Tuesday, November 17, 2020

U.P. to no good (but with nice ending)

Saturday, November 14, we again went to U.P. Diliman to do some birding. We had a sumptuous breakfast at Rodic's and not far from it on top of the electric posts were some Crested Mynas.


As we proceeded to the MSI, the Eastern Cattle Egrets were at their usual place near the museum.

The area in front of the MSI building was a disaster! Several of the tall trees were blown down by the recent typhoon Ulysses. Perhaps it was because of this that there weren't any birds around. The yellow flowers in front of the parking lot of the Child Center were also gone and because of that the Olive-backed Sunbirds that used to enjoy the nectar decided to stay on the top branches of the bare trees instead. Which meant that they were unphotographable. From there we went to the Astronomy Dome. Along the way the Brown Shrike was more cooperative.

At first we thought the resident Long-tailed Shrike had gone because we didn't see it at its usual hangout. Fortunately, we spotted it in the area near the street.

We made another round of the area and parked our car. It was then that I spotted a large brown bird on a tree branch. I took a shot at it despite being backlit and hoped I would be able to identify that mysterious bird. It was only when I was processing our photos that I found out that it was a Philippine Hawk-Cuckoo.

A short foray into the pond yielded a Collared Kingfisher.

Although we saw some species today that we hadn't seen in our previous trips here, it was still a not so good birding trip for us because most of the local birds were missing. Maybe it was because of the destruction of some of the habitats caused by the typhoon.

Thankfully, our birding ended quite well. Before going home Cynthia suggested we visit her daughter in Pasig. After parking our car just outside her daughter's gate, we noticed some bird activity at a nearby tree. While my wife was spending time with Jenn and her family, I brought out my camera and started taking photos of the Lowland White-eyes.

Friday, November 13, 2020

After the Storm

The sun was shining brightly this morning. For the past couple of days we experienced one of the most severe storms this year. Super typhoon Ulysses battered Central Luzon with heavy rain and strong winds. So strong that a number of trees in our neighborhood fell to the ground.

Now that the skies are blue I decided to bring along my camera as we did our morning walk around our condominium grounds. Good thing I did because the local birds were glad that the storm had finally gone away and were enjoying the sunny weather. A male Olive-backed Sunbird was gorging on the nectar of the orange flowers.

One of the trees that was not felled by the strong winds was now hosting a small flock of lowland white-eyes.

By the retail row, the pair of Philippine Pied Fantails were at their usual haunt.

Surprisingly a Brown Shrike was at the same tree enjoying a tiny butterfly for breakfast.

The Yellow-vented Bulbuls were calling out loudly as if begging for their photos to be taken. I obliged of course.

And finally, we heard the familiar cooing of the Zebra Doves. However, we had a hard time locating the source of that "kurukutu". We were already having neck pains as we searched behind the thick leaves and then one graciously flew into plain sight. 

It was a nice way to start the day. For us, Friday the 13th actually means good luck.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Baras Birds

When we learned that the travel restrictions (especially for seniors like us) had been eased, Cynthia and I both agreed to go birding to a place other than U.P. Diliman. Since I have seen bird photos taken in Baras, Rizal posted on Facebook recently, I thought that that would be a nice place to visit.

November 7, Saturday, we made a quick stop at McDonalds for some take out breakfast then proceeded to our destination while it was still dark. We arrived at Baras around half past six. We told the guard that we will be doing some birdwatching inside the estate and he let us in. At the rotunda we met fellow birder and old friend Linda Gocon, who was guiding some friends. She pointed to the top of the trees and told us that a Rough-crested Malkoha and a Philippine Hanging Parrot were there. Indeed, they were. Now please allow me to give some excuses for our "documentary" (a term used by bird photographers to justify their crappy photos) shots. First, the trees where they were perched were very tall and both species were at the apex. Second, the skies were dark and grey. 

A little farther down the road was a bare tree. Perched on it was a small flock of Ashy Minivets. Again, the skies were still gloomy and not providing sufficient light for good pictures.

Moving on, I saw a couple of Barred Rails (an adult and a juvenile) by the roadside. There was now a glimmer of sunlight and I finally got a better bird photo.

There were quite a number of Brown Shrikes and my wife got a good shot at one of them.

Even more plentiful were the Paddyfield Pipits. Some were even on the road and not at the usual grassy areas we often see them.

As we were negotiating one of the turns, we spotted a bird flying very low. I thought it was an Oriental Pratincole while Cynthia assumed it was some raptor. The bird finally landed not far from us and settled down and started dozing off. My heart leapt when I realized that it was a Savanna Nightjar! A lifer for us!

Thrilled by our luck, we heard the unmistakable trilling of a Striated Grassbird. We headed to where the song was coming from only to see our target bird jump inside a clump of grass and "poof!" it completely vanished like a rabbit in a magician's hat. 

I was feeling a bit frustrated at not being able to get a photo of the grassbird, when I saw a flash of yellow land on a tree across from us. It was a Black-naped Oriole feasting on an unfortunate caterpillar.

As we were negotiating the roads, we bumped into a young birder, Janina Castro, who told us that they (she was with her family) had seen a Balicassiao. Unfortunately, we failed to see that species.

We moved on and this time we focused (pun intended) our attention at the numerous Eastern Cattle Egrets in the area.

At one point as we continued driving around, Cynthia yelled "Stop!" I did and she pointed at the White-throated Kingfisher perched on branch just ahead of us. Unlike some of its kind which were very skittish, this one was so cooperative and posed for us until we had our fill.

Next, we turned our attention at the Grey Wagtails. There were quite a number of them and we finally found one that stayed long enough across from us.

Near the creek my wife got a great shot at a Zebra Dove.

We chanced upon a fruiting aratiles tree and there a Red-keeled Flowerpecker was enjoying the berries.

Now it was time to turn our attention to the Pied Bush Chats - both male and female.

Around 10:30 we agreed to call it a day. As we were about to exit, a flock of Lowland White-eyes were frolicking in a tree.

And to end our birding day, I took an obligatory shot at the very common Yellow-vented Bulbul.

It was a productive morning for us unlike the last time we went to this place (back in January 2017) when we only saw less than 10 species. This time we saw more than 20 species of Baras birds and got photos of most of them. But none of those stinking Grassbirds.