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Visit to Busuanga Island

Date: April 17 - 20
by Mads Bajarias and Lu-Ann Fuentes

Lu-ann and I spent Holy Week with our three friends in Coron, Palawan. Coron town is in the island of Busuanga; this is not to be confused with Coron Island where the famous Cayangan and Barracuda Lakes are found.

In Coron town we stayed in a resort called KokosNuss owned and operated by the amiable father-and-son Rudolph and Jorg Wieh. The resort is a quiet garden planted with fruit trees. Near the entrance, the owners also rigged a bird bath with water flowing from a faucet. The starlings hang out right over the faucet.

Behind the resort is an airstrip flanked by scrub and a few trees. When i write "airstrip" below, I mean the scrub and forest flanking the airstrip and not the actual runway. I'm sure that the scrub there harbors big super-skulkers that I missed. It's a place definitely worth further investigation. Also saw 2 quails there but couldn't ID them. Lots of calls too, quite low in the thick brush

Every morning, I got up at daybreak to view the birds in the garden i.e. the garden of KokosNuss Resort. It was only on Saturday, April 19, that I got to explore the airstrip. I birded the airstrip for 3 hours in the morning of Saturday.

Busuanga BIRD LIST:
1. Cattle Egret -- c.10. farm near road going to KYR airport.
2. White-bellied Sea-eagle. Saw 1 fly away from island with white-collared kingfishers.
3. White-collared Kingfisher -- 2 very large ones in an island whose name I forget which flew away with the White-bellied Sea-eagle.
4. Blue-throated Bee-eater -- 2. on Mt. Tapyas. curiously, this species is not listed in Busuanga by Kennedy etal. but we saw 2 plain as day.
5. Pacific Swallow -- c.10. All over busuanga
6. Barn Swallow -- 1. on Mt. Tapyas, Coron town, Busuanga.

7. Olive-winged Bulbul -- c.12. Conspicuous at the airstrip. This is welcome relief from all the Philippine Bulbuls of Luzon!
8. White-vented Shama -- Saw a pair one morning inside the garden, perched on a mango tree branch. As I fumbled with my decades-old Nikon, they disappeared. I never saw them again.
9. Rufous-tailed Tailorbird -- 3. airstrip. easy to spot. Palawan endemic.
10. Yellow-throated Leafbird -- 3 in the vicinity of the airstrip. At first I thought they were parrots because of the color. Bright yellow throat easy to see. Palawan endemic. They made my day!

11. Spangled Drongo. Long tail flared and forked. Every morning about a dozen. they like to perch on the top of the "kondol" tree. Both garden and airstrip.
12. Pied Fantail -- 4 around the airstrip.
13. Black-naped Monarch -- 3 at the airstrip.
14. Large-billed crow -- 2 at airstrip.
15. Asian Glossy Starling. Lots every morning. Showy and very busy both at the airstrip and the garden. There were also scores of them in the KYR airport.
16. White-breasted Woodswallow -- 2. perched in the scrub in a tiny island called Pamalican near North Cay Island. Our local guide said this tiny island also has "katala" (Philippine Cockatoo), but i'm not sure. I also encountered a lone plover there but couldnt make out the markings.
17. Brown Shrike. -- 3. airstrip and at the KYR airport

18. Olive-backed Sunbird (aurora race) -- c. 10-20 every morning. when the sun hits the trees they make quite a racket! this palawan race has the male's upper breast washed with red below the metallic blue.
19. Lovely Sunbird. Spotted 1 at the airstrip. Sure to be more. It IS lovely indeed.

20. White-bellied Munia -- 2. airstrip.