Posts Tagged ‘Bulbuls’

My 100th Lifer

Hurrying through the busy roads on the way to UP were me and my driver. I was late for the Guided Trip which started an hour before I arrived. I missed some good birds like the Coppersmith Barbet and the White-collared Kingfisher. I have seen both before, but seeing them again would be nice. My goal actually for today was to reach my 100th lifer, being at 98 I was determined to see 2 new birds today.

I missed this so much, being with the WBCP. It’s more fun, even happier when they’re around, and most of all, easier to see birds. We started off, or at least I started off, at the side of the road, since they were already there when I caught up with them, but the original meeting place was near the UP Main Library.

We saw a lot of Brown Shrikes, and Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers on the trees at the side of the road, while on the road were hundreds of joggers completely unaware of their presence. When you look up, you could see Lowland White-eyes and Golden-bellied Flyeaters high-up on the tree tops. We were unprepared for the next surprise, a raptor that is somewhat white in plumage. It came and went in a matter of seconds.

We entered a slightly forested area, the UP Lagoon. The place was crawling, well… flying, with Brown Shrikes and Yellow-vented Bulbuls. Some birders finally spotted my 99th lifer. They showed me the bird, and it kept flying around but in the same area, so we were still able to follow it. It was an immature Brush Cuckoo eating a very hairy caterpillar we Filipinos call “Higad”.

It flew away, but luckily everyone in the group, including the participants to the Guided Trip, saw it. We then continued out the Lagoon, but not without seeing two cute Zebra Doves on the path. It was almost time to go, but we still had one stop left. Ate Maia (WBCP mamber) told me that it was a sure sighting of my 100th lifer in that area.

Sure enough, it was. Immediately when we got there, the others were already pointing at a Mango Tree. It took me a while, but I finally saw it. A Philippine Nightjar roosting on a branch at plain view. We woke it up from its sleep, but it soon went back to sleep when it figured that we weren’t a threat.

Philippine Nightjar <Photo by Jun Osano>
100th Lifer!!!

I was so thrilled to see my 100th lifer, but sad that I had to go home already. I looked at my fellow WBCP members, and well… I will miss them. It has been a while since I saw them, but now that I was birding with them again I had so much fun. It’s true that birding is more fun with more people, especially with people who are more experienced than you are because you learn from them, and it’s fun to be able to share stories with each other. I just hope there will be a next WBCP activity very soon.

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My First Owl

Last Friday was a very special day for me, for it was the day I saw my first owl. Me and my Dad drove to the building of Manila Waters with a dense forest right beside it. It was known to be the nesting site of two adult and one juvenile Philippine Eagle Owl.

With us were some WBCP members and a few visiting birders with my cousin and Tito. They showed me the juvenile owl perched just few feet away, up in the branches of some trees. They called him pickle-relish, and they also called the two adult owls food condiments who were here a while ago, but were a no show to me and my dad.

Philippine Eagle Owl resting on a branch
<Photo by King Pandi>

Curiously staring at us noisy birders
<Photo by King Pandi>

It was a very elegant bird. It may seem a bit creepy, especially if we saw it at night with its yellow eyes staring at you, bobbing it’s head from side to side.

There were Golden-bellied Flyeaters and Yellow-vented Bulbuls calling from the other trees, but the owl still remained the star of the show. We actually wanted to go deeper in the forest, but as it turns out we needed a permit, and of course the easiest way to get a permit was to wait for the WBCP to hold a Club Trip there. I will be able to go in that forest some day.

We didn’t see many birds, but I would never forget this day, the day I saw my first owl.

A Lifer Red as Blood

The words “Belated!” or  “Happy Birthday!” is what has welcomed me in Lipa that Saturday morning as my relatives greeted me. We all invited them to go in Lipa, Batangas, after all the day before this was my birthday, and of course I had to go birding the day afterwards. My birthday wouldn’t be complete without having an adventure full of birds or gaining a new lifer.

We started off with day one in Lipa with some water birds in Taal Lake where we stayed in a small barangay in Mataas na Kahoy. It was fun yet at the same time challenging since water birds are some of the hardest to identify. Questions like “What type of Egeret is that?”, “Are those Whiskered Terns or something else?”, or “Why are water birds so complicated?!” would occasionally pop-up. In the end, we listed the following species in Taal Lake:

  • Whiskered Terns, and other unidentified terns
  • Little, Great, and Intermediate Egrets
  • Little Heron, and an unidentified heron
  • Barn and Pacific Swallows

Afterwards, we went to a small nature trail inside a Cemetery in another part of Lipa. It was a small field with tall grass and cattle fesses; around it, left, right, and forward, was a forest full of Yellow-vented Bulbuls and Brown Shrike. Some beautiful flower-covered trees attract a lot of Olive-baked Sunbirds and Lowland White-eyes, and White -collared Kingfishers also occur.

