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Birdwatching in Palawan province, Philippines
The Philippine archipelago is comprised of 7,100 islands extending approximately 300,000 km² of spectacular collection of islands, reefs and shoals across the Pacific and is a home to almost 4000 species of plants, 240 species of reptiles and 160 species of mammals in a country relatively smaller than that of the British Isles. It has a stunning 580 species of birds of which 174 species are endemic and form part of the country’s natural heritage. An astonishing 44% of the breeding bird species are endemic to the Philippines.


The province of Palawan is geographically located at 9° 30′ 0″ North, 118° 30′ 0″ East of the Philippines and has a total land area of 1, 489, 600 hectares. It is a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve with (9) terrestrial and marine protected areas. 11 sites or 10% of the 117 Important Bird Areas in the Philippines are found in Palawan. The whole island is an Endemic Bird Area (EBA 156: Palawan) and Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA Code 52-68) based on the presence of restricted-range species and high endemicity.

Large-tailed Nightjar


It shelters 11 Conservation Priority Areas (CPAs 71, 73-80 and 169) and (1) Alliance For Zero Extinction (AZE) site. The latter is a consortium of over 50 conservation organizations worldwide, devoted to conserving sites that are the last remaining strongholds for one or more Critically Endangered or Endangered species.

Philippine Cockatoo ©Benedict de Laender

Palawan has diverse species of wildlife closely related to Borneo but also supports large Philippine faunal element and are best considered as a faunal bridge between Borneo and the Philippine archipelago proper. Twenty restricted-range species occur in Palawan EBA, of which 17 species are confined while 12 are threatened species.

Electronic map of Philippines

Tour I

7 day birdwatching tour to Palawan, Philippines

Itinerary

Day 1.
The 1st day of the tour will visit the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm about 20 minutes drive from downtown Puerto Princesa, the city capital of Palawan. This site will be the acclimatization stage of the 7 days birdwatching tour in the province. The area is known to shelter some of the hard to see and Palawan specialties particularly the elusive Melodious Tree Babbler (Malacopteron palawanense), Ashy-headed Babbler (Malacocincla cinereiceps) and if we are lucky enough, the Palawan Flycatcher (Fecidula platenae). Apart from these, there were also records of Grey-cheeked Bulbul (Criniger bres), Olive-winged Bulbul (Pycnonotus plumosus), Black-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus atriceps), Palawan Tit (Parus amabilis) and White-vented Shama (Copsychus niger)).

Palawan Peacock-pheasant ©Benedict de Laender

Day 2 to 4.
We will travel to the famous New Seven Wonders of Nature Finalist, the Puerto Princesa City Subterranean River National Park and spent the remaining 3 days in the park in search of most island specialties and endemics. The park is part of the known IBA and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site both for its geological and ecological significance. On this site we will look for Palawan Peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron napoleonis), Palawan Hornbill (Anthracoceros marchei), Tabon Scrubfowl (Megapodius cumingii), Palawan Frogmouth (Batrachostomus javensis), Falcated Ground Babbler (Ptilocichla falcata), Palawan Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis lemprieri), Sulphur-bellied Bulbul (Iole palawanensis), Philippine Cuckoo-dove (Macropygia tenuirostris), Chestnut-breasted Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus curvirostris) and Ruddy Kingfisher (Halcyon coromanda).

Hooded Pitta ©Benedict de Laender

Day 5 to 6.
From Puerto Princesa City Subterranean River National Park, we will travel back and head to Narra municipality in the south to visit the remaining stronghold of the Philippine Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia). The most threatened of all Philippine bird species, Katala as locally known is severe due to habitat loss and illegal wildlife trade and is now restricted to small offshore islands in the Philippines. Rasa Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Narra municipality holds some of the last remaining viable population of the species (250-400 individuals) from the estimated 1000 left in the wild (Lambert, 2001).

White-vented Shama ©Benedict de Laender

Day 5 to 6.
We will start at dawn (5am) in a beach area waiting for the 1st flock of Cockatoos from Rasa Island visiting the mainland in search for Malunggay or Horse-raddish (Moringa oilefera), its main diet. We then proceed to the Cockatoo foraging stations to see that Cockatoos feeding on Malunggay. Right before dawn, we will embark on a boat to observe the Katala, as it make its way back to Rasa Island Roosting Site. Apart from Cockatoos, we will also hope to see the Stork-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis), Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes), Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana), Green Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea) and Pied Imperial Pigeon (Ducula bicolor).

