Monday, December 31, 2018

Seeing Green

It was one of those weird experiences where we saw green birds - two species from the Dove family - but were unable to photograph them. And that happened at the start and at the end of our three-day birding at Subic. Wednesday afternoon as we entered the Nabasan Trail, we saw a pair of Common Emerald Doves feeding on the ground. As I lowered our car window to take their photo, both flew away. We made a quick round trip, hoping they will be back at their feeding spot. We saw one but again it flew away even before we could lift our cameras. And then on our last day, as we were about to exit the Nabasan Trail, a flock of 5 Philippine Green Pigeons were perched on a tree by the road. But before I could even stop the car, all five flew into the forest, not to be seen again.

Other than that frustrating encounters, we had a very good birding time at Subic. It didn't start well though. For one thing the weather was gloomy that Wednesday afternoon. Most of the photos we got were disappointingly backlit. The first bird we photographed was a Common Sandpiper, taken at the seashore not that far from our hotel.

At the Nabasan Trail, we got some shots at the Luzon Hornbill, Blue-throated Bee-eater and Green Imperial Pigeon.

And that, sadly was how our first day ended. Thursday, surprisingly, was sunny which boosted our hopes of seeing more birds. One of the surprises was a Grey-faced Buzzard.

I thought that would be a good portent.  However, things went downhill after that. All we saw were the "trash" birds - species that we always see at our condominium grounds. So I took some obligatory shots.

Zebra Dove
Brown Shrike
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Even more annoying was the White-throated Kingfisher. They were quite common but so skittish. Each time we would approach one (in our car, by the way) they would fly off, and land a few meters away. We would follow, and it would repeat that routine several times. And that was not just one individual! We encountered a few more and they did they same mocking attitude. Then I remembered a place we visited last year where that kind of kingfisher was more cooperative. So we went to the Ilanan Road and we were not disappointed.

That somehow changed our luck. Soon we were seeing species after species. Foremost was a Philippine Serpent Eagle that stayed put for a long time. And there were two endemics: the Coleto and the Guiabero.

Another species of the parrot family was even friendlier - the Green Racket-tail.

Before heading back to our hotel, we passed by the Volunteer Park hoping to get photos of the Brahminy Kite. And we did! 

With a bonus of a Grey Heron and a Great Egret.

The following morning and our last day of birding was once again a bit gloomy. Despite that we had good shots of a Balicassiao which landed on the electric wire just above us.

A Blue-naped Parrot also posed for us from a nearby tree.

The highlight of the day was getting good looks and getting photos of the three kinds of woodpeckers: The Northern Sooty Woodpecker, the White-bellied Woodpecker and the Luzon Flameback.

Northern Sooty Woodpecker
White-bellied Woodpecker
Luzon Flameback
The last bird we photographed was the skulking Philippine Coucal.

It was one of the most productive sorties we had in this place - considering that it didn't start well - so much so that I was turning into a grumpy old man. Thanks to my ever encouraging, always positive wife, everything eventually went well. Things may look grey, but there is always green at the end.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Better U.P.

We went birding at the campus of the University of the Philippines (U.P.) in Diliman last Saturday. It was way better than our last trip there. Our first stop was at the pond and right off the bat a very cooperative White-breasted Waterhen gave our birding day a good start.

Having done its job the waterbird then moved farther away from us. That was when we heard the non-stop hammering call of a Coppersmith Barbet. However, both me and Cynthia failed to locate the source of that sound despite our many attempts and experiencing a literal pain in the neck. Soon a mixed flock came into the fruiting tree. Unfortunately they were all at the uppermost area. My wife was on one side looking up and I was at the other side straining my neck trying to locate and identify the movements way up there. Eventually Cynthia got some photos of a Red-keeled Flowerpecker which I didn't see, while I got a shot at a Philippine Hanging Parrot, which she did not see.

Finally, after the mixed flock had left, the Coppersmith Barbet maybe realized that we have waited long enough and decided to show up, even obliging for some photo ops.

Then, the Black-naped Oriole which was part of the earlier group made a come back and posed long enough for me to get a picture.

As we were leaving the pond, I noticed a white thing on the bare branches across. Upon closer look, I was surprised to see a Little Egret perched there.

We then made a trip around the campus and stopped where the Long-tailed Shrike was always a sure sighting.

We even got a couple of bonuses in the form of a Zebra Dove and a Brown Shrike.

To cap it off, a pair of Philippine Pied Fantails were busy hunting for insects and didn't mind a couple of seniors taking their pictures.

8:30 in the morning and we heard some rumbling. It was our stomachs. They were accustomed to be filled at 6 am and it had been over 2 hours and they were already having that empty feeling. So off to Cafe Sweet Inspirations we went where a buffet breakfast would definitely put an end to that persistent noise within.