Thursday, January 22, 2015

Birding in Calauit

I have not been to Calauit since December 2013 when I accompanied the TV crew of Aga Mulach's defunct Pinoy Explorer TV show.   I did not realize that it has been that long. So when I found out that we had a group of Russian tourists going to Calauit last January 12, I decided to tag-along.  In previous trips before typhoon Yolanda, the Green Imperial Pigeons (local name: Balud) were an almost sure capture as they flew around the trees in the big open plain in front of the Calauit management office.  During the December 2013 visit, I noticed the absence of these pigeons.  I was hoping that they were back.  I was also looking forward to a good photo of the Blue-headed Racquet Tail Parrot or Kilit.  I was able to get some decent (but not great) photos of the Kilit during the December 2013 trip.

While we were logging in at the Visitors Center, I saw some birds at the Aratiles tree just outside the door.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a couple of Palawan Flowerpeckers.  I have not had a close encounter with this bird since December 2013 in Capayas.  So I quickly set up my gear and started taking photos.

Palawan Flowerpecker (male)

There is only one vehicle servicing all Calauit guests nowadays, a small jeepney (Dios Mio!). So I let our Russian guests ride the jeep together with our guide and the Calauit guide.  I asked permission from the Calauit personnel if I could just roam around the area and bird.   After some photos of the Flowerpecker, I walked on, excited to see the Balud and hopefully the Kilit. 

Alas, there was no Kilit, neither was there any Balud.  What I saw were the usual suspects: Cattle Egret, Asian Glossy Starling, Olive-backed Sunbird, Ashy-fronted Bulbul, Black-naped Oriole, Ashy Drongo, Yellow-throated Leafbird, Paddyfield Pipit, and a Grey Streaked Flycatcher. here are some images of the birds that I saw in Calauit island last January 11:

Black-naped Oriole, Tutulyaw in Cuyonon

Grey-streaked Flycatcher, Tuldikan, in Cuyonon

I kept away from the tourist area and roamed the area near the cluster of admin buildings.  I came across a couple of deers. 
Doe, a deer, a female dear...A female Calamian Deer, endemic to the Calamianes

A Calamian stag

Through a break in the leaves, I saw a raptor lazily circling the air. Thinking that it might swoop down, I made my way to the edge of the clearing so I will have an unobstructed view of the sky.  However, when I got there, the raptor was nowhere to be seen (I thought it was a Crested Serpent Eagle).  But on a branch nearby was another Palawan endemic, the Ashy-fronted Bulbul.

Ashy-fronted Bulbul, Tabeleklek in our Cuyonon dialect.

A very polite bird. After I took it's photo, the Tabeleklek gave me a bow.  I am kidding of course, but that's what happens to birders on a slow day.  We photograph whatever is there, including a bowing Tabeleklek.

Estimating that the tour of the Russians will soon be over, I made my way back to the Visitors Center near the Calauit wharf.  Along the way, I saw a pair of Lovely Sunbirds.  

The female Lovely Sunbird readily posed for me

But the more colorful male Lovely Sunbird proved more elusive.  Hence, this docu shot.

The Lovely Sunbird pair flew off after a couple of minutes and didn't come back. So I proceeded to the Visitors Center where I used up all my remaining time in the island, photographing the Palawan Flowerpeckers.  At one point there were as many as six birds in the tree feasting on the Aratiles fruit.  Most of these images were taken three to four meters away.  There were three Calauit personel chatting noisily with me asking bird and photography related questions. And the birds just kept feeding.  Not minding us at all.  Just goes to show how wild birds act around humand if they are not harmed. 

Looking at me as if saying, how many more pictures are you going to take?

And soon, the Russians arrived from their tour and it was time to go. My favorite Calauit guide encouraged me to sleep over and so we will have more time to shoot.  Hmmm.... something to look forward to.


  1. A great collection of images. The flowerpecker is so well behaved.

    1. Thanks Mun. There were several of them (flowerpeckers).