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.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

When Things Don't Go As Expected

Saturday morning Cynthia and I planned to go birding in Infanta. It's been a while since we've been there so we were expecting to see some species that we have not seen for quite some time. As we approached Baras the skies were dark and looked like it would be raining soon. So we decided to just go to Palo Alto - our usual birding spot in Baras. At the gate, the guard informed us that birdwatching is no longer allowed there. There had been complaints from the local residents he said without specifying what the complaints were about. He was very apologetic about it and requested us to turn around. With that unexpected situation my wife and I both agreed to continue going to Infanta inasmuch as the sun was beginning to peep through the clouds. As we approached the town of Tanay, we were surprised at the long line of vehicles. Was there an accident ahead? was our initial thought. As we inched closer to the front of the line we realized that there was checkpoint and the military was asking the drivers the reason for going to Infanta. Apparently "pleasure trips" were not being allowed to go through. Another unexpected snag to our birding plans. As we drove back I told Cynthia that our only option would be Taytay. 

When we arrived at the usual bird stop in Taytay, we were glad to see fellow bird photographers Mon Quisumbing, Joel Dayao and his wife, Gemma. With them was Bing Santos and her husband Arnel. They were all waiting for the resident Black Bittern to appear. Since the said species was still a no show, my wife and I photographed the birds in the area.

Whiskered Terns, surprisingly, were quite plentiful.


There were also some Intermediate Egrets and Little Egrets.

Intermediate Egret

Little Egret

All of a sudden a Black Bittern did a very short fly by. It disappeared among the tall grass before we could point our cameras at it. Again, we concentrated on the "friendlier" birds. One of which was a White-browed Crake.


Another surprise was when a Purple Heron flew over and landed at some distance.


We then saw another bird fly at a distance and landed on a banana tree. At first we thought it was our target species but it turned out to be a Yellow Bittern. And we only got a documentary shot at it because it was so far away.


Then a single Wandering Whistling Duck flew by but unfortunately we were unable to get a good shot at it.

Around 9:30 am and the hoped for Black Bittern still not appearing, we decided to call it a day. It wasn't that fruitful birding trip since we had some unexpected glitches in our plan but just having the opportunity to be out in fields was refreshing for me and Cynthia.