Sunday, January 23, 2022

See Some, Miss Some

It felt kinda strange that some birds we saw one week ago in Baras were now missing, and on the other hand we saw a few species that were not seen then. 

Our day started by seeing an Ashy Minivet perched on a tree branch not that far from where we had our breakfast along Jerez Street. It had been a while since we saw this bird here.

We proceeded to the area near the water tank and were surprised by some bird activities. Here we spotted several species that we didn't see the week before: Arctic Warbler, Black-naped Monarch, Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker and Elegant Tit.

Arctic Warbler

Black-naped Monarch

Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker

Elegant Tit

What we missed were the Savanna Nightjar, the Little Ringed Plover and the Philippine Cuckoo Dove.

Thankfully we still saw quite a number of the resident birds here. The highlights of which were the Blue Rock Thrush (which we saw after three tries). The Stripe-headed Rhabdornis and the Philippine Hanging Parrot were both feeding on the red flowers near the clubhouse.

Blue Rock Thrush

Stripe-headed Rhabdornis

Philippine Hanging Parrot

Sunday, January 16, 2022

With a Little Help from Friends

Saturday we were at Palo Alto in Baras. Our first destination was at the clubhouse parking lot hoping to see some Philippine Hanging Parrots. We were not disappointed. There was a pair foraging among the red flowers. Unfortunately lighting wasn't that good as it was quite gloomy that morning.


From there we proceeded to the hill where the Blue Rock Thrush can be seen. And there it was at its usual perch on top of the rocky hillside.


Our next stop was at the area where the Long-tailed Shrike is a sure sighting. It wasn't there! As we turned back, it showed up, perched on a tiny branch for a little while, and then flew off. I managed to get only one shot!


On our way out of the Shrike territory we got good shots of a female Pied Bush Chat and an Eastern Cattle Egret.


Along Palo Alto West road, we chased a White-throated Kingfisher as it would fly off as our car approached, perch for a while, then fly off again as we came near. Eventually it stayed long enough for me to get some passable photos.


We drove towards the creek area and along the way there was a male Pied Bush Chat hunting for insects.


At the creek, I got a long distance shot of the Green Sandpiper.


We both agreed that it's about time we go for the Savanna Nightjar. There we saw friends Loel Lamela and Bert Madrigal. They were so kind to help us get some really close up shots of our target species.


Not far from the Nightjar was a pair of Little Ringed Plovers!


Thanking our friends profusely we told them that we would be exploring the other parts of Palo Alto. This time we would be looking for the ubiquitous Paddyfield Pipit along the road. On the way  we encountered a Spotted Dove.


As expected the Pipit was at its usual hangout.


Inasmuch as the weather was now better with the sun finally out, I told Cynthia that we will go back to the Blue Rock Thrush to get better pictures.


There we met friends Elmer Budomo and Christopher Ferrer. They asked us if we've seen the Philippine Cuckoo Dove. We said no. They told us to follow them and they will take us to where that species can be seen. We parked at a nook and they led through a short trail. There we met Trinity Gatuz, another birder friend. Elmer pointed at the fruiting Malapapaya tree and informed us that that was where the Cuckoo Doves (note the plural) come to feed. We didn't have to wait long as several individuals came and enjoyed the red berries.


Having gotten enough shots, we bade our friends goodbye and thanked them for their kindness. 

"You know what we still haven't gotten a picture of? Grey Wagtail!" I told my wife. And guess what, as we drove toward the rotunda, a Grey Wagtail posed for us.


As I mentioned earlier, weather had improved so I suggested to Cynthia that we make a visit to the clubhouse before we go home. Feeding on the red flowers was a Striped-headed Rhabdornis!


Of course, the Philippine Hanging Parrot was still there.


That was the grand finale of our birding trip to Baras. Thanks to our friends, we were able to get some pictures that most likely we would not be able to on our own.

Sunday, January 02, 2022


It had become some sort of a tradition for us to spend the year end in Subic - primarily to go birding of course. We left home early on December 30 and made a stop at the Total gas station along NLEX in San Simon. We were surprised to see fellow birder Sean Melendres there taking photos of some birds. He pointed at a Purple Heron and a pair of Wandering Whistling Ducks.

Then I saw a Red Collared Dove perched on a wire above us. I quickly told Sean about this sighting and he hurried over to where we were and took some shots.


We bade goodbye to our friend and proceeded to our destination. Thankfully, Mango Valley Hotel allowed an early check-in for us. After settling in we went to the area near the Moonbay Marina Waterpark. As expected we saw the hoped for Paddyfield Pipit.


Then an Eastern Cattle Egret walked nonchalantly in front of us.


As we were about to get into our car, a small flock of Asian Glossy Starlings landed on a tree across from us. 


We then had a sumptuous lunch at the Slab Cafe. From there we continued on towards Nabasan Road - our regular birding spot in Subic. Along Argonaut Avenue, Long-tailed Shrikes were perched on the barbed fence every 10 meters or so.


At Nabasan Road, we were greeted by a Brown Shrike.


On top of the bare tree was an Oriental Dollarbird but it was just too far up for us to get a good shot. Further down we encountered a Bar-bellied Cuckooshrike!


Then followed a bevy of birds perched on an electric wire: White-breasted Woodswallow, Blue-throated Bee-eater, and a Philippine Falconet.



A coleto preferred the bare tree.


Happy with our harvest, we both agreed to return to our hotel but we had to stop by the Volunteer's Park along the way. There we tried our BIF (birds in flight) shots of the Brahminy Kites.


On the way out a Large-billed Crow was our last bird of the day.


Early next morning after a buffet breakfast at Hsin's Coffee, we went straight to Nabasan Road. Right at the entrance, a Luzon Flameback started what would turn out to be quite a fruitful birding day.


On the same bare tree was a Blue-naped Parrot.


At another bare tree, a Luzon Hornbill came flying in just as we were approaching.


One more bare tree further down had a flock of  Green Imperial Pigeons roosting on it. What is it with bare trees that birds seem to enjoy them?


Near the trail, A White-bellied Woodpecker was busy hunting for insects.


As we were about to exit, a White-eared Brown Dove settled near the ground just a few feet away.


Going to Cubi Point, we got lucky this time with a Oriental Dollarbird as it perched on an electric wire beside the road.


After having lunch at Cocolime Restaurant, we returned to our hotel for some much needed rest. About half-past three we decided to visit Volunteer's Park again. This time we had a great time shooting BIFs of Black-crowned Night Herons.


And that was grand finale of our birding in Subic. We were so happy that a lot of birds showed the couple of days we stayed in Subic - unlike last month which was quite disappointing.