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.