisay, Cebu GLOSSY SWIFTLET (3), WHISKERED TERN (6 - had these just about everywhere from the beaches and boats near shore). Hypolimnas Bolina (2 - Common Eggfly butterfly).
April 15, 2004 Bus trip from Cebu City (south bus terminal) to Argao - WHITE-WINGED TERN (3 flying over the coastal fish ponds) We stayed at the Bamboo Paradise Beach Resort in Argao, which I can highly recommend for the good food and friendly accommodation, which is located right on the bus route just before Dalaguete township. They made arrangements for drivers to pick us up and take us to the DENR reforestation at Mag-alambak the next morning on habal- habals (motorbikes with oversized seats, that could possibly seat 3 or 4 small people). From the resort we had OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD (4) and WHISKERED TERN (4). There were several crab species sunning below on the concrete break wall at the resort, along with small transparent fish with a black and white patch on the tail, that were swimming in the sandy shallows. They resembled sharks and I later found out from a worker there, that it was indeed what they were....newly hatched sharks. We also saw several bats at dusk, while eating dinner outside.
April 16, 2004 DENR reforestation area in Mag-alambak The ride took almost an hour, south into Dalaguete, and then turning right, uphill tword Mantalongon and the mountains on a winding steep bumpy road. The scenery was beautiful, but the ride was very rough and unpleasant, to say the least. I found myself hanging on to the habal-habal and driver for dear life. Upon arrival, I immediately noticed a bird run into the brush by the roadside and disappear into the scruff. I was able to get another look and it was a TABON SCRUBFOWL (1). I later heard the eerie call of this bird from a distance in the forest. Also, at the same roadside area I had BARRED RAIL (2). The trail from the road lead downhill across a stream and to a wide path below the a steep hillside patch of forest, that ran next to the stream. From the trees over the path we had PHILIPPINE BULBUL (2), RE -KEELED FLOWERPECKER (2), ELEGANT TIT (1 male), EVERETT'S WHITE-EYE (flock of 20+), PHILIPPINE SCOPS OWL (heard only).
We decided to hike up the narrow steep forest trail to get closer to the birds in the treetops and the many sounds in the distance, up the hill. A loud chorus of Cicadas kicked in while climbing up the trail and the climb was difficult in spots. We were treated to a breath taking view of the valley and higher forest area from the path. Below was a foot path with a shack that was a farmer's home and the farmer plowing up the land with a water buffalo (carabao). We soon found it was a good area to stay and bird for awhile, with the multi level views of the forest edge and surrounding hillside. We had a BLACK-NAPED ORIOLE (1). One of the sounds heard turned out to be a BRUSH CUCKOO (1) along with a pair of COMMON EMERALD DOVE (2) and ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN (2).
From the open side of the trail on the hillside, there was an area with plants that attracted many butterfly species in the sun. Some that I could identify were Papilio Alphenor "Common Mormon" (1) seen on the trail Junonia Hedonia Ida "Chocolate Pansy" (4 - photo taken) Danaus Genutia "Common Tiger" (2 low in brush near stream) Ideopsis Juventa "Glassy Tiger" (6) Idea Leuconoe "Paper Kite" (3 large and graceful, lower to the ground and stream). This I believe may have been the fabled "Kawasan Paper Kite" endemic to Cebu. One of only several areas it can still be found was in this forest patch. It had a lot of yellow color on the wings near the thorax. Junonia Iphita ? (1 black /orange with round black eye spot on rear of hindwing) Ypthima Sempera (ringlet species - photo taken - gray with 3 black eye rings on rear of hindwing. One ring was larger then the other 2, and all having yellow rings surrounding the black eyespots). Troides Rhadamanthus (1 magnificant birdwing like species, high in treetops), Papilio Romanzavia (1) "Scarlet Mormon" (another beauty, high in treetops), Catopsilla Pomona (2 pair high in treetops).
