Sunday, March 06, 2016

Much Bee-eater There

What started off as a lemon ended up as lemon pie a la mode. 

It was one of those bumpy beginnings of an early morning birding. As we entered the Nabasan trail in Subic we saw our friend and topnotch bird guide Nicky Icarangal. He was showing several foreign birders the local avifauna. After the greetings, Nicky told us that they had just seen some Rufous Coucals and they were now going after a Rough-crested Malkoha. While I and birding companions Peter and Wenxing were still setting up our gears, my wife got a glimpse of the Rufous Coucal. A glimpse and some really bad photos.

Other than an attention-starved Black-naped Oriole who kept calling overhead and a flitty Balicassiao, no other members of the avian species were seen. Nicky then called us saying that they have the Malkoha on sight. By the time we got to where they were, only a few strands of the red-crest were visible.

With Nabasan disappointing us, we all agreed to try the Botanical Garden area and maybe see the elusive White-fronted Tit. 

The tall, leafless tree that hosted about a dozen species last month now only showed a pair of Whiskered Treeswifts. There we met our friend Bim (who was with us that lucky February day) along with his wife, Gina and birding pal, Cris. After a while Bim and company decided to take a steeper trail. Since Peter and I were carrying heavy gears, we thought it would be prudent to forego the hike and just continue birding in the area around the Botanical Garden.

Here we saw a nesting Coleto. Then we began seeing green. I got the endemic Philippine Green Pigeon as it dove (no pun intended) from a high branch.

The Green Imperial Pigeon (which actually is more greyish than green, but then there is also a bird named Grey Imperial Pigeon) however remained high in the towering tree.

Of course, the White-fronted Tit was again a no-show.

Back in Nabasan, our misfortunes began to turn around as we saw a male Luzon Hornbill enjoying some fruits.

Near the exit, a Blue-naped Parrot popped into view.

We saved the best for last. We knew that this is the nesting season of the Blue-throated Bee-eaters. Off to Cubi Point we went because the bee-eaters were there. By the roadside were dozens of this colorful insectivores. 

We did one more stop at the area near the Jest Camp. We were rewarded by more views of another male Luzon Hornbill. Some sort of icing on the cake.

Although at the start our birding day was not as successful as we had hoped, the ending was definitely satisfactory. Especially at Cubi where the bee-eaters were nesting. It was much better there.

Oh, I almost forgot. I got a lifer too! It was at the Botanic Garden area. While I was staring at the blue skies I noticed some swifts that were bigger than the others flying above. The wings seemed a bit different too. I took a "documentary" shot. At home I looked at the picture and was ecstatic to discover that my hunch was right. Got myself a Purple Needletail!

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