Monday, August 25, 2014

The Palawan Hornbill

When I started birding two years ago, my father told me that they used to see a lot of Kalaws (Hornbill) and Katalas (Philippine Cockatoo) in Coron when they first came (in the mid '50's).  Since then, seeing and being able to photograph these two birds in the wild within the Calamianes archipelago has been part of my birding bucket list.  

The Kalaw seemed an easier target. Reports of Kalaw sightings began trickling in last year.  Tour guides reported seeing Kalaws in the Kayangan Lake area in Coron Island but no photos.  A cousin of mine told me of a pair of Kalaws that saw in their farm in Sitio Tulawa.  Birdwatch Coron members Michell de Guia and Maween Reyes talked about seeing it somewhere in the Yulo King Ranch (YKR).  Maween even showed me a photo in her camera but somehow the photo got deleted from the memory card... (hmmm).  Michell was also able to photograph one at Sitio Quince Dias. Then Birdwatch Palawan member Cathy Estrada was able to photograph one in Culion while doing Yolanda relief efforts.  So I thought of going to Culion.  Then fellow WBPP photographer Bj Capacite, was able to photograph it in Capayas and Mabentangen last March 2014! I went to where Bj saw it but we never saw it. I knew I could probably get the Palawan Hornbill if I go to Puerto Princessa but being able to photograph it in Coron, holds special meaning.

Last July, I had to make a short trip to Coron.   Since I knew that I will not have time to bird, I left the SLR and telephoto in Manila.  I brought along a recently purchased second hand Canon SX50. On my way to the airport for my flight back to Manila, I was half dozing in our van when our driver suddenly blurts, Kalaw!  and stops the van as two black Palawan Hornbills fly across and perch on an open branch on the left side of the road.  I fumble with my bag and camera (silently cursing myself for not bringing my SLR/telephoto combo).  The SX50's slower auto-focus allowed me only three shots (Grrrr!!!).  The last one was blurred as the bird was on the act of flying away already.

Sharing the first two shots.  Hoping to see it again on the same perch in the near future.

If only its head were turned towards me a bit!

Palawan Hornbill, preparing to fly away. 

Really thankful that I was finally able to see and get a couple of photos of the Palawan Hornbill in Coron.  Painful lesson learned, never leave home without by birding camera.


  1. Wow! Ganda naman ng shots! And out in the open! =)

    1. Thanks! Inis at hindi yung SLR ang dala ko :-)