Words and Photos by James Lambert (Guest)
The field guide I used was Kennedy et al. (2000). This is very good in a number of ways, yet the strictly adhered to rules used by the authors to accept or reject distributional data resulted in a number of cases where birds that occur in Bohol were not listed as such.
Visayan Broadbill

Philippine Duck Anas luzonica: a Philippine endemic, listed as Vulnerable by IUCN; singles and small groups of up to 3 birds were commonly seen flying over the resort to or from roosting sites; note the all orange head.

Zebra Dove Geopelia striata: singles and pairs commonly seen within resort grounds; the wings make a whirring sound when taking off; somewhat shy; also seen feeding in fallow paddy fields.

White-eared Brown-dove Phapitreron leucotis brevirostris: a Philippine endemic; common in resort grounds in singles or, usually, pairs; quite shy; keeps to trees; note the short tail, white line under the eye and the light green sheen on the back of the neck.

Black-chinned Fruit-dove Ptilinopus leclancheri leclancheri: a Philippine endemic; a single adult male was seen across the river towards dusk.

Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis tigrina: not common in the resort, but quite a few were feeding in the paddy fields with Zebra Doves.

Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica ? humilis: according to both Kennedy et al. (2000) and del Hoyo et al (1997), the humilis subspecies is recorded from Luzon and Mindoro, but not further south in the Philippines; however, a pair of these doves showed up at the resort one morning. They landed in trees and then flew to the ground to forage, but flew off before I could get close to them. It is always possible that they could have been escapes, though appearing as a pair is against this.

Pink-necked Green Pigeon Treron vernans: these mostly green pigeons were common in low numbers around the resort, always in treetops; the males have a pinkish neck with an orange band below, while the females are pretty much all green; the pink feet are an easy way to distinguish this from the Philippine (Pompadour) Pigeon which, in any case, I did not see at the resort.

Uniform Swiftlet Aerodramus vanikorensis amelis: a Philippine endemic; the commonest lowland swift, seen in the air above the resort every day; has slight notch in tail.

Pygmy Swiftlet Collocalia troglodytes: a Philippine endemic; less common; watch for the well-defined white rump patch; smaller than the Uniform Swiftlet.

Philippine Coucal Centropus viridis viridis: a Philippine endemic; I heard two of these calling to one another, one in the resort near Monkey Island, and the other far off towards the river; the bird was extremely shy and took off as I approached the tree it was in, never to be seen again.

White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus phoenicurus: a skulking bird seen on the edge of ponds close to vegetation; the bird I saw in the resort was not as confiding as these birds sometimes become in other parts of their range, though I was able to watch a dispute between this and a Striated Heron near Monkey Island one morning.

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus lozanoi: one bird seen in the paddy fields; according to Kennedy et al. (2000), this is an endemic subspecies.

Barred Rail Gallirallus torquatus torquatus: a Philippine endemic; a pair of these inhabit the dense vegetation around the resort wetlands; quite happy to be observed and photographed at relatively close range; best seen at dawn and dusk; their loud call was often heard


Little Egret Egretta garzetta garzetta: a few seen in the paddy fields.

Intermediate Egret Mesophoyx intermedia intermedia: seemed to be the commonest egret in the paddy fields, with c.30-40 birds observed one afternoon; also seen flying overhead at dawn and dusk.

Eastern Great Egret Ardea modesta modesta: a few of these were in the paddy fields, but this bird was more commonly seen flying overhead especially at dawn and dusk.

Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus: a flock of about 12 birds were in the paddy fields the day I visited them.

Striated Heron Butorides striata carcinophilus: also known as the Little Heron, three of these were regular at the moat surrounding Monkey Island.

Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus: a single flushed from reed beds

Nankeen Night Heron Nycticorax calcedonicus major: a single adult seen flying over river on dusk; also a juvenile heron landed in a palm near Monkey Island one evening preparatory for a night feeding session, which may have been this species or the Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, which also occurs on Bohol, but I could not get close enough to get a proper ID; the Nankeen Night Heron is substantially larger. 

Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis benghalensis: a rare resident; I saw one pair and then another male in the paddy fields.

Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus intermedius: a single adult was seen flying over the river at dusk one evening

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus ? haliaetus: according to Kennedy et al. (2000) this bird is not recorded for Bohol, and has only been recorded in the Philippines from 9 Aug to 20 May; however, I got very good views of one on my first morning (29 July), and a local birder I spoke to also had seen an osprey on Bohol; the bird I saw was flying about 20m high over the fish ponds looking for a morning meal; there are two subspecies recorded for the Philippines, haliaetus and melvillensis (which is somewhat smaller and whiter), but sadly, I did not get this level of identification.

Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris collaris: a number of pairs reside in the resort grounds; easily seen busily chasing prey and calling loudly at all times during the day; the resident subspecies has a much darker head than other Collared Kingfisher races elsewhere.

Pied Triller Lalage nigra chilensis: a single bird was seen silently moving around the treetops near the gate.

Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis tinnabulans: a single bird was seen making courtship flights in some grassland on the other side of the river; the courtship flight involves flying upwards and dropping almost straight down again on loosely fluttered wings, singing all the while.

Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchus philippinus: apparently not very common here as I only saw a single bird fly past the resort one two occasions; the endemic Philippine subspecies, philippinus, may become a full species in the future.

Striated Swallow Cecropis striolata striolata: a number of these were seen feeding over the resort, and over the river, perching on exposed branches and overhead wires; told from the similar Pacific Swallow by the pale red, sometimes whitish, rump patch, and the slow, leisurely pace of their flight.

Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica javanica: a common resident, much faster flying than the Striated Swallow, and having all dark upperparts.

White-breasted Woodswallow Artamus leucorynchus leucorynchus: these swallow-like birds with white bellies and black heads were usually seen in the evening just on dusk, flying high overhead and making calls that sound a bit like a child’s squeaky toy; some also landed on dead tree branches and other exposed perches, and are recognisable from behind by their white rump patch; the birds appear in pairs or small parties and feed by catching prey on the wing; a number were also seen feeding in the paddy fields.

Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis mindanensis: although this bird is a common resident in many places, even urban areas, throughout Asia, locally it is not so easy to see; I observed one pair in dense vegetation on the other side of the river; the subspecies mindanensis is endemic to the Philippines and is distinguished by having dark, deep blue upperparts (instead of the usual black), making it a very beautiful bird.

Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis yamamurae: this stunning beautiful yellow and black bird was seen on treetops around the resort and river; the local subspecies yamamurae (obviously named after a Japanese ornithologist) is endemic to the Philippines.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus malaccensis or saturatus: a common bird in Loboc town, it appears in the resort in small numbers; this differs from the common European House Sparrow (also common as an introduced species in other western countries) in that both male and females are identical, and have a dark spot on their white cheek patch.

Philippine Bulbul Ixos philippinus saturatior: a Philippine endemic; a lovely chocolaty-brown bird with loud calls and active nature, commonly seen trees in the resort grounds.

Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier samarensis: this is a common bird of parks and urban gardens throughout much of Asia; a small number were in the resort grounds; the local subspecies samarensis is endemic to the southern Philippines.

Philippine Pied Fantail Rhipidura nigritorquis: a Philippine endemic; this early morning songster can be heard loudly singing very early in the mornings, generally before anyone is up; during the day it is less vocal but can be seen in low trees around the huts and restaurant chasing insect prey; this bird has recently been split as a new species, separate from the Malaysian Pied Fantail found in the rest of South-east Asia.

Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis panayensis: this is the commonest bird in the resort, with large flocks in the treetops beside the huts from sun-up to sun-down; they are very vocal birds, and some of their calls sound very much like the calls of lorikeets or parakeets; they occasionally tussle for perching space with the White-breasted Woodswallows; the adults are a glorious glossy black with brilliant red eyes, while the juveniles are browner and have white underparts with heavy streaking.

Red-keeled Flowerpecker Dicaeum australe: a Philippine endemic; this is perhaps the second commonest bird in the resort grounds; a tiny little bird with a loud tick-tick-tick call; they are common high up in the trees but also occur in low bushes, especially on the small island beside the organic garden; adults have a red stripe running down their breast towards their vent (the so-called keel), while juveniles lack this red stripe; one juvenile I saw had very extensive orange gape lines along the sides of the bill; the subspecies australe has been split off as a separate monotypic species now, with the northern Philippine subspecies haematostictum now a separate species called the Black-belted Flowerpecker.

Handsome Sunbird Aethopyga bella ? bonita: a Philippine endemic; a recent split from the Lovely Sunbird, Aethopyga shelleyi; according to Kennedy et al. (2000), this does not occur on Bohol, but they are clearly here in the resort (and have been recorded at nearby Rajah Sikatuna National Park as well); I am guessing that the local subspecies is bonita as this is recorded from Negros and Cebu, and has the most red on the chest, which concurs with the adult I saw; the females are differentiated from other sunbirds from the short bill and small size; I saw a pair at the gate one afternoon and a single female across the river on another day.

Olive-backed Sunbird Cyrtostomus jugularis jugularis: the commonest sunbird in the resort grounds; adults have a lovely yellow breast with dark purple throat patch; easily told from other sunbirds by the white tips to the tail.

Purple-throated Sunbird Leptocoma sperata trochilus: one pair of these were seen in the pool near the resort gate; the male has an iridescent purple throat and bright red underparts; the females have a long bill and a rufous patch on the wing.

Chestnut Munia Lonchura atricapilla jagori: a few of these stunning birds were seen feeding in grasses in the resort grounds; they are also common in paddy fields; they have a lovely tinkling call.

White-bellied Munia Lonchura leucogastra manueli: usually seen in singles or pairs, I saw one of these in roadside grasses across the river late one afternoon.

Outside the resort

When travelling about the island, keep an eye out for White-throated Kingfishers (Halcyon smyrnensis gularis) and Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach nasutus) which occur on wires above paddy fields.

As for Rock Doves (Columba livia), there was little indication of feral birds; most of the birds I saw were domesticated doves kept by pigeon-fanciers.

The same goes for Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus), many of the cocks seen roaming about the landscape are a very close match for the naturally occurring bird, but are in most cases birds kept solely for cock-fighting. One rooster that came into the resort looked for all the world like an undomesticated bird, but I saw it a little later being fed in a neighbouring yard. You will see men walking about holding their roosters in one arm and lovingly stroking them with the other, a practice that has made many a local wife lament the comparable lack of affection shown to them by their husbands.

The Baclayon Church has a large number of Glossy Swiftlets (Collocalia esculenta marginata) roosting and nesting in the ceiling of the first room you enter.

Rajah Sikatuna National Park is the best place to visit for forest species, including many rare Philippine endemics.

If you are a Birding enthusiast and you want a one of a kind Bohol Nature Experience. Stay at Loboc River Resort. Book in advance.

← View Part One of this Article