A bit deeper inside, we were left dumbfounded by a bird looking like a flycatcher. It was brown with a black bill, and a streaked breast. I had no idea what it was and neither did the rest of us, and we were disappointed of the sight of it flying away before we got the chance to ID it. We waited a while longer for it to come back, but it was a no show, so we just went directly out of the trail to the Cemetery.

A Long-tailed Shrike here, and a Striated Grassbird there, but I still couldn’t get the flycatcher out of my mind until I heard my tito say “Flowerpecker!” And there it was a tiny bird, the size of a sunbird, perched on the slim branches of a tree. My tita asked “Isn’t that a bleeding heart?”. It wasn’t, but it was very close since this bird also has a red breast, but it was way too small. My only Lifer in Lipa, the Red-keeled Flowerpecker.

We spent the night in the Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club, a place I have went to a lot before I have started birding,which actually had the most species of birds in all the places we went to, because just in the fishpond there were already swallows, Great and Little Egrets, Common Sandpipers, Little Herons and Common Kingfishers with some White-collared Kingfihers.

Great Egret <Photo by King Pandi>

Common Kingfisher <Photo by King Pandi>

The golf course and empty lots had a lot of grass-dwelling birds like Long-tailed Shrikes, Striated Grassbirds, Barred Rails which we laugh at because of their way of running when we flushed them, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters perched on wires, Scaly-breates Munias, Red-Turtle Doves, Richard’s Pipits, White-bellied Woodswallows, and Yellow Wagtails. There was also a flock of Black-naped Orioles in an area of palm trees.

White-bellied Woodswallow <Photo by King Pandi>

The next day we went up a mountain, tired and sweaty we hoped to find many birds. We did find Philippine Bubuls and on of both Philippine and Lesser Coucals, but other than these and some common birds it wasn’t such a birdy place. This our last adventure of the weekend and even though I only got one lifer I was very happy, and the celebration of my birthday was complete.

The Tree of Life in a Birder’s Paradise

The weather was better now than when we last came here, now my bird loving tito, tita and cousin came with us. There were still light rain showers but it would only last for a short while then the rest of the day was sunny and perfect for birding. Subic still had the usual Large-billed Crows and White-breasted Woodswallows, which were sort of as common as Eurasian Tree Sparrows in the area.

The common birds, Yellow-vented Bulbuls, Zebra Doves, Glossy Swiftlets, Pacific Swalows and Brown Shrikes, flew around the residential areas of Subic Homes as we checked-in. If you ever come to Subic, this is the place I suggest you stay because even in Subic Homes a lot of birds can already be found but let me tell you about Subic Homes later on.

Before we talk about the birds in Subic Homes, let’s first talk about the Boton Forest Trail. There were actually not many birds here except Black-naped Orioles, but this was the place I first laid eyes on my first malkoha, the Red-crested Malkoha. It is a Luzon Endemic, and a common resident in the forests of Subic. Later that day, we even found them flying in front of us.

White-throated Kingfisher perched on wire
<Photo by King Pandi>

Well, other than the malkoha it wasn’t really a birdy place, so we drove to the old Bat Kingdom and on our way there we saw a lot of White-throated King-fishers occasionally parching on wires or small trees beside the road. I then saw something brown with some spot-like  patterns and I knew it was different. We nearly ignored it, but then I shouted “Wait! Stop the Car!” I was right; it was something else, a Female Blue Rock-Thrush.

Female Blue Rock-Thrush <Photo by King Pandi> Lifer no. 88

At the Bat Kingdom, Me and Tristan (Cousin) saw two species of woodpeckers, happily pecking on these bark-less trees. They were the cut little Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker, and to my surprise a woodpecker we didn’t expect to see, a Greater Flameback. I was a beautiful woodpecker with its red back, and another surprise, we didn’t just see one, but three! A very nice lifer.

Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker <Photo by King Pandi>

I was also finally able to see the Stripe-headed Rhabdornis, which I have been trying to track down ever since I missed it at Mt. Palay-Palay. Then once we were done with the Bat Kingdom, wile driving back to Subic Homes, we saw Philippine Serpent-Eagles, another bird I missed out on in Mt. Palay-Palay, flying in circles which I think i’s called thermaling.

