Saturday, March 31, 2012

Makling and IRRI - 31 March

05:30 Saturday morning saw myself, Richard and Claire heading up the Makiling trail again, this time birding from the bottom. It can be very quiet, almost birdless on this section, but today wasn't bad. Lots more heard than seen as usual (including a deafening group of Cicadas right at the start of the trail), but we did get views of both male and female Lovely Sunbirds feeding on the purple creeper flowers. Near here was a female Luzon Flameback, as well as Red-crested Malkoha, Scale-feathered Malkoha, Colasisi, Balicassiao, Philippine Bulbul and Ashy Minivet. A gap in the trees allowed us views of a migrating flock of Grey-faced Buzzards. The road is lined with beautiful red flowers, attracting a few Flaming Sunbirds down to our level, sadly only females.

We tried the mud-spring trail and had brief views of Oriental Cuckoo at the spring itself, and better views of a White-browed Shama on the return trip.

As usual we heard more than we saw, including Yellow-breasted Fruit-Dove, Philippine Hawk-Cuckoo, Philippine Trogon, Grey-backed Tailorbird and Luzon Hornbill.

We ended the day with a quick scoot around the fields. Lots of Painted Snipe about at the moment, as well as a pair of Buff-banded Rails with tiny chicks.

A White-browed Shama that came extremely close to check us out on the mud-spring trail.
A fat Skink sp. at the campsite near the coconut sellers
Croaking frog in a stream on the way to the mud spring.
A female Painted Snipe looking lovely....
And a male looking at bit more chamouflaged...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Week ending 25th March - IRRI

A quiet week on the farms overall. The Peregrine is still on the main pylons, and Snipe spp. and Yellow Wagtils are still hanging around, but only a few Oriental Pratincoles or Blue-tailed Bee-eaters yet, and no sign of any Pacific Golden Plovers, they're late...

On the other hand a flock of at least 15 Grey-faced Buzzards were soaring above us while ringing on the upland farm on Saturday, the only migrant trapped being a feisty Brown Shrike. Lots of Barred Buttonquail visible at the moment, and several Philippine Nightjars were on the farm roads when we were going to the ringing site. At least 4 were calling while we were setting up the nets, but no luck catching them!

Ringing totals for the day were, Yellow-vented Bulbul (7), Striated Grassbird (1), Brown Shrike (1), Scaly-breasted Munia (1), plus one each of Chestnut Munia and Red-keeled Flowerpecker released unringed (no 1.8mm rings available).

The Peregrine continues to haunt the experimental farm.
 Swinhoe's/ Pintail Snipe still present

Cattle Egret, looking fantastic at this time of year...
Junior ringer Conor, helping out with yet another Yellow-vented Bulbul...
Striking facial markings on these birds.
A Brown Shrike takes exception to being manhandled...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Makiling - 17 March

Another great day on Makiling! Up to the upper trail at dawn again, with Richard and Claire. The birds started early, with a pair of Philippine Hawk-Owl showing themselves at the parking spot. Thereafter it was slow going, with Luzon Hornbill, and Philippine Trogon the only birds of note. Close to station 14 however a great find. A Luzon Bleeding Heart hopped onto the trail 5 yards in front of me, and waddled along the path for 5 seconds or so before taking off in an explosion of feathers. A fantastic sighting, sadly too unexpected for me to even get my bins on them, let alone take photographs. Fortunately we all saw the bird, though neither Richard nor Claire had anywhere near as good a view as I did.

The rest of the morning returned to the very low intensity of the early part of the walk, with little new to report. A flock of Ashy Minivets were the only remaining highlight.

We decided to try our luck at the Botanical Gardens on the way home. Over the forest there were at least a dozen or so Purple Needletails, with a flock of House Swifts a little further away.

