Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week ending 30th October - IRRI, Sabang

An interesting week. It started with a Red-necked Phalarope on the Experimental Farm on Tuesday afternoon. That had gone by the next day, leaving a Kentish Plover and two Long-toed Stints in its place. On my early morning run on Wednesday I heard the usual Philippine Hawk Owls, as well as a Philippine Nightjar in the staff compound, my first record there. Also on Wednesday a Philippine Scops Owl flew over my head as I was waiting in the IRRI car park to collect Fiona.

On Saturday we went to Sabang on Mindoro for a family/ diving holiday. The only birds on the way over were a flock of Common Terns.

Kentish Plover

Common Terns on the crossing from Batangas to Sabang

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Red-necked Phalarope at IRRI

A big surprise this afternoon was a single Red-necked Phalarope on one of the paddies at IRRI. It was in company with a hundred or so Wood Sandpipers, a Long-toed Stint and a few dozen Little Ringed Plovers. They are regular migrants through the Philippines, but almost always offshore. They are pretty scarce inland, and this is certainly the first inland bird I've seen (or heard of since I came in 2008).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week ending 23rd October - IRRI

Quite a productive week, with nice weather most days. On Monday a pair of Kentish Plovers had joined the wader flock on the farm, and were mixing with the LRPs, Wood Sandpipers and Long-toed Stints. They were no longer present on Wednesday. The conditions in the fields are perfect for Rallids, and many have been visible all week, often with youngsters in attendance. This seems to be the time of year to see Slaty-breasted Rails, which are visible daily.

On Saturday a fruiting tree on the UPLB section adjacent to the upland farms had flocks of Chestnut-cheeked Starlings, as well as plenty of other fruit-loving species, including a very obliging Striped Flowerpecker.

Barn Swallow posing nicely

Snipe sp. Either Pintail or Swinhoe's.

Pied Bushchat

Adult Slaty-breasted Rail. Very visible at the moment, I'm seeing them daily, similarly to last year. This means that they are either locally migratory (including youngsters), or after raising chicks to a certain size they become much less anxious about being seen.

Juvenile Slaty-breasted Rail

Kentish Plover

Pygmy Flowerpecker in the tree outside my front door

Striped Flowerpecker

Friday, October 21, 2011

Swifts, Swiftlets and Needletails

A short gallery showing a few of the commoner species of Swift that hang about Makiling.

The commonest Swiftlet in the area, the ubiquitous Glossy Swiftlet. The underparts can be almost white, and the white patch on the rump varies in size quite considerably. Only really confusable with Pygmy Swiftlet, which has a truly white rump (not the silvery grey shown here)

Asian Palm Swift. A bird with a rapidly changing flight profile

Purple Needletail. Enormous, and unmistakable. Much larger than all other Swifts in Luzon.

House Swift. Regularly seen over Baker Field in UPLB, but not so common elsewhere in the IRRI/ Makiling area.
 The broad white rump is very clear in this species...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week ending 16th October - IRRI

More migrants in evidence this week, especially on the farms. New arrivals included a Common Kingfisher, Common Kestrel and Peregrine on Saturday. The latter quite possibly the same bird that was present most of last winter, though if it is it has arrived much earlier than last year (mid November).  Several Long-toed Stints still around, along with lots of Little Ringed Plovers. Also plenty of Yellow and Grey Wagtails.

Plenty of young Rallids around as well this week, with juvenile Buff-banded and Slaty-breasted Rails to go with the White-breasted Waterhen and Moorhens that have been visible for a while.

Juvenile Buff-banded Rail
Buff-banded Rail
Juvenile Slaty-breasted Rail
Peregrine, back on the same pylon as last winter,
but quite a bit earlier.

Painted Snipe hiding in a paddy

Long-tailed Shrike
Whiskered Tern

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Week ending 9th October - IRRI

The Philippines was still dealing with the after-effects of two typhoons in a week, so it was a blustery and wet week. I did manage a couple of hours on the farms however, and the passage of Black-winged Stilts continues, with several small groups scattered about the paddies. Long-toed Stints are also moving through, with two small groups of 10+ birds present on Tuesday. Slaty-breasted Rail are now visible on practically every visit too.

The main excitement of the week was the fruiting of a large tree adjacent to the main gate at IRRI staff housing at the weekend. Lots of Lowland and Yellowish White-eyes, Yellow-vented Bulbuls, and flocks of Flower-peckers were augmented by large groups of newly arrived Chestnut-cheeked Starlings. A small flock of Philippine Green Pigeons were also present on Sunday.

Lowland White-eye.

Grey-streaked Flycatcher 

Juvenile Chestnut-cheeked Starling 

Chestnut-cheeked Starling 

Philippine Green Pigeons Treron axillaris, recently split from Pompadour Green Pigeon Treron pompadora. According to Collar (2011) this differs from the races of T. pompadora in Vietnam, T. p. phayeri and India, T. p. affinis "on account of their red cere" (see second photo) "white (not creamy-brown) undertail coverts" (photo 3) "bluish grey (not pinkish red) legs and feet" and "lack the orange breast patch" (all pictures). In addition differs from  phayeri in "maroon (not chestnut) back" and from affinis in "much less distinctive yellow throat". To me the eye seems distinctly pale blue, compared to the darker blue of T. pompadora.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week ending 2nd October - IRRI, Makiling

Typhoon Pedring disturbed our tranquility on Monday and Tuesday with high winds, but not much rain. Not much to report from the farms. Whiskered Terns are now on every pond, and a large flock of Oriental Pratincoles has congregated on the upland farms. There are still plenty of Wood Sandpipers about, as well as Little Ringed Plovers, but the passage waders have moved on (barring a lonely Black-winged Stilt).

On Sunday I drove up the mountain as far as I could, to Agila Camp, at first light. The path to the top has been cleared recently, and it looks great for ground birds. I did get good views of a White-browed Shama, as well as disturbing two other birds that were just a blur of feathers. There was a fair dawn chorus, with calling birds including lots of Grey-backed Tailorbirds, some Luzon Hornbills, White-browed Shamas and others. A fruiting tree attracted Red-keeled Flowerpeckers and Buzzing Flowerpeckers, and a surprise was a pair of White-bellied Munia in some bamboo, I normally see them in the rice fields. The first Grey-streaked Flycatcher of autumn was hawking insects from a dead tree. A lone Guiabero was the only Parrot sp. On the way down a Red-bellied Pitta flushed off the road, but didn't hang about sadly.

At the base of the mountain the fig tree outside TREES lodge is in fruit, and I enjoyed good views of Red-keeled and Striped Flowerpeckers, Stripe-headed Rhabdornis, Guiabero, Coppersmith, Philippine Bulbul, Lowland White-eye and Yellowish White-eye.

Lesser Coucal

Stripe-headed Rhabdornis

Striped Flowerpecker


Yellow-vented Bulbul

Monitor sp.

Gecko sp.

Two images showing the path and extent of typhoon Pedring.