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Honeymooning: Palawan and Singapore (1 Viewer)


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This is probably a bit premature as we don't head out until Monday, but just in case any of this info is helpful for anyone planning a trip at present...


Aside from a couple of brief trips to Europe, this was the first major trip Kathi and I had made together since the Covid-19 pandemic, and more importantly was our belated honeymoon after spending too much money on our wedding in 2022!

Our original plan had been to spend a week in Singapore, followed by a return to Sabah for a slightly longer trip, but the escalating prices as a result of the global cost of living crisis following the pandemic combined with unworkable logistics meant we had to discount that idea fairly rapidly. Further logistical challenges were posed by the flights to Palawan, eventually we managed to make a workable schedule by flying out via Manila, and returning via Cebu.

Having last visited South-East Asia in 2015, a return was overdue, and following a few recommendations we settled on the island of Palawan as a compromise of decent birding, excellent snorkeling, and generally looking like a stunning place for a honeymoon, with the added bonus of Philippine hospitality. Unfortunately, the outlook for our trip didn’t look too good a week or so before we headed out, with Typhoon Mawar moving west across the Pacific bringing an increased chance of high winds and heavy rain.

Prior to the trip, I had agreed that it wouldn’t be 24/7 birding given the fact it was our honeymoon, and that I would limit my birding mostly to mornings, save the odd half day or dusk/nocturnal escapade. As a result, that meant that some species were completely off the cards due to logistics (such as Mantanani Scops Owl, Palawan striped-babbler and Philippine Shortwing) and despite booking a couple of days at the Subterranean River National Park, the “holy grail” bird that is Palawan Peacock-pheasant was very unlikely, particularly since the habituated male bird died in 2021. As a result, I had to limit my horizons, and my key targets for the Philippine leg of the trip were; Hooded and Philippine Pittas, Falcated wren-babbler, Red-vented cockatoo, Blue Paradise flycatcher, and whatever other endemics I could stumble onto.

The week in Singapore was shortened to 3.5 days due to a combination of logistics and price (I clearly hadn’t done my research on the world’s most expensive city!), but the schedule was more open to birding, and I had hoped to target the following; Jambu fruit-dove, Sulphur-headed bulbul, Mangrove and Blue-winged Pittas, Brown Wood-owl and Red-legged Crake. Rather helpfully, I had exchanged some gen with Pete from Birdforum (@foresttwitcher) who very kindly reciprocated by sending me pins for several species a couple of weeks before I was due to fly out.

Useful information

There are a range of excellent resources online to keep up-to speed with the Singaporean birding scene, with a particularly active ebird community. A useful (if out of print) book is A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of Singapore, which despite being a photographic guide has some useful information on locations, as well as providing the status of some 280 most commonly occurring species in Singapore. It is also less unwieldy than the larger (but otherwise excellent) Helm series covering Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, making a useful reference (and weight saving alternative) if you are only visiting for a short period of time.
The following websites are also highly recommended:
Singapore Birders | Facebook (Singapore Birders)
Log in to Facebook (Singapore Nature Group, good for other wildlife)


Information on Palawan is somewhat more limited, and I am indebted to Rob Hutchinson of Birdtour Asia for very kindly providing me with some recent information for several species, as well as hints and tips for seeing some of the trickier species. As always, ebird was useful in providing updates from others birding around the same time, giving some suggestion of what had been seen and where. During my last visit to the Philippines the only guide available was the Kennedy book, which I am pleased to say has been substantially superseded by the excellent Lynx edition - taxonomically up to date at the time of my trip, with excellent maps, status information and accurate illustrations - highly recommended!
I did find the following reports which have some really useful information:

