Sunday, December 26, 2021

Infanta Sad

It was sort of an impromptu decision to go birding in Infanta on Christmas Day. Initially our plan was to go to Baras, but being Christmas we thought that the Palo Alto would be closed to visitors. Another reason that made us decide on Infanta was that being a holiday, there would be less "traffic" particularly bikers along the way. Thankfully, our hunch was right and we arrived at our destination faster than expected. 

Our birding started well with a very cooperative Flaming Sunbird enjoying the red hibiscus flowers not that far from where we stood.


Unfortunately that was one of the very few instances we got to photograph the local avian population. We spent almost three hours birding the area from kilometer 93 to 110 and we only were able to take pictures of three other species: the Elegant Tit - there was a flock that frolicked among the trees across the street.


Were it not for its loud whistling, we would not have been able to see the solitary Philippine Fairy Bluebird.


And finally, Cynthia got a few and not so good shots of a Sulphur-billed Nuthatch.


On our way back we also got some backlit photos of a couple more of the more "common" birds like the Brown Shrike and Pacific Swallow.


We did hear some other birds such as Flowerpeckers and Philippine Bulbuls but never had a chance to see any of them.

It was indeed a very sad and disappointing trip seeing only six species in more than two hours of birding. Most of the private places where we used to able to get in, thanks to the very friendly owners/overseers, were now open as resorts and had a lot of guests when we passed by.

As we were having lunch at The Gathering Cafe, we both agreed that it would be a while before we return to this place.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Target Acquired

Thankfully LA Mesa Ecopark (LMEP) is now open to seniors over 65 years old. That was good news to us because recently a Common Kingfisher had been seen (and photographed) there. Not that it would be a lifer for us but it had been quite a while since we've seen one.

Saturday morning we purposed to go to LMEP to see the kingfisher of course! But first we birded along the way, beginning at the Greenmeadows Avenue. Our first stop was by the small waterway where a Little Egret is almost always a sure sighting. We were not disappointed.


Just above us a Philippine Pied Fantail was frolicking.


From there we proceeded to the parking area of the Christ the King Parish church. The first bird we saw was a Brown Shrike.


Surprisingly an immature Black-naped Oriole was singing out loud on top of a bare tree.


Another bare tree has a Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker basking in the rising sun.


Of course we had to take the obligatory shot of the resident Zebra Dove.


Another surprise was a Spotted Dove.


Our next stop was at Rodic's in U.P. Diliman for our breakfast. After our morning repast we went to the Astronomy area and got the Long-tailed Shrike.


We made another round and this time it was the Crested Mynas that posed for us.


We also got a good enough shot of the migrant Arctic Warbler.


Then off to LMEP we went. The guards were so nice and very helpful in getting us through the entrance protocols. By the pond where the Common Kingfisher had been seen, we met fellow bird photographers Nelson and Benjie. They had gotten a shot of the kingfisher early in the morning and they were both waiting for it to show up again. Almost an hour passed and the kingfisher was still a no show. Cynthia and I were both considering to give up when I saw a bluish bird fly by and landed on a bare branch on the pond. We hurried to where we could get a better look at it and after some waiting it perched out in the open. We were surprised that there were actually two of them - an adult and an immature!



We were so happy that we finally got what we came here for. Target Acquired!

Sunday, November 07, 2021

BTS (Back To Subic)

Friday morning Cynthia asked me "Do you want to go on a joy ride?"

"Where to?" I asked.

"Subic," she replied.

I was shocked! I never expected her to even think of going there. In my previous blog (see Reflections) I mentioned that at my age, driving long distances would be a real challenge. And yet my wife seemed confident that I still can do it. Then it suddenly dawned on me: it will be our 17th wedding anniversary on Sunday, that's the reason Cynthia wanted a "holiday" in Subic. So we quickly packed up and off we went. Thankfully the traffic wasn't much of a hassle and we got into our destination in about 3 hours. We had a sumptuous lunch at our favorite restaurant, Cocolime. We then checked in at Mango Valley Hotel, the place we always stay in everytime we visit Subic. After about an hour's rest ( a much needed one for me) we explored the nearby areas and got a few shots of the common birds there. 

Paddyfield Pipit

Brown Shrike

Zebra Dove

Sadly, the seashore was now being "reclaimed" probably in preparation for establishing a subdivision or a commercial space.

From there we proceeded to Cubi Point. At a bare tree were some Philippine Green Pigeons.


Large-billed Crows were all over the place.


So were the Crested Mynas


In another bare tree was a Pied Triller.


We searched the vicinity of the church but didn't find any Blue-naped Parrot.

It was getting late in the afternoon and the weather wasn't cooperating as well so we returned to our hotel and went to bed early.

The next morning, after breakfast we proceeded to Nabasan Trail. Along the way was a cooperative White-throated Kingfisher.


At the entrance to the trail was a pair of Green Imperial Pigeons perched way up high.


Then a flock of Philippine Hanging Parrots came and landed at a tall tree. They were very active and stayed mostly in the shadows. I was lucky enough to a shot of one out in the open.


At the trail we encountered a pair of Sooty Woodpeckers.


On the way out we glimpsed on some Philippine Falconets.


Flying overhead was a Brahminy Kite.


