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 andย 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

6 responses to this post.

  1. I can almost visualize the beauty of the birding locations over there .. you write very good descriptions of your birding trips!


  2. Posted by Tristan Manalad on August 23, 2012 at 11:59 am

    If my dad were there, we could probably ID some birds you are not able to ID cuz he can take very quick pics and we can probably ID it. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Well Tristan, The Drongo is possible to ID with a picture, but the rest cannot be Identified even with a picture because the reason is the fog, rain and distance of the bird, even with binocs, it’s still too far and the rain and fog make it worse.


  4. Looks like to had a fun trip to Subic Charles, look forward to reading about your future birding adventures ๐Ÿ™‚ the only drongo at Subic is the Balicassiao but there are other species there like Blackish Cuckooshrike that could be confused. Hope you’ll get better looks next time ๐Ÿ™‚ Rob


  5. Posted by Tristan Manalad on September 27, 2012 at 7:05 am

    Im just sad to know that the woodpecker nest in that picture is already chopped down.


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