Posts Tagged ‘Kingfishers’

All Around The Coast

Last week I felt very bored, I haven’t been birding for nearly two weeks so I decided to pay a visit to LPPCHEA with Tristan (Cousin).The sky was grey and the air was quite humid; the sky made it very clear that it wanted it to drizzle. The tide was very low, you could see the mud that once lay beneath the murky waters.

The usual Little Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons roam the waters while Whiskered Terns fly in the air. Peeping in the mangroves, we saw a lot of Pied Fantails singing melodically. While we were observing a flock of about 200 Black-winged Stilts by the shore, some huge tern-like birds fished the waters in front of us, and they were possibly gulls.

We made it all the way to the lagoon area where we found a lot of birds, Black-crowned Night Herons, Little Egrets, Common Moorhens, White-collared Kingfishers, and Yellow Bitterns. After a long forest trail, we made it to another lagoon area with more of the birds form the other lagoon plus Grey Herons, and Rufous Night Herons.

We walked from one side of the lagoon to the other, startling a flock of around 15 – 20 ducks, most likely Philippine Ducks, but we’re not entirely sure for they could’ve been a mixed flock. We tried waiting for them to go back, and while doing so I also spotted a Warbler, but it moved too fast for me to ID.

We gave up on the ducks and decided to walk along the shore. We spotted a lot of brown-colored Doves, but we were not sure what specific species because they were gone in just a flash. Flying in the air, were two Philippine Ducks headed towards mainland.

At the tip of LPPCHEA, we saw tons of Plovers on the mud flats and on the rocks. The most plentiful were Kentish Plovers, but there were also Asian Golden-Plovers and some Little-ringed Plovers.

We reached the very tip where some people settled to live and from there we went to the trail back. On the way back, we met some DENR officers patrolling the area, and had a brief chat. We also stopped by the lagoons again, and to our delight, there was a lone Philippine Duck in the water. We were so happy to see it, since it was our target bird for the day even though it wasn’t our lifer.

We got out of LPPCHEA and looked back at the path we went and realised we’ve walked for kilometres, and only now did I feel tired. I was exhausted, but happy that I finally got to bird after nearly two weeks of no birding.

 

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.

Five Inches Taller

The sun was shining bright in the sky that if I were back home the heat would be scorching, but I’m not back at my cemented forest in which I live. I’m at LPPCHEA, or as most people call it Coastal Lagoon, looking for waders on the trash-covered beaches and terns over the blue bay with my family and relatives, as usual.

I cannot believe Whiskered Terns were so plentiful here, diving down into the waters and coming back up with their dinner. I see Whiskered Terns all the time now since I live near Pasig River. I even get to see them perched at noon on the wires that go over the river to the other side. I have always thought that Pasig was dead, but I see that it actually still has hope.

Stations were put up around the trashiest areas with signs and garbage bags. The stations were probably put up during the Coastal Clean-up a while ago. I wanted to join in, but at that time I was busy. Well they’re long gone now, but the beach was still filthy, better than before, but still not enough. I understand though that it is impossible to clean the whole Lagoon in a day.

Other than the usual Pied Fantails, Brown Shrikes, Little Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, and Little Heron, I could see migrant Common Sandpipers, Wood Sandpipers, and Grey-tailed Tattlers. I saw a Spotted Dove on the wire while going inside, and cute Chestnut Munias on the tall grass. An egret also flew in front of us and landed on the shore. It was bigger than a Little but smaller than a Great Egret, with an all black bill and legs. My cousin is asking people to identify it through the high-tech world of Facebook.

Chestnut Munias perched on tall grass
<Photo by King Pandi>

Other WBCP members actually spotted a Little Curlew, a rare migrant to the Philippines, here a few days ago. It was the main reason why we went here, but all afternoon we couldn’t see it, but I did get one lifer. A close relative to the Little Curlew is the Whimbrel which was just 5 inches taller, and is more common. I think these 5 inches are the only way to tell them apart, but I haven’t seen a Little Curlew so I can’t be sure.

