Saturday, November 18, 2017

One Fine Day

Ever since we moved to our new place we have not been able to visit our favorite breakfast buffet place as often as we would have wanted. Cafe Sweet Inspirations now being twice as far as when we were at former abode was the main reason for that.

Friday night I was mulling on where to go birding on Saturday. Shall we go back to Infanta and hope that our recent luck would continue? I checked the weather forecast and it said that there would be rain on that part of the country. 

Then there were the recent postings of photos of the pair of Narcissus Flycatchers taken in U.P. Diliman. A male of this species was also seen there way back in 2011. Not seeing it after several attempts moved me into creating a sarcastic video.

October 31 of 2016 we saw the female at Bangkong Kahoy. The day after that, a male Narcissus Flycatcher was reported seen at a tiny patch of woods near the Redemptorist church in Baclaran. That was one successful twitch we had. The curse had finally been broken.

So as I pondered that Friday night, since our beloved restaurant was not that far from U.P., then the conclusion was quite obvious. I turned to my wife and with all seriousness I could muster, I told her: Let's have breakfast at Cafe Sweet Inspirations tomorrow, then go look for the Narcissus afterwards. She smiled and hugged me in response.

Needless to say it was a most satisfying breakfast we had that Saturday morning. With stomachs full, we then proceeded to "Frogs" area in U.P. The first bird we saw was a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo.

After that we met University professor, and fellow birder, Carmela Espanola, who was so kind to show us where our target birds had been observed.

While Cynthia was stalking some birds down the trail, I stayed where the bamboo grove was. Somehow I felt as if someone was whispering to me, telling me to turn around. So I did. At a distance I saw a bird with an orange breast. Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, I thought to myself. I raised my camera to my eyes and as soon as I focused on the bird, I realized it was what we were looking for. "Narcissus!" I yelled to my wife. The moment she came next to me, the colorful flycatcher moved a bit closer to us.

Soon it flew away. My wife continued looking for other birds and I still remained hoping the male Narcissus would return. It didn't. But then the female showed up.

After that, we both agreed to now look for other birds in the campus. Not that far from the flycatcher area, we encountered a Red-keeled Flowerpecker picking on the fruits of the aratiles tree.

Driving around the Rotunda, I noticed a patch of grass and told Cynthia, "How come there are no Pipits here." I have barely finished the sentence when I saw two, yes two! Paddyfield Pipits. 

Then, of course, there was the obligatory shot of the friendly Long-tailed Shrike. This was taken from our car window and was almost full frame from my wife's comparatively shorter lens.

We then drove to where a Ferruginous Flycatcher was seen around this time of the year back in 2010. Seeing it again was a shot in the moon, a hope against hope kind of thing. Of course it wasn't there. On the way out Cynthia suggested, "Why don't you take a photo of the Woodswallow? You know, just to complete our day." So I did.

Starting the day with a sumptuous breakfast, getting our target birds, and then going home with the sun shining brightly and without the dreaded traffic. It was indeed one fine day.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Getting Caught in the Rain

Drizzle. Rain. Fog. Sunshine. Repeat.

That was the fickle kind of weather that welcomed us at Infanta last Saturday morning. Birding in that situation was challenging to put it mildly. It was during those gaps between showers that some feathered creatures showed up. Occasionally we would be rewarded by the passing of mixed flocks. These were usually led by Yellowish White-eyes which preferred the tree tops.

A bit lower where tiny berry-like fruits were plentiful frolicked the Flowerpeckers - both Bicolored and Buzzing.

As the sun peeped from the clouds, a Scale-feathered Malkoha peeped from the undergrowth. 

After another sequence of precipitation, mist, and clearing of the skies, we encountered another wave. While I was frantically trying to photograph the hyperactive Elegant Tit, my wife yelled "Olive-backed!" I quickly rushed to where she was because I knew she meant the Flowerpecker and not the Sunbird. This Flowerpecker had masterfully eluded us the seven times we've been to Infanta. So frustrated were we about this species (and knowing that its favorite berry was not yet fruiting at this time) we sort of put the Flame-breasted Fruit Dove and Whiskered Pitta ahead of it as our target birds for the day. So it was a God-given surprise that the one we were not expecting was the one we finally got to add to our life list!

Noontime and we called it a day. But first, we had to do the obligatory shot of the Grey Wagtail which was practically begging to be photographed.

It was one of those unforgettable experiences where getting caught in the rain was actually enjoyable. 

Like enjoying a Pina Colada? 

Actually just like enjoying Calamares and Sinigang na Baboy at the Gathering Restaurant for our celebratory lunch.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Getting Mud

The last time we went to Candaba was in January of 2016. I can't believe it had been that long! For one thing, that place was no longer as promising as it used to be. Most of the marshland where migrants spend the winter had been replaced by ricefields.

A little more than a week ago a couple of friends posted some birds photos taken from Candaba in Facebook. Photos of migrant waders and Philippine Ducks! So we went Saturday morning. But as luck (or the lack of it) would have it, it was gloomy on that particular day. Not only that because it had been raining the past few days, access to the marshy area became impossible. So we just birded along the asphalted road towards the town of Candaba itself.

Unfortunately, because of the recent rain, the water in the area near the road had become too deep for the migrant waders. Thus the Sandpipers, Stints, Plovers, and Snipes were gone. Only a couple of Grey Herons flew by, not even landing anywhere close. 

The Black-winged Stilts were plentiful but they were at quite a distance where presumably the waters were shallower. A few Intermediate Egrets strayed a bit closer.

What was interesting was a territorial dispute between a Whiskered Tern and a Little Egret. Sort of "King of the Pole" game.

Whiskered Tern: Hey, I got here first!

Little Egret: Yeah, right.

Little Egret: Nana, nana, nana!

Also interesting was the lack of Rails. No Barred nor Buff-banded ever showed up. The White-browed Crake and White-breasted Waterhen were present but both were extremely skittish.

Oh, and no Kingfishers as well. Other than that, the Passerines were at their usual haunts.

Chestnut Munia
Paddyfield Pipit

Pied Bush Chat - male

Pied Bush Chat - female

Striated Grassbird
At about 9:30 we decided to call it a day. As we were boarding our car, we noticed mud! On our shoes and stuck on the tires and the underparts of our vehicle. Surprising because, as I mentioned earlier, we were mostly at the asphalted road. Only in some occasions that I had to park on a grassy roadside. It was so bad that we had to stop by a Shell station in Baliuag to have our car washed. And it took about two hours to bring back the spick and span to our car, thanks to the perseverance and diligence of the person who did the washing.

As we were driving along EDSA, guess what happened? It rained.