Other information

We had decided to shop around to hire a car for the Palawan leg of the trip, and most places were quoting 1500 php per day for a basic car. We tried booking in advance via Sabai car rental (recommended elsewhere) but sadly ended up going in circles without receiving confirmation or info on how to pay. In the end we opted for Rent-a-car Palawan, Rey was very helpful and responsive with booking, and we were able to pay in advance via paypal - 12,200php for three days rental, including meet and greet at Puerto Princesa Airport and collection from our hotel in Sabang. Cash machines were apparently not present on Palawan, which meant that we had to carry a large amount of php around with us for the first leg, not ideal. We decided to stay at the rather upmarket (for us) Daluyon Beach Resort for our time in Sabang, as this was one of the only hotels to offer tours of the Underground River without the bureaucracy of having to obtain tickets in advance from the park HQ in Puerto Princesa. The price was substantially higher (2000php v 1200php) doing it this way, but it saved additional stress and time spent doing less fun activities.
In Singapore, we opted to stay at the Changi Village Hotel. Again, this was a somewhat more salubrious accommodation option for us, but we decided that the proximity to the airport and fairly decent transport links would make for a better option than staying downtown - also within our budget, most central options were overpriced and a bit crap. Getting around in Singapore is relatively easy thanks to government subsidisation of taxis - the Grab app seems to be the best way of getting around and also allows you to budget for each journey without any risk of being overcharged.
I took a telescope with me on the premise that it may be best to have one and not need it, than the other way around. I used the Bird Call Xeno app to download calls onto my phone in the hope that listening to some of the targets before the trip would stick, the app was very useful for comparison in the field as well as for playback on a couple of occasions. I also pre-loaded locations for trail heads and viewpoints into google maps to use (particularly in Palawan) as some locations seem to have fallen into disrepair in the last few years and have been tricky to locate on the ground.

I'll update this section once we've been on the trip - will report back in full sometime in late June!
Glad I could help in some way, Dan, sorry to hear you have had to cut things back a bit but have a great time.

Agree about the hotel prices in Singapore. But the public transport is very good value.
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Palawan trails and access update 2023

Following the covid pandemic, a number of trails frequented by birders have fallen into a state of disrepair – in particular the trail systems around Sabang and the Underground River National Park.

Sabang ATV trail

This trail is effectively defunct, with very limited access along the first 50m at the northern most trail head, and effectively no access at the southern trail head. I spent a bit of time attempting to access these areas, but eventually gave up. I did not attempt nocturnal birding in these areas, so cannot comment on the presence/absence of those target species. Sadly Falcated wren-babbler was absent from this area, and appears to be in decline – playback attempts in suitable habitat did not return any responses.

Underground River National Park

The jungle trail that leads from directly behind the toilet block at the park HQ was accessible for only the first 150m or so – it is no longer possible to go beyond the raised boardwalk over the swamp before the trail leads up into the reserve. A second smaller trail is navigable for approximately 200m behind the right-hand most building, which was fairly good. The jungle trail is now also defunct as accessed from the mangroves in Sabang, and impassable. The Zip-line trail is still active, but is probably only worth birding early or late, as activity is high along here.

Much has been written previously on the complexities of accessing the park HQ, but I am happy to report that significant progress has been made. A permit is still required to visit the cave network (either via the office in Puerto Princesa or alternatively stay at the Daluyon who can organise), but to access the park HQ solely for birdwatching, simply call into the ticketing office in the harbour (W3W: purely.megawatt.reminisce) before 2pm the day before and ask for a birdwatching permit (150php) and arrange an early boat (1500php private hire) – I was told that 6am was the earliest, but arrived at the harbour at 05:20 and the boatman was already there.

Sabang alternative trails

Birding is now best along the Sabang road, with particularly good birding possible between the checkpoint at Cabayugan and the Cockatoo lookout.

There is a small trail where the forest can be access from the obvious bend in the road (W3W: locally.stingray.central) which climbs steeply uphill before heading east north-east into primary forest, the first 500m or so were particularly productive.

Above: Trail location from W3W///locally.stingray.central with trail head show insert

Zig-zag road

Again, birding is very good along the roadside generally, and the two trail heads previously mentioned in other reports are still somewhat passable (W3W: quilters.womankind.thirdly and seizure.undefeated.infusions) with the latter being particularly productive.

