Thursday, September 12, 2013

More Awesome Birds in Coron!

Yes, we saw more birds in Coron! Not only were the people of Coron very friendly, so were the birds! =)

The past three days, together with Sir Chin of Birdwatch Coron and Rommel of Birdwatch Palawan, conducted a birdwatching training for Coron tour guides and brought them out birding in two locations. For the second site, we went to the Capayas area. After a few hours of birding, the participants left while the rest of us (me, Zelyn, Sir Chin, and Rommel) stayed behind to bird some more.

We walked to the home of Kuya Erwin, the resident Capayas guide, and he led us to the Capayas creek where kingfishers frequent. Along the way, we got close-up views of some White-vented Shamas and Hair-crested Drongos (lifer!)

Hair-crested Drongo
White-vented Shama

We passed the area and refocused out attention to the creek. No, no kingfishers yet. We hiked a distance, crossed the creek, but still no kingfishers. We did see a Black-naped Monarch and heard a raptor calling from atop the trees plus more White-vented Shamas.

As Kuya Erwin was leading us deeper into the brush, we decided to head back and try our luck next time. So, our group trudged back toward his house, through the trail, across the creek... and then, a kingfisher! Kuya Erwin excitedly started pointing out a tiny, orangey bird perched partially hidden across the water. A superb Oriental Dwarf-Kingfisher! Another of my favorite lifers on this trip!

Oriental Dwarf-Kingfisher
aka Rufous-backed Kingfisher

While admiring the beautiful bird, Kuya Erwin suddenly got even more excited and pointed to another kingfisher a few meters downstream. A Blue-eared Kingfisher! Our second sighting for the day!

Our second Blue-eared Kingfisher for the morning!

The kingfisher was focused on some prey in the water and it soon dove and flew out of sight. As Zelyn and I were rejoicing over the kingfisher, a small bird caught our attention as it perched on a banana plant behind us. A very handsome Lovely Sunbird (it was a male =P)! Lifer! It flitted in and out of view and quickly flew away.

Our group trekked back to Kuya Erwin's house and were quickly treated to in-your-face views of some Palawan Flowerpeckers! First, a male flowerpecker landed on a guava tree just outside his house and then quickly perched and fed on some bananas which were hanging on a branch, laid out just for the birds =)

Male Palawan Flowerpecker

The bird, which I think is my favorite flowerpecker (at the moment), soon flew away but was almost immediately replaced with a female. As with all flowerpeckers, the female is more drably-colored compared to the male. The bird soon flew away and just in time too, as our breakfast had just arrived hot and fresh from Darayonan Lodge! As we were enjoying our delicious breakfast of lamayo (a kind of fried dried fish), fried rice, and egg, a male Lovely Sunbird decided to feed on the red flowers just beside our breakfast table. None of us could grab our cameras as our fingers were oily from the fish!

We had to say goodbye soon after breakfast as we had to prepare for the birdwatching activity for kids later that afternoon. No worries, we decided to come back the following day.

And come back we did! We were back in Kuya Erwin's house early the next morning and we were prepped and excited for a full day of birding. We were also joined by Birdwatch Coron member, Michelle. Some of the early birds in the early morning fog were Ashy Drongos, Olive-winged Bulbuls, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrikes, and Palawan Flowerpeckers.

We heard some Common Flamebacks calling and we decided to go look for them in a higher portion of the area. The race in Busuanga is known as the Spot-throated Flameback and not the Red-headed Flameback (split from Greater Flameback) I mentioned previously. Thank you Paul and Rob for the corrections! Birder friend and blogger Paul has an excellent post about the recent flameback splits here(Maiabird's Note: This is the third version of this paragraph! And I thank my birder friends from the bottom of my heart for the correction and more importantly for the education =) Jops and I weren't able to see the woodpeckers and just heard them so it's impossible for us to positively ID. Rob did share that if we heard it, then it was most probably Spot-throated. Great info to know!) 

So up the steep hill we went in search for the trilling birds. They weren't anywhere to be seen but we got excellent views of a Crested Goshawk having its breakfast! All the smaller birds were making a ruckus due to its presence and it was really amazing to see it with its prey clasped in its talons.

Crested Goshawk eating a... chicken?

After perching for some minutes, the raptor took off, bringing its meal with it. We stayed a while on the slope, looking out for the woodpeckers but saw none. We did feast on a flock of Yellow-throated Leafbirds which fed on a low tree, allowing us to photograph them as they flitted from branch to branch. They would fly as a flock in a brilliant display of bright green! Left me quite breathless =)

Birders, birds, and forest =)

Yellow-throated Leafbird, a Palawan endemic

Our group split up into two, I stayed with Kuya Erwin to look for the woodpeckers while the rest went to the creek to search for the kingfishers. We regrouped after a few minutes with no sightings of our target birds. We had breakfast (again delivered from Darayonan Lodge) before starting a long trek to find more birds.

We ventured into meadows with grazing cows, walked through a path surrounded by dense greenery...

... crossed shallow waters (and Rommel even got stung by a bee!) for the kingfishers. Both the Oriental Dwarf-Kingfisher and Blue-eared Kingfisher made appearances again! I got a better shot of the dwarf this time =)

Oriental Dwarf-Kingfisher
aka Rufous-backed Kingfisher

We started walking away from the creek and walked and walked... and walked. We searched for the Chestnut-breasted Malkoha and was able to spot one skulking and hiding from us. I was able to catch a glimpse of the bird but not a good enough view to call it a lifer. I guess it'll have to wait til my next trip to Coron. Even if I dipped on some birds, I was able to get eleven lifers on my first birding trip to Coron.

But, quite unexpectedly, as I was reviewing my bird lists in the pre-departure area of the Busuanga Airport, I even got a twelfth lifer! A squadron on Brown-backed Needletails suddenly swooped into view, flying low over the fields and soaring above the airport. It was such a nice way to end my activity-filled trip to Coron!

Many thanks to Sir Chin and Birdwatch Coron for hosting the training, inviting us, and bringing us out birding. Birding in Coron was such an enjoyable adventure that I can't wait to go back and to share this experience with more of our birder friends! Club trip, anyone? =)


  1. Maia. Great post as usual, I'm very jealous of the kingfishers. Just a point about the Flamebacks. The Palawan split of Greater Flameback is known as the Red-headed Flameback (it occurs in Busuanga). The Spot-throated Flameback is the recent split from Common Flameback.

    1. Hi Paul! Thank you for the correction! The recent splits of the flamebacks have me confused... especially since I haven't seen most of them =P You have an excellent post about the subject and it helped me understand them better! I guess we really must go back! Let's schedule a trip! =)