In the afternoon, we planned to go to Hill 394, but sadly we had to have a permit to got there. I guess when WBCP has a Club Trip there, they issue first a permit. We sadly weren’t informed of this, and we didn’t have time to get one, so we had to go with the back-up plan, birding near Zoobic Safari. We saw more or less the same birds, Philippine Bulbuls were here, and so were White-bellied Woodpeckers, and an abundance of Balicassiaos.

Now, let’s go back to Subic Homes. We birded there a bit late, from noon to night then again at early morning and found a Colasisi and a White-collared Kingfisher. There was actually a particular tree there which I really want to know what kind. It surprised me because in this one three we listed the following birds:

  • A flock of 10+ Pompadour Green-Pigeons, Lifer

Pompadour Green-pigoen <Photo by King Pandi> Lifer no. 81

  • About 3+ Coppersmith Barbets
  • Large-billed Crows
  • A few Coletos
  • Yellow-vented Bulbuls
  • Brown Shrikes
  • A Blue-naped Parrot
  • Balicassiaos, Lifer
  • And a flock of 8+ Luzon Tarictic Hornbills

Luzon Tarictic Hornbill <Photo by King Pandi>

What surprised me really was the flock of Hornbills that fly there to feed in the morning and the Pompadour Pigeons that never leave the tree. My Ninang Princess calls it “The Tree of Life”. If anyone could identify this tree for me, hopefully those of the WBCP would know this tree, I would be very grateful.

“Tree of Life” <Photo by King Pandi>

Also, in front of a Brent International School, Subic, which was located in the same area as the Subic Homes residential, was a flock of SEVERAL, about 20 to 30 parrots. The parrots composed of Blue-backed Parrots, Guaiaberos, a single Green Raquet-tail, and the most plentiful were the Blue-naped Parrots. The Guaiabero was my lifer, but I didn’t count the Blue-backed Parrot and the Raquet-tail since I only saw both for barely a second before it flew off.

Blue-naped Parrots <Photo by King Pandi>

In the same area, we also found some strange looking woodpeckers. Some were pure black while others had red faces. They were in fact Sooty Woodpeckers, the all black being females and the rad face being males. We also saw Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes which I had almost mistaken as a Balicassiao, but just my luck, an actual Balicassiao was right beside it and I was able to see the difference.

Sooty Woodpecker <Photo by King Pandi>
Lifer no. 82

In a wetland area near Subic Homes, next to a golf course, we found a Buff-banded Rail. We then saw something HUGE fly across the wetland. It perched on a tree, and if we didn’t see it fly there we would have thought it was a branch since it was really well camouflaged. It was a very huge Purple Heron. It turns out that the Subic Homes Area had the most birds among all the places we went to in Subic.

Purple Heron <Photo by King Pandi>
Lifer no.86

I left Subic with sadness in my heart. I wish I lived there with the birds just outside my window, but my place is here in Metro Manila. A “Maya’s Paradise!” :D. This has been my best birding trip so far, and I can’t wait for the day I would finally come here with the WBCP. When that time comes, it would mean more birds and an access to hill 394.

Overwhelmed By Waders

We nearly got lost in the Pampanga area while finding our way to the Candaba Wetlands, but good thing the local Pampangueno people knew the way. One by one we asked them directions to Candaba and slowly we started making progress getting there. They talked to us with a sort of accent and used the terms “dine” and “rine”.

We finally stumbled into the muddy trails of Candaba, but sadly we could not go in deeper to the actual site due to the very deep muddy road. We had to make do with the ricefield at the side of the dirt road and hoped for the best. We actually saw tons of birds in the ricefields and most of them were waders.

The very first wader we saw that day was the Black-winged Stilt; I have not seen it before due to the fact that it was a migrant. I actually thought at first that my first Black-winged Stilt would be in LPPCHEA, a much closer habitat to home, but with almost the same kinds of birds.

Black-winged Stilt <Photo by King Pandi>
Lifer no. 77

Candaba was an amazing experience for me. I got a total of five lifers that morning; one of which was the Black-winged Stilt, but other than that I also got the Wood Sandpiper, along side with some Common Sandpipers. I finally got to see the deepness of the fork of a Barn Swallow and can finally count it as a lifer. I also got the Red Turtle Dove there while they were flocking together with the waders, and me and Tristan (Cousin) were sure that most of the egrets we saw there were Cattle Egrets.

