Saturday, November 02, 2019

Up on the Rufous

Despite it being quite common, we never had a good photo of the Rufous Night Heron. The ones we had were taken in Olango and it was of an injured individual being rehabilitated at the local administration's office area.

Recent pictures of this species taken at the LPPCHEA (Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area) and posted in Facebook sort of prompted us to make plans to visit that place. Since a great majority of the population of MetroManila would either be visiting their departed relatives at the cemeteries/memorial parks or taking a vacation because of the long weekend on All Saint's Day (November 1), Cynthia and I both agreed that that would be the perfect time to go to the "beach" and hopefully bring up the quality of a Rufous Night Heron photo.

It took us less than an hour to get there, considering we made a few wrong turns and also almost losing our patience waiting for our breakfast order that took quite some time at an undermanned Jollibee along Roxas Blvd. 

It was not yet even 6 am when we entered LPPCHEA. After I parked our car, we started scouring the seashore. Cynthia pointed at some movement. My ancient pair of eyes couldn't see anything at all. My wife took a "documentary" shot just so she could point the area where there was supposed to be a wader. Looking at the image I was thrilled to discover that it was the species we came here for. We inched closer to where the bird was and finally I was able to get some shots.

As it turned out, it was a Rufous Night Heron morning. In our almost three hours of birding, we saw 8 individuals, ranging from juveniles to adults, standing on the shore or flying over.

Of course, there were other birds there too. Its close relatives, the Black-crowned Night Herons, were present. We even saw one flying above us with a fish in its beak.

Unfortunately, it was a gloomy morning with dark clouds foreboding some rain. Not only that, it was also low tide. My wife even jokingly said that we should have brought along some wellies (that's wading boots to you non-Brits) so that we could slosh towards the wading birds. That said, most of our photos were dark and the subjects quite far. Here are some samples.

Intermediate Egret
Common Greenshank
Common Redshank
Common Sandpiper
Grey Heron
Little Egret

Lesser Sand Plover
Pacific Golden Plover
After our walk along the shore, we decided to drive over to where the docks were. Along the road was the kingdom of the Collared Kingfishers. Every hundred meters or so we would see one perched on a rock.

It was while driving on the muddy road (it rained the night before and there were some small pools on the unpaved road) that we saw a brightly colored bird fly across. For several times the reddish-orange bird kept flying left and right until it completely disappeared into the dense foliage by the creek. I then realized that it was most likely the migrant Ruddy Kingfisher that had been seen here by some lucky fellow bird photographers.

Around 8:30 am and we were drenched with sweat from the extreme humidity. Inasmuch as we got what came here for and then some, we both agreed it's time to go back home. Near the entrance, as we were about to pack our gear, Cynthia noticed some movement at a nearby tree. To end our birding day, we obligingly got some shots of a Yellow-vented Bulbul and a Brown Shrike.

Yellow-vented Bulbul
Brown Shrike
Just like that morning, it took us less than an hour to reach our home despite taking some wrong turns, again! Somehow the Waze app was no longer as efficient as it used to be. How we wished that driving in MetroManila would be as traffic free as it was that day.

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