Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mud, blood and Flowerpeckers

I took a day out from a family trip to Sabang on Mindoro to explore a golf course (Ponderosa) above Puerto Galera that was reputed to have some good habitat. A track leads from the ninth tee near the clubhouse towards a quarry, along a relatively undisturbed and little used muddy path. Straightaway the habitat looked great, and there was some early calls that were interesting. The main point of interest was a fruiting tree near the start of the track. It was here that I encountered the largest number, and greatest variety of birds. Mainly Mindoro Bulbuls at first, there were also Yellow-vented Bulbul, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes, Balicassiao, and Black-naped Monarch. A party of small passerines included several of the Arctic Warbler complex (still haven't got to grips with the 3 species that are said to occur here, ArcticJapanese and Kamchatka Warblers), Lovely Sunbird, Elegant Tit, Pygmy Flowerpeckers, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker and my main target species of the day, Scarlet-collared Flowerpecker, a Mindoro endemic.

Another pleasing sighting was the distinctive all-black Mindoro race of Philippine Coucal. Interesting that both Coucals on this island that used to be known as the black island are all-dark, though the island name came from the particularly virulent strain of malaria that occurs here. Purple Needletails at the clubhouse were also nice, my second sighting of them in a week.

The site is a good one, and one that I'll visit again. I'm certain that Mindoro Hawk-Owl would occur, as well as the various Imperial Pigeon spp. and Parrots that occur on Mindoro.

And if anyone is wondering about the blood in the title of the post, its the three or four tablespoons I gave up to the 15 or so leeches that took me for a mobile buffet, not to mention the umpteen mosquitos, the bites of which are still making their presence felt.

The all-black Mindoro race of Philippine Coucal, Centropus viridis mindorensis. There were at least two in the upper stretch of the quarry trail, but were very wary, similar behaviour to their cousins in Luzon.
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker. This variable species has 11 races in The Philippines, 10 of them endemic. This is apparently Dicaeum trigonostigma xanthopygmium, the same race that occurs on Luzon. Its main distinguishing feature is its yellow rump.
Female Black-naped Monarch 
Mindoro Bulbul

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