Sunday, March 20, 2016

Two for the Road

We had to do it again. We hoped it would be better the second time around.

When Cynthia and I birded the long Marikina to Infanta road last September we were a bit disappointed with the scarcity of birds. We thought that it was because we started out a bit late and therefore missed the early morning activities of the birds in the area. This time we left the house at 5 am and were at the birding site an hour-and-a-half later. The sun was already shining brightly then and the birds were surprisingly few. A couple of Balicassiaos flew across the road, stopped for a very short while and then flew off.

My wife's sharp ears told her that there were some birds nearby. The problem was they were nowhere to be seen. Philippine Bulbuls, even a Tailorbird, Black-naped Orioles, White-eared Brown Doves, Coucals were all vocalizing but preferred to be hidden from view. "Flowerpeckers!" Cynthia excitedly peered through the dense leaves. A speck flew overhead and landed on top of the tree across from where we were. "Red-keeled!" I called out as we took several shots.

We resumed our driving after that. However after about 30 minutes we still have not seen anything exciting so we both agreed to turn back and try again the place where we saw the Red-keeled Flowerpecker. Indeed birds were still twittering when we got there. This time another flowerpecker copied the action of its cousin which we saw earlier. The Pygmy Flowerpecker perched almost at the same spot where the Red-keeled did an hour ago.

Cynthia then noticed a raptor flying overhead. It was a Philippine Serpent Eagle soaring despite some feathers missing in one of its wings. 

We were still looking up when a flock of about 20+ Grey-faced Buzzards glided beneath a clear blue sky.

With the raptors gone, I noticed some movement near a barren hillside. Getting closer I was amazed to see quite a number of Blue-throated Bee-eaters either digging a hole for a nest or checking possible sites to begin one. 

On several occasions, they would fly around and that was when we tried getting some BIF (bird in flight) shots.

It being the onset of summer here in the Philippines, the heat was already getting unbearable. It was not even ten in the morning yet. We agreed to call it a day. A kilometer down the road, however, I spotted a male Pied Bush Chat perched on a bamboo fence. As we got off our car we also noticed that there was also a female. Two of them actually.

Having had our fill of bush chats, we packed up and headed home. Although we didn't see a lot of birds (again!), we were glad that now we got some good shots of two kinds of flowerpeckers, two kinds of raptors and a pair of Pied Bush Chats. Not to mention scads of bee-eaters. Take two on this road wasn't really bad this time.

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