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PICOP, Bislig, Surigao del Sur

PICOP, Bislig, Surigao del Sur - November 27-December 1, 2007

November 27-December 1, 2007
PICOP, Bislig, Surigao del Sur

Birders: Robert Brinks, Desmond Allen, Joey Soriano Anna Gonzales, Leni Sutcliffe, Peter Sutcliffe, Violeta Tolosa, Randel Tria, Zardo Goring (guide)
Narrative by Robert Brinks
Birdlist by Desmond Allen and Joey Soriano
Photos by Anna Gonzales

Threatened stand of trees
Threatened stand of trees

It was Leni Sutcliffe's wish to go birding in PICOP's former logging area near Bislig on Mindanao Island. She got a small group of fellow birders interested, to which this gatecrashing newbie got himself attached. It turned out to be a totally gratifying experience for all of us, thanks to perfect preparations by Leni and tireless, professional guiding by Zardo Goring.

A pre-dawn flight of Philippine Airlines took us to Butuan on 28/11. Fortunately, only one of the two engines showed signs of needing maintenance or repairs after it produced, just before landing, unusually loud rattling vibrations and according to some passenger even signs of a fire. It did not seem to bother many on board, which helped to calm my concerns.

The punctual drivers of the two mini- vans were ready as agreed and after we picked up Desmond Allen from a hotel in Butuan we proceeded to Bislig, coming across numerous motorcycles transporting sometimes up to 10 passengers, the so- called "skylabs", on extended boards on each side of the motorcycle! I never stopped to be amazed by the balancing capabilities of the drivers. We quickly checked ourselves in at the Country Paper Inn in Bislig: basic facilities and food, but at the end of each day we were grateful for the hot shower and the cold beer. What else can a tired birder wish for? We spent the remaining hours of daylight of our first day on the abandoned landing strip of the airport of Bislig hoping to spot the Grass Owl, which we did; the Eastern Marsh-Harrier also showed up with the other birds mentioned in the list. The trip got off to a good start and spirits were high!

Mercilessly, the departure for our first full day of birding along Road 1-4 (and later Road 4), in lowland forest (or what was left of it) was set for 3:30 a.m. Zardo had arranged for a true jeepney in which the whole group fitted perfectly. Before the end of the night we received a visit of the Brown Hawk-Owl which perched itself on a branch close by to have a good look at us. The Philippine Frogmouth remained elusive despite tireless efforts of Zardo that day and the following days. Between a flat tire and the stalling engine of the jeepney at the end of the day, our batteries were constantly charged by new discoveries, many of which were highlights.

The Violet Cuckoo took the breath of all of us away, posing endlessly in the rising sunlight on different exposed locations. Kennedy unnecessarily describes the creature as "unmistakable".

Randel, Joey, Violy, Leni and Peter
Randel, Joey, Violy, Leni and Peter

We were also particularly pleased to spot the Blue-capped Wood-Kingfisher, the Mindanao Tarictic and the common White-Throated Kingfisher. The Red-bellied Pitta was produced by Zardo at the place he chose for the Pitta to appear (how did he know?) as was the Silvery Kingfisher (along Road 1) in the dying minutes of the day. The dying engine of the jeepney was brought back to life by the joint muscle power of the group with the help of a passer-by, just enough to reach the Country Paper Inn. A tired but happy group could not wait to get to bed ASAP, in the knowledge that the next day would start off around the same time.

The author takes a rest with Joey, Leni and Randel
The author takes a rest with Joey,
Leni and Randel

The second full day (30/11) and a new jeepney brought us to Road 42. This area is far less affected by the influx of settlers than alongside Road 1-4 where small clusters of houses had appeared and larger areas had been deforested. A steep climb at the start of the hike did not look particularly inviting, but fortunately the sky was most of the time overcast as opposed to the day before, which was hot and humid. We took our time, waited patiently and listened to recording after recording. At times I was not sure whether I was hearing the recording played by Des, who was off on his own in the forest, in response to the tape played by Zardo. On the return along Road 42, where we had earlier met a couple of hunters, a lively mixed flock crossed our path which produced a couple of spectacular Celestial Monarchs. Unfortunately Leni and Violy were off to a different location, so that they did not witness the unforgettable flashing blue of the Monarch. But much to the envy of the rest of the group they both came across Steere's Pitta.

The third and last full day of the Bislig trip (01/12) started off with the Great Eared Nightjar; in the middle of a small settlement of huts, on a dead tree, a White-bellied Woodpecker responded conspicuously to the sound of the chopping of a log for quite some time; and during the first part of the day a lively flock of Writhed Hornbills kept us company; Anna and Joey counted some 31 birds in total, perched for a long time or flying to and from where we were.

