Sunday, January 31, 2021

Over the Rainbow

It was a blustery morning as we started our birding day in Baras. Winds so strong it almost wrenched our cameras from our hands. As gusts blew all over the place our hopes were damped..for how can birds show up in this dangerous situation.

Eventually the winds died down and we were so glad to see a complete rainbow appear on the horizon. 

Rainbows are a promise of good things to come. And indeed birds started showing up. 

Perhaps it was the season because we saw several species doing some courtship rituals. A male Spotted Dove strutted on the road displaying its gorgeous spots to a couple of females.

A pair of Common Sandpipers were flirting with each other.

Grey Wagtails having a lovers quarrel?

A male Philippine Hanging Parrot trying to hide his "kulasisi" behind the leaves.

Aside from these romantic scenes, we saw the usual species found regularly here.

As we were about to leave, we were shocked to see some guys cutting off the tall grass along the road. To our surprise just a few feet away from them, we spotted a bird that we have not seen here before - a Golden-headed Cisticola!

Ah, a beautiful rainbow indeed is a harbinger of good fortune!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Heat and Miss

It was only eight o'clock in the morning and we were already drenched in sweat. And to think that we were in a rural area surrounded by tall trees. In January! - supposedly one of the colder months. But that didn't deter us from fulfilling our purpose in visiting this place - to take photos of the birds here - as we had done many times before.

Perhaps it was the intense heat of the day that we missed some of the species we hoped to photograph - such as the Philippine Drongo-Cuckoo, the Common Kingfisher, the Savanna Nightjar, the Brown-headed Thrush and the Black-naped Monarch (which our friends, Adri and Trinket Constantino and June Osano told us they saw earlier.)

But that didn't mean that our birding was a total failure. We got quite a number of photos of the local birds. Some even better than those we had taken in our previous trips in Baras. Our day started well as a flock of Ashy Minivets were very active so early in the morning.

Even the White-eared Brown Dove was not as skittish as before.

The Stripe-headed Rhabdornis was out in the open perched on an electric wire.

And the Philippine Hanging Parrot was still feeding on the African Tulip tree.

Another species that came in flocks was the Blue-throated Bee-eater.

A surprise was a Coppersmith Barbet. Although we heard its call many times before, this was the first we saw it out in the open.

Of course, we had to take obligatory shots of the "common" birds here: The Grey Wagtail..

The Paddyfield Pipit..

..and the Pied Bush Chat.

About 11 am and the heat had become more unbearable. Time to pack up and hope that traffic wouldn't be horrendous on the trip home. (Sadly, it was.)

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Aw, Common!

This was our first birding trip to Baras in 2021. My primary purpose for this sortie was to get better photos of the Blue Rock Thrush. The previous times we were there we only got glimpses of this species and one very distant shot.

It was deja vu as we got in Palo Alto, the very first birds we saw were two Turtledoves. But no Partridge in a pear tree still. 

From there we went to the clubhouse. Unfortunately the flowers of the African Tulip tree were almost gone and only the Yellow-vented Bulbuls were present.

We moved on to Campeche Street. Blue-throated Bee-eaters were all over the place.

Eastern Cattle Egrets were friendlier than usual.

From a distance we got a Black-naped Oriole.

Then off to site where the Blue Rock Thrush stays. We saw our target bird but it was still too far.

Our next stop was at the small pond hoping to see some kingfishers. I heard that a Common Kingfisher had been seen here. After a few minutes waiting, guess who suddenly popped up? 

I even got some good shots before it was bullied by the White-throated Kingfisher.

At the fields a Long-tailed Shrike was basking in the sun.

At the Alicante waterway were two (!!) Green Sandpipers! Here's a picture of one of them.

Nearby a male Pied Bush Chat posed for us.

We moved to the Alfaro side of the waterway and there the expected Grey Wagtail was present.

Near the wagtail we saw a small brown bird (about the size of the wagtail). Looking through my lens, I was surprised that it was a Common Sandpiper!

And this time a female Pied Bush Chat was the one who posed for us.

To the tank area we went. Along the way fellow birder Joel Dayao pointed to a Whiskered Treeswift perched on a wire. This was the first time we saw this species here in Palo Alto.

At the tank area a flock of Lowland White-eyes were cavorting almost at eye level.

Then we saw a blackish bird perched behind the leaves. At first I thought it was a Balicassiao. But then Christopher Ferrer assured us it was a Philippine Drongo-Cuckoo. A lifer for us!

Having gotten our first lifer for 2021, Cynthia and I both agreed to call it a day. But before we did that I wanted to get a better shot of the Blue Rock Thrush. Thank goodness, we did.

Finally, I asked my wife to humor me one more time. I told her that we haven't had a good shot of the Paddyfield Pipit that day so we went around one more time. As we were driving to the place where the pipits roam, I saw a small brown bird bobbing at the road. Not a pipit for sure and definitely not a wagtail. I asked Cynthia to take a shot at it as it was on her side. And voila! Another Common Sandpiper!

And to end our birding morning, the Paddyfield Pipit.

It was another bountiful birding adventure at Baras highlighted by two species that has the word "common" in their names: Common Kingfisher and Common Sandpiper - both seen by us for the first time in Baras. We can only express our delight by exclaiming "Aw, common!"

Sunday, January 10, 2021

What's U.P.?

The weather did not look promising Saturday morning so we decided to do our birding at nearby U.P. Diliman. Surprisingly there weren't any birds along Temple Drive. So off to Hardin ng Rosas we went. The Black-winged Stilts appeared to be increasing in number.


And the Common Moorhens were even bolder as they swam closer to us than our previous visits here.


Even the Yellow-vented Bulbuls were frolicking just a few feet from us.


On the way out at the exact same spot where we always see them was the pair of Zebra Doves.


As we approached University Avenue, we were shocked at the number of cyclists and joggers! And not just there, they all over the place! Some families even enjoyed their picnics at the parking areas. And I thought "what's up with U.P. today?" Thankfully, as we turned left on E. Jacinto St, a pair of Cattle Egrets seemed unperturbed by the abundance of human activity near them.


After a delicious breakfast at Rodic's (which was teeming with cyclists) we went to our usual first stop - the area around MSI building. Finally, after several sightings but not photos, this time we got the Crested Myna perched on a wire.


The small creek behind the building had a Grey Wagtail but it was too skittish and we never got a good shot. At the parking area, a pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds were more obliging.


Even more friendly was the Brown Shrike.


From there we went to say hello to the ever present Long-tailed Shrike at the Observatory area.


On our way back, we heard the familiar call of an Oriole. We parked our car and waited. After the awaited Black-naped Oriole showed up.


A quick trip to pond yielded only a Grey Wagtail and still quite uncooperative.


On our way back to where we parked our car, we saw a small bird perched on a wire. When I focused my camera on it, I excitedly told Cynthia, "Grey-streaked Flycatcher!" It had been more than a year since we last saw this species!


That I would say was the highlight of our birding day. As we were about to exit, we decided to do a quick drive by along Balagtas St. And there at eye level, were some White-breasted Woodswallows!


On our way home, my wife suggested we take a look at the Marikina River behind SM to see if there were Terns and Egrets. There was one Little Egret but albeit a bit too far. 


There were a lot of Terns though and it was a challenge for us to get a good BIF (Bird In Flight) shot.


Despite the unbelievable number of people in U.P. that Saturday morning, we were glad that we were still able to get some good photos of the local birds.