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.
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.