Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Side Views

Last Saturday we went back to Infanta to do some roadside birding. With us was our birding buddy, Peter. When we got to the place, we were surprised that we were the only birders there. Unlike last week. Perhaps it was because the fruits of the Hagimit tree that the birds feed on were now all gone.

Nevertheless, birds were still plentiful. This time though, some of the species we saw were different from those we observed the previous week. With the exception of the very common Yellowish White-eyes.

The Elegant Tits appeared later in the morning.

Whereas last week, the Blue-headed Fantails were plentiful, this time the Citrine Canary Flycatchers took their place.

Also the Philippine Bulbuls were much more active than before.

An exciting discovery was when we saw a Sulphur-billed Nuthatch looking non-stop for food.

During a lull between the "waves" I noticed a raptor soaring overhead. It was a Crested Honey Buzzard.

We only saw one Buzzing Flowerpecker unlike last week when a number of them fed on the remaining ficus berries.

Another kind of Flowerpecker somehow took its place. The Bicoloreds were more into insect-hunting.

Finally, there was a couple of Flaming Sunbirds but we only got a good photo of the female.

As before the road side of Infanta did not disappoint. We will certainly come back when the Haigimit starts fruiting again.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Unexpected Thriller

My wife and I walk around our subdivision almost ("almost" being the operative word) on a daily basis. Not an easy task considering that half of the streets are about 40 degrees steep. Of course we always do some birding along the way - a good enough reason for us to catch our breath. Eurasian Tree Sparrows (ETS) and Yellow-vented Bulbuls (YVB) are the most common birds here - as in anywhere else in urban MetroManila. There are times when we get surprises - like Philippine Hanging Parrots or Asian Glossy Starlings. 

On rare occasions, I bring along my camera. Such as last Friday. Good thing I did. One of the very first species we saw (aside from the ETS and the YVB) were some immature Black-naped Orioles noisily calling from a tall mango tree.

Then came the usual suspects in our neighborhood. The Philippine Pied Fantail and the Zebra Dove.

Another surprise was a Crested Myna. It was perched on a rooftop and then slowly walked towards the edge - away from us - thus the really bad photo.

Lately we had been noticing the proliferation of the Golden-bellied Flyeater (aka Gerygone) in our neighborhood. These tiny birds were so hyperactive that getting a shot was an outright challenge.

Nearing the end of our walk, about two houses away from our home, I wanted so much to get a photo of a YVB (yup, you read that right - despite its being widespread, I still wasn't able to get at least one image). So when I spotted a movement in the tree next to us, I assumed it was my target bird. Aiming my camera at it, my jaws almost dropped when the bird came out in the open. It was a Pied Triller! Quite uncommon in our area and totally unexpected.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Infanta Side

It had been a long birding hiatus for me and my wife. We blamed it on the fickle weather of course. June and the early part of July were exceedingly hot. So hot that we dared not leave the paradise of our airconditioned room. After that came the rains. The thought of getting drenched or even sloshing through mud dampened whatever birding spirit we had.

Then came the news that spread all over the birding community - an uncommon flowerpecker had been sighted. Quite easily at that. So I communicated with a couple of birders who had been so lucky to get close up shots of this flowerpecker. Thanks to Loel and Virgilio, I was able to get specific details on the exact spot where I would be able to see and photograph my newest lifer. It can be seen from the side of the road, they both affirmed.

Saturday morning we were at the road going to Infanta. At first we were concerned about the weather as dense fog greeted us when we came into the Infanta side. 

However as we neared our destination the sun broke through and brightened up the morning. It was at this roadside near the Kilometer 95 marker that our target feeds on the red fruits of the Hagimit tree. There were already some fellow birders when we got there but no one had seen the Olive-backed Flowerpecker yet. Try the area near Kilometer 98 we were told. We did. Again more fellow birders were already gathered there. However they were after a different species - the Philippine Fairy Bluebird. That would have been a lifer for us too but it was a no show, the fruits of the tree that it frequented were now gone.

We went back to specific spot near Kilometer 95. This time I found the Hagimit tree. Sadly, the fruits were almost gone as well. I patiently staked out the spot while Cynthia surveyed the roadside looking for any bird to photograph. After sitting inside our car - which was parked in front the Hagimit tree -for about half an hour, a tiny, nondescript bird appeared. It started feeding on the red berries. I thought I got my hoped for lifer but looking at the bird, it was duller in color and had a longer, down curved bill. Buzzing Flowerpecker, I sighed, inasmuch as this was not a lifer. Nevertheless, I still took some photos. 

It was actually a part of a "wave" of several species of birds that came to the area. After the "wave" had passed I joined my wife in looking at the trees by the roadside. We got some shots of a Yellowish White-eye.  

After about an hour, another "wave" came. Once again it was just the Buzzing Flowerpecker that came to feed on the fruits. Our birder friends decided to go to the trail to search for the Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove. Since it was a narrow, slippery, downward trail, we opted not to risk our tender and aging bodies.

Our birding buddy, Bong, also decided to stay. We all went to the Kilometer 98 area. Another flock came passing by. This time we got some shots of the Blue-headed Fantail and the Elegant Tit.

By ten o'clock bird activity had died down considerably. Accepting the fact that there won't be a new addition to our life list, Cynthia and I agreed to call it a day. A few minutes later as we were driving home, heavy rain started to fall.