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Mangenguey Island Expedition

Mangenguey Island , Popototan Island , Busuanga Island , Busuanga, Palawan

Date: Jan 14-17, 2006
Birders: Alex Aloy, Gerry de Villa, Emil Sotalbo, Jon Villasper
Weather: Partly cloudy with a gentle sun
Trip report and bird list by Jon Villasper



Our trip was a rapid assessment survey of a small island in Palawan for a private entry with some birding on the side. There were 4 members in our assessment team with Propgerry as our team leader and social profiler, Emil Sotalbo, "Plants of UP Campus" author as botanist, Alex Aloy, former PEFI biologist, research assistant in UP and new WBCP recruit, handling the faunal survey and myself as geographic profiler/great pretender.

Mangenguey Island is a 2.5km-long island situated between the island of Coron and Busuanga composed mostly of metamorphic rock with mostly underdeveloped vegetation.

Mangenguey Island

The coastline is generally cliffs and rock outcrops with some isolated beaches around the perimeter. It is currently inhabited but was previously occupied by two sets of foreigners.

Nighttime Silhouette

We were quite excited coming to the site hoping to find rarities and a lot of lifers. The night trip on the ferry was spent reviewing Kennedy et al for Palawan birds specifically small island specialists. 5:30am on the boat gave us excellent and artful island silhouettes against the light of the full moon. CAMERA!!! CAMERA!!! CAMERA!!!

We arrived at Coron with clear skies and comfortable weather at around 7am and promptly took the Coral Bay Resort service boat to the Divelink Resort at the opposite island for breakfast. A multitude of Asian Glossy Starlings frolicking at the coconut trees in front of the resort greeted us. After breakfast, Alex and I went birding at the trail going to the back of Divelink where we confirmed that birding with no experience on Palawan birds is interesting and not as easy to say the least.

Cumulative BIRD LIST(Divelink):

1. White-vented Shama
2. Olive-backed Sunbird
3. Bulbul
4. Asian Glossy Starling
5. Grey-checked Bulbul
6. Yellow-throated Leafbird

A two-hour boat ride took us to the Coral Bay Resort where we were booked and greeted by our benefactors. A Grey Heron greeted and patiently waited for us to definitely ID it at the breakwated. Olive-backed Sunbirds made themselves heard the whole time as well as some of the more unfamiliar calls.


After lunch was a short trip to Mangenguey where the "owners" of the island gave us a short tour of their future home and the trail they made for us going to the other end of the island.

At the first part of the walk along the shoreline, a pair of skinny-looking plovers was observed. Open collars and a careful comparison to Kennedy made us realize we were looking at Malaysian Plovers, a male and a female. These birds were always found at the same location everyday. Toward the end of the beach, on a leafless tree beside a large dapdap, we saw a Pink-necked Green Pigeon. Going through the rather short trail, we encountered several bird calls but had some difficulty in lacating or fixing our sights on them.

Malaysian Plover
Malaysian Plover at the beach

The top of the island is mostly small 1-2in wide Molave with a general height of 10-15ft. Letting the majority of the group go ahead, Alex and I chanced upon a Palawan Tit on a small branch after figuring out where the multitude of calls were - a black head with a yellow body with some faint white discoloration on the underparts. Weirdly though, the body was quite small and looked more like an Olive-backed Sunbird's but missing the distinctive orange breast. The familiar sweet-sweet and chi-weet of the OBS was also missing from the melee of calls.

Towards the end of our return trek, we heard an unfamiliar but load and sharp whistle-warble call combination under the larger trees. Propgerry took the lead in finding the bird with Alex close behind. The call was loud enough, persistent and inched from one tree to another to suspect that the bird was just a couple of meters away form us hidden at the back of the foliage and did not seem to want to leave the area. I hypothesized an alarm call. Propgerry and Alex got lucky enough to see a small green parrot with a red nape. Colasisi! And in a new range! A quick consultation with Arne over SMS did not put a definite on the new range hypothesis but an escapee scenario was suggested. Without any other evidence of race and considering two sets of foreigners previously living on

Olive-backed Sunbird
Olive-backed Sunbird
the island with the first one introducing coconuts, the latter hypothesis seems more plausible. The weird alarm call does make one suspect a nest at that part of the island.

