We went on a birding sortie recently at the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) in Paranas, Samar – site of the country’s few remaining primary and secondary forests today.

It was my 3rd time to be there in recent months in what always turns out to be a most enjoyable nature-trip sojourn.

The first time we went there was to experience for ourselves the Ulot River Rapids Torpedo Boat Adventure (fun!) The second time was to sample Samar’s enormous avian wealth, together with experienced birders (such as the Dutch Ambassador – an avid birder).

I have to confess I am a complete newbie in this department. Birding or bird photography is a pastime which only a few can indulge in. It’s because it entails getting expensive long camera lenses and other equipment; having the needed patience and the luxury of time to travel, the physical stamina to endure hiking/trekking into the wilderness, and the willingness to update one’s stock knowledge and learn more about the avian world.

Hence, please bear with me; my Canon 70-200mm (even with a 1.4X extender) can barely reach for a medium shot of a bird perched on a tree 20 meters away. I need to really creep slowly and get real close to them to be able to get fairly decent shots of these fascinating flying wonders.

The ultimate satisfaction one gets in bird photography is when you’re able to get a perfect, close-up shot of a rare or hard-to-find bird.  The ensuing natural high one gets is beyond words. Definitely more than just WOW!

Here are some of the birds we saw at SINP in the heartland of Samar, last February 24 & 25, 2011.

1.) An Everett’s White-eye (Zosterops everetti), one of several comprising a merry barkada of tiny birds barely 3 inches in size. They fly and eat in groups quickly descending on berry-bearing trees boisterously and then just as quickly fly away.

Source: Wikipedia

2.) The Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops superciliosus/philippinus)

This is a bird which breeds in sub-tropical open country, such as farmland, parks or ricefields. Like other bee-eaters it predominantly eats insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets.

They look out for suitable prey from a tree branch or high wire (about 7m and above) then swoop down onto it and snap up their victims. To get rid of the sting, the insect is vigorously whacked against the perch or simply squeezed to get rid of the venom.

Source: Wikipedia & Sungei Buloh

3.) The Samar Tarictic Hornbill (Penelopides samarensis), locally known as Talusi, sometimes shortened to Samar Hornbill, is a species of hornbill in the Bucerotidae family. It is found in forests on the islands of Samar, Calicoan, Leyte and Bohol in the east-central Philippines.

Source: Wikipedia

4.) The Stripe-headed Creeper (Rhabdornis mystacalis), also known as the Stripe-headed Rhabdornis or Stripe-sided Rhabdornis, is a species of bird in the Philippine creeper family, Rhabdornithidae.

It is endemic to the Philippines.

Source: Wikipedia

5.) The Philippine Hanging Parrot (Loriculus philippensis) is also widely known as the Colasisi taken from its local Tagalog name, “Kulasisi”. It is a small parrot species of the Psittacidae family. It includes about eleven subspecies, which are all native to only the Philippines.

Source: Wikipedia

6.) The Philippine Serpent Eagle (Spilornis holospilus) soars high in search for prey.





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