Archive for August, 2012

A Pok-Pok Lifer

It was a warm Monday afternoon when we decided to bird in UP Diliman with my relatives. They brought with them some friends that also came to the Guided Trip yesterday in LPPCHEA. I asked Tristan (Cousin) what they have already found, and he said they have found a White-breasted Wood Swallow, and a White-collared Kingfisher. I wasn’t too disappointed that I missed them because I have already seen many of those.

My dad showed up with our huge telescope which we are improvising ’til my dad gets a real spotting scope. Tito Jerome and Tristan found it hilarious and so did I. It was actually very difficult to use because it was like five times (or so) stronger than an actual spotting scope, so when you try to look at a branch, all you see is tree bark -_-.

My dad was a bit disappointed because they weren’t many birds there. We tried to reassure him that there are many birds t, but its still too early. It was in fact early since it was just 3:30.

We went to a more elevated part of the area, where we found a lot of Long-tailed Shrikes and White-breasted Wood Swallows just perching on small trees or on the wires. We called Kuya Jops and Ate Maia to join us in UP and they said they would meet us in front of the MSI building.

There in front of the MSI building, we heard the call that has been taunting us back when we were still very new to birding, but are now common to us. We still tried to find it though, for the sake of the friends of my Tito, sadly we weren’t able to. A Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker called on a tree, but while we were trying to find it, Kuya Jops and Ate Maia came, so we decided to go say Hi first.

There were still the usual Yellow-vented Bulbuls, Pied Fantails, and Lowland White-eyes everywhere as we decided to walk the short distance  another building. In front of that building were two overlapping trees where the Philippine Nightjars are known to roost during the day.

We spent a long time there, sadly, not a single Nightjar was found. The walk there was not  a total waste though because we saw a Coppersmith Barbet calling on an exposed branch. The call gives it its local Philippine name, Pok-Pok. Kuya Jops and Ate Maia said it was the most beautiful Coppersmith Barbet they have ever seen, and I have been there to see it.

Coppersmith Barbet <Photo by King Pandi>
Lifer no. 68

We went back to the MSI building ready to leave when Ate Maia saw something which turned out to be a false alarm. We were then ready to leave, again, but then Tristan saw something. It was a Philippine Nightjar, as Kuya Jops said, sadly it flew away before I could have gotten a good look at it, so I can’t count it as a lifer :(.

Bird List

  1. Long-tailed Shrike
  2. White-breasted Wood Swallow
  3. Yellow-vented Bulbul
  4. Pied Fantail
  5. Lowland White-eye
  6. Coppersmith Barbet

Pledge to Fledge Weekend (Part Two)

It was the second day of the “Pledge to Fledge” weekend, and this time were holding a guided trip with my relatives in LPPCHEA. I am the one who introduce my relatives to birding and it was good to know they were willing to come tomorrow. They were actually very new to birding since I only took them birding like once(?) but we didn’t see many birds when I birded with them before, but now that they are with experienced guides, they’ll probably see more birds.

We started off with an orientation, as usual, which took a bit longer than when I joined a Guided Trip before I was a member of the WBCP. We then went to the beach of sand and trash with some comments and questions on why there was so much trash in that area. We set the Spotting Scopes and did what we do, bird.

The Orientation of the Guided Trip
<Photo by King Pandi>

There were still the usual Black-crowned night Herons and Little Egrets everywhere. Then the other member spotted a Common Sandpiper on the beach, as we birded. I was so happy that there were waders now, for it symbolizes that the migration season is starting.

