Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Negros, Canaway - 19th December

Another early start as we headed south and west of Dumaguete city towards Canaway Forest. Two bumpy hours on the back of a motorbike later, we stopped and Rene once again produced some magic, whistling up a fantastic Visayan Shama. The calls of the Shamas are so varied that I hesitate to suggest the call is different from the White-browed from which it has been split. The plumage differences are clear though, with no white wing-bar, and no rufous rump.

From there we continued on the bikes, finally reaching the end of the road, and the start of the hike. Deforestation here has been severe, and we had to climb for a couple of hours in the sun before we reached the edge of the forest, at about 1300m. Birding here was thin. The sun was high, and the wind was strong on the ridges, so the birds were relatively inactive. Rene raised himself still further in my estimation when, out of this unpromising situation, he whistled up a small flock. Initially it had only Elegant Tit and Montane White-eye, but eventually the two Negros Striped Babblers with them showed themselves. Fantastically tough birds to get, this is one of the few spots left for them, and the prognosis for the future doesn't look good.

On the way down Glossy Swiftlet, Philippine Swiftlet, Pygmy Swiftlet, Striated Swallow, Barred Buttonquail.

 Visayan Shama
Montane White-eye, ssp. pectoralis. The yellow stripe down the belly distinguishes this race. Interestingly there seems to be an error in Kennedy et al, Birds of the Philippines, where this subspecies is called pectoralis in the species description, but nigrorum in the short blurb on the page adjacent to the illustration. The latter name I believe refers to the Yellowish White-eye, Zosterops nigrorum.

The Montane White-eye is separated from the Lowland White-eye by the greyer underparts (particularly the flanks), and the dark spot under the eye.

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