New Birding Haven in Infanta, Quezon

New Birding Haven in Infanta, Quezon
by George and Manette Inocencio

A lightly-used stretch of Marilaque Highway in Infanta, Quezon is recently enjoying a surge in popularity among local bird lovers due to sightings of several uncommon endemic species, and the relatively easy roadside birding. Bird photographers were the first to notice the area’s potential as a new birding site with sightings in July of  Rufous Hornbill, Great-eared Nightjar, Olive-backed Flowerpecker, Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove, Philippine Trogon, and Philippine Fairy Bluebird, among others. However, it was the roadside sighting in mid-August of the uncommon endemic Flame-breasted Fruit Dove that ignited the birding community’s interest to start flocking to the area.

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The uncommon endemic Flame-breasted Fruit Dove is the largest among the fruit doves in the Philippines. A couple of FBFD was spotted frequenting the roadside fruiting trees near the Km.95 marker of the Marilaque Highway.  This photo was taken around noon of August 21, 2017 as typhoon Isang was approaching the Metro. A few minutes after this shot was taken, torrential rains ended the day’s birding sortie.

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A very friendly Blue-headed Fantail greets lucky visitors at Jariel’s Peak Restaurant in Sitio Little Baguio, Infanta, Quezon. We counted at least 5 BHF in the lot behind the restaurant together with Citrine Canary Flycatchers, Yellowish White-eyes, Philippine Bulbuls, Lemon-throated Leaf Warblers, and Sulphur-billed Nuthatches, among others.

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Citrine Canary Flycatcher, one of the friendly residents frequenting Jariel’s Peak.

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The endemic Lemon-throated Leaf Warbler joins the mixed flock at Jariel’s Peak. They can only be found in Luzon, Cebu, and Negros.

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Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, a resident species. Male (above) and female (below). Spotted near Km. 103 of the Marilaque Highway.

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An endemic Scale-feathered Malkoha gets ready to sleep just along the roadside trees near the Km.95 marker.

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An endemic Sulphur-billed Nuthatch checks out the insects hiding behind unripe Tibig fruits.

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A female Pygmy Flowerpecker takes on more than it can chew.

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A Yellowish White-eye takes a bath in rainwater that collected at a tree hollow.

The stretch between Km.91 to Km.106 of the Marilaque Highway seem to be the most productive in terms of birding. Other species spotted recently in that stretch are: Scarlet Minivet, Olive-backed Flowerpecker, Yellow-bellied Whistler, Luzon Sunbird, Flaming Sunbird, Handsome Sunbird, Yellow-wattled Bulbul, Philippine Cuckoo-Dove, Amethyst Brown Dove, Philippine Serpent Eagle, Crested Honey Buzzard, Rufous-bellied Eagle, and so much more.

How to get there:

The best way to get to the Marilaque Highway birding areas is to drive your own car. Just plug in Jariel’s Peak in Waze or Google Maps and follow the directions. It normally takes 2.5 hours driving from Marikina depending on traffic conditions. Starting from the Km.90 marker, you may roll down your windows and start listening for bird sounds as they feed on fruiting trees along the road. You can use the dirt shoulder to bird safely. The bridge connecting Marilaque Highway to Infanta is currently under repair and can only accommodate motorbikes so vehicular traffic is minimal at this time.

Happy birding!

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