After fatigue and hunger started to set in, we found the drivers (fast asleep of course), woke them up and rode the habal-habals back down the rough winding road back down into Dalaguette, where we took our lunch at a seaside restaurant . From there we could see WHISKERED TERN (5) and a school of small needlefish in the water. We checked out of the Argao Beach Resort and caught the bus north, back to Cebu City. On the bus trip back , I had CATTLE EGRET (4) and GREAT EGRET (1).
April 20, 2004 Supercat Ferry from Cebu City to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental Whiskered Tern (8) and Brown Noddy (1). Upon arrival, we tried first to stay at the Bethel Hotel, but it was fully booked. Our tricycle driver recommended the C&L Suites Inn, a hotel which was just a few blocks away. It was a good choice, and was very clean , comfortable, and had a rooftop restaurant with good food and prices, and offered a great view of the city to the west and the distant Mt. Talinis and the "Curenos de Negros" (Horns of Negros). I had my filipina partner try to contact the recommended guide, Rene Vendiola, at his home # (035) 225-2120. Rene is not often at home, and his wife told her to try his cell phone. After several failed tries we realized the # that I had must have changed. She called back and his wife gave us his updated cell phone # which is 0918-500-2915. Rene came down the following night on motorbike and we talked in the lobby and made arrangements for April 22. Rene could take us up to Mt. Talinis to try for Negros Striped Babbler and to Casa Rora for Flame-templed Babbler, by motorbike, and would pick us up at the hotel in the early AM. Rene suggested that we also try the Dumaguete airport area for shorebirds but we never found the time to do this. We decided to first make the trip to Bais, the next morning, for the whale/dolphin watching tour. In the late afternoon we went up to the rooftop restaurant and ordered dinner and while waiting I did some watching just before dusk, and had ASIAN GLOSSY STARLING (3) together fly-by GLOSSY SWIFTLET (10) and CHESTNUT MUNIA (1 fly-by and was very surprised to see this from the hotel roof).
April 21, 2004 Bus trip to Bais. We got the bus schedule from the hotel desk and left early morning from the bus terminal. I sat in the window seat to get a view of the coastal side of the road and in between the towns Sibulan and Tanjay, there were many large coastal fish ponds. In them, I had INTERMEDIATE EGRET (20+ mixed in with LITTLE EGRET) and PURPLE HERON (2). We arrived in Bais and got off the bus on the main drag and took a tricycle to the dock area and found the pumpboat had already left one hour before, on the whale/dolphin watch tour. We were told to go back to the main drag and stop at the tourist information center so we could book another tour and rent the pumpboat. We would have to come back again on April 23rd, early morning, and left a deposit to hold our reservation. We could have booked this in Dumaguete, but oh well, who knew? On the tricycle ride back to Bais, I had the driver stop at a fish pond and got a great look at another LITTLE EGRET (1). In a field with several water buffalo, I had CATTLE EGRET (1)
April 22, 2004 Mt. Talinas Rene and two other drivers on habal-habals showed up at 4:30am and drove us through the dark empty streets of Dumaguete and up the mountainside. The road soon became rough and steep and there was several spots where the road was so bad we had to get off the bikes and walk a bit. We arrived at a small farmer's shack on the road where our up hill hike began at around 670 meters (2198 ft. on my GPS). We walked by several tied up water buffaloes and a heard of goats and through some recently planted vegetables on the steep hillside. We first heard the calls of a male Tailorbird, that were coming from a hedgerow area of dense thickets and small trees. Rene told us the male was courting his partner and they would be hard to see. I walked around the area several times and finally got a glimpse at the tiny birds while the others trudged ahead of me up the mountainside. PHILIPPINE TAILORBIRD (2).
