Philippines, NE India

Subject: Philippines, NE India
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 14:53:44 +0900
The Philipines and NE India are both rich in endemics, and both have
insurgency problems and transport difficulties which make a quick and
successful private bird tour difficult.

Of the thousands of islands in the Philippines some have never been visited
by ornithologists or birdwatchers at any time, and new forms remain to be
described. Birders can make a valuable contribution to the knowledge of
threatened bird species by going off the beaten track there. This is time
consuming and sometimes dangerous though. It is highly advisable to hire a
guide from the local barangay captain in many areas. To keep up to date on
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However, you will have to forego some ticks: if it is ticks per day you
want then one of the bird tour companies is really the only way to go -
Birdquest and Kingbird have tours which are known to be very successful and
in which I have no vested interest.
Almost all birders do seem to visit the Philippines on tours or by
following trip reports. Hardly anyone visits the sizeable islands of
Catanduanes, Marinduque, Masbate, Polillo, Lubang, Samar, and Leyte though
these are not too dangerous. They are not known to have special endemics
but should be interesting to explore.
Dupont is still the only available guide and is best ordered from Delaware
Museum: 302-658-9111 (fax 658-2610) Ther are many mistakes and lots of
splits have been agreed or are in the pipeline since it was produced.
Don't hold your breath for the guide by Bob Kennedy, Edward Dickinson, Tim
Fisher and Hector Miranda, though it might be out within a year. Between
them they know a vast amount about Philippine birds so hopefully it will
definitive when it appears.

In NE India  there are several species which are very poorly known, but new
species are much less likely. To follow on from the previous posts, there
is a review of Krys Kazmierczak's book at
There is a report of a trip Krys and I and Jon Hornbuckle (and Paul Holt
and Ashley Banwell) did earlier this year at Vivek's website:
One excellent area is the Dibru-Saikhowa Sanctuary: note that the
enthusiastic and helpful Wildlife Range Officer NC Sharma who assisted our
trip was tragically killed by a rogue elephant in October last year. I
don't know if he has been replaced yet. There is a small but significant
risk from wild animals in some areas, and also from insurgency, though , as
with the Philippines , this receives very little outside attention.

The new Grimmett and Inskipp and Inskipp guide really is the one to get if
you are going soon: it eclipses the hitherto available guides. there are
153 mostly excellent colour plates each with 15-20 illustrations of notable
plumages - subspecies, immatures,  etc; at 888 pages, B5 format, it weighs
over 2 kg. One problem seems to be that the distribution maps have been
reduced in size too much so that hatched areas have become very indistinct:
you need a magnifying glass to even see that there are hatched areas. The
reference list has been shortened from the 10,000 or so to just ten pages.
At fifty UK pounds it is not very cheap but certainly very good value for
money - again I have no vested interest.

Des Allen


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