Selected Highlights

Palawan and Coron

The standout highlights were excellent views of both Philippine and several Hooded Pitta, with particularly good views of the latter. A calling Mantanani Scops-owl at a new location was unexpected, whilst four very showy Philippine (Red vented) Cockatoo seen early morning along the Sabang road were arguably the rarest birds of the trip. A brace of endemics including Palawan Hornbill, Palawan and Sooty Drongo, Yellow-throated Leafbird, Palawan Crow, Red-headed and Spot-throated Flameback, Blue headed racquet-tail, Palawan and Sulphur-Bellied Bulbul, Palawan Flowerpecker, Lovely Sunbird, Palawan Spiderhunter, Palawan Tit, Palawan Blue Flycatcher, Paradise Blue Flycatcher.

Good views of species which I’ve missed elsewhere included White-bellied and Great Slaty Woodpecker, Striated Grassbird, Oriental Hobby, Tabon Megapode, Black-chinned Fruit Dove and Grey Imperial Pigeon.
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(Spot the bird and identify the species in the last image for a prize!)

The opportunity to reacquaint with widespread south-east Asian species after more than eight years was relished, with many familiar favourites seen particularly well – the population of White-rumped Shama on Pulau Ubin afforded my best views of this species.

Once again, it was a skulking ground-dweller that stole the show, with some memorable encounters with Blue-winged Pitta on Pulau Ubin which stole the show. A close second was encountering no less than five Colugo in the surrounds of Singapore zoo, a most wanted mammal tick for us both. Black-naped Tern was a welcome addition to my life list, with some excellent views of this graceful species. Surprisingly both Savannah and Large-tailed Nightjar were seen well given the urban surroundings. Laced, Rufous and Sunda Pygmy Woodpeckers were all new species, and proved much more confiding that other woodpecker species seen elsewhere in Asia.
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...Though there were some painful misses, not least: Falcated Wren-babbler, Palawan Frogmouth, Straw-headed bulbul, Mangrove Pitta, Brown Wood-owl being probably the worst, however, given the list of species seen above, I won't complain too much!
Day 1 (30/5): Singapore

This was our first long haul trip where we had booked onto a direct flight, and as a result we had managed to ensure a full day in Singapore before continuing onto the Philippines on an overnight flight. As a result of spending so long in the confines of the plane, and having to fly out again later the same day, we had agreed that a day on Pulau Ubin was a good option, being close to the airport and being somewhat more relaxed than heading into downtown Singapore.

There had been a number of good sightings from Palau Ubin recently, with a female White-crested Hornbill and no less than two Black and Red Broadbill reported from the area around Chek Jawa. Of much more interest to me were multiple calling Blue-winged and Mangrove Pitta in the area - what would be two new species in my most desired family, in addition to another significant target known to be present on the island, the critically endangered Straw-headed bulbul.

The first species were added as the plane taxied along the runway after landing, with the expected House Crow, Javan and Common Myna present and correct around Singapore airport. We managed to locate the bag store in the airport ($30 for two backpacks), hopped into a taxi and made for the ferry at Changi village. Raucous calls greeted us from the car park, with introduced Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Taminbar Corella and Red-breasted parakeet all doing their best to drown out the chorus of Red Junglefowl – this species is also present on Pulau Ubin where it is apparently wild, but I couldn’t discern any plumage differences between the two populations.

The ferry crossing brought the first White-bellied Sea-eagles of the trip, whilst a host of Asian Glossy Starling called for anything edible from the covered dock. It was already later in the day than I had hoped (nearly 10am by the time we landed on Pulau Ubin) and beginning to hot up – even after such a long flight any strenuous activity was clearly going to be too much. We opted for a wander around the Sensory trail, and were quickly rewarded with some of the typical birds of south-east Asia; Yellow-vented Bulbul, Oriental Magpie Robin, Spotted Dove, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Collared Kingfisher, Olive-backed Sunbird but better yet were several very showy White-rumped Shama, a beautiful species I had seen previously in Thailand, which is sadly in serious decline largely due to the illegal trade in wild birds across Asia.

