Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Who New

One of the nicer things in going birding is meeting new friends who are also into the same passion.

The mini forest at La Mesa Ecopark was strangely quiet. Cynthia and I were wondering where the birds were when we saw a couple with cameras looking up at the treetops. "Birders" we both agreed. We introduced ourselves and we instantly became friends with Jo Lapuz and her husband, Bernard. They were new into the hobby and my wife and I happily volunteered to show them around.

As I said earlier, birds were few that morning. Since Jo and Bernard have just started into bird photography, both were happy taking pictures of even the common Zebra Doves. I tried to scout the area and luckily chanced upon an Ashy Thrush.

Unfortunately it was gone by the time our new friends arrived at the place where I saw it. Two hours slowly passed and still no birds showed up. We told Jo and Bernard that we're going to the Paintball area to try and look for the Violet Cuckoos and they're welcome to come along. Since the cuckoos would be a lifer for them, they enthusiastically agreed.

At first we thought that it was too late in the day because only the Golden-bellied Gerygones and the Yellow-vented Bulbuls were in the tree that Violet Cuckoos go to. Again it was Cynthia's sharp eyes that saw the male cuckoo foraging for insects at the back side of the tree. To our delight it eventually came out in the open and gave us photographic opportunities.

That's when the camera set that I brought with me tried my patience. Inasmuch as birding at Ecopark involves a lot of walking I decided to bring the lighter Tamron lens. Then as a second thought, instead of my usual 5D III camera body, I used the 7D instead. Big mistake! The camera body and the lens apparently were not communicating with each other. Auto-focusing was an exercise in futility. Even in the best lighting conditions! Who knew it would turn out this way? It was sheer luck that I was able to get a few acceptable images.

The good news was that our new confreres were able to get photos of their latest lifer. And that, for me, more than made up for my disappointment with the photographic gear that I brought with me.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Twas the day after Christmas

Twas the day after Christmas. Despite not getting enough sleep, we agreed to go birding with our friend Peter. It was a beautiful morning as we began the trip to Mt. Palay-palay in Cavite. Things seemed to augur well because right off the bat we saw a pair of very cooperative Blue-tailed Bee-eaters.

That was the start of what I would call a B day of photography. The good shots we had were of birds whose names start with the letter B.  Note the term "good shots". We did see other birds that did not have a "B" in the beginning of their names but the photos we got of these were not that great. Consider this extremely backlit shot of a Coleto.

Or a not so sharp image of a Philippine Bulbul behind the foliage.

On the other hand, the ubiquitous Brahminy Kites gave us a show. We even got one perched on a tree.

But the species of the day was the Blue Rock Thrush. It treated us so nonchalantly that we practically have a photo of every possible angle of this colorful migrant.

To cap off our day, a White-throated Kingfisher also posed for us as we were already on our way down from Caylabne Resort. The official name of course starts with a "W" but there are plans to have this species found in the Philippines to be split from its cousins in Southeast Asia. As a matter of fact the proposed name for this bird is Brown-breasted Kingfisher! (Some scientific lists have already confirmed this). So there you are, the final "B" bird in our list.

On our way home, as we passed by the town of Carmona, we noticed this restaurant with an unintentional pun for its name.

Based on our birding experience this morning, even if we did not see the hoped for Philippine Falconet, Luzon Hornbill and Whiskered Treeswift, I would say that it was not Abad day at all.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Car Few

In my previous blog I lamented the fact that the current traffic situation in MetroManila had negatively impacted our birding activities. Thankfully there are still some places we can bird that are not affected much by such inconveniences. One of them is Antipolo. Our friends John and Vivette Webb gave us a season pass - as it were - to access their subdivision which has more trees than houses and therefore has a lot of birds. We've had great experiences here encountering uncommon species such as the Slaty-legged Crake, Philippine Hawk-Cuckoo and the Philippine Cuckoo Dove.

Last Saturday was a bit of a different story though. There seemed to be a dearth of birds. Could it be the unseasonably warm weather that we are having that caused such scarcity? I mean here we are almost mid-December and the temperatures are still in the mid 30s!

On the positive side, the Collared Kingfishers were the birds of the day.

global warming? how about earth worming.

We also tried our skills at BIF (birds-in-flight) photography using the White-breasted Woodswallows as our subject.

And finally just as we were about to leave, a male Pied Bush Chat posed for us obligingly.

It was not really a bad birding day, short as it was. Only a few birds turned up but then so were the cars along the road.