We waited till the end of the day to get a glimpse of the Rufous Hornbill, but this enormous bird remained elusive during the entire trip. The day was mercifully cool with some periods of drizzle during which I managed to spot the Rusty-crowned Babbler, which Des thought he had seen earlier in a particular stretch of the woods. Fortunately it stayed put whilst I quickly fetched Joey to have him confirm my find. As in the previous evenings Des added the catch of the day to the bird list, which gave us the opportunity to savour once more the experiences of the day! Many thanks, Leni, for letting me join your trip to Bislig and my compliments for the faultless organization! It could not have been better. Peter, Joey, Randel, Violy, Anna and Des: you were great fun! Peter I envy your ability to capture the beauty of nature in your watercolours. Zardo: without you, we would not have been anywhere. The combination of serious birding and social interaction could not have been better. An excellent introduction for me to at least three more years of birding in the Philippines!

Bird lists by Des Allen and Joey Soriano

SITE/LOCALITY: Bislig Airport, Surigao del Sur
START DATE: 27/11/2007
START TIME: 03:30 PM
TIME IN FIELD: 2.5 hours

NAMES OF REPORTERS: Robert Brinks, Des Allen, Joey Soriano
OTHER BIRDERS PRESENT: Anna Gonzales, Leni Sutcliffe,
Peter Sutcliffe, Violeta Tolosa, Randel Tria, Zardo Goring (guide)
NUMBER OF BIRDERS: 8
ENVIRONMENT CONDITION: sunny, cloudy, drizzly in turn

BIRD LIST
1. Purple Heron Ardea purpurea 5
2. Great Egret Ardea alba 16
3. Wandering Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna arcuata 30
4. Philippine Duck Anas luzonica 5
5. Eastern Marsh-Harrier Circus spilonotus 1
6. Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus 1
7. Barred Rail Gallirallus torquatus x heard only
8. White-browed Crake Porzana cinerea x heard only
9. White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus x heard only
10. Asian Golden-Plover (Pacific Golden-Plover) Pluvialis fulva 30 probably this species
11. Little Ringed-Plover Charadrius dubius 10
12. Snipe sp. Gallinago sp. 1
13. Spotted Dove (Spotted-necked Dove) Streptopelia chinensis 5
14. Zebra Dove Geopelia striata 11
15. Philippine Coucal Centropus viridis 1
16. Grass Owl Tyto capensis 1
17. White-collared Kingfisher Todirhamphus chloris x heard only
18. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 30
19. Pied Triller Lalage nigra 1
20. Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier 1
21. Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata 1
22. Oriental Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis 1
23. Striated Grassbird Megalurus palustris 4
24. Middendorff's Grasshopper-Warbler Locustella ochotensis 1 possibly this species
25. Bright-capped Cisticola (Golden-headed Cisticola) Cisticola exilis 8
26. Zitting Cisticola (Fan-tailed Cisticola) Cisticola juncidis 3
27. Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica 1
28. Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 2
29. Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava 4
30. Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 1
31. Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis 1
32. Chestnut Munia (Black-headed Munia) Lonchura malacca 800

SITE/LOCALITY: PICOP, Bislig
PROVINCE: Surigao del Sur
ISLAND: Mindanao

START DATE: 28/11/2007
END DATE: 01/12/2007

NAME OF REPORTERS: Robert Brinks, Desmond Allen,Joey Soriano
OTHER BIRDERS PRESENT: Anna Gonzales, Leni Sutcliffe,
Peter Sutcliffe, Violeta Tolosa, Randel Tria, Zardo Goring (guide)
# OF BIRDERS PRESENT: 8
ENVIRONMENT CONDITION: mostly sunny, sometimes cloudy, with
occasional drizzles