Whilst enjoying excellent views of territorial Shama, a loud and slightly yelping staccato call emanated from a nearby patch of slightly trashy forest – the unmistakable sound of a displaying Blue-winged Pitta one of my top targets for the trip within the first 30 minutes of arriving on Pulau Ubin! The bird continued calling for approximately 20 minutes, but try as I might, I was unable to get into a position where I could see the bird calling away some 5 meters above my head. After a bit of whistling, I glimpsed a whirr of blue, green, black and white as the bird descended to the ground to investigate my poor attempts at mimicry, but once again the bird was one step ahead, flushing from around the base of a particularly large tree and proving untickable views of its admittedly colourful behind as it flapped back up into the canopy.

Having being caught up in the moment, I had absent-mindedly forgotten my ever patient wife, who was waiting in the shade and remember where I was, and more importantly, why I was here. We continued on our walk, adding some nice species such as Brown-throated sunbird, Common Flameback and Olive-winged bulbul, whilst a persistent call from a patch of mangroves added Ashy tailorbird to the day’s proceedings.

A little further on, Kathi drew my attention to several Oriental Pied Hornbill gliding between fig trees, whilst Yellow-vented Bulbul gave their yaffling, but occasionally melodic calls from trackside vegetation. Two more species were observed but avoided confirmation of their identification, with a small Accipter seen gliding overhead, and a silent Bee-eater spp doing much the same. A quick look over over Pekan quarry provided the familiar Grey Heron, as well as a surprise Cinnamon-headed Green Pigeon – the only one of the trip.

Having spent a pleasant few hours wandering slowly around the island, thoughts turned to a late lunch, and we decided to explore the myriad culniary opportunties available at the nearby Changi Hawker market. The return boat journey brought the first Little and Black-naped Tern of the trip, the latter a new species, and a super smart one at that. Having satiated our gastronomic requirements courtesy of some fine spicy Udon Noodles (Kathi) and Nasi Lemak (yours truly) washed down with some wickedly sweet sugarcane-derived iced syrupy drink, we took a short stroll through Changi Point park, where I added a few more avian delights; a trio of Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker were too engaged in territorial despites to mind me grabbing a few photos.

More Pied Hornbill were busy fig-foraging, joined by some showy Black-naped Oriole and Red-breasted Parakeets, whilst a group of Blue-crowned hanging-parrot frenetically called from tree tops, before launching themselves like little green torpedoes to continue their activities elsewhere. The strident calls of Olive-backed and Brown-throated Sunbird brought better views of both species, whilst a wander along Changi Creek rewarded us with better views of Collared Kingfisher and our first Striated Heron of the trip.

Soon enough, our short break in Singapore drew to a close, and we headed back to the airport in preparation for our late afternoon departure to the Philippines. Luckily for me, our view from Terminal 3 presented a few further opportunities for some sneaky birding, with the first Eastern Cattle and Intermediate Egrets of the trip, better still was a hunting Black-winged Kite which hovered over the airfield. A slightly rougher patch of grass provided several sightings of Paddyfield Pipit, but best of all were two small groups of White-headed Munia feeding on seeds. Two distant birds remained just too far to clinch the identification, but were either Milky or Painted Stork (or possibly some hybrid combination due to the influence of feral birds which escaped from Jurong during the relocation of the bird park).

It had been a very pleasant first day familiarising myself with some of the species and calls of the region ahead of a slightly more intense travel period (flight to Manila, then five hours of not quite sleeping on the airport floor, before a 4am flight to Puerto Princesa, followed by a day of island hopping – not quite the relaxing and romantic first night of our honeymoon we had anticipated!) however our next stop would be the island of Palawan, our base for the next seven days. There would be ample opportunities for more honeymoon oriented activities, and hopefully the odd hour or two for some birding in the coming week – who needs sleep anyways!

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Day 2 (31.5): Puerto Princesa and Zig-Zag road

Following an overnight flight to Puerto Princesa via Manila, we were due to arrive on Palawan early morning. Given this was something of a spare day, we decided to arrange a hire car with the aim of visiting Pandan island for a few hours before driving across to our accommodation near to the old Zig-Zag road.

Having been met at the airport and now with a set of wheels for five days, we headed north out of Puerto Princesa to Honda Bay harbour – the jumping off point to visit the offshore islands here. There are a range of options that can be done, with a set rate of approx 1500php for a private boat for the day, and landing fees/conservation fees varying between 100php and 900php depending upon which islands you visit.

