Saturday, July 25, 2020

Pleasant Surprise

It had been more than 4 months since we had done any serious birding. The reason for that was the current Covid-19 pandemic. Now that the restrictions had been eased up a bit, my wife and I thought that perhaps it would now be possible to go birding. Saturday morning we went to the campus of the University of the Philippines in Diliman. As we approached the entrance we noticed some barriers blocking access to the Oval road. Thankfully, there was another road going in that was accessible. Sadness crept in when we discovered that entry to the usual places we go to were also prohibited. As we coursed through one of the main thoroughfares, we noticed some birds perched on a bare tree. I quickly parked the car on the side of the road and unpacked our gear. 

"Orioles!" Cynthia was shouting as she pointed to a group of this black and yellow birds.

It turned out that a family of Black-naped Orioles were basking in the morning sun. It was totally unexpected to see this species out in the open.

Sharing the same bare tree was a pair of Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers. They were quite high up the tree and were very active that I only got a "so-so" shot.

Soon a female Pied Triller joined the group.

And then a Philippine Pied Fantail also dropped by.

Of course the ubiquitous Yellow-vented Bulbuls were there too.

A black bird flew by and landed on top of an electric post. We added the Crested Myna to our list that morning.

As I was about to get back to where I parked the car, I noticed a black-and-white bird perched on a branch. "Philippine Magpie Robin!" I exclaimed and waved at my wife for her to see this totally unexpected species.

After the Orioles left the bare tree, some Golden-bellied Gerygones came by.

We decided to move on but before we did, I had to take the obligatory shot of the very common Eurasian Tree Sparrow.

At the MSI parking lot, we heard the constant "pok-pok" call of the Coppersmith Barbet. I was telling Cynthia that this bird always lets its presence known by its constant calling but almost never shows up in the open, when "surprise, surprise!" it landed on a branch and was very visible for photography!

From there we went to the place where we have always seen the Long-tailed Shrike. And it did not disappoint!

From a distance we saw a pair of Collared Kingfishers calling out.

As we were leaving the realm of the Long-tailed Shrike,  we saw a Striated Grassbird fly across. I stopped the car hoping to get a shot of that species but it disappeared like a magician's rabbit. To compensate for that, a flock of Scaly-breasted Munias came feeding on the grass stalks.

On the way out we encountered our last species for the day, the Zebra Dove.

To be able to see and photograph 13 species of birds in about 2 hours was a pleasant surprise considering we saw some that we never expected. Also our worries of not being able to get in the premises of U.P. were unfounded - the security guards, whom we feared would accost us because of the GCQ ruling, were actually very friendly and some even waved at us. Now that was another pleasant surprise!