Thursday, November 25, 2010

24th November - DTRI

Tuesday I knocked off early and dropped by the fig tree to see what was about. Not much, a small party of Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike, with two White-winged Trillers was the best.

On Wednesday I met up with some visiting birders and did the DTRI track, looking for Buttonquails etc. While I was waiting for them I had cracking views of a Tawny Grassbird in the open. It was calling, and doing a sort of wing-shaking display. Magic!

The chestnut cap and breast free from streaks are very clear in this extremely obliging Tawny Grassbird

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday 21st November - Peregrine at IRRI

On Sunday afternoon my attention was grabbed by what appeared to be a medium sized raptor flying low over the paddies. My first thought was that it must be a Harrier, and as I have (bizarrely) no records of either Harrier spp. at IRRI I was very excited. When I got bins on it it was obviously not a harrier, but the migratory race of Peregrine, F. p. calidus. I've seen this once before at IRRI (in Jan 2009) and it impressed me then with its size. Once again, this appeared to be a massive bird, much larger than the local race, F. p. ernesti (which I see in Manila, one roosts on Mark's building). It's quite brown above, almost Lanner-like, but in all other respects it's just like Peregrines elsewhere. Just much bigger!

Perched on a pylon in the fields. It was being harassed by a flock of White-breasted Wood-Swallows, who were unsurprisingly disturbed by the presence of this assassin in their midst

At first I thought it was a harrier, it was so large! It flew around the fields three or four times before heading south past the mountain. Features of callidus visible in this photo are "narrower moustaches, bigger white cheek patches..." as well as "on average bulkier and longer-winged..." (Ferguson-Lees & Christie). The streaking on the breast indicate this is a juvenile.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Week ending 21st November - IRRI

On Tuesday I had to go to IRRI quite late to pick someone up, I was early so stopped off in the upland farm for a sundowner. As the sun dropped a Philippine Nightjar started calling, and flew out into the open after only a couple of minutes. As I was congratulating myself on this unexpected bounty a much larger Nightjar flew overhead, Great-eared Nightjar as well! Brilliant, and I shall check this spot again!

On Friday an afternoon drive produced a huge flock of 100+ Grey Wagtails in a field, obviously resting on passage. I've never seen so many before though. Several ADUC records, including Asian Palm Swift, Grey Wagtail, Chestnut Munia, White-bellied Munia, and the two Nightjar spp.

On Sunday I was woken at about 5:00am by a Philippine Scops Owl calling near my house. I shot out with my playback gear looking for it, but no luck. As I was up anyway, I went down to the farms. Not bad, with the best birds being at least two Clamorous Reed Warblers on the upland farms, the first of winter.

Little Ringed Plover Lots about at the moment

Common Kingfisher Looks like a first year

Brown Shrike with a very unlucky Dragonfly!

Little Egret

Cattle Egret with one of the few actual cows here

The first Clamorous Reed Warbler of winter. A bit later than last year. Very noisy, hiding in the long grass on the upland farms

Guiabero in mid-squawk at ISH. These can be incredibly hard to see in a leafy tree, but this one seems to be a bit of an exhibitionist!

Monday, November 15, 2010

16th November - Makiling

After heavy rain all night I was expecting today to be washed out, but the rain had stopped by 6:30 and the sun was up. I set off up the trail at about 6:45. It was a quiet start, with few birds moving or calling. About 7:30 I met a noisy, active group of Luzon Hornbill. A bit further up the track I caught sight of a small brown bird in the undergrowth. Moving fast from perch to perch, and even hovering at times, I was amazed to see a strong pale supercilium, uniform brown upperparts, no wing bar and deep cinnamon under-tails coverts - my first Radde's Warbler in The Philippines! Kennedy et al only mentions one previous record (21/02/97 in N. Luzon), but there may have been more since. No chance of a photograph unfortunately. A little further on the forest clears a little allowing views of the sky. A pair of Brahminy Kites were circling, as was a Chinese Goshawk. Also visible were two White-rumped Swifts and a Glossy Swiftlet. I carried on up the track moving slowly, at about 8:30 I met the first bird party of the day, and it was a corker. Red-crested and Scale-feathered Malkoha, Balicassiao, Coppersmith, Philippine Woodpecker, Ashy Minivet, Sulphur-billed Nuthatch, Elegant Tit, Arctic Warbler, Yellow-bellied Whistler, Lovely Sunbird, Purple-throated Sunbird, Black-naped Monarch, Stripe-headed Rhabdornis, Philippine and Yellow-wattled Bulbuls.

Back down the hill I stopped at the fig tree again. Still plenty of activity here, with Colasisi, Guiabero, Coppersmith, Philippine and Yellow-wattled Bulbuls, Brown-headed Thrush. No sign of the Blue-and-White Flycatcher from the weekend however.

Scale-feathered Malkoha. A typical ventral view of one of the most spectacular birds in The Philippines

female Luzon Hornbill looking gorgeous!

Balicassiao A fairly boring forest Drongo, but it is an endemic.

A mad horned spider that is everywhere in the forest at Makiling

Giant Wood Spider

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sunday 14th November - IRRI

Not much time to bird the fields this week, most birding time has been at the fig tree near TREES. Did get down for a brief time on Sunday morning. A nice day, with lots of Whiskered Terns, and various Egret spp. An oddity was a Philippine Woodpecker in the trees along the stream in the experimental station. ADUC records were; Pacific Swallow, Chinese Egret and Philippine Woodpecker

juvenile Yellow Wagtail ssp.?

Adult Yellow Wagtail, ssp.? Some yellow in the supercilium, and a uniform olive green crown, nape and mantle point to a possible taivana, but the lack of dark ear coverts indicates tschutchensis. These wagtails are confusing!

Little Egret

Saturday 13th November - TREES Lodge

Busy all week so not much chance to go birding. Got out early on Saturday to the fig tree, intending to give it about half an hour and head for the fields, but the action was too good, so I spent my short birding time there. First decent birds were a flock of at least 10 Luzon Hornbills which glided silently into the back of the tree. They were wary of us (I had been joined by a large group of birders from Manila), so didn't come to our side of the tree. I managed to get decent views of a few before they left. While watching these I noticed an odd bird high in the canopy, which I'm pretty sure was a Brown-headed Thrush. I only really got a decent view of the underparts (white belly, orange flanks), and that combined with the size meant the only other possibility was Eye-browed Thrush. While I didn't see the head well. my impression was that it was brown, not grey. Didn't see it well enough to see the presence or otherwise of a super. While trying to relocate it I noticed another, slightly smaller bird swooping through in a decidedly flycatchery fashion. At first I only saw the underparts when it sat. Brownish, with a pale throat, possible female Blue-and-white Flycatcher? After much debate, and further searching (which also turned up a Lemon-throated Warbler) I finally relocated it, this time side on, and there was a definite hint of blue in the wings. So not a female then, juvenile male? It got lost again for a while, before finally being found sitting still on a high branch. Not ideal photography conditions, but good enough for ID I think. The only other excitement was a small accipiter that came off the top of the fig very early on. Views too brief to be definitive, but probably a Besra (wings 'not as pointed as Japanese Sparrowhawk')

Other birds seen included Red-keeled and Striped Flowerpeckers, Guiabero, Colasisi, Philippine Bulbul, Stripe-headed Rhabdornis, Coppersmith, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike, Ashy Minivet, Grey-streaked Flycatcher, Glossy Swiftlet.

Juvenile male Blue-and-white Flycatcher. High in the fig tree outside TREES, this bird was unobtrusive, and quite difficult to get on to. We'd seen it a couple of times, and come to the conclusion it was probably a Blue-and-white, but it wasn't until I found it sitting quietly just beneath the canopy that I got a definitive view. This is a juvenile male, with some blue on the wings, a blue rump and tail, with brown mantle and crown. The breast was also dingy brown, with a clear paler throat.

Luzon Hornbill, Penelepoides manillae, male (left) and female (right). Probably 10 birds or more in the fig this morning, these two posed nicely, albeit quite a distance away.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sunday 7th November - TREES Lodge, ISH

I spent the morning at the Fig Tree, which was very productive. When I arrived there was a flock of Ashy Minivets feeding in the tops, with Red-keeled Flowerpecker and Striped Flowerpecker. A single Luzon Hornbill was sitting quietly right in the back of the tree, and I didn't notice it for at least half an hour. The Philippine Falconets were back on their dead tree, and shared it a various times with Coppersmith, Coleto, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrikes and Stripe-headed Rhabdornis. The only dove visible was a fly through White-eared Brown Dove. Both Yellow-wattled Bulbul and Philippine Bulbuls came through, as did several Guiabero. Overhead a Philippine Serpent-Eagle passed low over the tree, as did Glossy Swiftlets. An odd sight was a flock of 20+ Whitebreasted Wood-Swallows, quite high up. I normally see these on wires in the rice fields, odd to see them over the forest. A small flock of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters also passed through.

Later at IRRI Staff Housing (ISH) several common garden species such as Yellow-vented Bulbuls, Olive-backed Sunbirds and Brown Shrikes. A medium-sized raptor far overhead looks like it might have been a migrant Rufous-bellied Eagle

Ashy Minivet. One flock of a dozen or so came and went several times in the morning.

Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike ssp. striata. Again this individual's barring is restricted to the vent only, but this is the only species in the Philippines with a white eye.

Coleto. A group of 5 birds commuted between the dead tree and the fig tree.

Philippine Falconet. This bird was followed around by a swarm of what look like tiny bees, or maybe flies.

Stripe-headed Rhabdornis. This individual was in a nearby tree, but they also visited the fig.

Yellow-wattled Bulbul A pair were feeding quietly in the fig tree, surrounded by much noisier Philippine Bulbuls.

Coppersmith. Several birds in the fig, and on the adjacent dead tree. This one was in fact in my garden at ISH.

Yellow-vented Bulbul In ISH, probably the commonest bird in The Philippines

Flying high over ISH, I couldn't make out what this was at all at first. The head pattern looks like an adult Rufous-bellied Eagle, but the underwings don't seem right. Possibly this is an intermediate plumage between a juvenile and an adult.

Spotted Green Tree-Skink, Lamprolepis smaragdina philippinica Quite common around ISH, but this is the first time I've been able to take photographs.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday 2nd November - Makiling

The week started with two bank holidays. Monday was a total washout, with torrential rain on and off from about 2 am until well after lunch, so the crew who drove down from Manila had a wasted journey. Tuesday was dry (though the interior of the forest was so saturated that I ended up drenched anyway), so I walked up the Makiling trail, starting at TREES at 5:30. The birding was low intensity all day, with few birds visible. Those that did show themselves were nice, White-browed Shama responding to a tape, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrikes and Balicassiao arguing, both Red-crested Malkoha and Scale-feathered Malkoha (many of the latter calling all day, and at least 3 seen), Ashy Minivet, Philippine Bulbul, Luzon Hornbill. Several Tailorbirds were calling at various points, but none responded to tapes, and I'm not sure whether they were Grey-backed or Philippine, more information is needed. Up at the coconut sellers an Arctic Warbler was noisily attracting attention to a pair of Philippine Hawk-Owls roosting in a tree, and a pair of Greater Flameback were also yelling at each other. On the small trail at the start of the Hot Spring Trail (I'll call this the Hot Spring offshoot 1) were a very noisy group of Luzon Hornbills. Not much else along here, apart from a single Pechora Pipit in the leaf litter. On the way down it was similarly quiet, with the exception of a Grey-faced Buzzard overhead at one of the few clearings, and a Philippine Falconet on the dead tree at TREES lodge. The Fig Tree's fruit is starting to ripen, so I'm hopeful of some interesting birds over the next week or so.

One of a pair of Philippine Hawk Owls (ssp. philippensis) that was being mobbed by a single Arctic Warbler.

Grey-faced Buzzard, soaring over the forest at Makiling. Migratory, this is the first record I've had here this year.

Intermediate Egret. Quite numerous now on the farms, with lots of Cattle, a few Little and one or two Great Egrets