Little Egret <Photo by King Pandi>

Other than that, there was also a Sand Plover. It took a while to ID what kind of Sand Plover, but then Kuya Ivan confirmed it as a Greater Sand Plover due to the yellow feet. I was not satisfied with just calling it a lifer just like that; I needed to see the feet to be able to call it a lifer, good thing I did. 🙂

We went to a different beach, deeper in LPPCHEA where we spotted some White-collared Kingfisher, and a Spotted Dove. The Spotted Dove was a very unique bird with its black patch with white spots on the nape. We also spotted a Pacific Golden Plover and a Grey-tailed Tattler, both lifers. The Pacific Golden Plover was so beautiful, with it’s gold and black plumage. The Grey-tailed Tattler looked kinda cute. 🙂

Before going home, we saw a Pied Fantail on the street. This was the first time complete strangers actually asked me questions about birds, but functioning as a guide was very fun. The faces of the people when they see the White-collared Kingfisher or the Black-crowned Night Heron :O. I would definitely love to function as a guide again.

For those interested to “Pledge to Fledge” here is the link.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/509/572/301/pledge-to-fledge/

Bird List

  1. Black-crowned Night Heron
  2. Little Egret
  3. Common Sandpiper
  4. Greater Sand Plover (Lifer)
  5. Spotted Dove (Lifer)
  6. White-Collared Kingfisher
  7. Pacific Golden Plover (Lifer)
  8. Grey-tailed Tattler (Lifer)
  9. Pied Fantail

Pledge to Fledge Weekend (Part One)

For the past two days WBCP has been holding “Pledge to Fledge” Guided Trips  to the public. Guided Trips in which we try to “Fledge” non-birders to try on birding, most of the participants were actually some of the member’s friends and relatives. The word “Fledge” means to take care of a young bird until it is ready to fly.

Day one of the of the “Pledge to Fledge” weekend, I was a bit confused because I thought we weren’t going to join it. I originally thought we were going to UP Diliman, but to my surprise my dad said “Okay, were going to La Mesa Ecopark.” I thought he was messing with me, but then I knew he was serious as we passed the road on the way to La Mesa Ecopark.

We met with the other birders at the Spill Way and they were just as surprised to see us there as I was. I saw a group of 20+ participants, and each face was surely ready to learn more about birds. Before entering the actual park, Kuya Jun showed me a Common Kingfisher. It was so cute with its orange belly and blue-green back, definitely my favorite Kingfisher that I have seen so far.

We entered the park entrance, hoping to get lucky on the Ashy Ground-Thrush, but alas, no Ashies. We went deeper into La Mesa Ecopark, seeing Olive-backed Sunbirds on some heliconia plants and birds of paradise plants. I have now realized that knowing plants and trees are actually important in birding, so that you can tell what plants and trees do birds favor.

We spotted some Osprey before entering the Nature Trail, and inside the trail were some cute little Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers and Black-naped Orioles which got a lot of attention from the participants. Yellow-vented Bulbuls and Pied Fantails would show themselves once in a while

My dad saw the very first Rufous Paradise Flycatcher and I was disappointed because I thought I wouldn’t see one that day, but as I was walking down the path with Alain Pascua behind me. I saw something orange, in my mind I’m like “Dried Leaf?”, but the leaf moved “Rufous Paradise Flycatcher?!” I got my binoculars and sure enough, it was. I was so happy, and later on, everyone got a chance to see the Flycatchers.

We went out out of La Mesa Ecopark, and Kuya Jops collected the binoculars that were borrowed by the participants. Me and my Dad went to the Spill Way again, and saw some participants. One has been birding for a long time, but never joined the club, but he said he would soon. The other was his friend, a first time birder.

We saw some Little Herons and Little Egrets with Common Sandpipers, lifer. An Immature Black-crowned Night Heron was present  and still,  so were Barred Rails, swimming and drying themselves. Lowland White-eyes flew above and a White-eared Brown Dove perched itself on a small tree.

Little Egret <Photo by King Pandi>

Immature Black-crowned Night Heron

Barred Rails

I started raining so we had to leave, plus we were getting hungry, on the way out we saw some Pacific Swallows and a White-breasted Waterhen crossing the road, how ironic.