Palawan Blue Flycatcher ©Benedict de Laender

Day 7.
On our way back to Puerto Princesa City, we will drop-by at the old zigzag road to see some other species that we missed along the way. The old zigzag road is a pre-dominantly lowland dipterocarp forest intertwined with some of the relatively good mangrove forest, quite unique and getting rarer in the Philippine setting. In the afternoon, the last leg of the birwatching tour will be a visit to a manmade wetland to see the Wandering Whistling Ducks (Dendrocygna arcuata), Rufous Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus) and Blue Paradise Flycatcher (Tersiphone cyanescens). And before dusk is a boat ride to Hunda Bay to see some diurnal and other night birds. We will expect to see the Grey Imperial Pigeon (Ducula peckeringii), Mantanani Scops-owl (Otus mantananensis), Palawan Scops-owl (Otus fulginosus) and Spotted Wood-owl (Strix seloputo).


7 Days tour price is: 2 pax US$1995 per person double room. 4 pax US$1890 per person double room.
For single supplement rate, please email us.
Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.

Included:
Food, accommodation, transportation, local air fare to and from Palawan, park fees and a birdingpal guide
Excluded:
Gratuities, alcoholic beverages, items of personal nature, airport departure tax, international airfares to and from the Philippines.
Notes:
Expect between 80 to 150 species during the 7 days tour.
Birding season: Year round.
All the date of itineraries include arrival and departure dates.
All trips are available year round, but prices may be adjusted around special holidays.
Minimum lead time six (6)weeks.
To check availability for tours on short notice, fill out “Request for Quote” form with desirable dates.
Fitness:
EASY TO MODERATE. Some sites may require short trail walks on moderate sloping terrain.
Clothing:
Light, comfortable, earth-colored clothing to blend with the natural environment and tropical weather condition. Bush hat, raincoat and/or umbrella are also suggested.
Equipment:
A good pair of binoculars and/or spotting scope and tripod. Field guide is also encouraged.


Should you only need a guide for a day please send a message to Rommel.   

Birding guide Rommel M. Cruz, your local Birdingpal guide
He has been guiding birdwatchers from across the world since he was 25 years old. He is one of the founding members of Birwatch-Palawan Ornithological Society and currently working at Palawan Council for Sustainable Development. Visual and acoustical identification of birds and mammals are his expertise. He is also a zookeeper and a wildlife conservationist.

Testimonials.

Rommel Cruz has guided me on several occasions. The most important was a visit to South Palawan in 2007. Tourist infrastructure is not existing in that area, so a good guide is absolutely necessary. The reason to visit the area was to check the activities of the wardens of the Rizal project of Katala Foundation. The area still has a good population of birds nesting in cavities: Blue-naped Parrot, Hill Myna, Palawan Hornbill and a few Philippine Cockatoos. Without garding everything would be poached and sold for the pet trade.
Transport and accommodation with the local people was arranged without any problem. Rommel was able to combine his job and to bring me to the different places I wanted to see.
My experience with Rommel as a guide is, that he will arrange everything as good as possible, he sees it as his responsibility to take care of his guest. His English is very good, he is able to understand the wishes of his guests and to communicate about it. If you want to see a special bird, he will give you a honest answer about where, when and how much chance. This is very important in a country like Philippines. I have been disappointed with other guides in the Philippines, a lot of promises and costs and not much result. Not with Rommel. Benedict De Laender, Belgium
Rommel has a great knowledge of the birds on Palawan and, more importantly where to see them. He will organize bird trips to your specification and speaks excellent English. He is courteous, considerate and anyone using his services will be doing themselves a favor. Kevin J Brewin, Anti Piracy Consultant, ORCHID MARITIME


Some facts about the Philippines.

An archipelago of 7,107 islands, the Philippines stretches from the south of China to the northern tip of Borneo. The country has over a hundred ethnic groups and a mixture of foreign influences which have molded a unique Filipino culture.
Before the Spanish explorers came, Indo-Malays and Chinese merchants had settled here. In 1521 the Spaniards, led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, discovered the islands. The Spanish conquistadors established a colonial government in Cebu in 1565. They transferred the seat of government to Manila in 1571 and proceeded to colonize the country. The Filipinos resisted and waged Asia's first nationalist revolution in 1896. On June 12, 1898, Emilio Aguinaldo declared the Philippines independent from Spain and proclaimed himself president. After ruling for 333 years, the Spaniards finally left in 1898 and were replaced by the Americans who continued to colonize the country for another 48 years. The Americans brought over their educational system, their legal system, and their democratic form of government. On July 4, 1946, the Americans finally recognized Philippine independence. Considered as the third largest-English speaking country in the world, the Philippines has world-class facilities and services such as excellent accommodations, fine restaurants, modern shopping centers and communications services, efficient congress and exhibition organizers, and reliable tour operators.
The country is divided into three geographical areas; Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. It has 16 regions and 79 provinces. Its capital is Manila.
It has a total land area of 115,600 sq. miles or 299,404 km² with an estimated population of 101,833,938


More facts about the Philippines.

Guide books and CD’s recommended:

A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines (Kennedy et.al.)
Birds of Tropical Asia, Sounds and Sights v3.0 by Jelle Scharringa

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Last update 20/02/2014