Monday, January 29, 2018

Can't daba

It had to happen. The day we were going to Candaba it rained heavily the night before. Which meant muddy roads to the mayor's house. So goodbye to the White-shouldered Starlings, Purple Herons and Marsh Harrier. We can't go there anymore for fear of being stuck in the mud.

We had to content ourselves with birding by the concrete road. Which wasn't bad actually. We still had some pretty good shots of the birds we encountered. 

Of course the very first bird we saw (not including the hundreds of Eurasian Tree Sparrows foraging the left over palay on the road) was the Brown Shrike, drying off its feathers.

As we were slowly driving near the road's edge, I shouted "kingfisher!" and pointed to the migrant Common Kingfisher perched on a pole. It had been ages since we last saw this species and it was a delight to have taken a picture of it again. This, without a doubt, would be the star bird of the day.

Not far from it was a bunch of water lilies. A White-browed Crake suddenly flew in and posed for us.

The Chestnut Munias were plentiful. However it took me several attempts (at different places) before I was able to get some good shots.

There was a place where terns were diving for food. We wanted to take some BIF (birds in flight) which was really a challenge considering these birds were constantly flying. Since we only brought one camera (we will be attending a clan reunion in San Fernando later) we took turns shooting at terns. Without question, my wife had the better shots.

It was Cynthia again, who was more patient than I was, who was able to get pictures of the skulking White-breasted Waterhen.

Sadly, we didn't see any wild ducks. When I saw a pair flying at a distance, I took some "documentary" shots. It turned out to be a pair of Wandering Whistling Ducks.

Another "documentary' shot was made when I spotted three young Little Grebes swimming.

The only wader we were able to photograph was the Eastern Cattle Egret (which was quite plentiful). We did see a Little Egret but it flew away even before I could raise my camera to my eye.

Of course, we had to take the obligatory shots of two common (and more cooperative) birds here - the Long-tailed Shrike and the Striated Grassbird.

Long-tailed Shrike
Striated Grassbird
After about two hours, we ended our birding sortie in Candaba, because as I mentioned earlier, we had a reunion to attend.

Although we still had good encounters with the avifauna of Candaba, it still saddens me that there are fewer areas with water now. Most had been converted to ricefields. Many of the few remaining watery areas are now used as duck farms.

Monday, January 15, 2018

There Fewer

The last time we went to Mt. Palay-palay was in September of 2016. Back then I already bemoaned the fact that we saw only a few birds. (My blog about that).

Last Saturday, my wife and I, together with our friend, Peter, returned to this place. We hadn't gone far up the road when I spotted a female Luzon Hornbill perched nonchalantly on a tree. It was a bit surprising considering that several guys were beneath the tree getting ready to mow down the grass on the side of the road. 

I thought that it would be good indicator that we would be seeing more species as we continued our journey. Unfortunately, we didn't. For one thing, it had been cloudy the whole morning, with only a few quick bursts of sunlight. Which resulted in mostly backlit photos, particularly those of the Brahminy Kites flying above us.

The next bird we encountered were the Whiskered Treeswifts. Three of them.

At the gate of the (now closed) Caylabne Resort, the hoped for raptors were a no-show. We just contented ourselves with taking BIF (bird in flight) and FIM (food in mouth) photos of the White-breasted Woodswallows.

On the way back we were lamenting the fact that we hadn't seen any Philippine Falconets - a regular in this area. Just then Peter saw a tiny bird perched on the electric wire. "Falconet!" he shouted excitedly. So we spent more than hour photographing these tiny raptors. Three of them.

At the end of our birding morning, we were saddened to realize that we only saw a total of six species (including a flock of Coletos that flew by). We couldn't figure out why birds are getting fewer there at Palay-palay.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Sick and Fine

The beginning of the year and I was sick with the flu. Friday, I was feeling a little better so I confirmed with our friend, Peter, that my wife and I will be at U.P. Diliman on Saturday morning. To do some birding, of course. 

Lately, the uncommon Naked-faced Spiderhunter had been seen at the area near the Marine Science Institute (MSI) building. That, of course, was our target bird. Another friend, Christopher, was already there when we arrived. There were actually 4 individual spiderhunters he informed us. Apparently these four had the habit of chasing each other all around the tree with few leaves. We just have to be patient and wait, Christopher told us. Soon we were joined by more friends, Gilbert and Wilma, Nes and Jops.

Fortunately, other species frolicked in that area. Black-naped Orioles were calling incessantly.

Another uncommon bird, the tiny Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, were flitting among the branches.

Then came our target birds. It was indeed a challenge taking their photos as they preferred the higher branches and don't stay put for long as they kept going after each other.

On the other hand, the Philippine Hanging Parrot, was most cooperative - posing for us for a while.

A couple of hours later, avian activity died down a bit with only the Lowland White-eyes staying around.

Cynthia and I decided to try our luck at the young Philippine Scops Owls at the nearby "frogs" area. It was my wife's sharp eyes that found the bird we were looking for.

After that, the three of us, me, my wife and Peter, decided to call it day. After all we already got our "quotas". Besides I wasn't feeling 100% well yet.

Hopefully, the rest of our birding year would be as fine as today.