Saturday, March 15, 2014

Week ending 16th March - IRRI

A more interesting week with a second Peregrine (this time a juvenile) present on the upland farm all week. The dry fields in the same area continue to provide brief glimpses of Blue-breasted Quail mixed in about 50/50 with the Barred Buttonquails.

At staff housing a Pink-necked Green Pigeon gave great views in my back garden, and a Luzon Hawk-Owl visited Fiona's goodbye party on Saturday night.

Female Pink-necked Green Pigeon perched in a small tree in my back garden. The is the first I've seen of this species in the Makiling area, though they are common enough elsewhere, especially at San Juan.

Another female Barred Buttonquail in flight, showing the broad buff upperwing coverts.
Blue-breasted Quail, fairly uniform dark upperparts in flight. Clearly different from the buttonquail!
Juvenile calidus Peregrine on a pylon in the upland farm. This is the first time I've seen two different birds on the farm at the same time.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

5th March - IRRI

Very little change in the fields this week. The temperature is increasing and there are a lot of very dry fields, but as yet few birds are stirring themselves to move. The main birds in the fields are Wood Sandpipers, Whiskered Terns and Brown Shrikes.

Nocturnal birds are becoming more vocal and I hear Philippine Scops, Luzon Hawk-Owl and Philippine Nightjar nightly from my house, and the Philippine Hawk Cuckoos have started up as well.

A flock of Purple Needletails have been haunting the staff housing complex for the last few days.

I have been trying to photograph Buttonquails in flight recently. This is the best effort of the week, a female Barred Buttonquail.
House Swift. Regularly come to drink on the farm ponds.
The Whiskered Terns are ever-present at this time of year.
A very obliging Striated Grassbird.
And of course the Peregrine is still here. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Philippine Hawk Cuckoo at IRRI - 18 Feb

A very strange record this afternoon of a juvenile Philippine Hawk Cuckoo at IRRI. It was in trees next to the Open University building at the northeast gate. Initially I'd assumed it was a small accipiter as it took off from the ground and flew up into the trees. It perched nicely however, and I was amazed to see what I'd always been led to believe was a true forest bird in what was essentially farmland/ parkland. My first ever sighting of this species was outside my house at IRRI staff housing, a garden type environment, so maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised but since then I've got used to brief flybys in a variety of forest habitats. Kennedy says "Lowland to high elevation virgin and second growth forest... shy and secretive foraging in all forest levels from near the ground to the canopy". To which can clearly be added "Sometimes sits around in the open in farms and gardens"

Juvenile Philippine Hawk Cuckoo

Common Kingfishers still in the fields.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Week ending 16th Feb - IRRI

Not much to report this week. Few chances for midweek birding as planning for school camps is taking up a lot of spare time. A small flock of Oriental Pratincoles were present on the farms early in the week and a small flock of Ashy Minivets were at the staff housing complex.

One moment of excitement came via Fred Serrano who emailed me about Blue-breasted Quail he'd seen on the upland farms. They were close to where I normally walk the dogs, so on Sunday I varied the dogs' route slightly, taking them through some dry fields, lo and behold two Blue-breasted Quail flushed in 2 minutes! Long overdue. Hopefully I'll get some pictures soon.

Owl activity is on the increase, with Philippine Scops and Philippine Hawk Owl calling regularly outside my house. A Philippine Nightjar has also taken up residence in one of the coconut trees in the garden, waking us regularly with its gorgeous churr at about 3am. Fiona is less impressed however!

Zebra Dove. A really good looking dove, a pity they're so common!
Oriental Pratincole. A small flock arrived during the week.

Swinhoe's/ Pintail Snipe.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Week ending 2nd Feb - IRRI

A quiet week on the farms in general, though numbers of Wood Sandpiper and Whiskered Tern are both high. A Peregrine and a Common Kestrel had a mid-air tussle on the upland farms on Friday, the Common Kestrel was still present on the main farm on Saturday. Two Little Grebes were displaying to each other on one of the farm ponds on Sunday.

In the botanical gardens an Asian Brown Flycatcher provided a diversion.

At staff housing two Striped Flowerpeckers were present on Sunday.

Wood Sandpiper. Plenty about at the moment.
Buff-banded Rail
Little Grebe.
Striped Flowerpecker at IRRI staff housing


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Week ending 19th Jan - IRRI

A quiet week at IRRI with very few waders about apart from a few Wood Sandpipers and Little Ringed Plovers. The winter flock of Whiskered Terns is now at about 100. An adult calidus Peregrine was present all week, and on Saturday a Brahminy Kite and a Common Kestrel were on the main farm. The kite eventually spent most of the day quartering the fields, though I only saw the kestrel very briefly.

Adult Brahminy Kite which spent most of Saturday hunting in the fields
An adult calidus Peregrine, on the same pylons on the experimental farm as all the others. Present all week.

White-collared Kingfisher which appears to be eating a snail. An interesting choice of food for a kingfisher, there's plenty of it at least!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mt. Polis and Banaue - 9 Jan

From Laoag we drove over the Bessang Pass to Banaue to spend a day birding the Mt. Polis area. The drive up was spectacular, and birdy. A Mountain Shrike was perched on roadside wires near the top, and the pines just after the pass held several parties of Red Crossbill. A Philippine Hawk-Eagle was hunting this area too.

Our only full birding day was Thursday 9th Jan. We started with a quick stop at the top where I heard (and got a glimpse of) what must have been Luzon Montane Racquet-tail. Then we split up, with me looking for Benguet Bush-Warbler while the others went to find the Luzon Water Redstart. Neither of us were successful, though I did get a lot of the usual Mt Polis birds including; Chestnut-faced babbler, Mountain Leaf-Warbler, Mountain Tailorbird, Luzon Bush-Warbler, Long-tailed Ground-Warbler (heard), Metallic-winged Sunbird, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker and Mountain White-eye.

A short walk into to forest at the pass added Island Thrush to the list.

Banaue Hotel grounds was also nice, with Mountain Verditer and Yellowish White-eye. We eventually caught up with the Luzon Water Redstart near Banaue, at a bridge called Guihob Bridge.

Mountain Shrike ssp. validirostris. What a smart bird!
 Red Crossbill ssp. luzoniensis.
 Mountain Leaf Warbler ssp. benguetensis.
Luzon Water Redstart
Mountain Verditer ssp. nigrimentalis.
We bumped into this giant stripey worm in the forest above the police post at Mt Polis. Apparently its burrowing has been responsible for weakening the walls of the famous Banaue rice terraces.