October 23, 2015: Bohol, Philippines — By now I have my morning routine distilled to a science. Today I set an alarm for 3:43 a.m. in order to be out the door at 4. It takes me exactly 17 minutes to wake up, roll out of bed, pack everything, and head out to greet the day. No coffee necessary!
Nicky and I took an island-hopper flight to Bohol, a smallish island in the middle of the Philippines group. The flight was delayed (that’s 4/4 so far this week), and we didn’t touch down until nearly lunchtime. Apparently a military C-130 showed up just before us, and Bohol’s airstrip can accommodate only one plane at a time, so we circled interminably until cleared to land.
Bohol has more than a million human residents and is popular among tourists for its beaches and resorts. Almost exactly two years ago it made the news for a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that rocked the island, but otherwise it’s a relaxed sort of place. The island’s interior is mostly forest and rice fields.
Nicky and I were met by a woman named Cristy Burlace, a New Zealand native who set up a butterfly conservation center on Bohol about 15 years ago. She now has about 30 employees and runs a restaurant along with the butterfly project; makes her own ice cream (called “Madame Butterfly”); and is attempting a captive-breeding project with the Philippine Tarsier, one of the world’s smallest primates. We’ll spend two nights at this place, called “Habitat Bohol.”
As soon as we arrived, Christy dispatched us with one of her guides, who quietly showed us a pair of Everett’s Scops-Owls roosting in a dense tree on the property. Nicky and I then squeezed in a couple of solid hours of birding in a nearby patch of forest before dusk fell, and managed to spotlight a Philippine Frogmouth as it got dark.
New birds today: 13
Year list: 4976