I went on a Birdquest Classic Philippines trip lead by Craig Robson from 12 January to 2 February 2023. This trip did the usual itinerary of birding parts of the islands of Luzon, Mindanao and Palawan. Craig did a great job and pulled in most of the expected birds. There seemed to be a deficiency of both Parrots and Pigeons. We only saw 7 of the 11 possible parrot species and 14 of the possible 23 Pigeons. In each case a number of the species were seen only once on the trip and then by only a few of the party. Some comic in the group quipped that “the parrots were all in cages and the Pigeons had gone into the pot”. We did however have a good haul of Kingfishers, Hornbills and Owls. While we missed the Peacock Pheasant and the vagrant Japanese Night Heron we did pick up the rare Chinese Crested Tern and the Chinese Egret. The Philippine Eagle was seen on the nest, although at some distance.

En route to the Philippine Eagle

In all I saw 155 new species during the trip. I missed 5 species seen by others due to not feeling strong enough to climb above the level of the Eagle viewing platform on Mt Kitinglad. In addition I missed just over 5% of total birds seen by the group on the trip. Many birds were seen only once on the trip, and often by only some of the party I therefor had fewer opportunities to catch up on sightings I had missed. These are the vagaries of advancing years!

In the Luzon highlands the road was subject to landslides. This


prevented us from revisiting sites where a number of species were seen by only a few of the party. Fortunately when we did get trapped by a landslide the locals were able to clear a path very quickly. Later in the day others were stopped for many hours.

A highlight of the trip was our stay at Del Monte Lodge on Mt Kitinglad. The facilities were quite primitive however the food was among the best we had on the trip, the bedding was comfortable and the staff wonderful. Much of the track up to the lodge and the track to the Eagle Lookout was very rough with deep holes gouged by the pack animals using the track.

Del Monte Lodge
Accommodation at Del Monte Lodge
Deeply rutted track

The other members of the group comprised :-

Craig Robson Leader

Heidi Doman

Nigel Driver

Barb Churchley

Per Smith

Hannes Uhlig and

Mark Beaman

Party and guides on the way to Cana Island, Puerto Princesa

The full report of the trip can be seen here.

New birds seen on the trip were as follows :-

Philippine Duck (Anas luzonica)

Philippine Nightjar (Caprimulgus manillensis)

Philippine Frogmouth (Batrachostomus septimus)

Palawan Frogmouth (Batrachostomus chaseni)

Grey-rumped Swiftlet (Collocalia marginata)

Ridgetop Swiftlet (Collocalia isonota)

Pygmy Swiftlet (Collocalia troglodytes)

Philippine Swiftlet (Aerodramus mearnsi)

Ameline Swiftlet (Aerodramus amelis)

Philippine Spine-tailed Swift (Mearnsia picina)

Purple Needletail (Hirundapus celebensis)

Rufous Coucal (Centropus unirufus)

Black-faced Coucal (Centropus melanops)

Philippine Coucal (Centropus viridis)

Rough-crested Malkoha (Dasylophus superciliosus)

Scale-feathered Malkoha (Dasylophus cumingi)

Philippine Drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus velutinus)

Philippine Hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx pectoralis)

Philippine Cuckoo-dove (Macropygia tenuirostris)

White-eared Brown Dove (Phapitreron leucotis)

Amethyst Brown Dove (Phapitreron amethystinus)

Philippine Green Pigeon (Treron axillaris)

Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus occipitalis)

Black-chinned Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus leclancheri)

Philippine Swamphen (Porphyrio pulverulentus)

Plain Bush-hen (Amaurornis olivacea)

Spotted Buttonquail (Turnix ocellatus)

Bukidnon Woodcock (Scolopax bukidnonensis)

Chinese Crested Tern (Thalasseus bernsteini)

Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes)

© Craig Robson

Philippine Honey Buzzard (Pernis steerei)

Philippine Serpent Eagle (Spilornis holospilus)

Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi)

Philippine Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus philippensis)

Chocolate Boobook (Ninox randi)

Luzon Boobook (Ninox philippensis)

Mindanao Boobook (Ninox spilocephala)

Giant Scops Owl (Otus gurneyi)

Mindanao Scops Owl (Otus mirus)

Mantanani Scops Owl (Otus mantananensis)

Philippine Scops Owl (Otus megalotis)

Everett’s Scops Owl (Otus everetti)

Palawan Scops Owl (Otus fuliginosus)

Philippine Trogon (Harpactes ardens)

Rufous Hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax)

Palawan Hornbill (Anthracoceros marchei)

Writhed Hornbill (Rhabdotorrhinus leucocephalus)

Luzon Hornbill (Penelopides manillae)

Mindanao Hornbill (Penelopides affinis)

Spotted Wood Kingfisher (Actenoides lindsayi)

Hombron’s Kingfisher (Actenoides hombroni)

Brown-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon gularis)

Winchell’s Kingfisher (Todiramphus winchelli)

Indigo-banded Kingfisher (Ceyx cyanopectus)

Southern Silvery Kingfisher (Ceyx argentatus)

Rufous-crowned Bee-eater (Merops americanus)

Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker (Yungipicus maculatus)

Spot-throated Flameback (Dinopium everetti)

Luzon Flameback (Chrysocolaptes haematribon)

Red-headed Flameback (Chrysocolaptes erythrocephalus)

Northern Sooty Woodpecker (Mulleripicus funebris)