Alex’s second day on the island produced more interesting finds including an Osprey and a mystery bird which he believed to be an Asian Fairy Bluebird, a Buzzing Flowerpecker and some 2-3 Yellow-vented Bubbuls mixed with a flock of Olive-winged Bulbuls – another new range candidate! YVB’s are not far from this range but the jizz says bulbuls and they cannot be mistaken with any of the 3 bulbuls of Palawan.

Alex's field notes

On the bluebird:

First seen gliding form the canopy interior; oriole-sized; flight pattern similar to O. chinensis; solitary; seen perching on a leaf-less branch; around 10:30 AM of 1/15/06; vision is reflected due to shimmering noon sun; predominantly glossy; velvety dark (upperparts, head, and underswing tail); eyes red; breast appears to have "scaly pattern"; tail moderate with no forking; most likely female; no calls heard.

Pink-neck Green Pigeon
Pink-necked Green Pigeon

On the flowerpecker:

Small bird, flowerpecker sized, unmistakable dark (upper) and white (breast and belly) pattern, solitary, seen briefly with a group of N. jugularis (3-4 individuals)

As we left the island, Propgerry told us of his find at the leafless tree where the Pink-necked Green Pigeon was observed the previous day. With an unmistakable white-with-black plumage and pigeon form, he called Pied Imperial Pigeon. More info on this observation is still pending from the Prop as of posting time.

Cumulative BIRD LIST(Mangenguey):
1. Grey Heron
2. Great-billed Heron
3. Eastern Reef-egret
4. Malaysian Plover (2)
5. Osprey
6. Pink-necked Green Pigeon (1)
7. Black-chinned Fruit Doved (1 - ho)
8. Green Impreial-pigeon
9. Colasisi (2-3)
10. Common Flameback
11. White-collared Kingfisher
12. Brush Cuckoo
13. Asian Fairy-bluebird (1)
14. Glossy Swiftlet
15. Pacific Swallow
16. Large-billed Crow
17. Spangled Drongo
18. Brown Shrike
19. White-breasted Wood-swallow
20. White-vented Shama
21. Grey Wagtail
22. Yellow Wagtail
23. Grey-checked Bulbul
24. Olive-winged Bulbul
25. Yellow-vented Bulbul
26. Palawan Tit (1)
27. Flowerpecker sp (buzzing high-pitched)
28. Bicolored Flowerpecker (3-4)
29. Olive-backed Sunbird (3)

Back at the Coral Bay Resort, OBS’s greeted us along with the evil-eyed Asian Glossy Starlings. I swear Father Merlin would have a field day with these birds. Birding after breakfast at the mangrove area right at the back of the resort and during meals and meetings throughout our stay gave the following list;

Common Flameback
Asian Glossy Starling

Cumulative BIRD LIST( Coral Bay Resort, Potpototan Island ):
1. Common Sandpiper (1)
2. Intermediate Egret (4+)
3. Grey Heron (1)
4. Eastern Reef-egret (1)
5. Large-billed Heron (1)
6. White-bellied Sea-eagle (1- ho)
7. Pink-necked Green Pigeon (2)
8. Green Impreial Pigeon (4)
9. Thick-billed Green-pigeon (4)
10. Yellow-throated Leafbird (1)
11. Asian Glossy Starling (10+)
12. Eurasian Tree-sparrow (<10)
13. Arctic Warbler
14. Black-naped Oriole (5+)
15. Pied Triller (lots)
16. Ashy Drongo
17. Common Kingfisher (1)
18. Island Collared-dove
19. Whimbrel (1 - ho)
20. Blue Flycatcher (ho - pleasant whistles in the mangrove area)
21. Yellow Wagtail (1)
22. Olive-backed Sunbird

A second day trip to the town of Salvacion (or Busuanga) on the island of Busuanga for some interviews scared the sh_t out fo me. Low tide necessitated to take a kayak form the boat to the pier. Normally lugging a GPS (the P350K tuype), a digital camera, binoculars, cellphone, noteboo, and my one and only autographed Kennedy guide. I opted to leave a good deal of the equipment behind, waterproofed the rest and grabbed on for dear life to the sides of the boat. At least the scary part gave me 3 Whimbrels at the far-off sand bar. Although almost just silhoute\tes, the rather small pointed out to this species.

BIRD LIST (Salvacion, Busuanga Island):
1. Whimbrel (3 - with one rather smaller than the two)
2. Red-crested Malkoha (2)


BIRD LIST (Sangat Island):
- Brahminy Kite (1)

All photos except Fig 1 by Agerico M. de Villa