Bird List

  1. Common Kingfisher (Lifer)
  2. Olive-backed Sunbird
  3. Osprey
  4. Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker
  5. Black-naped Oriole
  6. Yellow-vented Bulbul
  7. Pied Fantail
  8. Rufous Paradise Flycatcher (Lifer)
  9. Little Heron
  10. Little Egret
  11. Common Sandpiper
  12. Black-crowned Night Heron
  13. Barred Rail
  14. Lowland White-eye
  15. White-eared Brown Dove
  16. Pacific Swallow
  17. White-collared Kingfisher
  18. White-breasted Waterhen

to be continued…

Rain, Fog, and Crows

Subic Bay was once a Spanish Naval Base in the Philippines which played a major part in World War I and II and the Vietnam War. It was then converted to a Freeport Zone for export-import uses. Now, it is one of the best places vacationers love to go when in the Philippines. Several activities can be done there like Trekking, Snorkeling, Swimming, Scuba Diving, Horse-back Riding, Zip Lining, Jungle Survival, Sight Seeing, and my favorite Birding.

The rain was pouring as my Dad handed down money to the girl in the toll gate. We passed the toll gate, indicating that we were already in Subic. It was a long weekend, no school for Monday and Tuesday and it was Monday when we got here. We were with some of my local relatives and friends, and also some Canadian relatives, all of them have not tried birding, and have no plans to do so. There were no birds in the sky as the rain kept pouring, but after we had our lunch, me and my Dad saw two Large-billed Crows on an electrical post, and Crested Mynahs on a wire.

We checked in to Subic Homes which had an abundance of Crows and White-breasted Wood Swallows which I was able to show to my Tito and Tita. They were a bit interested to see those birds as I explained it to them the best I can. I see the Wood Swallows and ask myself “Why are they on the wires in the pouring rain, don’t they have nests?”

We went to Camayan Beach Resort to meet up with my relatives from Canada, and near the front entrance were some Pacific Swallows, but other than that, it was not a very birdy place. Monkeys though were plentiful there, stealing peoples food. I got a bit annoyed at one woman who took a picture of it with flash. The monkey growled at her. There is a reason why there is no flash photography in zoos and safaris, animals hate sudden bright flashes of light.

Me and my Dad decided to go out of the beach to bird as the rain lessened a bit. I got out of the water and got my binoculars. Swiftlets were everywhere as we went out; I tried to see if I could see a Pygmy Swiftlet among the hundreds of swiftlets that flew, but they were too fast and flying above us so it’s hard to ID them.

We saw more White-breasted Wood Swallows on the wires but then noticed that one bird was blue. It was a White-collared Kingfisher on the wire calling out as it flew away. We also heard some birds calling back at each other but can never find them, and somehow, I agree with my Dad’s statement and I’m sure most birders do too, “I hate those birds that keep calling out, but are very hard to find!”

We finally found a place with no cars and started seeing more birds. I got two lifers in that area, the White-eared Brown Dove in the trees, many of them; and the White-bellied Woodpecker, both genders and noticed that they nest in holes of the electric post, going in and out. At first i wasn’t able to see it, but my Dad was, then second time, I saw it and there were actually four of them.

Nest of the White-bellied Woodpecker

The day ended just like that, not many birds for the first day, but good thing were spending the night here.

The next morning we birded with my two Cousins, Kim and Paulo. The weather was still rainy, but it lessened once in a while. Again we saw Crows everywhere, but then White-throated Kingfishers started coming out. My two cousins seemed so interested as I explained the bird to them.

After a while of driving we finally found a good spot to bird, and I saw a lifer. It was a green bird with an orange-red bill, bluish on the crown and nape, with a sort of yellow stripe on the wing. It was Blue-naped Parrot, staying on the exposed branches for so long, with it on the same branches was an immature Black-naped Oriole, and a Dove I couldn’t ID. Philippine Bulbuls and some Drongos I can’t ID were also present.

Blue-naped Parrot <Photo by King Pandi>
Lifer no.59

We went to old Bat Kingdom which is now abandoned since the bats have moved. We saw a brown raptor with a dirty white belly and a a dark eye stripe. I was foggy so I could not ID it until it flew. It was hard to ID birds without the WBCP members around, being a newbie some birds are still very new to me.