Philippine Falconet (Microhierax erythrogenys)

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Red-vented Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia)

Blue-headed Racket-tail (Prioniturus platenae)

Guaiabero (Bolbopsittacus lunulatus)

Philippine Hanging Parrot (Loriculus philippensis)

Wattled Broadbill (Sarcophanops steerii)

Azure-breasted Pitta (Pitta steerii)

Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike (Coracina striata)

McGregor’s Cuckooshrike (Malindangia mcgregori)

Blackish Cuckooshrike (Edolisoma coerulescens)

Black-bibbed Cicadabird (Edolisoma mindanense)

Pied Triller (Lalage nigra)

Green-backed Whistler (Pachycephala albiventris)

Yellow-bellied Whistler (Pachycephala philippinensis)

Mountain Shrike (Lanius validirostris)

Philippine Oriole (Oriolus steerii)

Palawan Drongo (Dicrurus palawanensis)

Balicassiao (Dicrurus balicassius)

Mindanao Blue Fantail (Rhipidura superciliaris)

Blue-headed Fantail (Rhipidura cyaniceps)

Philippine Pied Fantail (Rhipidura nigritorquis)

Black-and-cinnamon Fantail (Rhipidura nigrocinnamomea)

Short-crested Monarch (Hypothymis helenae)

Celestial Monarch (Hypothymis coelestis)

Blue Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone cyanescens)

Rufous Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone cinnamomea)

Palawan Crow (Corvus pusillus)

Elegant Tit (Pardaliparus elegans)

Palawan Tit (Pardaliparus amabilis)

Palawan Bulbul (Alophoixus frater)

Sulphur-bellied Bulbul (Iole palawanensis)

Philippine Bulbul (Hypsipetes philippinus)

Yellowish Bulbul (Hypsipetes everetti)

Yellow-wattled Bulbul (Poliolophus urostictus)

Ashy-fronted Bulbul (Pycnonotus cinereifrons)

Rufous-headed Tailorbird (Phyllergates heterolaemus)

Philippine Bush Warbler (Horornis seebohmi)

Philippine Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus olivaceus)

Negros Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus nigrorum)

Long-tailed Bush Warbler (Locustella caudata)

Mindanao Miniature Babbler (Micromacronus sordidus)

Trilling Tailorbird (Orthotomus chloronotus)

Grey-backed Tailorbird (Orthotomus derbianus)

Mindanao Pygmy Babbler (Dasycrotapha plateni)

Rusty-crowned Babbler (Sterrhoptilus capitalis)

Chestnut-faced Babbler (Zosterornis whiteheadi)

Mindanao White-eye (Heleia goodfellowi)

Warbling White-eye (Zosterops japonicus)

Lowland White-eye (Zosterops meyeni)

Everett’s White-eye (Zosterops everetti)

Brown Tit-babbler (Macronus striaticeps)

Melodious Babbler (Malacopteron palawanense)

Ashy-headed Babbler (Pellorneum cinereiceps)

Striated Wren-Babbler (Ptilocichla mindanensis)

Falcated Wren-babbler (Ptilocichla falcata)

Palawan Fairy-bluebird (Irena tweeddalii)

Sulphur-billed Nuthatch (Sitta oenochlamys)

Coleto (Sarcops calvus)

Common Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa)

Stripe-headed Rhabdornis (Rhabdornis mystacalis)

Stripe-breasted Rhabdornis (Rhabdornis inornatus)

Ashy Thrush (Geokichla cinerea)

Philippine Magpie-robin (Copsychus mindanensis)

White-browed Shama (Copsychus luzoniensis)

White-vented Shama (Copsychus niger)

Grey-streaked Flycatcher (Muscicapa griseisticta)

Philippine Shortwing (Brachypteryx poliogyna)

Palawan Flycatcher (Ficedula platenae)

Cryptic Flycatcher (Ficedula crypta)

Luzon Water Redstart (Phoenicurus bicolor)

Philippine Leafbird (Chloropsis flavipennis)

Yellow-throated Leafbird (Chloropsis palawanensis)

Olive-backed Flowerpecker (Prionochilus olivaceus)

Palawan Flowerpecker (Prionochilus plateni)

Whiskered Flowerpecker (Dicaeum proprium)

Olive-capped Flowerpecker (Dicaeum nigrilore)

Flame-crowned Flowerpecker (Dicaeum kampalili)

Bicolored Flowerpecker (Dicaeum bicolor)

Red-keeled Flowerpecker (Dicaeum australe)

Buzzing Flowerpecker (Dicaeum hypoleucum)

Pygmy Flowerpecker (Dicaeum pygmaeum)

Grey-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes griseigularis)

Purple-throated Sunbird (Leptocoma sperata)

Grey-hooded Sunbird (Aethopyga primigenia)

Lina’s Sunbird (Aethopyga linaraborae)

Flaming Sunbird (Aethopyga flagrans)

Metallic-winged Sunbird (Aethopyga pulcherrima)

Luzon Sunbird (Aethopyga jefferyi)

Lovely Sunbird (Aethopyga shelleyi)

Handsome Sunbird (Aethopyga bella)

Orange-tufted Spiderhunter (Arachnothera flammifera)

Pale Spiderhunter (Arachnothera dilutior)

Cinnamon Ibon (Hypocryptadius cinnamomeus)

White-cheeked Bullfinch (Pyrrhula leucogenis)