BIRDLIST
1. Oriental Honeybuzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus 1
2. Barred Honeybuzzard Pernis celebensis 4
3. Chinese Goshawk Accipiter soloensis 1
4. Philippine Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus philippensis 2
5. Philippine Falconet Microhierax erythrogenys 10
6. Raptor sp. Accipitridae/ Falconidae sp. 1
7. Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus x heard only
8. Barred Rail Gallirallus torquatus 1 plus 1 heard
9. Plain Bush-hen Amaurornis olivacea 4
10. Pompadour Green-Pigeon Treron pompadora 31
11. White-eared Brown-Dove Phapitreron leucotis 13
12. Amethyst Brown-Dove Phapitreron amethystinus x heard only
13. Yellow-breasted Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus occipitalis x heard only
14. Black-chinned Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus leclancheri 2
15. Pink-bellied Imperial-Pigeon Ducula poliocephala 6 heard only
16. Green Imperial-Pigeon Ducula aenea 9
17. Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis 4
18. Common Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica 1
19. Guaiabero Bolbopsittacus lunulatus 28
20. Blue-crowned Racquet-tail Prioniturus discurus 3 plus 3 heard
21. Colasisi Loriculus philippensis 11
22. Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus 1
23. Philippine Drongo-Cuckoo Surniculus velutinus 3 plus 7 heard
24. Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis 1
25. Philippine Coucal Centropus viridis 4 plus 1 heard
26. Black-faced Coucal Centropus melanops 5 plus 7 heard
27. Brown Hawk-Owl Ninox scutulata 1
28. Philippine Frogmouth Batrachostomus septimus 1 plus 2 heard
29. Great Eared Nightjar Eurostopodus macrotis 3 plus 3 heard
30. Philippine Nightjar Caprimulgus manillensis 2 plus 1 heard
31. Island Swiflet Aerodramus vanikorensis 40
32. Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta 22
33. Pygmy Swiftlet Collocalia troglodytes 37
34. Whiskered Treeswift Hemiprocne comata 5
35. Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis 2
36. Silvery Kingfisher Alcedo argentata 2
37. White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 4 plus 2 heard
38. Rufous-lored Kingfisher Todirhamphus winchelli 6 heard only
39. Blue-capped Wood-Kingfisher Actenoides hombroni 1 plus 1 heard
40. Blue-throated Bee-eater Merops viridis x heard only
41. Mindanao Tarictic Penelopides affinis 9 plus 1 heard
42. Writhed Hornbilll Aceros leucocephalus 31
43. Rufous Hornbill Buceros hydrocorax 6 heard only
44. Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala 9 plus 2 heard
45. White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis 2 plus 1 heard
46. Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus 4
47. Red-bellied Pitta Pitta erythrogaster 1 plus 1 heard
48. Hooded Pitta Pitta sordida 3 heard only
49. Steere's Pitta (Azure-breasted Pitta) Pitta steerii 1 plus 1 heard
50. Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike Coracina striata 3 plus 5 heard
51. Black-and-white Triller Lalage melanoleuca 1
52. Pied Triller Lalage nigra 1
53. Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus 7
54. Philippine Leafbird Chloropsis flavipennis 8
55. Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier 6
56. Yellow-wattled Bulbul Pycnonotus urostictus 7 plus 2 heard
57. Philippine Bulbul Ixos philippinus 18
58. Yellowish Bulbul Ixos everetti 15 plus 8 heard
59. Hair-crested Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus 15
60. Philippine Oriole Oriolus steerii 15
61. Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis 7
62. Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 21
63. Stripe-headed Rhabdornis Rhabdornis mystacalis 4
64. Streaked Ground-Babbler Ptilocichla mindanensis 8 heard only
65. Pygmy Babbler Stachyris plateni 5
66. Rusty-crowned Babbler Stachyris capitalis 1
67. Brown Tit-Babbler Macronous striaticeps 24
68. Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis 3
69. Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata 1
70. Philippine Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus olivaceus 4
71. Philippine Tailorbird Orthotomus castaneiceps 9 heard only
72. Black-headed Tailorbird Orthotomus nigriceps 21 heard only
73. Grey-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa griseisticta 2
74. Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica 1
75. Blue Fantail Rhipidura superciliaris 11
76. Rufous Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone cinnamomea 12
77. Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea 12
78. Celestial Monarch Hypothymis coelestis 2
79. Short-crested Monarch Hypothymis helenae 2
80. Yellow-bellied Whistler Pachycephala philippinensis 7
81. Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 2 plus 3 heard
82. Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis 40
83. Coleto Sarcops calvus 16
84. Metallic-winged Sunbird Aethopyga pulcherrima 5
85. Lovely Sunbird Aethopyga shelleyi 3
86. Naked-faced Spiderhunter Arachnothera clarae 5
87. Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra 4
88. Olive-backed Flowerpecker Prionochilus olivaceus 7
89. Bicolored Flowerpecker Dicaeum bicolor 2
90. Red-keeled Flowerpecker Dicaeum australe 20 more heard
91. Buzzing Flowerpecker Dicaeum hypoleucum 8
92. Flowerpecker sp. Dicaeidae 1 see Note* below
93. Orange-bellied Flowerpecker Dicaeum trigonostigma 11
94. Everett's White-eye Zosterops everetti 16

*Note:
At the oRufous Hornbill crossroadâ? Anna reported seeing a bird that looked like a Bicolored Flowerpecker with a red crown On checking with the Kennedy guide, she thought the bird could have been the Flame-crowned Flowerpecker. Unfortunately she says, she did not see the undertail coverts (which would have been orange in the Flame-Crowned) because of the way it was perched.