October 21, 2015: Los Banos, Philippines — A delayed flight and heavy Manila traffic put us in Subic Bay after midnight last night, with a couple of owls still on the target list. Nicky knew a good spot for Chocolate Boobook, Luzon Boobook, and Philippine Scops-Owl and we found all three before hitting the hay at 1:30. “I’ve never looked for them that late before,” said Nicky, relieved that his stakeout paid off under pressure.

Three hours later, we had breakfast and were in the field by 5:00 this morning. The 5,000 mark is getting tantalizingly close. Can I hit it in the Philippines this week?

Things are certainly looking good. Nicky and I spent a fantastic couple of hours today on a former U.S. Navy station in Subic Bay. The base was decommissioned in the ‘90s and is now an overgrown grid of roads with the occasional decomposing ammo bunker, and is full of birds. We found one of the local specialties, Rufous Coucal, while Luzon Flamebacks, Luzon Hornbills, and a pair of Philippine Hawk-Eagles were welcome distractions. We also saw three birds with colorful names: Coleto, Balicassiao, and Guaiabero—a linguistic clue to the 300 years of Spanish rule here during the colonization period, when some of these birds were first described.

In the afternoon we braved the Manila traffic again to transit south, where we’re staying tonight at a hostel at the University of the Philippines Los Banos—a school known for its tropical forestry program. A Philippine Scops-Owl sat obligingly next to the parking lot at dusk, its orange eyes glaring down at us.

New birds today: 30

Year list: 4941

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