I caught up with Rene and he spotted a bird low on the ground that turned out to be a TAWNY GRASSBIRD (1). The view behind us looking east was breathtaking, with the sun just coming up and a grand view of Dumaguate. Rene pointed out the airport and some other familiar spots. We could not only see the southern end of Cebu, but also Sumilon Island off the south tip of Cebu, Siquijor and also Apo Island, looking further south. We could also see the end of Negros Oriental and the distant cloud banks that were over Mindanao. Yes, we were really up there, and my ears were popping. The trail really started to get steep and we found ourselves pausing more frequently to catch our breath. There were now steep hills and forested valleys on each side of us and the cloud forest up ahead, with several hundred meters left to climb to reach it. Myself and one of the drivers got a glimpse of a RUFOUS-LORED KINGFISHER (1 or what Rene called ....Jungle Kingfisher) that took off from a tree branch, down hill from us. Rene paused and had us listen for a soft cooing sound. In the distance, down the valley floor to our right he identified the sound as NEGROS BLEEDING-HEART DOVE and told us it is much more often heard than seen. Other birds that we heard from this area but could not see, identified by Rene were GREEN-BACKED WHISTLER (Rene called ...Jungle Whistler) , WHITE-BROWED SHAMA that called persistently. Also heard was WHITE-THROATED JUNGLE FLYCATCHER, and REDDISH CUCKOO DOVE. Approaching the steep uphill climb and the cloud forest we had a fly over CRESTED SERPENT-EAGLE (1). The Serpent-eagle also landed on a distant tree branch and gave us a nice look and we later saw it again coming down out of the forest, flying overhead. After several hundred meters of a steady uphill climb, the trail really becomes steep and challenging at about 1200 meters at the start of a ridge, and some novice mountain climbing skills would have come in handy in spots. I am no mountain climber, nor is my partner ..but when Rene (already halfway up the ridge) signaled that he had heard the call of the Striped Babbler, I asked my partner if she was willing to up climb further and without hesitation she grabbed a tree root and went ahead of me up the ridge and I followed close behind, with one of our drivers behind me. When we caught up to Rene, he was standing just off the trail pointing at a tree that was overhanging the cliff. I got my footing and got a great look at a pair of birds sitting side by side on a branch ... mating. They were the endemic NEGROS STRIPED-BABBLER (2). We were less then 10 yards away and the pair continued their mating, unconcerned by our presence, as I passed around the binoculars so we all got great looks. Rene told me that I was the first foreign birder that he had brought up Talinas, to witness a pair mating, and it was just the second time ever for him. He also explained how the small flocks of these babblers stay close to this elevation (approx 1250 meters) in the mountain forest. Rene said the crest of the forest peak was not far, if we were willing to climb a little higher, and we were, feeling inspired by what we had just seen.
Climbing up the trail further, we flushed out a PHILIPPINE SCOPS OWL (1 nigrorum race) that was roosting in a small tree next to the trail. I have heard the calls of this owl on several occasions, but this was my first glimpse of one. We also saw and heard a BRUSH CUCKOO (1). We reached the top of the forest peak, that Rene said was named "Colungan Peak" (possibly I may have misspelled this). It was not the highest peak on Mt Talinas (6,358 ft.), as we could see that we were just behind the highest peak. There was really no clear spot on the top to get GPS reading, so Rene climbed up a tree with the GPS and managed to get one at 1359 meters (4,460 ft). Well, coming down the mountain was much more difficult then climbing up, and my partner and I had multiple slips and, falls, scrapes and bruises on the loose ground and twisted, slippery roots and rocks. We came down most of the way on our rumps, hanging on to whatever we could. A large branch broke that I was holding on to, went up in the air and came down on the top of my head. No blood, just a nasty bump. Then ...the ants got to us while we were slowly sliding down. Biting both of us many times ,on the hands and legs. We learned from Rene that being the first one to disturb the ants was a good strategy, as the next in line seemed to get bit the worst, after the first to cross their path (Rene) initially disturbed the colony. I was amazed at the skill of the sure-footed Rene, as he carefully walked up and down the mountain barefoot, while never losing his footing one time on the difficult path, that I could see.