The Whimbrel, non-birders may describe it as: Unattractive? Strange? Scary? I remember a story my cousin told me. “He was young when him and his mom spotted an injured bird out their window. They wanted to take it in their house, nurture it back to health then release it back to the wild. They showed the bird to their Yaya who said the bird was a Tik-tik ‘a fictional filipino monster with a long tongue to suck the fetus of pregnant women’. The bird was left alone to fend for itself. Only now did they realize they’re Yaya was paranoid to think the bird was a monster for actually the bird was a Whimbrel.”

Whimbrel <Photo by King Pandi>
Lifer no. 93

I don’t think of the Whimbrel as those said above. I think of it as: Unique. Special. Beautiful. I was so excited to see it, it walked around the beach, then I saw not just one but two. One was flying over the water and the other was walking at the side of the salty, trashy water.

It was starting to get dark so we passed by again to the area with many White-collared Kingfishers, then to the other beach to see my last bird of the day. It was dark so it was hard to see in the distance, but through the scope it was obvious. Two uncommon Rufous Night Herons. My dad was the first t spot it which surprised me since it was nearly pitch dark. It was time to go, and left happy thanks to the Whimbrel, and all the other birds we saw.

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.

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

A Migratory of the Coasts

It took me a while until I posted this,  due to many different reasons. One reason is that I am having my Trimestral Exams this week, and I had to do some studying. I actually put in mind not posting it at all, but of course you, my loyal readers, would not like that. I took the thought of not posting this out of my mind, and started typing.

I put my head down and peeked into the bush, something was moving inside, wagging its tail slightly. It was obviously a wader, a bit grayish-brown. I slowly got closer to the unknown bird, but then I flushed it. No matter, I was still able to see it quite enough to ID it. It was another Common Sandpiper.

There were relatively six species that were very common there that Sunday afternoon. The first two were too obvious, which were the Little Egret and Black-crowned Night Heron. The White-collared Kingfisher was very common, every minute we would at least see two White-collared Kingfishers fly in front of us and we would usually hear its loud call. Little Herons were more common today than all the other days we have been there, and so were Pacific Swallows.

The other bird was a bit of a surprise for me to see so many; Common Sandpipers, everywhere. The migration season is really starting to come out of its shell, and reveal itself. A month ago, I have never even seen a Common Sandpiper, but now here I am in LPPCHEA seeing dozens of them flying over the water occasionally landing on the shore or on rocks or boulders, hiding behind them making it hard for me and my Dad to see them.

Other than those birds we also spotted some others as well. The Yellow Bittern stayed in its usual spot, but it ran away once it saw me and my Dad coming closer. Deeper in LPPCHEA, we saw some electrical wires and on them were more birds. We first saw some Spotted Doves on these wires, they would occasionally drop on the ground and feed, I think. My Dad also saw a green bird looking like a parakeet. It looked like an escaped pet bird and it was not in the Kennedy Guide so we suspected that it was.

Going back to the neared side of LPPCHEA, we decided to go in what Ivan Sarenas (WBCP member) calls the Tiklingan” “Place of the Barred Rails”. We went inside and saw some Pied Fantails, hopping about and fanning their tails. We spotted one Barred Rail which flew immediately after sensing us coming. Once we reached what I think was the DENR station, we really wanted to see a lot of birds in the lagoon, sadly I think the yapping of the dog scared all the birds away.

Deeper inside we heard a very awful noise that I know, but cannot recall. We slowly tip-toed to where we heard them and at the sight of the bird, I remembered the call. It was the unpleasant call of the White-breasted Waterhen. One glimpse of it, then when it realized it was being stalked on; It ran into the vegetation.

We returned back to our car, the last birds we saw were Glossy Swiftlets as they flew above our heads, then the bats came out and replaced all the birds. I was very happy today because it was just the start of the migration season and already, migratory birds were everywhere. Excitement ran through my veins at the thought of what I will see once the migration season has reached its peak.

Bird List

  1. Little Egret
  2. Black-crowned Night Heron
  3. White-collared Kingfisher
  4. Little Heron
  5. Pacific Swallow
  6. Common Sandpiper
  7. Spotted Dove
  8. Yellow Bittern
  9. Barred Rail
  10. White-breasted Waterhen
  11. Pied Fantail
  12. Glossy Swiftlet
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