Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Field Guide

The ricefields inside IRRI in Los Banos is a haven for birds. However, it being a place for experimental rice farming, access is limited to their employees and their guests. Luckily our friend, Prof. Tirso Paris, has that access privilege. It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning when my wife and I together with friends, Irene and Bong, met up with Prof. Tirso at the IRRI gate.

All four of us were excited to go birding at this place because we hadn't done much birding for almost three months now. As I mentioned in my previous blog, blame the burning hot summer days then followed by the season of torrential rains for that. Prof. Tirso warned us not to expect too much because migration wasn't in full swing yet. Still, photographing any bird in the lush fields of IRRI would be enough for us.

Although we missed taking pictures of our target birds: the Greater Painted Snipe and the Barred Buttonquail, we were nevertheless thrilled at the birds we photographed. Foremost of these were the Wood Sandpipers which were practically all over the place. Irene counted almost a hundred of them!

Next would be the Zitting Cisticolas. Their incessant twittering filled the morning air.

As expected in any ricefield, both Chestnut and Scaly-breasted Munias were busy feeding at some of the ripening grains.

Chestnut Munia
Scaly-breasted Munia
The usually skittish Buff-banded Rails were sunning themselves, trying to get rid of the moisture from the early morning dew.

A surprise was a Pied Bush Chat.

Another surprise was when we saw a Cinnamon Bittern performing what we presumed to be a courtship display. Inasmuch as we didn't see the female maybe this was just its way of drying itself from the previous night's dampness.

The usual denizens of IRRI brightened up our morning. The Paddyfield Pipit was diligently hunting for food.

While the Oriental Skylark was already feeling the heat of the day as midmorning came.

It was a fruitful day of birding for us. We owe it all to Prof. Tirso who was our "guide" to the field birds of IRRI.

photo taken by Irene

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