Continuing down further on the ridge, we disturbed a PHILIPPINE FROGMOUTH (1) that took off quickly into the forest, from where it was sitting on a large rotted broken tree stump. Rene explained to us that this nocturnal bird often sits facing upward, resembling a broken branch, blending in perfectly with it's surroundings. The forest on all sides of us became alive with the sound of a loud chorus of Cicada. This was like a sound I have never heard before. To best describe the sound, was to say it was machine like, or a motor with a winding that was going bad .The sound got so loud that we had to talk over it to hear each other. I was able to get this sound on my pocket micro cassette. Rene signaled me to catch up with him, as he was hearing the calls of the other Negros endemic FLAME-TEMPLED BABBLER. He side stepped off the trail, blazing his own trail along the cliff edge and had a pair of the babblers sitting in a tree near the bottom of the ridge. The footing was very tricky and I was slow in catching up with Rene, despite my excitement at hearing the singing babblers just ahead and below. I just got a glimpse of one taking off as I came up to Rene frantically waving me on and pointing down at the location. Unfortunately, I had to concentrate on my footing, and I had just missed a great look at them. This is the only place on the hike, that my partner did not choose to follow me, and I couldn't blame her, as walking carefully back, I realized just how risky this part of the trip really was. Birding here was very hard work and I must say that this was no hike for a novice (like us), or for a person that is really not in good shape. I am in fair shape and this climb took everything I had, physically, to make it up and back down in one piece. Anyway, we were almost down off the steep ridge now. I really admire my Filipina partner for her stamina, and strength. She never complained or asked me to turn back once. She enjoyed seeing what we were fortunate enough to see, every bit as much as I did.
Coming down out of the forest, Rene pointed out two species of butterfly that he told us was Papilio Memnon (Great Mormon), and the later being an endemic to Negros of the "Delias" species that was black with yellow fringes and red near the thorax. We also had a very fast flying group of PHILIPPINE NEEDLETAIL (6) that were feeding on the wing as we walked down the trail from the ridge into the clearing. Perched on a small tree out in the open was a male PIED BUSHCHAT (1). We finally sat down in the shade and rested for awhile from the challenging hike, near the dense thicket area in which the PHILIPPINE TAILORBIRDS were still calling. My feet were sore and I could feel my legs would be soon. My left toes were starting to bruise from the impact of trying to slow my body down on the steep downhill trail. I had on good hiking shoes and I was glad I decided not to take my backpack. The extra weight would have really done me in. My partner was also sore and feeling the effects of the hike. Rene seemed fine and I told him how impressed I was that he could make that climb ...barefoot. He told me it came with a lot of practice and that he had taken many people up to that location and he knows the trail very well. Rene was looking through his knapsack and showed us the many small plants, roots and cuttings that he collected to take home to his yard. He explained the different plants and why he collected them. Rene impressed me as a nice person, a naturalist, conservationist, and a very good birder, as well. We heard distant gunshots ring out and Rene told us that it was probably someone hunting birds for food. He told us how he was once a hunter also, but changed his course and hopes other locals will do the same. The remaining forest on Negros is all at mostly high elevations, but is still in danger of encroachment. Rene told us he was like the caretaker of this area, but also explained that he can't be there all the time to protect it. He told us a few stories of his past experiences on the trail up to the mountain forest. One that really grabbed my attention, was when Rene was hired as a guide and porter, to take a German Lepidopterist (that was doing a study and collecting specimens of moths) up the mountain trail. The collecting needed to by done at night, after dark, so Rene carried up a generator, to produce the light needed to attract the moths for collection. I just could not imagine hauling a generator up that trail on the ridge ! He mentioned that many birders he guided decided to proceed no further up the ridge at 1200 meters. Had we known how sore our legs would be the next morning, we might have chosen not to proceed, also.
Looking down at the magnificent view I had mentioned earlier, Rene suggested we visit Apo Island. We were sitting in the company of some goats, feeding on grass around us, on the hillside. Rene told us that there was once a small wild goat, that was endemic to Apo Island, but it was hunted to extinction, for food. On the dirt road near the small farm house, at the start of the trail, we had OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD (2) while we waited for the driver to repair a flat tire on the habal-habal. We also saw a large black bumble bee (the largest I ever saw) with blueish wings that hovered around the flowers and annoyed the water buffalo that was tied to a tree.