White-eared Brown Dove
Red-crested Malkoha
 Angle-headed Lizard
Green Paddy Frog, Rana erythraea. At the Botanical Gardens.
Golden Striped Skink sp.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Candaba - 11th March

A good day out at Candaba with Mark Wallbank. We got there early looking for recently recorded Streaked Reed Warbler. No luck there, but we did locate an obliging Oriental Reed Warbler in the first patch of long grass. Near the lakes a flock of White-shouldered Starling were our first target. They've been wintering here this year, and soon showed themselves. Very flighty and difficult to photograph. Next stop was the deep ponds at the western side for diving ducks, and soon a female Tufted Duck was found. With a large white base to the bill the possibility of Greater Scaup was discussed (recently seen here by visiting birders), but this wasn't it. Other noteworthy birds on this patch included Black Bittern, several Chinese Pond Heron, and many Philippine Swamphen.

We checked the ponds at the northeastern edge for the flock of wintering ducks, which were still largely present. No more Pintail or Wigeon, but lots of Garganey and Philippine Duck, with smaller numbers of Shoveller and Wandering Whistling Duck. Many Pheasant-tailed Jacana here, some in breeding plumage.

White-shouldered Starling. One of about 8 birds present all day in a flock moving between the trees on the southern side of the lakes.
Female Tufted Duck. Quite a lot of white at the base of the bill of this individual.
A small tuft clearly visible...
Philippine Swamphen (Purple Gallinule) Porphyrio (p.) pulverulentus. Very pale head, neck and breast, and dark brownish markings on the back and upperwings. A very distinctive race/ species depending on taxonomy.

Arctic Warbler, looking very worn, the wing bar is barely visible on this bird.

Clamorous Reed Warbler
Snipe spp.
An interesting comparison between three egrets. The darker gape extending behind the eye is clearly visible on the Great Egret. The paler gape extending to the eye (but not beyond) and the tiny dark tip to the end of the bill signifies the Intermediate Egret at the back. The darker billed Little Egrets illustrate the size differential.
Part of a large flock of wintering ducks still at Candaba. In this photograph are Garganey and Shoveller, along with resident Philippine Duck.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

IRRI - 3rd & 4th March

An eventful couple of days. On Saturday a pair of Philippine Hawk-Owls responded to playback and perched in the palm tree in my front garden. They were a bit too far for my flash to illuminate them properly, but it's early days yet.

On Sunday the first ringing session of spring produced an amazing male Siberian Rubythroat. It was caught even before we'd finished setting up the nets, and was a wonderful start to the day. The rest of the morning was always going to be anti-climactic after such a start, but we also ringed Yellow-vented Bulbul (4), Scaly-breasted Munia (3) and Striated Grassbird (1). Birds seen during the day included Peregrine, Common Kestrel, Grass Owl, and Clamorous Reed Warbler with several Philippine Nightjars calling early on.

This cracking male Siberian Rubythroat was the star bird of the day.

Striated Grassbird
A pair of Philippine Hawk-Owls in the palm tree in my front garden

This beautiful moth looks like a Samia canningi (from Found on Lopez Ave. in Los Banos on Friday evening, I rescued it from the traffic and released it in my garden.
Giant Wood Spider, Nephila maculata. A particularly large female that has taken up residence next to my garage.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Peregrine at IRRI

This looks to be very similar to the birds that have been visiting IRRI for the last 2 winters. The two races that occur in The Philippines are ernesti and calidus. They're very easy to separate as ernesti does not have the white cheek patches that form the narrow tear marks so obvious in this bird.

The bird is clearly a juvenile, with streaked underparts and rufous fringes on the mantle and back. If the bird is the same one returning annually it is retaining its juvenile plumage for a number of years.

The underparts are very heavily streaked black, not the fine barring you would expect from an adult
The base colour of this bird is very pale, not what I'd expect from a juvenile...
A bird photographed in the same area (less than 100m away) on Jan 28 2011. Obvious rufous fringes to the upperparts.
An adult of race ernesti, IRRI 23rd Sept 2013.