Sunday, October 02, 2022

Baras Less

After several weeks of intermittent raining, the skies finally cleared up Saturday, September 30th. Cynthia and I both agreed to use this opportunity to go birding in Baras - a place we haven't visited since April. We arrived at the subdivision a little after 7 am and as we approached the rotunda, we saw a Whiskered Treeswift perched on the electric wire. It had been a while since we saw this species so I quickly parked on the side, took out my camera and took photos of this lovely bird.
From there we went to Jeres Street to have our take-out breakfast from Jollibees. As we entered the area we were greeted by several Grey Wagtails. It was another awesome photographic opportunity.
As soon as I parked our car, I caught a glimpse of a Rough-crested Malkoha. But before I was able to get my camera it flew off and never showed up again. While I looking for it at the leafy treetop, I saw a White-eared Brown Dove. Again before I could lift the camera to my eyes, it flew off. After breakfast we drove to the open space and there we encountered the expected Paddyfield Pipit.
At the aratiles tree near the waterway, which was still not fruiting, a Red-keeled Flowerpecker was busy hunting for food. It was so active that I only got a documentary shot.
The waterway,surprisingly, did not have the usual Common Sandpiper or Little Ringed Plover. Moving on we got the starbird of the day - the plentiful Pied Bush Chat.
On a bare tree we spotted a Spotted Dove.
White-breasted Swallows were flying above and sometimes would perch on an electric wire.
Then there was a small flock of Eastern Cattle Egrets. They were a bit skittish (just like most of the birds we saw) but patience enabled us to get a few shots.
The place where the water tank is was completely devoid of birds! Leaving that place we got the migrant Brown Shrike perched where else but on an electric wire.
We went to the "hill" and again we never saw any bird except the Pied Bush Chats. The Blue Rock Thrush apparently was a no-show this year. The always present Long-tailed Shrike was there but it was at quite a distance and the moment we saw it it pursued a prey that was out of our view and never showed up again. A little after 9 am we decided to call it a day. On the way out as we passed across Alfaro Street, we chanced upon a Brown-breasted Kingfisher. We've seen other individuals earlier but as had been the mood of the day, they were skittish and would fly off before we could take a picture. Thankfully this one stayed long enough.
Before going out we dropped by Jeres Street again. And guess what? No birds! As we were mulling about this, I noticed some movement on the sidewalk. I looked and saw an immature Black-crowned Night Heron crawling (!!) into the vegetation. Curious as to why it was crawling, I came closer and noticed that there was a plastic string tied to its foot. I called Cynthia and pointed the bird to her. She must have read my mind as she asked me to pick the up the Heron and loosen the string. I did and released the poor bird. The foot must have been injured because it was still unable to walk. Again it crept slowly into the vegetation and we just let it be and hoped that it would survive.
As we were about to exit, I saw a Barred Rail by the roadside. I told my wife to take pictures of it as it was on her side.
As we suffered the horrendous traffic going home we wondered why there only a few birds now at Baras. And quite a number of those that we saw were overly skittish. Were they being hunted or trapped (like the Heron)? I certainly hope not.

Sunday, September 25, 2022


A recent post in Facebook by our friend Benjie Jiao of a Grey Wagtail and Common Kingfisher seen at the "pond" in U.P. Diliman gave my wife, Cynthia,and I a reason to visit that place Saturday (Sept. 24) morning. But first, as had been our routine whenever we go to U.P., we passed by Greenmeadows Avenue and Temple Drive. We stopped by the small waterway where we've seen a Little Egret almost all the time. It was there alright but did not give me a good enough pose for a decent photo. As I was processing my pictures when i got home later that day, I was surprised to see that there was a Black-crowned Night Heron next to the Egret!
We moved on. Perched on a wire was a Striated Grassbird. Sadly the weather was a bit gloomy and so the lighting was not that good for photography and I only got a documentary shot.
Across the road I got another documentary shot this time of a Zebra Dove.
Further down the road, a pair of Crested Mynas were perched..guess where? On electric wires...and of course, one more documentary shot.
Near the Mormon church, we spotted a Brown Shrike and got a, you know, so-so picture.
As had been our custom, we had a sumptuous breakfast at Rodic's. From there we proceeded to the Child Study Center area. Unfortunately there were no birds at all! Our next stop was at the Astrodome Center and thankfully, the resident Long-tailed Shrike did not disappoint.
Then off to the "pond" we went. We did see our target birds but both were quite skittish. We pursued the Grey Wagtail and as we neared one of the waterways near the pond, we saw a Little Egret. But what surprised us was what was feeding alongside the Egret...a Javan Pond Heron! Of the many times we've birded U.P. Diliman, this was the first time we saw this species here.
Happy that I was able to get some good pictures of this rarity, we continued our chase of the Wagtail. Persistence finally enabled me to get a shot at it.
We went back to the "pond" and again patience got me a long-distance photo of the Common Kingfisher.
Happy that we got both birds that we came here for - and with a bonus at that - we decided to call it a day. As we were about to leave, the Little Egret came to the pond and posed for me.
At home as I was processing the results of our birding trip, I was pondering on our luck at the "pond" considering we even saw a very uncommon Javan Pond Heron

Monday, July 04, 2022

All for the Bittern

With the gasoline prices going high, one of the options we had in loading up was in Taytay where the a liter is about 5 pesos lower than those at the area where we reside. My wife and I both agreed to pass by the birding area along Road 2000. Being the middle of the year we were not expecting to see a lot although a recent post in Facebook showed a Little Ringed Plover photographed there. When we arrived we were surprised to see a group of birders already there: Linda Gocon, Bom Gomez and his family, Bambi Martinez and Rhea GD (who saw the plover) We were later joined by Gwen (Yin Li So). We asked what they had seen so far and they replied "bitterns!" True enough all three kinds (Black, Yellow and Cinnamon) were there - all the the time flying at quite a distance. They were so far that I never got even one decent shot of any one of them! We all waited patiently for a chance that at least one of them would pose long enough for us to be able to get a photo. Thank goodness our patience were rewarded when a Black Bittern showed up partly immersed in water. Eventually it raised its head up and we all had a blast taking pictures of the cooperative bird.
It was while we were waiting for the bitterns when Linda pointed at a bird among the tall grass. "Watercock!" she announced to the group.
After we had our fill at photographing the cooperative Black Bittern that we turned our attention at the usual avian residents of the area: The White-browed Crake and White-breasted Waterhen.
Again, from a distance an Intermediate Egret and a Purple Heron came flying in and stayed long enough for us to get "documentary" shots at them.
At around 9 am and with no new birds to see, we bade our friends goodbye - but not without taking a groupie first.
Our thanks to our birding friends for showing the birds and for the nice companionship. Hope to see you all again!

Friday, May 06, 2022

Singapore Once More

After twelve years we're back in Singapore. Just as before we were amazed at the ambiance and clean surroundings of this small Asian country. More so now that everything is high-tech: at McDonalds you order using a huge screen, at our hotel restaurant you look at the menu by scanning a QR code - because there isn't any written one. We had a red-eye flight from Manila and a 2-hour delay made it even worse for this two elderlies. We checked in at our hotel at around 3 am and practically passed out as soon as we settled in our room. We woke up a little after 7 am and decided to have breakfast at the nearby McDonalds. After a hearty meal, we got our first bird - the Spotted Dove which is very common here in Singapore - just outside the hotel.
The most common species here is the Javan Myna. Our first (and not so good) shot was one perched on the mall entrance.
We then flagged a taxi to take us to the Singapore Botanic Garden. We were suprised at the number of people there. Then we realized that it was a holiday and it appears that a great majority of Singaporeans visit this nature park on such occasions. Thankfully there were still birds. A Pink-necked Fruit Dove was even that close as it negotiated a thorny palm tree.
Going through the narrow path and trying to avoid the hikers, we encountered our only lifer for the trip - an Olive-winged Bulbul!
As we approached the pond, we got a male Olive-backed Sunbird.
Perched on a tree across the pond was a Grey-headed Fish Eagle. Too bad it was quite far and in a dark area.
Then also from a distance came a Black-naped Oriole.
Red Junglefowls are common here in the park.
This time we got better shots at the ubiquitous Javan Mynas.
A small bird was flitting among the branches. Reviewing the photos later at the hotel I'd like to think that it was a Yellow-browed Warbler just because the migrant Arctic Warblers are probably gone since the migration season is over. If that's the case then it would be another lifer for us.
At 11:30 we decided to call it a day and headed to the mall to have lunch. We both were exhausted that we just rested for the rest of the day. The following morning we took a taxi to Bukit Timah. However when we got there we were daunted by the challenging trails. Since it rained early that morning, the steep trails were muddy and slippery and dark. Since we did not have hiking shoes on, Cynthia and I both agreed to skip this place and go back to the Botanic Gardens. It's no longer a holiday so we hoped there would be less people there. Indeed there only a few hikers when we got there. The first species that greted us was a Zebra Dove.
From really, really far away was a White-throated Kingfisher!
Good thing that its cousin, the Collared Kingfisher, was friendlier.
By the pond, this time we got a Pacific Swallow.
Feeding nearby was a pair of Brown-throated Sunbirds.
A White-breasted Waterhen was also busy feeding near the pond.
A Malaysian Pied Fantail also gave us good looks.
And our last bird of the trip was a very cooperative Oriental Magpie Robin.
It was almost noon and time to have lunch at the mall again. After lunch we headed back to our hotel room for some shut-eye to prepare us for our early morning flight back home.