Monday, January 11, 2016

Blue Rock Year Continues…..

Cynthia and I went birding at the campus of the University of the Philippines in Diliman. It was sort of a last minute decision. I did not want to go to Candaba because our vehicle still has this strange noise emanating from the front left wheel whenever I step on the brakes. It breaking down in a middle-of-nowhere place like the Candaba Wetlands would be a nightmare.

So to U.P. we went with not much expectations. Things did not augur well because as we were skirting the sides of the Marine Science Institute (MSI) building, I saw a big (a relative term, considering it was bigger than the usual birds in the area) bird fly by and stop for a short while on a branch across from us. Since it was still dark at a little after six am, I couldn't make a definite ID of this species. I knew it was a cuckoo of some sort, but that was as much as I could tell.

With nothing much to see at the MSI area, we decided to go to the vicinity of the Vargas Museum. 

"Let's go to Miranda Hall first," my wife suggested, "and maybe see a Blue Rock Thrush?"

I, of course, agreed. As we were about to park, Cynthia saw it right away! She took some quick shots. I parked the car and as we got off, some delivery guy came and parked his bike right beneath where the thrush was perched. That naturally spooked our favorite bird. 

With the colorful migrant gone, we proceeded to the Vargas Museum. It was unusually quiet. We asked the security guard if the Philippine Nightjar was still in the area. He replied in the negative. From there we went to Beta Way which was also devoid of any birdlife. We walked towards the pond at the sunken garden. It is now safe to say it was "once a pond a time". The place was just a muddy area filled with grass and lotus plants. Needless to say the hoped for kingfishers were no longer there.  

It was the Main Library next. Not much there either, except for a pair of Java Sparrows perched high up on the ledge. Luckily, one of the two flew to a nearby pine tree to gather what I believe to be nesting materials. 

Also nearby were a cooperative pair of Pied Trillers.

male. the female was foraging nearby
Lowland White-eyes were plentiful. However they were so hyperactive, so tiny, and preferred the upper portion of the trees that despite a barrage of shots from me and my wife, none came out acceptable. Not even what we would consider as a "documentary" photo.

Our return to Miranda Hall was luckier this time around. The young male Blue Rock Thrush stayed long enough for us to be able to get good pictures.

A foray at the parking lot of the Chemistry building yielded the resident Long-tailed Shrike.

Back at MSI, we met fellow birders Doc Mando and Jonas Liwag. We told them about the Blue Rock Thrush at Miranda Hall and in return Doc Mando showed me an excellent photo of the Rusty-breasted Cuckoo he got a little earlier. We scouted the area where he said he saw it but found nothing. Our friends also said that they saw the Philippine Nightjar sleeping on a mango tree branch right across the Landbank ATM. We checked out the place and couldn't find the nocturnal bird. Thankfully, Doc Mando came and noticed the frustration in our faces. He showed us the exact location of the nightjar and indeed there it was peacefully snoozing the day away. 

After we got some shots of the endemic bird, we thanked our friend profusely and bade our farewell.

We had been fasting for the past five days so now as we headed home, we were looking forward to having a sumptuous lunch and also to celebrate our second sighting of a Blue Rock Thrush in such a short span of time.

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