Wood Sandpiper <Photo by king Pandi>
Lifer no. 78

I was so happy to see such a diverse array of water loving birds in one area. I actually love water birds, but they are just so hard to ID since they nearly look the same. If we were with other WBCP members on this trip, we would have seen more birds, but what I liked about this trip that I was able to ID most of the water birds here myself and that makes me a bit proud.

We did see many other birds in Candaba like Chestnut Munias the size of mayas, and mayas the size of Brown Shrikes, and Brown Shrikes the size of Long-tailed Shrikes, and Long-tailed Shrikes the size of Zebra Doves, and Zebra Doves the size of Yellow Bitterns, and Yellow Bitterns the size of Cinnamon Bitterns, and the Cinnamon Bittern being the biggest Cinnamon Bittern that I have ever seen. I swear that birds here look or ARE bigger than those found within Metro Manila.

There were many birds there and esspecially many waders but I only got to see their true diversity when the mixed wader flock flew just a few meters off the water of the ricefield. I saw an amazing display of different species of waders, but didn’t know how to ID them. They looked so similar but you could see different shades of gray, black and white, and occasionally see a glimpse of color in the flock.

I was so glad that I have finally got to bird in Candaba, but the day is still young and this is only part one of my birding weekend. The rest will be left on suspense mode until tomorrow :).

To be continued…

Through Muddy Trails

The rain seemed like it would never stop for the past two days; thanks to typhoon “Karen” ( international name: Sanba ) entering the Philippine area of responsibility. It had stopped us from birding in La Mesa Ecopark last Saturday to search for more of La Mesa’s interesting residents, but good thing the rain has settled down yesterday, Sunday morning.

We decided to go back in time, to the place it all started, hoping to see more birds than when we first came here. We went back to the Nuvali Bird Sanctuary, the place where we had our first birding adventure.

I was so excited to go there with my dad, my tito, and my cousin. We first had  get a permit from the front desk, and just outside the building were some Brown Shrikes, Yellow-vented Bulbuls, Zebra Doves, and some Whiskered Terns diving into Nuvali’s boating area. Long-tailed Shrikes also perched on the small trees and plants at the side of the road.

Brown Shrike <Photo by King Pandi>

We arrived at the Nuvali Bird Sanctuary and was saddened by the sight that it had been lessened. At the entrance of the sanctuary to the right, where trees used to be, is now a future subdivision site. The trees have been cut and exposed soil has been dug up.

The birds near the entrance has now lessened as wel,l except for some Barred Rails, so we decided to go deeper in the sanctuary until we reached the wetland area where two birding stations are located. I have just noticed that my cargo pants were very muddy, making them a bit harder to carry around, so I converted them to shorts with a simple zip of  a zipper.

We saw no water birds there in that area just some Olive-backed Sunbirds and a Golden-bellied Flyeater on an exposed branch. There were some bird illustration and information located in the stations for beginners, and around the area were some information hung on trees about the trees their on which I read for just a bit, and it contained very interesting information.

The Gazebo was like a two-story open bahay kubo “hut” with some more information and illustrations on birds and also other animals. I learned from those information that a particular kind of lizard, called the Philippine Sailfin Lizard, was a good indicator of the environment. I was actually a bit disappointed from the site there in the Gazebo for half of it was the site of the sanctuary while half was the reclaimed area for the future subdivision.

Glossy Swiftlets and Pygmy Swiftlets flew around the Gazebo, and at the view of the sanctuary were some Large-billed Crows above the canopy of the trees. While at the sadly reclaimed area, were some Pied Bushchats, both male and female, Strited Grassbirds, and Richard’s Pipits.

We decided to go back in the trail to avoid the sad sight of the future subdivision, and found some Crested Mynahs. Tito Jerome then gave us a tip to go to the fruiting trees near the Gazebo entrance of the trail, and wait for a while, birds might come. We did just that and saw an Arctic Warbler hopping around on branches and flying from tree to tree. It took  a while for us to ID it from the Lemon-throated Leaf Warbler, but when I asked Kuya Jun (WBCP member), I was definitely sure.

We went back up the trail and back to the wetlands, we saw a huge White-throated Kingfisher fly past us and a White-collared Kingfisher fly from on top of a wall. Then my Dad had a last look at the grass on the other side of the water and saw a Philippine Coucal hidden in the tall grass. Tristan got a new lifer, and I was happy for him since he’s the only one who hasn’t seen it among the four of us.