As we were going back to Subic Homes, we passed by grasslands. We saw a whole flock of Crested Mynahs and an Immature Striated Grassbird on the fences of this grassland. Brahminy Kites flew above us as we passed through the grassland as well. I fell asleep in the car on the way back, but then my Dad woke me up to show me a bird. It was Philippine Coucal. I was so happy to see one, since it is another lifer.

I asked my Dad if I could try to take a picture of it with his camera. I think it turned out okay.

Philippine Coucal
Lifer no. 60

Inside Subic Homes, me and my Dad decided to bird some more and found Yellow-vented Bulbuls and two Coletos on a wire. We decided to bird once again in the place we went to a while ago, this time with my Tito Jag, but without Paulo. We saw some juvenille White-breasted Waterhens in the Mangroves, looking like black and white chicks, but just a bit bigger.

In the Old Bat Kingdom some more Black-naped Orioles and two Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers on a tree. My Dad hasn’t seen a Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker so its a lifer for him. Tito Jag took a few pictures with his camera and I was so happy to see him and Kim, his daughter and my cousin, were interested.

We decided to go to the Nabasan Area, sadly nothing but a Barred Rail and White-collared Kingfishers near a resort, since the time was already noon, the birds lessened. While going back we also saw a lone Little Egret in a ricefield.

We were finished birding and left Subic after our lunch, As we left the Crows followed us out, then returning back to the mountains of Subic, every few trees there was a crow. It was almost like they were giving us birders a fine farewell. We didn’t see much and I didn’t get that much lifers, but I am already content with what I got and there will always be a next time.

Bird List

  1. Large-billed Crow
  2. Crested Mynah
  3. White-breasted Wood Swallow
  4. Pacific Swallow
  5. Swiftlet sp.
  6. White-eared Brown Dove (Lifer)
  7. White-bellied Woodpecker (Lifer)
  8. Philippine Coucal (Lifer)
  9. White-collared Kingfisher
  10. White-throated Kingfisher
  11. Blue-naped Parrot (Lifer)
  12. Philippine Bulbul
  13. Glossy Swiftlet
  14. Black-naped Oriole
  15. Dove sp.
  16. Drongo sp.
  17. Raptor sp.
  18. Striated Grassbird
  19. Brahminy Kite
  20. Yellow-vented Bulbul
  21. Coleto
  22. White-breasted Waterhen
  23. Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker
  24. Barred Rail
  25. Little Egret

Above and Beyond the Branches

We woke up very early in the morning to bird in Mt. Palay-Palay. It was my first time to have a Club Trip outside of Metro Manila with the WBCP. The sky was gloomy and light raindrops poured down; I was wishing that the rain would soon stop so that there would be more birds when we get to Mt. Palay-Palay.

View of the sea from Mt. Palay-Palay
<Photo by King Pandi>

We arrived to the mountain and we went straight to the “Falconet Corner” to check if the Philippine Falconets were there, the other birders say that they nearly always see them here, but sadly we didn’t see any. They must have took shelter from the down pour. We drove just a few more kilometers up the mountain and arrived at the DENR station. The rain kept pouring and unfortunately that affected the birds; we saw no birds in the DENR station.

We walked around just a bit more around the area and Tristan (Cousin) found a Coleto up in the trees. I was so annoyed by the fact that he has more lifers than me, so I am determined to beat his number of lifers now that were in Mt. Palay-Palay.

We decided to drive to a resort called “Caylabne” to have some lunch and bird a bit. The rain stopped as we drove to Caylabne, but before we even got to the resort, we saw a White-throated Kingfisher perched on the wire, and to my surprise we also saw Brahminy Kites gracefully flying right above our heads. The Brahminy Kite was a lifer for me, they were actually very common in that mountain because we ended up seeing lots.

We also saw many Tarictic Hornbills, beautiful birds with odd-looking bills. It was my first time to see a hornbill and they look so nice. White-breasted Wood Swallow were abundant there as well, and Coletos were fairly common as well. The Coleto was so pretty, yet it had this pinkish patch on the sides of its face which may be unappealing for some people, but I find it as a great unique  feature of this Philippine endemic bird.