We returned to Cubi Point but unfortunately not a single Bee-eater was there. Before leaving Subic we had lunch at Slabs together with Cynthia's daughter Ginger and her kids.

We were quite disappointed at the apparent lack of birds. Could it be because of a lot of road repairs were being made (including Nabasan)?

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Ardei Day

Taytay is one of the very few places that we can go birding these days. In my previous blog I wrote that due to old age creeping in on me, I find it quite difficult to drive long distances. So Saturday morning we were at the usual roadside area along a wetland. To our surprise the place was teeming with species of the Ardeidae family! Several kinds of Herons and Egrets (but interestingly none of the skulking Bitterns) were everywhere!

Let me start with the Herons - Black-crowned Night Herons (both adult and immature), Purple Herons and a totally unexpected Grey Heron!

Black-crowned Night Heron - adult
Black-crowned Night Heron - immature

Purple Heron

Grey Heron

 Then there were the Egrets: from the Littlest to the Greatest and an Intermediary in between. Allow me to clarify that: Little, Intermediate and Great Egrets were all present.

Little Egret

Intermediate Egret

Great Egret

As a bonus we got the Eastern Cattle Egret at U.P. Diliman.

Eastern Cattle Egret

Not a bad harvest on a short birding morning with the Ardeidaes!

Sunday, October 24, 2021


Today, October 24, 2021 I turn 75. I'm so blessed to have good health at this age. However, recent incidents made me reflect on my life. Yesterday, my wife and I planned to go birding in Baras and maybe even Infanta - both places quite a distance from our home. After we loaded gas at the Shell Station in Marcos Highway in Marikina, I felt a little dizzy, I don't know why. I told Cynthia that I don't think I'd be able to drive all the way to our destination. "Let's try birding at Greenmeadows and Temple Drive," I told my wife. Somehow I felt a little better after visiting the usual birding spots and seeing a good number of birds. Much better that I even decided that we should continue birding at U.P. Diliman.

As I was processing our photos later that day I noticed a lot of postings in Facebook of birders who twitched on an uncommon winter visitors - the Common Shelduck and Little Gull - in Tanza, Navotas. That species would have been a lifer for me, but the thought of going through horrendous traffic and sloshing some distance through a muddy shore or taking a boat ride, sort of discouraged me. I don't think my aged body could handle that kind of ordeal.

With these in mind, will we still be able to go birding at the usual birding spots - such as Candaba, Mt. Palay-palay, Subic, etc - which unfortunately, are all far from our home? Those which are closer such as LPPCHEA and La Mesa Ecopark don't allow seniors over 65 to get in.Considering all these, our birding activities would most likely be confined to areas close by. I think that is ok for me, after all my wife and I had some wonderful times birding at many places including other countries and had taken some pictures of beautiful birds. I'm happy with that.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Going U.P.

Friday night and Cynthia and I still haven't talked about any plans on where to go birding on Saturday. Early Saturday morning as I was preparing coffee to go along with our breakfast which I'm quite certain will be not in our condo, my wife looked at me in the eye. 

"Any suggestions on where to go birding?" I asked her.

"I was thinking U.P.", she replied.

It's just so amazing that we think alike because that was what exactly I had in mind as well.

So off to U.P. we went but, as we also both agreed, we had to pass by the Green Meadow/Temple Drive area to start off our birding. Our first stop was at the waterway next to a subdivision along Green Meadows Avenue. Recently a small store was set up beside it which prevented the local Little Egret from visiting the area. However that morning, the store had not been opened yet and when I looked at the waterway, behold! not just one but five Little Egrets were frolicking there!


That was a good start to our birding morning! From there we proceeded to the parking area of the Christ the King Parish church. We saw a Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker perched high on a bare tree. Lighting was so bad that I only got a so-so photo.


Unfortunately, that was the only bird we saw, other than the resident Zebra Dove.


Our next stop was along Giraffe Road where a flock of Crested Mynas were on the electric wires.


From a distance was a Long-tailed Shrike basking in the morning sun.


Also along Giraffe Road a Collared Kingfisher was also perched on a bare tree.


At Temple Drive at the usual spot we were glad to see a flock of Chestnut Munias feeding on the grass stalks. Surprisingly a few Scale-breasted Munias were with them.


The pond at the Hardin ng Rosas was filled with vegetation so not a single bird was there. On the way out we saw the local Zebra Dove. 


Not far from it we saw a migrant Grey-streaked Flycatcher.


As we entered the grounds of U.P. a flock of Eastern Cattle Egrets landed just beside the road.


We parked at the MSI area where we intend to have our take out breakfast from Rodics. But before we were able to do that, Cynthia heard the call of an Olive-backed Sunbird. We easily found it as it fed on some flowers at eye level.


At the Astronomy area the Long-tailed Shrike was nowhere to be seen. Instead the bully Brown Shrike was there albeit quite far.


An unexpected sighting in this place was a Striated Grassbird.


Not seeing any more species in the U.P. Campus, we both agreed to go the Marikina River. We were surprised to see an immature Barn Swallow perched on a wire just a few feet below us.


Of course, the main reason why we went to this place was to once again practice our BIF (bird in flight) shots of the Whiskered Terns.


Another surprise was when a Striated Heron flew to the other side of the river. It was so sudden and unexpected that I only got a documentary shot.


As Cynthia would say, "we already got our quota" so we both agreed to call it a day.