I was waiting in the car when we had finally exited the trail, as my Dad was helping out a car that got stuck in the mud outside the sanctuary. When I saw the mud that the car was stuck in, only did I notice my own mud, stuck to my shoes from the muddy trails. I had not really noticed it while birding, but I did feel my feet step into gooey, almost watery mud. The mud has even reached my socks, this is one of the moments when I’m thankful of my water-resistant trek shoes, but it didn’t really fully protect my feet from the mud and water.

Before leaving the area we heard a Coppersmith Barbet calling in the distance as our car bumped its way out of the muddy road. We also saw White-breated Woodswallows which was also seen in the sanctuary, flying around and perching on wires.

We passed through Eton City, a future residential area, i think (?). Were we saw a lone raptor fly over the grassy plains and to my surprise a lifer! A Lesser Coucal flying and perching around the grasslands. It certainly mad this day unforgettable sice it was my last bird of the trip. I was so happy to see it stay there for a long time that we got to scope it, and see the obvious differences from the Philippine Coual.

Lesser Coucal <Photo by King Pandi>
Lifer no. 75

I have now decided not to post a Bird List because it may actually stop a person from reading the whole post. They might just read the Bird List to see if I saw any interesting birds, and if I didn’t. They might not bother reading, and of course I don’t want that 🙂

More Common than the Residents

“There are no birds here!” my Dad said a while ago in the car when we drove to a place called “Tumana” in Marikina City, but already we have found Long-tailed Shrikes perched on wires and a lot of Brown Shrikes. I was surprised to see so many Brown Shrikes beacuse they were actually more common than Yellow-vented Bulbuls in that area.

We saw some strange looking Crested Mynahs, brownish black in color with a small crest on the bill but not as obvious as the usual Crested Mynahs we see.  Tristan (Cousin) explained them as juvenile Crested Mynahs; he sees them all the time in places near his place. In the same area were some Scaly-breasted Munias, perched on the tall grass with the Long-tailed Shrikes.

Ninang Princess nearly jumped for joy when she saw one of her favorites hiding in the clusters of bamboo. It was a Pied Triller, and it was one of my favorites as well. It also has a very nice local name which is “Ibong-Pare” (see the translation in the glossary).

Since the area was right beside the river, we saw a lot of Pacific Swallows flying around; most were flying very low, nearly touching the ground, but never do. We decided to enter a subdivision with more empty lots than there were houses.  There, we saw some Pied Fantails and Zebra Doves on the streets, and a lone White-collared Kingfisher flying out of the subdivision to the grasslands were we were a while ago.

We saw something quite big fly from one empty lot to the other and tried to find it. It landed next to a large puddle in the middle of some tall grass. We nearly given up on it since it wasn’t coming out, but then it flew away and revealed its identity. It was a Cinnamon Bittern flying towards the next subdivision over a high wall.

We went deeper in the subdivision where we found a lot of Striated Grassbirds, and Ninang Princess even asked me to ID a tree since many birds seem to be going on them. Sadly, I don’t know how to ID trees, but she thought I did. Other WBCP members are great are identifying tress, almost as much as they can ID birds.

Striated Grassbird <Photo by King Pandi>

My Dad and Tito Jerome showed us some Eurasian Tree Sparrows on the side walk, and there was something very strange with one of the Eurasian Tree Sparrows. I never saw a Eurasian Tree Sparrow that looks like this one. It was very light in color and very noticeable when in plain sight. It looks almost like it is beige.

Light Colored Eurasian Tree Sparrow
<Photo by King Pandi>

On the roofs of the houses were some doves that, at plain sight, look like Zebra Doves. But as we looked at it closer with the Spotting Scope, it had a black patch on the nape with white spots. It was the unique field mark of the Spotted Dove. I was actually surprised to see them here because the only doves I expected were Zebra Doves, but I guess you’ll never know what to expect.

We left at around 8 am since we all had some other matters to attend to. Ever since then, I always hear or see the Brown Shrikes  once in a while. I actually see them more often than I see Yellow-vented Bulbuls. I had never expected that a migratory bird could be this common, but when migration season ends, I see none at all. The fact of seeing or even just hearing a migratory bird in the morning is a really a good way to start my day.

Bird List

  1. Long-tailed Shrike
  2. Brown Shrike
  3. Yellow-vented Bulbul
  4. Crested Mynah
  5. Scaly-breasted Munia
  6. Pied Triller
  7. Pacific Swallow
  8. Pied Fantail
  9. Zebra Dove
  10. White-collared Kingfisher
  11. Cinnamon Bittern
  12. Striated Grassbird
  13. Spotted Dove
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