Black-naped Orioles were unsurprisingly common and so were Philippine Bulbuls, another of my lifers. Glossy Siftlets were fund everywhere.

We have finally entered the Caylabne Resort, and me the other members tested our skills by trying to spot a Philippine Tailorbird which is very hard to spot, good thing that I was able to. In one area of Caylabne, Pacific Swallows were everywhere and Yellow-vented Bulbuls were found here, which is strange because Kuya Mike (WBCP President) said that they weren’t here before.

Pacific Swallows on a Wire <Photo by King Pandi>

Blue-throated Bee-eaters perched on the wires of this area with some Wood Swallows. In that area I also got two new lifers which are the Whiskered Tree-swift which were also perched on the wires, and the Black-naped Monarch in the trees.

Blue-throated Bee-eater on a Wire
<Photo by King Pandi>

Whiskered Tree-swift on a Wire
<Photo by King Pandi> Lifer no.53

We checked-in to Caylabne Resort, and while checking-in Ate Ixi (WBCP Member) helped us spot a Yellow Wagtail. We ate a quick but heavy lunch and continued birding.

While birding in Caylabne, we saw some White-collared kingfishers, and a Scaly-breasted Munia on a branch of a tree. We saw ONE Eurasian Tree Sparrow, which feels so weird because in the city it is the most common bird there is. Olive-backed Sunbirds feasted on some flowers as we saw them, and Striated Swallows with they’re clear reddish rumps perched on a wire that went across the river. Pied Trillers also stayed beside the same river and Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers were on a tree upstream.

We went to an area that had an unfinished road and birded there, but saw pretty much the same things, Philippine Bulbuls and Tarictic Hornbill. As we drove back to Metro Manila, we once again passed by the “Falconet Corner” but unfortunately it started raining again, so no Falconets were there, but I was already content on the lifers I got today, because they were different from what I usually see back home.

During this adventure we also encountered some birds we could not ID, a raptor,  and a small brown bird with streaked sides looking like a Rhabdornis.

Bird List

  1. White-throated Kingfisher
  2. Brahminy Kite (Lifer)
  3. Tarictic Hornbill (Lifer)
  4. White-breated Wood Swallow
  5. Rhabdornis sp.
  6. Whit-breasted Woodswallow
  7. Coleto (Lifer)
  8. Black-naped Oriole
  9. Philippine Bulbul (Lifer)
  10. Glossy Swiftlet
  11. Raptor sp.
  12. Philippine Tailorbird (Lifer)
  13. Pacific Swallow
  14. Blue-throated Bee-eater
  15. Whiskered Tree-swift (Lifer)
  16. Yellow-vented Bulbul
  17. Black-naped Monarch (Lifer)
  18. Yellow Wagtail (Lifer)
  19. White-collared Kingfisher
  20. Scaly-breasted Munia
  21. Eurasian Tree Sparrow
  22. Olive-backed Sunbird
  23. Striated Swallow (Lifer)
  24. Pied Triller
  25. Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker

We also passed by LPPCHEA on the way back, but it was just a short time so I don’t need to tell the story, just the birds.

Bird List

  1. Little Egret
  2. Black-crowned Night Heron
  3. Barred Rail
  4. Yellow Bittern
  5. Little Heron

The Day is Warm, the Birds are Wet

The Hagonoy Pumping Station in Taguig City is a project of the MMDA to help during floods by pumping the flood water towards Laguna Lake. The lake is now filled with reeds and vegetation, a great home for many water birds, like Bitterns, Swallows, Moorhens, Terns and much more.

Hagonoy Pumping Station Area
<Photo by King Pandi>

The warm sun came out of the dark clouds after the long days of rain and flood.The heat of the sun gave life to the birds and birders alike. Tristan (Cousin) told me about Hagonoy Pumping Station and about the birds he found there, but the bird that made me most excited was the Black Bittern, being an uncommon bird, some birders have not even seen one :).

