Two things: We haven't birded as often as we used to. The weather had not been cooperative this year - either too much rain or too hot to get out of the house. And then old age seems to have finally crept on me. I no longer have the energy to go on long drives (almost a necessity when birding in the Philippines). The other thing was that somehow there was a dearth of birds at the places we've been to lately.
Yesterday was a good example of that. The Palos Verdes subdivision in Antipolo is one of our favorite birding places. We've seen some interesting birds during the many times we've been there, such as the uncommon Slaty-legged Crake. We've seen two kinds of cuckoos here, Mangrove Blue Flycatchers, Pygmy Flowerpecker, Philippine Cuckoo Dove, Golden-headed Cisticola, Barred Rail, etc.
We arrived a little before 7 am and were surprised that the usual Long-tailed Shrikes and White-breasted Woodswallows were not at their usual spots on the electric wires. I eventually found the Shrike - a very skittish one at that.
On the other hand, Cynthia was trying to get a clear shot of a Pied Triller who was having its breakfast.
Another obvious dearth was that of the Scaly-breasted Munias. Whereas before we've seen flocks of more than 20 individuals feeding on the grass just a few feet away from us, now we only saw about five flying over and only two came down near to us.
Another round and this time we saw some avian activity high in the tree tops. Golden-bellied Gerygones were in their usual hyperactive mode. My wife had the better shots as I was having a hard time focusing on the tiny bouncing objects.
One other species that weren't as plentiful as before was the Spotted Dove. We saw one perched on a branch. I just got a documentary shot.
Next was the challenge of taking pictures of the Grey Wagtail. It just kept moving and most of the time was in the shade.
Then there was this Zebra Dove that was more obliging as it walked nonchalantly not that far from us.
And what would birding be at this time of year without taking photos of the common migrant, the Brown Shrike. We saw one feeding on an unknown kind of insect. We were both in the car and this bird was on Cynthia's side, so she had an awesome opportunity to record the feeding habit of this bully bird.
By 9:30 and not seeing any more new species, we went to the Holy Garden Memorial Park hoping to get both the Paddyfield Pipit and the Pied Bush Chat. We got the the first and not the latter.
But we got a bonus in the form of a Collared Kingfisher.
As the year is coming to an end, we hope that we could get more opportunities to go birding and to see more species. We don't want to be a dearth birder. May the force be with us.
Gedau Estate, Sandakan
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