Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tony's Thrill

It turned out  that Tony Jackson, a birder from the UK, was easy to please. We offered a menu of possibilities to him and he was very eager to try them all.

Together with our friend, Peter, my wife and I brought Tony to Mt. Palay-palay to experience the local delights. As Peter and I prepared our cameras, a teaser came in the form of quick looks at Asian Glossy Starlings perking Tony's appetite for more. A few hundred meters uphill appeared an awesome aperitif as we all had good views of the Luzon Hornbill!

We stayed in that area for a while because my companions were all hearing a lot of bird song. Finally one of the sources of those songs became as curious at us as we were of them and showed up by the roadside. 

"Philippine Bulbul!" I yelled. Tony was the only one who got excited at seeing this quite common songster.

We moved on. In one of our stops Tony pointed at some movement in the trees by the ravine. A troop of monkeys was negotiating the tree trunk and one of them stared at us.

Up the road my companions again heard some  trilling from the trees. We stopped and all four of us scanned the trees on both sides of the road trying to locate the source of those sounds. A lull. Then we heard the giveaway "pok! pok! pok!" of the Coppersmith Barbet. Perched near the top of a bare tree was the colorful bird calling incessantly.

Eventually it flew off. Now the early morning was filled with tiny twitterings. Small, plain-colored birds danced on the bare branches. They may be plain-looking but Tony was thrilled at seeing the Pygmy Flowerpeckers though his binoculars.

A few minutes later I saw the main entree as it were. 

"Philippine Falconets!" I told Peter in the calmest tone I could muster. He parked his car by the roadside. We took out our gear and I gave Tony all the information about these tiny raptors from my *ahem* encyclopedic mind. Actually, even I was surprised to find five - yes, five! - of these Falconets in one tree. We jokingly referred to them as Jackson's Five.

I only got two of the Jackson's Five
There were other birds that we encountered along the way. The Brahminy Kites were a sure find here at Palay-palay. We even had a surprise encounter with a Philippine Serpent Eagle as it soared quite low overhead. Flowerpeckers were a-plenty. Aside from the Pygmys, we also saw Orange-bellieds and Red-keeleds.

After lunch at Puerto Azul, as we were leaving, we saw some Coletos and another encounter with the early morning teasers - the Asian Glossy Starlings.

We thought that was it for Tony who was very happy with all the birds he saw. However, as we were passing through the town of Maragondon, a Paddyfield Pipit by the road's edge was added to his list. To top it all, dessert was served in the form of Barn Swallows and Eastern Cattle Egrets.

As we said goodbye to our British friend, we can tell from his look that Tony had his fill and he had a real thrill.

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