Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bohol Birding Marathon

Being gifted with free plane tickets to Bohol courtesy of free air miles, we decided we should do two things: re-visit birding sites we've been to before and discover new ones as well.

Site #1 - New Site: Co-management Area in Talibon, Bohol
18 November (Friday) - Before leaving for Bohol, we asked my Tita if she could recommend new sites we could go to for bird watching in Bohol. The requirement: as many birds as possible! She immediately recommended Talibon. Accompanied by my two cousins, we drove almost 2 hours from Tagbilaran to the coastal municipality of Talibon and went to their environmental office to introduce ourselves (my Tita helped set up the co-management sites, which are the first ones in the country!) They were very helpful and assigned up Kuya Florencio as our guide.

We drove a few minutes into the site which were composed of drained out fishponds. We immediately saw lots of waders in the exposed mud, foraging around in small groups. With the scope out and bins ready, we identifies them as Common Redshanks, Common Sandpipers and Rufous-necked Stints! There was even a fly-by Osprey! As we further scanned the area, I spotted a couple of Black-winged Stilts on the fishponds further inland. We decided to check those out.

Wow! I could have spent the whole day there! Great Egrets, Stilts, Terek Sandpipers, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, and Grey Plovers were all there in the fishpond! Mixed with them were Marsh and Wood Sandpipers as well.I was listing down so many birds and thinking at the back of my mind: Hey, I'm getting lifers here! We also chanced upon a single Pond-Heron perched on a sand bag in the middle of a fishpond.

We had to leave at 4:30 but we're sure to go back and spend more time in this area. We also plan to explore the nearby islands accessible by boat from Talibon. Exciting new discovery!!!

Site #2 - Revisited Site: Villa Salvador, Catigbian, Bohol
19 November (Saturday) - Villa Salvador is the family farm my parents put up which rents out cottages and offers delicious food. It is part of the bigger property, Segura Farms. I've spent months here before becoming a birder and now that I am, I am raring to discover the birds in the farm.

We've started exploring the area last March and after getting a fantastic 47-species bird list from a group of friends who visited the farm last September, we were all too excited to go! We weren't as lucky as they were but we saw new species we weren't able to see on our previous trip. The Hooded Pittas called soooo closely to us but didn't show themselves this time. The people there told us about the pittas with chicks as well as Philippine Ducks (they call them "wild ducks") with at least 5 chicks! We just saw two Philippine Ducks in flight though. Again, we'll be back and hopefully I'll get to stay a week in the farm just birding and exploring!

Site #3 - Revisited Site: Rajah Sikatuna Park, Bilar, Bohol
20 November (Sunday) - The last time we were here, I was amazed with the birds I saw. This time, we didn't get to see some of them but our first bird of the trip was no less than a Silvery Kingfisher! Our guide, Ryan Sugala, accompanied us along the trails and also to other nearby sites. The birds were most active in the morning, but towards the afternoon, the forest was really quiet! No wonder... the rain poured heavily on us just minutes after a Steere's Pitta called loudly in front of us (still a no-show.) Wet and cold, we went back to Magsaysay Park towards dusk to look for owls. We heard a Philippine Scops Owl AND a Philippine Eagle Owl calling but weren't fortunate enough to see them. We drove home still owl-less. *sigh* Another reason to keep coming back!

Site #4 - New Site: Mangrove Boardwalk, Maribojoc, Bohol
21 November (Monday) - On our way to the airport, we decided to drop by the town on Maribojoc and check out their new mangrove boardwalk. The site we visited was one of a couple being constructed and has a huge potential for birding. We arrived a little past 8AM and the sun was really shining full-force on us. We could hear bird calls from the mangroves but were unable to see the birds. We stayed for around 15 minutes only (lest we miss our flight!) The owner told us about birds they see in the mangroves: egrets, kingfishers, herons and Philippine Ducks! We really have to discover this area soon!

As we were on the plane going home to Manila, I started re-writing our bird lists from the birding marathon we just finished over the weekend: 10 lifers, 2 new sites, and so much more reasons to go back to Bohol.

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