The motorbike was soon repaired and Rene asked us if we would mind stopping at his house before we took lunch . We rode down the horrible bumpy dirt road to Rene's house which is right on the road to Velencia, just after the road becomes paved. Rene offered us water and some pieces of jackfruit and was happy to walk us around his property and show us the tremendous collection of fauna that included wild orchids, fruit trees, and a large variety of potted tropical plants. He also had a nesting pair of ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN (2) in the large tree in his backyard that became very vocal when we got anywhere near the tree. I then realized that Rene was a conservationist, as well as a collector. A large wooden cage had 3 Giant Fruit Bats (Malayan Flying Fox), and one smaller Golden-capped Fruit Bat, which is endemic to the Philippines and on their endangered list. Rene got each one out of the cage and showed us the injuries suffered by the bats that had been hunted in the forest while they roost and brought alive to market to be sold for medicinal purposes. Several of the bats Rene felt he could rehabilitate, and maybe take back to the forest, but the other two could not fly and Rene will feed and care for them and allow them to live out their lives in captivity. That was certainly better then ending up on a dinner table. I saw several boys in Cebu at Magalumbak forest with large sling shots and that is almost certainly what they were after.
Rene walked me to the back of his property that ends at a cliff with a forested gully and stream below. We saw PHILIPPINE COUCAL (1) that was on the opposite side of the gully in the trees. We also heard RED-KEELED FLOWERPECKERS and FLAMING SUNBIRD, which I tried in vain, to see across the gully. Rene also informed me that he allows no one to hunt birds in the forested gully or anywhere near his property, or any area that he frequents or guides. I did see several more OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD.
April 22, 2004 Casa Rora We went to eat lunch at a little cantina restaurant owned by Rene and his family, in Velencia. The food was good and we felt refreshed and talked about all that we did see on the mountain, and how I narrowly missed seeing both endemic babblers, on the same walk. Rene said we would go to Casa Rora to try for the FLAME-TEMPLED BABBLER that forages there in the later afternoon. The motorbike ride was uphill, but easy on the paved roads, compared to our morning ride. There is a small fee (P20 I believe) to enter Casa Rora, which has multiple levels of large concrete steps to get down to the stream, picnic table areas and a magnificent narrow waterfall that is definitely worth the walk down. At the bottom of the steps there is a concrete walking trail along the stream, with a few round stone picnic table areas, that have roofs, and one crude CR outhouse. This is the area that the babblers are often seen, in the trees on the gorge wall, in small flocks. After scanning the area Rene told us to relax a couple of hours and the babblers would most likely be seen in the late afternoon. He skillfully called out to see if any would respond, but none did.
First the two drivers, and then my partner fell fast asleep, on the stone tables in the shade, and then finally Rene, after we talked awhile. The first bird I had was a PHILIPPINE BULBUL (1). I spent the next several hours walking around and scanning the forested gorge, where the babblers are most often seen. This was a good area also for butterflies and many were seen flying overhead in the forest and also feeding in the vegetation along the stream. Some species I saw were: Papilio Romanavia (3 - Scarlet Mormon - high flyers on forest cliff) Catopsilla Scylla (2) Neptis Hylas subspecies (Common Sailor? - 8 - I also saw these on Mt. Talinas) (Unidentified) small (1 1/4") black species, with orange on outer fringes of wings (1).
OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRDS were heard, and my constant observations paid off with a male TARICTIC HORNBILL (1) that flew across the gorge to the other side and gave me great views for a while after landing. I also saw this same male fly back across again while climbing up the steps on our way out, later. Finally , after 4pm, some bird sounds from high in the gorge trees, and it turned out to be BLUE-HEADED FANTAIL (2). This made me hopeful that the babblers would be next, because Rene explained to me that the babblers are often found in the company of the fantails, in flocks. We waited until the beginning of dusk but no luck. Going back up the many flights of steps we were surrounded by 2 kinds of Cicada sounds (one being the mechanical, bad motor kind we heard on Talinis). We climbed out of the gorge, up the hundreds of concrete steps, to arrive up top at the motorbikes just before dark. We were really beat and sore, after that final climb. I thanked Rene for a great experience and assured him I would be back to try again, for the Flame-Templed, someday. I also told him I would write this report and inform others interested in my experience, and his excellent guide and porter service, that was essential, to have the success we had, on that day.
