Sunday, May 27, 2012

Week ending 27th May - IRRI

A quiet week birding-wise as family duties took my spare time (Fiona being off in Malaysia all week). I did spot a Plain Bush-hen on my way in to work on Tuesday, but my only other birding was on Sunday afternoon when I took the youngest into the paddies to 'see some cows'. All passage birds having departed the main interest was the breeding behaviour, with plenty of song, plus several species with young already. The Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and Oriental Pratincoles were among the most visible, but there were plenty of Striated Swallows today, many with youngsters in tow. A Barred Buttonquail had a lovely dust-bath right in front of us, and Oriental Skylarks and Fan-tailed Cisticolas sang their hearts out.

Male Barred Buttonquail, having just completed a dust bath...
 Oriental Pratincole
 White-breasted Waterhen
Striated Swallow, lots about today, including plenty of juveniles...
This Oriental Skylark was belting out a song from the deck before deciding we were too close...
... and without missing a note it took off into its aerial song flight.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fledgling Philippine Scops Owl - 19 May

On Saturday a neighbour brought in a fledgling Philippine Scops Owl she had found on the road in the compound. Very fluffy still, but with primaries and tail feathers developing. We haven't located the nest yet, but as it's not responding to feeding our plan is to return it to the vicinity it was found and hope the adults come back.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Subic - 12 & 13 May

A last-minute decision to go to Subic for the weekend saw myself Richard and Claire making the 4 hour drive to one of the best lowland forest patches on Luzon. