Saturday, March 26, 2011

Week ending 27th March - IRRI, Kota Kinabalu

My first trip to Borneo, and it's for a conference! Little time for birding, apart from in the mornings in the resort garden, and it was raining most of the time too! The garden birds were very typical of Asian gardens; Common Iora, Olive-backed Sunbird, Plain-throated Sunbird, Asian Glossy Starling, Collared Kingfisher, the distinctive local adamsi race of Oriental Magpie-Robin, White-breasted Waterhen, Tree Sparrow, Green-backed Heron, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Pied Fantail, Zebra Dove, Spotted Dove.

A White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew past the resort, and another was fishing while I was on a dive excursion. Green Imperial Pigeons were on the off-shore islands, as was a Brahminy Kite. The best bird for me, and the only lifer, was Dusky Munia in the hotel garden. They are near-endemic to Borneo, the only extra-limital site for therm is one of the islands in the extreme south of the Philippines, which is pretty close to Borneo.

Cattle Egret looking smart on the farm

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Week ending 20th March - IRRI

Monday saw the first Blue-tailed Bee-eaters of spring, as well as a reappearance of the (Philippine) Blue Rock Thrush on the main building at IRRI.

The Peregrine was still present until Sunday, and on Friday afternoon a flock of Java Sparrows (including a number of juvenile birds) was also on the main farm.

At ISH Philippine Hawk-Cuckoos have been starting to call this week.

Painted Snipe hiding on the edge of an overgrown paddy

White-breasted Waterhen are very visible at the moment

Oriental Skylark looking quite a lot like a mini Crested Lark.

(Philippine) Blue Rock Thrush, ssp. philippensis. This male has taken up residence on the main buildings at IRRI, but can be hard to see. Hopefully photos in better light soon!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Week ending 13th March - IRRI

A somewhat drier week than last, we may be getting over this mid-dry season wet spell. The Peregrine is still on the experimental farm, and is playing merry hell with the flocks of migrant Wood Sandpipers that are passing through. More Oriental Pratincoles too, as well as the first Pacific Golden Plovers of spring. Lots of Yellow Wagtails too. Several species are starting to come into breeding plumage, particularly Whiskered Tern and Cattle Egret. A Brahminy Kite flew through on Friday.

As I'm now spending two evenings a week playing football at IRRI I'm starting to pick up on a few things that I've previously not noticed. There's a Philippine Scops Owl that roosts near the pitch, and calls every evening at about 6:30. Black-crowned Night Heron are regular too overhead, and I've noticed a Kestrel a few times flying past at nightfall as well.

The weekend was a washout as far as birding goes, an ankle-knack kept me off the mountain on Saturday, and Sunday was a family day. Incidental birding around the compound on Sunday produced a flock of 15+ Purple Needletails, a Grey-faced Buzzard and a Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike

Lots of Whiskered Terns in the fields at the moment, some of them starting to come into breeding plumage like this one.

Snipe spp. Swinhoe's or Pintail?

A Female Painted Snipe with a Common Moorhen, on a bund between two paddies

Some of the Cattle Egrets are starting to come into breeding plumage

One of the first Pacific Golden Plovers of spring

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Week ending 6th March - IRRI

An extraordinarily wet week considering that this is supposed to be the middle of the dry season. Rain every day, barring sunny sunday (when overcast conditions would have been better for ringing!) The farms have started to pick up recently with very large flocks of Wood Sandpipers moving through fairly constantly. No oddities amongst them yet, but I'm still looking. A pair of Oriental Pratincoles showed up which was a nice early spring record. The Peregrine is still around, and a Kestrel passed through on Thursday.

Ringing on Sunday was again made more difficult by bright sunlight showing up the nets, however I did catch one Swinhoe's Snipe, and one Collared Kingfisher. The snipe was a surprise as the underfoot conditions were very wet and I'd been led to believe that that was the preferred habitat of Pintail Snipe, and Swinhoe's preferred drier conditions. Near the ringing station a pair of Philippine Woodpeckers seem to be excavating a nest hole.

Incidental birding around IRRI included a Philippine Cuckoo Dove over my house on Friday, and a Philippine Scops Owl calling from near the main dormitory buildings on Thursday.

One of a pair of Oriental Pratincoles that arrived this week.

Lesser Coucal hiding in its preferred habitat of rank grass

Collared Kingfisher

Philippine Woodpecker working on a hole near the ringing station

Chestnut Munia

The tail of a Swinhoe's Snipe that I caught on Sunday. The outer tail feathers are real feathers, not the incredibly thin ( less than 2mm) 'pins' I'd been expecting to find to indicate it was a Pintail Snipe.

Swinhoe's Snipe

A rather bedraggled juvenile Yellow Wagtail, one of hundreds present this week

Male Painted Snipe