April 23, 2004 Bais We left the hotel early am to catch the bus that would take us again to Bias. We were very sore and any kind of a walk or hike today was not going to happen. Today we would relax and ride our reserved pumpboat out to hopefully see some dolphins in the Tanon Strait, in between Negros and Cebu. We had breakfast, and bought our lunch for the trip, on the main drag in Bais and caught a tricycle to the pumpboat pier. Our guide was ready for us, with the small crew already on board.
The guide explained to us what we should expect to see, and that it was really not the season for migrating whales, but they were still possible. Moving out of the harbor in Bais, we saw a massive flock of 150+ Egrets on the fly, heading out of the mangrove forest area, south. They were a mixture of both LITTLE EGRETS and INTERMEDIATE EGRETS. Our guide knew I was a birder and assured me we would stop over in the protected mangrove forest, on the way back into the harbor. We rode at a good clip for about an hour before our guide pointed out a school of 100 + Spinner Dolphins, that swam right along side the pumpboat, diving under, and keeping pace with no effort at all. We circled around several times to see the dolphins jump out of the water and get close up views next to the boat. I marked the GPS waypoint in the location we encountered the dolphins. After we were satisfied and each shot a roll of film, we preceded back towards Negros to eat our lunch and swim on a natural white sandbar that was coming into high tide when we arrived. We could still swim in the warm clear water, as the water was only chest high, but slowly rising.
There was several houses built out on the sandbar, high up on stilts, with banca boats tied off to the sides. The houses were full of families of people that make their living off the sandbar and what the tide leaves for them, each day. Another boat, but larger from the same tour pulled up near us with a group of another dozen or so dolphin watchers. In various other locations on the boat ride, we had WHISKERED TERN (7).
On the way back in to Bais, at the beginning of the harbor, there was a long concrete pier that we pulled up and tied off to, that lead into the outer part of the mangroves. My partner was hurting and choose to stay on the boat. Myself and the guide walked in to the mangrove forest on the pier, where you could walk in for maybe 100 meters or so, until the pier ended, and it was forbidden to proceed any further. I heard a bird call that I never heard before, and it was coming from a ways inside the mangrove. I waited it out for awhile, while my guide walked back to the pumpboat. I got a GPS reading for a waypoint location of the mangrove forest. Finally the bird calls came closer and I got a good look at an individual sitting on a branch, on one of the outermost mangrove trees. It had bright orange on the breast and a black head and dark back, with a thin dark area extending across the orange breast. I also noticed a thin eyebrow line, above the eye....and then it flew quickly back in to the mangrove. I heard it call one more time with two single notes. I didn't have my field guide (or Rene), and had no idea what I saw, at the time, but had a clear memory of the sighting, and call, and noted it on my micro cassette, so I could review it later at the hotel. This turned out to be what I believe was, a male NARCISSUS FLYCATCHER (1) and along with the pair of Negros Striped Babblers and Streaked Shearwater was one of the best birds of the trip. My field guide (Kennedy - Gonzales) reads: the bird is reported as a migrant from October to March, but it appears that I caught sight of a lingering male. The image in the field guide was indeed the bird I saw and the description of the call was something like what I heard and there is not really anything else that looks much like this bird in the field guide. I hope that someone reading this report can inform me.
