Birding at Rajah Sikatuna National Park
The Rajah Sikatuna National Park, now renamed Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape is home to various species of birds. In fact, the park has become a favorite destination for bird watchers since it is the widest remaining forest of the Philippines with a total land area of 9,023 hectares, 4,700 hectares made up of natural forests, 1,600 hectares of man-made forest, 690 hectares are occupied and the rest has cogonal features which are subject to rehabilitation.
In the Philippines alone, there are about 400 resident bird species and almost 200 of them can be found only in the Philippines. A steadily increasing flow of foreign visitors and locals find themselves trekking through the woodlands of the country in search for these species and especially at the park, which is considered as a hot spot for principal biodiversity.
In a small hostel at the park’s headquarters, a birder’s logbook is available which can initially guide you in your bird watching activities within the park. A guide, though, is provided to point out the trails and footpaths to be traversed inside the park and to help you identify the various bird species that you may encounter.
Rajah Sikatuna National Park has set out a number of trails for the ease of bird watchers. The trails and footpaths wind its way in and out of specific bird habitats. Yet, to lure some of the naturally shy birds to your position, and in order to see some rare specie and get some documentation, it is advisable to bring birdcall tapes.
Bringing in more sophisticated equipment such as binoculars, a spotting scope, a tripod with 3127 quick-release micro-fluid head and a tri-pack tripod harness system will help much in the spotting and documentation. A spotting scope is highly recommended for long-range viewing at open areas, such as in grasslands or at the seashore where binoculars would be of no help.
Some bird species often found in Rajah Sikatuna National Park are the following: Silvery kingfisher, Rufous-lored kingfisher, Philippine Hawk-Owl, Philippine Frogmouth, Philippine Trogon, Brush Cuckoo, Black-faced Coucal, Philippine Nightjar, Philippine Coucal, Large-billed Crow, Pygmy Swiftlet, Spangled Drongo, Drongo Cuckoo, Nightbirds, Yellow-wattled Bulbul, and Streaked Ground-Babbler.
Mindanao Bleeding-Heart, Brown Tit-Babbler, Red-keeled Flowerpecker, Metallic-winged Sunbird, Pink-bellied Imperial Pigeon, White-bellied Woodpecker, Besra, Reddish Cuckoo Dove, Red-bellied Pitta, Philippine Oriole, Everett’s White-eye and the rarest of them all, the Steere’s Pitta otherwise known as Azure Pitta because of its unnaturally bright azure and red wings.
Other birds are Wattled Broadbills, Brahminy Kite, White-eared Brown-Dove, Tarictic Hornbill, White-bellied Woodpecker, Black-crowned Babbler, Blue Fantail, Black-naped Monarch, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Yellow-bellied Whistler, and Bicolored Flowerpecker. For a clearer notion of how the bird looks like, read the article on the List of Birds at RSNP.
Buses which pass through Bilar are found at the Dao Integrated Terminal in Tagbilaran. Get off at the Bilar market and take a “habal-habal” (a motorcycle used to transport people to their destinations for a fee) and tell the driver to bring you to the park’s hostel at Logarita. The hostel provides pretty basic accommodations and serves food if needed. A guide is available at the hostel.
To enjoy the countryside more, get off the bus at the Bilar market and then walk down to a smaller road that leads to the Logarita Swimming Pool. Take in the cool breeze and the beauty of the rice fields that you will pass by until you come to a T intersection. To the right is the pool and to the left is the Scout Camp/Nature Center area. Foreigners are charged P100 and P10 only for Filipinos as entrance fee.