Saturday, September 8, 2012

Raja Sikatuna and Nuts Huts, Bohol 9/2-6/12

After recovering from the jetlag, I made a five day trip to the adjacent island of Bohol to do some birding and bugging. After getting off the ferry I hired a habal habal (motorcycle) to take me to Nuts Huts, a tourist lodge on the Loboc River. This funky set of bamboo huts along the river with a restaurant on the hillside overlooking the river caters to budget minded tourists from around the world. While I was there, other lodgers hailed from Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, France, Poland, Israel and Hong Kong. They stay there to get a taste of the jungle but I've had good luck with birds here in the past and was hoping the bugs would be good also. As it turned out the birding was poor this time. Maybe it was seasonal or maybe due to the loud music played on the river restaurants that constantly ply the Loboc River but bird numbers and diversity was way down. My best bird was found the first evening above the restaurant. This cracking Black-faced Coucal was a surprise as they are normally high in the trees in the forest.
My goal in Bohol was to look for two of my nemesis birds, Yellow-breasted Tailorbird and Streaked Wren-babbler at Raja Sikatuna Nature Preserve. It tool me two trips. The first visit was by a motorcycle I rented at Nuts Huts. The second trip was by local bus and was much cheaper and more interesting. After a miserable nearly birdless day hiking the steep slippery trails in the rain forest on the first day, I decided to hire the services of local guide Ryan Sugala who with aid of recorded calls was able to find both of the species for me. Ryan is a nice young bird enthusiast who works for the forest service and knows the area birds well. I recommend him highly. Here's the Streaked Wren-babbler that finally showed after a lot of work.
While Ryan was able to get me my two target species, birding at the park was much slower than in my past visits. I did manage to see Silvery Kingfisher, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Coleto, and Metallic-winged Sunbird, but I missed Steer's Pitta, Rufous-lored Kingfisher and Visayan Wattled Broadbill (heard only). Meanwhile odes were disappointing in their numbers and diversity but spectacular in their beauty. Here's a common Nuerothemis species.
This one looks like the Planiplax were get at Bentsen.
Back at Nuts Huts I also managed to find a few odes. Most spectacular was this beauty hanging out in the restarant. It's shade loving nature reminded me of Three-striped Dasher.
So far I've only found three damsel species. This one along the Loboc River was the coolest. I'll have to do some research when I get home.
Best vertebrate award goes to this Hydrosaurus. This 30 inch lizard is the largest member of the family Agamidae and gives the tourists a thrill at Nuts Huts.

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