April 24, 2004 took Supercat Ferry back to Cebu
May 2, 2004 Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary I wanted to visit this wonderful place on my last trip in 2002, but never found the time. I was glad I did this time and it was really not too hard to find. It is just off the main south road between Cebu City and Talisay. Just ask the taxi driver to take you down the road with the Basak elementary school in barangay Pardo. We drove by it once and the driver asked a resident that pointed it out for us. It is behind a tall black iron fence and we rung the bell and the niece of Professor Julian Jumalon took us in and introduced us to our guide. The fee was for P100 each for the tour. The young filipina guide was friendly and hit it off right away with my filipina partner. She took us first into the museum, which has a large collection of paintings hand painted by Professor Jumalon. He also recreated the paintings using the wings of expired butterflies. Beautiful portraits made from butterfly wings. It was really amazing to see the paintings side by with the butterfly wing art. Unequaled to any form of art I have ever seen. There are also large collections of framed butterflies from the sanctuary, and all parts of the Philippines and the rest of the world. Also large collections of moths and beetles.
After the museum we walked out in the garden , and I immediately spotted several of the large black Troides Rhadamanthus species flying leisurely around the garden and landing close on the vegetation giving me great photo opportunities . The guide showed us catapillers and larval stages of the butterflies on the various plants, that attract all the butterflies to this urban garden setting. There are no nets or roof to keep them in and I started seeing many more species high in the trees, and fluttering around the plants all over the garden. I saw (to name a few) Catopsilla Pomona, Catopsilla Pyranthe, Catopsilla Scylla, Papilio Romanzavia, Papilio Alphenor, Hypolimnas Bolina, Cethosea Hypsea, and Ideopsis Juventa. Also a very small species ... brownish with purple tinged wings (in the sunlight) that I did not note the species name. If anyone can point me to some resource of good information, please email me.
The whole entire garden is full of plants and trees that attract butterflies. The guide said that it was the off season and the species count was low. I would certainly like to visit again at the peak time. There was also a large enclosed zoo-like cage that contained several juvenile BLACK-NAPED ORIOLES that were found in the wild, and cared for at the sanctuary. Also in the cage were several COMMON EMERALD DOVES and a few SPOTTED DOVES.
May 3, 2004 Departed Cebu for Manila to begin the trip back home. Cebu Pacific now arrives at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and not the Domestic Airport, which was an improvement from my past experience. After picking up my luggage, it was just an escalator ride up, and I was right there at the Cathay Pacific check in counter.
May 3, 2004 Hong Kong International Airport. While waiting for my international flight to Los Angeles, I relaxed in the terminal with a nice view of the mountains to the south. I noticed a raptor gliding on the thermals in the distance. Ten minutes later it glided right by me at close range. It was a BLACK KITE.
BIRD TOTALS, FOR BIRDS SEEN ON TRIP: 45 species, with 29 species being lifers for me. Butterfly Species seen: 19
Notes: All the rest of the days not mentioned, of my month in the Philippines, I stayed with my filipina partner and her gracious and hospitable family, in Cebu. My references used were "Birds of the Philippines" (Kennedy, Gonzales), my own past experience from previous trips to the Philippines and the knowledge of my local Filipino guides, that proved most valuable. My butterfly references came from various Philippine Lep pages and plates that I found on the internet, my own past experience and collections from previous trips, and the knowledge of my local Filipino and Filipina guides. My mammal references came from my past experience, and from various internet pages I was lucky enough to find.
I also experienced seeing and photographing some interesting wild plants, flowers, orchids, spiders, large hornets, centipedes and other small insects in the forest, in addition to a few small common reptiles. I used field notes taken from my micro-cassette recordings and some written field logs to organize all the notes and complete this trip report. I had some bird sounds and calls (Philippine Scops Owl, Philippine Bulbul, Black-naped Oriole, Philippine Tailorbird, White-browed Shama, Green-backed (Jungle) Whistler, Oriental Magpie-Robin, and Spotted Dove) that came out on the tapes and also several different Cicada sounds were recorded. Thanks for taking the time to read this report. I hope that it was informative and enjoyable. You can contact me by email for any comments or questions. I am always interested and willing to share information and I will certainly plan future trips and do more birding in the Philippines.