Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary

Top choice in Cebu

TO GO WITH FEATURE STORY PHILIPPINES-ENVIRONMENT-ANIMAL-BIRDS CECIL MORELLA.In a picture taken on March 3, 2010 an egret looks for food in the reserve of San Vicente village, Olango island, in Cebu province. Spring beckons and great flocks of water fowl are laying on the last layers of fat before the long-haul flight back to mainland Asia, but sightings of the yellow-beaked, green-legged bird are becoming less frequent, experts say.   AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

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Just 20 minutes from Mactan by public bangka, Olango Island is home to this important wildlife reserve. Taking in 1030 hectares of sand flats and mangroves on Olango's southern shores, the sanctuary supports the largest concentration of migratory birds found in the Philippines – 48 species (including the rare Chinese egret, the Asiatic dowitcher and several species of sandpiper and plover).

Timing is everything here. The peak months are October to November for the southward East Asian–Australasian migration, and February to March for the northward leg. Be sure to visit at low tide, when the birds take to the sand flats en masse to fill up on worms, snails and small fish. There aren't many birds here from May to August, but the sanctuary remains an austerely beautiful spot and worth a visit. You can also kayak through mangroves with Island Buzz Philippines.

The sanctuary is 15 minutes from Olango's Santa Rosa pier by tricycle (around P180 round trip with an hour or so waiting time).