It is currently not possible to visit Pandan island as there is some legal issue over ownership of the island, and therefore the chances of encountering Mantanani Scops Owl is reduced. We opted to visit Starfish and Cowrie Islands to enjoy some time in the water. Starfish Island has some decent mangroves along its eastern side, and Grey Imperial Pigeon was easy to catch up with here. Other species recorded included the first Golden-bellied Gerygone and Philippine Pied Fantail of the trip, whilst a group of three White-breasted Woodswallow showed well whilst we enjoyed brunch.

After enjoying another post-brunch session of Snorkling, we headed across to Pandan Island, where the only new bird of note was Garden (Olive-Backed) Sunbird, a distinctive and attractive race endemic to Palawan and its satellites, differing from Olive-backed by the red border to the gorget contrasting against the yellow underparts. After a few hours of splashing about and generally having a nice break, we boarded the banca to return to Honda Bay harbour, where we we accompanied by a mixed flock of Whiskered and White-winged Black tern, including a smart adult (or 2cy) for much of the journey, briefly departing our course to mob a low flying White-bellied Sea-eagle.

Our next stop after some discussion was to be a brief stop so I could walk the trails at the back of the Crocodile Farm (Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center as it is rather grandly called now) but this proved to be a througholy depressing experience, with clueless tourists gawping at massive (and admittedly impressive) crocodiles crammed into small units with no vegetation or other form of cover – the very worst and most exploitative type of “conservation centre”. We were unable to forgo the tour and just visit the trails, and as a result wasted 45 minutes being led around the exhibits before reaching the trails at the precise time of a huge downpour. Asian Koel and a few Brown-throated Sunbird were the only species noted here, and I’d probably advise against visiting.

We continued on our journey to our base for the night, Al Hamra Jungle resort, handily located just 10 minutes drive from the old Zig-Zag road. After a few hours rest and relaxation, I decided to scout out the trails and situation at Zig-Zag, with the caveat that I’d be back in time for dinner at half 6.

The site was easy to find, and I parked up at the obvious pull in on the first left hand S-bend – the view over the forest here was quite spectacular and immediately began birding. First up was a showy pair of vocalising Hill Myna, joined by both Sooty (Ashy) and Palawan (Hair-Crested) Drongo, and a brief Pygmy Flowerpecker. Atop a nearby tree was a smart Blue-naped Parrot, whilst a trio of Palawan Hornbill glided across the view.

A bat-like Pygmy Swiftlet hawked along the road at eye-level, whilst some strident calls betrayed the presence of Palawan Tit Babbler – not bad for the first five minutes out of the car. Several Rufous-tailed Tailorbird were also easy to locate once I’d clocked the call, whilst Common Iora was observed feeding young. I headed for the lower trail picking up a distant calling Hooded Pitta, and the only King Quail of the trip in a small agricultural area around some houses along the first section of the trail. I attempted to call in both Palawan Flycatcher and Striated Wren-Babbler in suitable areas of habitat but without success. The first Palawan (Grey throated) and Sulphur-Bellied Bulbul of the trip providing some compensation, though I was surprised by how elusive both these species were, despite being well represented at most locations I visited.

Working my way back along the trail, I was treated to great views of a smart Red-headed Flameback, a tricky endemic that is surprisingly easy to overlook. A few more views of Garden Sunbird and Palawan Tit Babbler and it was time for dinner and our first nights sleep in a bed for approximately three days. Around 2am I awoke to hear a deep booming call coming from somewhere with the hotel grounds, and whilst I suspect that this was most likely Spotted Wood-Owl, I managed to turn my recorder from “on” to “off” in my sleepy state, and so had no recording to review the following morning!

