Saturday, September 7, 2013

First Taste of Coron Birding

When Jops and I got invited by Sir Chin to conduct a training for tour guides in Coron, Palawan,  we were more than happy to accept. Both for the opportunity to share the adventure and joy of birdwatching and, of course, to bird in Coron for the first time. We have been to Coron on separate occasions but we weren't birders then. I was so excited to be able to get a taste of some Palawan birds!

We arrived in Coron early Thursday afternoon and went directly to the Darayonan Lodge which is owned by Sir Chin's family. Atop a mango tree by the reception area, Jops heard a familiar swit-swit of an Olive-backed Sunbird. We raised our bins and saw a handsome male of the aurora race which is endemic to Palawan. Beautiful!

The male of the aurora race has an orange tint below its metallic throat
that fades beautifully into its yellow belly

After a short rest, Sir Chin accompanied us to the Maquinit Hot Springs for a couple of hours birding. We were hoping to spot a Stork-billed Kingfisher, but we weren't so lucky.

Signage near the entrance of the Maquinit Hot Springs
Spotting the Rufous Night-Herons among the large mangroves

We did see a handsome Rufous Night-Heron perched on a tall mangrove, with some more flying half-seen among the mangroves. We birded some more in the area, hearing a Collared Kingfisher calling from deep within the mangroves. Jops saw some movement atop a tree and got his first lifer: Yellow-throated Leafbird! I tried to find it but as soon as I focused on the well-camouflaged bird, it flew away! I missed it!!! Jops looked at me with a pout at his getting a lifer while I didn't but it was ok. We still had a few more days to explore =)

Rufous Night-Heron

We ventured out of the park and followed the melodious calls of some White-vented Shamas singing from the tangles. The songs were so loud and so close but we weren't able to see any of these Palawan endemics. It was getting dark pretty fast, so we packed up our gear and headed back to the lodge. Our training started early the next day and we all had to prepare.

The training started early Friday morning, with twenty participants joining us. Jops and I, together with Rommel from Birdwatch Palawan and Sir Chin from Birdwatch Coron, were the speakers for the training. It was fun sharing what we knew about birdwatching with such an interested and enthusiastic group!

Jops speaking during the lecture

The lectures ended at around 3PM. After merienda, the participants were given binoculars to use for the afternoon, as we were going birding in a nearby area. We walked towards a residential area which still had lots of trees. I was surprised to see my first lifer feeding on a low atis tree! A male Palawan Flowerpecker! I immediately fell in love with the handsomely colored bird =) I wasn't able to take a photo though as the bird was almost always covered with leaves and was quite skittish. We walked around the area and I got more Coron lifers: an adorable Blue Paradise Flycatcher (possibly a juvenile), some White-vented Shamas, and one of my favorites for the trip: Ashy Drongo.

Blue Paradise-Flycatcher
White-vented Shama
Ashy Drongo
I love the fish-tail (hidden in this photo) and color of this bird!

I loved all the lifers I was getting! We were also able to see some Olive-winged Bulbuls, Rufous-tailed TailorbirdsPink-necked Green Pigeons, AND I finally got to see the beautiful Yellow-throated Leafbird! No photo of the leafbird though as they were foraging high up a tree.

Spotting a friendly Rufous-tailed Tailorbird up a tree

It was soon getting dark, so we decided to walk back to Darayonan and call it a day. The same group was set to do more birding in the area of the Mabentangen River early the next morning. I got 6 lifers on my first day in Coron, Jops got 7, and we were raring to see some more!

To be continued...

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