It was Saturday when me, my Dad, and my Sister packed up our gear and went there with enthusiasm on the birds that we might see. We arrived at about 4:30 in the afternoon, and already I got a Lifer. Whiskered Terns were flying around everywhere; it was my first time to see a tern and I love the way they flew, gracefully diving down to catch fish.

We met up with Tristan and his family and almost immediately we saw Yellow Bitterns and Cinnamon Bitterns, in the vegetation. I was so shocked to see so may Bitterns in one place. Pacific Swallows flew above us as we kept looking for birds, then we saw a huge black bird with a long neck. It is what I have been waiting for, Black Bitterns, they were very common in this area and we ended up seeing more than 5 of them. I have another Lifer :). Another black bird then revealed itself to us as we continued birding, Common Moorhens. A lifer, again :).

Black Bittern in Flight < Photo by Jerome Manalad>

Common Moorhens <Photo by King Pandi>

As the sun started to set we saw a lone Little Egret in the distance and Black-crowned Night Herons were starting to appear. Some Glossy Swiftlets flew above me while we were observing the Black Bitterns and we saw a Striated Grassbird coming out of the vegetation and going on a pole.

Little Egret
<Photo by Jerome Manalad>

Before we left we saw some birds that we could not ID, a Tern with a black body with whitish wings, and a Bird that was yellowish, looking like a Heron.

We left the place filled with happiness that we saw all these water birds, and especially the uncommon Black Bittern. When we got home, I saw two WBCP activities next weekend so expect me to post very soon :).

Bird List

  1. Whiskered Tern
  2. Cinnamon Bittern
  3. Yellow Bittern
  4. Black Bittern
  5. Common Moorhen
  6. Little Egret
  7. Black-crowned Night Heron
  8. Pacific Swallow
  9. Striated Grassbird
  10. Glossy Swiftlet
  11. Heron sp.
  12. Tern sp.

A Bird’s Freedom

Are you willing to take a bird’s freedom for the entertainment of others?

I arrived in the Makati Park and Gardens, angered by the fact of Tristan (Cousin) having more lifers than me. I went there hoping to get lucky and actually get a lifer. I walked there for a while with my Sister and Yaya searching the skies, but only seeing bats and Swallows.

It’s been a long time since I went there, about a year, but last time I wasn’t able to see the horror I saw today. I saw cages; I’ve seen the cages before when I was a little kid. I knew that in those cages were birds, but little did i know that those birds were actually WILD!!!

The first cage was a bit larger than the others which had nothing inside but dead leaves and a suspended branch. On that suspended branch, I saw one of the majesties of the sky with its brown body and white head. I saw the sorrow in its eyes, as it lay motionless on the suspended branch. It was a Brahminy Kite.

Caged Brahminy Kite

Brahminy Kite Cage

The second cage contained the king of the Coastals, usually flying freely screeching its creepy call, gracefully fishing in shallow waters. Now, it lays sad and still. The very sad part is, for a bird who loves water, its tiny pond is bone dry. The Black-crowned Night Heron may be very common, but still doesn’t deserve to be caged.

Caged Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron’s Dry Pond

The third cage contained a small little raptor. I pity it so much as I see its feeble attempts of escape. It grabs the walls of its cage with its sharp claws, supposedly made to catch prey, hoping that it would pry open, every attempt a failure. It lives in this agonizingly small cage, not fit for a Eurasian Kestrel.

Caged Eurasian Kestrel

Eurasian Kestrel Cage

I find it very sad that these birds were put in cages in our park just for people’s entertainment. I would partially understand if it was a zoo, but not in an old park, with cages that don’t supply their needs and people who don’t know how to care for them. I see people taking pictures in front of these birds, unaware of their suffering. One man with his child, gave the Black-crowned Night Heron a taunting call “coo-coo-coo…”, incredibly far from its actual call.

I went there full of determination, then left full of sorrow for these birds. WBCP members can we do something to help them?

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