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Day 3 (1/6): Zig-Zag road and Sabang

The day was to start with an pre-dawn visit (the first of many throughout the trip!) to the Zig-Zag road in order to get a first proper introduction to some of the island specialities and enjoy some fairly relaxed birding along the road and the old trail network. I parked up at the same location as the previous day, with Palawan Crow making its first rather vocal appearance in the gloom. Yesterday’s Hooded Pitta was still calling from the same gulley by the road, but I became distracted at a pair of Purple-throated Sunbird, Golden Bellied Gerygone and Striped (Thick-billed) Flowerpecker feeding at eye level from the road. More Sooty Drongo were present, with their impressive vocal repertoire ringing through the air.

Walking back down the road towards the lower trailhead I enjoyed better views of both Sulphur-bellied and Palawan Bulbul, both still diving into thicker cover as I lined them up in my camera viewfinder, the little divas. An interesting hunched shape foraging in the roadside leaf litter briefly got the heart-rate up, although I felt a slightly guilty pang when the bird in my binocular view resolved into a smart Grey-capped Emerald Dove rather than the hoped for Pitta. Back along the trail, attempts yet again for Striated Wren-Babbler and Palawan Flycatcher drew another blank, but there was plenty of interest otherwise; Philippine Pied Fantail, Asian Koel and Common Iora joined by more interesting interlopers including Green Imperial Pigeon, Spot-throated Flameback, Yellow-throated Leafbird, Blue-naped Parrot, Palawan Hornbill and more showy Palawan Drongo.

Heading back to the road, I drove a little further along the road to try a different area. Of interest, there was a relatively newly created trail (W3W: popularly.galaxies.solder) which is quite easy going, with some suitable habitat for Striated-Wren Babbler (plenty of bamboo), birding along here produced a similar suite of species to further down the road, with a bonus Palawan Fairy-Bluebird quietly moving through the canopy. More Hooded Pitta called from the deeper recesses and well vegetated gullies, but remained invisible for the time being.

A little further along the road I picked up a distant calling Philippine (Blue-breasted) Pitta calling from a neighbouring ridge, unfortunately too far to even attempt to go off-piste. The first Lovely Sunbird made its appearance, suitably named for its pleasant yellow and red plumage tones, before being moved along rather rapidly by a resident pair of Garden Sunbird. By this time, I had already been birding for a couple of hours, and the day was beginning to heat up, so I decided to head back along the road to try the second trailhead. Stepping out of the car, I became aware I was being watched, and looked up to find a cracking Palawan (Crested) Serpent Eagle staring at me from a perch not 20m above where I was standing, the bird watched me carefully with piercing eyes, but after a while decided that I didn’t look very appetising, and continued scanning for something more palatable.

After admiring the raptor for a while, I began once again birding along the road due to the increased activity, with further sightings of Palawan Bulbul and Palawan Tit Babbler. A flurry of activity in a nearby tree betrayed the presence of a wonderful Thick-billed Green Pigeon engaged in nest building. This was a species I had seen previously, but I spent some time watching the bird carefully selecting the appropriate twig for its rather messy structure, getting my best views of the species.

A loud call drew my attention away from the activities of the pigeon, just in time to witness the formidable grey mass of a Great Slaty Woodpecker bounding between trees. The species briefly alighted in a tree, and to my regret, I spent too much time messing about with my camera rather than enjoying this prehistoric looking species, with the result that I managing neither a photo of any kind, or good views as the bird sat momentarily in the open, amateur hour yet again!

Another quick time check, and I had only 30 minutes before I had agreed to meet Kathi for breakfast, I’d factored in 15 minutes for driving and general faffing about, plus 5 minutes to walk back to the car, which optimistically left me with 10 minutes of birding time. Rather than run the risk of being late on our first proper day, I decided to head straight back. I was writing my notes and opening the car door, when a vaguely familiar call resounded from the gulley next to me – I still had the 10 minutes, so I thought I could follow up on it.

I clambered down the gulley into a thickly vegetated area, filled with ratan, universal burden of tropical birders. I waited for the call again before attempting my own whistled version, and the call resounded again, this time much closer. Crouching down, the call came yet again, now only a matter of meters away. In the shadow of the dense understory that much hoped for and unmistakable bounce – a superb Philippine Pitta appeared in my field of view. I quickly learned from my failings just moments before, and just sat on the forest floor as one of my major targets for the trip hopped around completing two loops around me, calling all the while, and occasionally stopping to gulp down a tasty insect that appeared. The bird was a vision of green, red and blue, with a contrasting rusty brown head housing inscrutably large eyes. On the birds third loop, I dared reach for the camera, capturing a handful of mostly blurred, and generally obscured images of this most sought after species, but I didn’t care; day one, morning one and a top target in the bag, along with a host of other goodies. Better yet, the drive back was quicker than I remembered, and I arrived for breakfast with a cool three minutes to spare!

During breakfast I pointed out a few Garden and Purple-throated Sunbird to Kathi who made the appropriately impressed noises, though she didn’t quite share my enthusiasm for the first Philippine Jungle Crow of the trip, I suppose the relative ratios of primary projection against tail length in corvids aren’t everyone’s idea of a fun honeymoon breakfast conversation topic…

Having packed the car up, we were ready for our next destination of Sabang, which would be our base for the next three nights. With a bit of time to spare, I suggested that we may have a drive up the Napsan road to take in some more of the island that we may otherwise not see, and was delighted when Kathi approved. The journey was a pleasant one, with a few stops at various locations along the road producing Oriental Dollarbird, Collared Kingfisher, Oriental Honey-Buzzard, and a few Blue-naped Parrot, whilst some scrutiny of the various dark flapping shapes overhead produced both Germain’s and Palawan Swiftlet.

We continued along the road to Sabang, noting the first White-vented Shama of the trip, whilst a brief stop at some rice paddies just off the Iwahig junction produced a flock of Whiskered Tern, along with a trio of egrets; Great, Intermediate and Eastern Cattle. A few White-breasted Woodswallow hawked over the drier areas, whilst the only Zitting Cisticola of the trip gave its familiar repetitive call. Small family parties of Asian Glossy Starling also foraged through the area, whilst a shout from Kathi produced a brief view of a male Palawan Fairy Bluebird.

After a slightly longer journey than expected, we finally arrived at Daluyon Resort in Sabang around mid afternoon. Having checked in and freshened up, there was only one thing to do – no, not head out again to look for endemics – try out the pool and enjoy my first experience at a swim bar. I decided to opt for just one beer so that I could head out again later if the opportunity arose, and enjoyed cooling off to the sound of Ashy-fronted Bulbul, Sooty Drongo and Collared Kingfisher, whilst a Pygmy Swiftlet cooled off and took sips from the pool inches away.

Having earned brownie points earlier by arriving early for breakfast, I headed out for a quick recce to the ATV trail, located about 1km down the road. Historically this site has been the go-to location to bird in the Sabang area outside of the National Park, but images on google maps (November 2022) suggested that this has fallen into disrepair, and some observers on ebird mentioned how difficult the trail is to find. The entrance is located on the left side of the road out of Sabang, about 50m south of the Iglesia Ni Christo church at W3W ///elaborate.vicarious.kneel with the track directly opposite a powerline pole marked “PLW0387”. Eventually I managed to find the trail entrance, but as suspected, the trail was impassable beyond the first 50m or so. Further views of White-vented Shama, and two great looking additions to the trip – Palawan Flowerpecker and Chestnut-breasted Malkoha were the best on offer, and despite a closely calling Hooded Pitta (unseen as usual) it proved to be a rather frustrating hour or so, so I returned to the hotel via some rice paddies (Little, Intermediate and Eastern Cattle Egret the supporting cast to White-breasted Waterhen and Scaly-breasted Munia) and finally enjoyed some downtime and a few beers.

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For any interested parties, please find the completed report attached - any questions please feel free to DM me.

Be warned, it is quite a long read...


  • Singapore and Palawan Philippines.pdf
    5.3 MB · Views: 27
Nice read Dan, sounds like a great trip.

Glad you did better with the Singaporean Pittas than I did ... but also a bit relieved that they are obviously not that easy.
I think getting my eye in on Palawan and Coron really helped, I sort of knew what height and likely locations to search for calling birds, as well as the best approach with birds on the ground (less successful and about 100x more tricky admittedly!). Always good to have a reason to return anyways...

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