The last time I birded outside of Thailand was in October 2011 on a memorable trip to Penang, Malaysia where I joined up with Dave Bakewell for a pelagic – what a sensational day that was with Dave picking out Malaysia’s first Little Gull and only the second record in South-east Asia. When I started writing this blog I rather fancied I would do more birding beyond Thailand so added “Beyond” into the title. Well with beautiful children and work things haven’t quite gone the way I had envisaged! No regrets. Anyhow “beyond” resumes here – we landed early in the morning in Cebu in The Philippines and we are here for six weeks, an unparalleled luxury. From a birdwatching perspective what is important is that we have access to an abundance of baby-sitters and this means both of us will be able to get out.
After sleeping off a late, delayed flight I began my list for this trip: a Pacific Swallow and several Eurasian Tree Sparrow in the sparse concrete of our overnight pitstop. I even got a glimpse of the sub-terminal spots on the swallow’s tail and then it very kindly perched on a window ledge. What turned out to be a leucistic feral pigeon had my heart racing for a moment, thinking it maybe was a gull – from previous trips to The Philippines I know gulls are uncommon; A Guide to the Birds of The Philippines ( Kennedy et al, Oxford University Press,2000 ) lists three species: Herring Gull, Black-tailed Gull and Black-headed Gull. This bird looked as if it was in moult and what I could see were strawberry pink legs but once it showed its head and bill it was clearly not a gull. A highlight of a previous trip here was to see a Black-tailed Gull on the pier at Narra in Palawan.
So it is going to take a few days to get going but it is great to be here again and hopefully we are going to see some great birds. Mabuhay!