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  • Where to watch BIRDS and

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  • Photograph of Steere's Pitta

    A stunning Steere's Pitta in Rajah Sikatuna National Park on the island of Bohol by Dubi Shapiro.

    PHILIPPINES

    Best Wildlife in the Philippines

    Mammals
    Dugong, Philippine Tarsier, Long-tailed (Crab-eating) Macaque, and Golden-crowned and Large Flying Foxes. Also a chance of Philippine Colugo (Flying Lemur).

    Birds
    The birdlist for the Philippines includes 234 endemic species according to the IOC World List as at the end of 2014. The birds listed are usually present during the northern winter. Philippine (Monkey-eating) Eagle, Palawan Peacock Pheasant, hornbills, Philippine Cockatoo, Blue-capped Wood, Indigo-banded, Rufous-lored, Silvery and Spotted Wood Kingfishers, Rufous-crowned (Blue-throated) Bee-eater, Philippine Trogon, Scale-feathered Malkoha, Asian and Philippine Fairy Bluebirds, leafbirds, Hooded, Red-bellied, Steere's and Whiskered Pittas, Mindanao and Visayan Wattled Broadbills, Grand, Stripe-breasted and Stripe-headed Rhabdornises, sunbirds, fruit doves, fantails, flowerpeckers, Flame-templed Babbler and Cinnamon Ibon (not a white-eye, now in a family of its own), as well as Philippine Duck, Tabon Scrubfowl, Red Junglefowl, Chinese Egret, Cinnamon and Yellow Bitterns, Brahminy Kite, Philippine Serpent Eagle, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Philippine Falconet, Philippine (Purple) Swamphen, White-browed Crake, Malaysian Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Grey-tailed Tattler, Pintail and Swinhoe’s Snipes, Bukidnon Woodcock, Barred and Spotted Buttonquails, Whiskered Tern, green and imperial pigeons, Guaiabero, Blue-naped Parrot, racquet-tails, Colasisi (Philippine Hanging Parrot), coucals, scops owls, hawk owls, Palawan (Javan) and Philippine Frogmouths, Great Eared Nightjar, Whiskered Treeswift, swiftlets, needletails, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Dollarbird, Coppersmith Barbet, Common and Greater Flamebacks, Great Slaty Woodpecker, White-breasted Woodswallow, Philippine Minivet, Common Iora, cuckoo shrikes, trillers, Green-backed and Yellow-bellied Whistlers, Mountain Shrike, orioles, Black-naped and Short-crested Monarchs, Blue and Rufous Paradise Flycatchers, Elegant and Palawan Tits, Sulphur-billed Nuthatch, bulbuls, tailorbirds, White-browed Shortwing, Luzon Water Redstart, flycatchers, White-browed Shama, Eye-browed Thrush, babblers, Falcated Ground Babbler, Asian and Short-tailed Glossy Starlings, Coleto, Apo and Hill Mynas, Little and Naked-faced Spiderhunters, Red-eared Parrotfinch and White-cheeked Bullfinch. Also a chance of Pied Harrier, bleeding-hearts, Celestial Monarch, Metallic Pigeon, Asian Dowitcher and Great Knot.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    Devil, Eagle and Manta Rays, Whale Shark (Dec-May, mostly Feb-Apr), other sharks including Thresher (Monad Shoal is one of the best places in the world for this spectacular shark), Leopard and Scalloped Hammerhead (deep water shoals mostly Jan-Apr), numerous other coral reef fish including groupers, frogfish, pipefish and scorpionfish, seahorses and nudibranchs, as well as Water Monitor and Tockay Gecko.

    Other Natural Wonders of the Philippines

    Subterranean River An 8.2 km (5 mile) long, navigable underground river on the island of Palawan.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in the Philippines

    Photograph of Philippine Eagle

    A Philippine Eagle on Mount Kitanglad by Ian Merrill.

    Best Times for Wildlife in the Philippines

    Any time between December and May is a good time to visit the Philippines, although the peak time for birds is usually mid-January to mid-March at the beginning of the nesting season and the peak time for Whale Sharks is February to April, although they are usually present from December to May.

    Recommended Books etc. for the Philippines

    A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines by R Kennedy et al. OUP, 2000.

    Fishes of the Philippines by G Broad. Anvil Publishing Incorporated, 2003.

    Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for the Philippines

    Many trip reports, some for the Philippines, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to the Philippines. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to the Philippines' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in the Philippines

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in the Philippines

    Some Organized Tours to the Philippines

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to the Philippines in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.