Friday, October 15, 2010

San Juan 16th October

The site I designate as 'San Juan' is a fish farm close to the town of San Juan in Batangas. The owner is a bird/ birder friendly chap, who allows free access to his farms for birders, and does not hunt, or permit hunting on his land. He also has invested considerable time, effort and money into erecting boardwalks and hides at a nearby mangrove, good for viewing Rufous Night Heron.

I got down there very early this morning (only a 1 hour 15 minute drive), looking for migrant waders. Large flocks of Black-winged Stilts, with smaller numbers of Greenshank. Also in the flocks were a few Pacific Golden Plovers, and one Ruff. Around the ponds there were lots of heron spp, particularly quite large numbers of Great Egret, but also Little Egret, Grey Heron, Little Green Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron and Rufous Night Neron. Large numbers of Philippine Duck were overhead, but apart from a small flock I put up first thing I didn't see a single bird on the water. A small flock of Golden-bellied Gerygone were very obliging. There's an area were there always seems to be Grey-backed Tailorbird, and they were very responsive this morning. While watching them I disturbed a flock of feeding Pink-necked Green Pigeon, a bird I have failed to see in the Philippines until today. Also in the same area was a small bird that initially had me stumped. I'd thought it was a Golden-bellied Gerygone, until I saw the eye, and heard the call, a soft cheep (quite unlike the weird Gerygone out-of-tune whine). It didn't seem to fit any Philippine taxa and the field guide didn't illustrate the juvenile plumage of the Gerygone. I finally tracked down a more accurate description of the juvenile plumage of the Gerygone, and it mentions a pale eye-ring, so mystery solved I think.

Apart from that, just good numbers of the usual Philippine farm birds. Lots of Brahminy Kites about, but no sign of either the Tabon Scrubfowl or Savannah Nightjar that I've had here before.

Black-winged Stilt At least a couple of hundred in several large flocks, with a few other waders mixed in.

Greenshank Probably no more than 20 here today.

Ruff Not a common bird in The Philippines, but they seem regular here.

Rufous Night Heron (adult) Several score, probably over a hundred, mostly juvenile. They could be breeding here now, though in the past they've mainly bred in the nearby mangroves

Rufous Night Heron (juvenile)

Pink-necked Green Pigeon Incredibly difficult to see in a tree, this is about the best view I got of a sitting bird all morning. The (barely visible) orange breast and rufous undertail coverts show this is a male.

Philippine Duck Several large flocks, and many individuals flying around, but I never found any on the water. I don't know anywhere closer to Los Banos to find these, and in fact Candaba is the only other site where I've seen them.

Golden-bellied Gerygone ssp simplex. The feature separating this from the rhizophorae race of Mindanao and related islands is the white loral spot.

These two Grey-backed Tailorbirds ssp. derbianus. (probably an adult and a juvenile, judging by the state of this bird's tail) were very responsive to the calls I payed, and came very close. Typical Tailorbird views, brief and partly obscured by foliage most of the time. San Juan is the best place I know to find this Philippine endemic.

Probable juvenile Golden-bellied Gerygone. At first I was very confused, it behaved like a Gerygone, but had a pale eye-ring and wasn't giving the usual Gerygone call. Kennedy et al. doesn't illustrate the juvenile, and doesn't mention the pale eye-ring in its description of the juvenile, but Robson does both.

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