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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Visayan Miniature Babbler. Info for site of recent observation. (1 Viewer)

I really should have already put something on birdforum about access to the location where I was very fortunate to recently see Leyte plumed warblers (=Visayan Miniature Babbler ) and take some photos so that I could believe my own eyes! I hope the following information may be of some use, please feel free to ask for more details.
I was told about the location and how to get there by Stijn Cooleman, who visited maybe a couple of months before me and heard a couple of Mindanao BHs there (or possibly at a slightly different location). See the article Frontiers of the Philippines : Eastern Visayas (BirdingAsia Dec 2015, should show up on google ) for general information about birding in Samar including getting to SINP headquarters, some info in it is out of date (compare with my more recent info below).
There is a track running north along a small ridge from the Ulot River maybe 12km downstream by Torpedo boat from the torpedo boat place a few hundred meters West of SINP headquarters. The torpedo boat and guide to go there for a day was a bit expensive, 1825 peso, organised the day before at SINP headquarters. I was told this was the best spot for the Bleeding Heart and got untickable views of them several times here. The guide Ohsing (not sure on spelling) knows the spot and the best areas there for BH (I asked for the guy who could find BH) . I tried to contact SINP headquarters before arrival but didn't succeed. Gaga Villanueva emailed me back to say he had been promoted to a different position and gave me a couple of people's phone numbers to contact. I texted both numbers a couple of days before arriving, but didn't receive a reply and didn't try ringing. But I was able to get a permit, accommodation at SINP headquarters and arrange the boat trip after I turned up there. I was told I couldn't get meals cooked for me, but could use the kitchen in the house next to the main headquarters building. In the end I didn't check out the kitchen facilities so I can't say what they were like. I was initially told the torpedo boat couldn't leave before 6.30am and had to start back up the river at 4pm, but the guide Ohsing readily agreed to start at 5.30am the next 2 days. There were no complaints when I only got back to the boat at 4.30pm and on the last day Ohsing suggested heading further downstream to look for an unidentified (he doesn't have a proper field guide) (hawk?) eagle he had seen earlier, before going back upstream, this took an hour or so, I think. There are several small huts near the start of the track which could make staying there overnight easier, but I didn't ask about this. If I understand correctly, Ohsing said Eagle-Owl could be found in the area at night, but then again when I played the Eagle-Owl call from xeno-canto he was sure it was a fruit bat. I wanted to visit the spot on 4 days but could only go on 3 due to a local holiday, fiesta?, maybe some sort of religious thing? I was initially told Ohsing would not be available on one day due to already being scheduled to do something else, but he went with me anyway so I guess his schedule got rearranged. It was unclear if I could visit the spot without Ohsing, but the 2 boat guys would know where it is, I don't think they speak much english though.
New contact numbers: "The new Protected Area Supt of SINP now is Ms. Zeny Baisa and you may contact her at CP No. 0998 978 5379 or Eires Mate (her asst) at CP No. 0926 702 0590" (quote from an email).
My ebird checklist (with pics of the plumed warbler):
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S29832737
The location for the checklist (11.858361, 125.211031) should be near the start of the trail.
 
Michael

Brilliant, thanks for posting - that is a very difficult bird! Just as an aside, do you think this is a good site for the Bleeding Heart? I've both the Negros and Luzon species but would like to see the Mindanao (Samar) bird one day

cheers, alan
 
Hi Alan,
I think it is a good site for Mindanao Bleeding-heart. Though having said that I still didn't get tickable views in 3 days of trying at the site. But the bird(s) were calling and sometimes responding all three days at the site, although how much varied a lot between the days. According to what I could understand from the guide they are always at the site.
I also tried for one day near San Rafael and Milan falls, with a local guide who knows the spots that are best for the BHs here. Heard a bird calling and got untickable glimpses of a flushed bird etc. But I don't think they are as reliably present/heard here.
Pete Simpson recently saw Mindanao BH at a location in Mindanao (Mt Hamigutan) that is currently closed to the public, but it should be possible to visit here at some point in the future. How findable BHs are at this site remains to be seen.
As far as I know sightings of BHs at Zamboanga and Picop remain rare.
A recent ebird checklist from Bohol has a heard and glimpsed record of a BH. This is of interest because the checklist seems to be from a location in the national park that isn't usually visited (though I could easily be wrong about this). Maybe BHs will be more regular there than along the commonly visited trials in the national park.

Cheers,
Michael
 
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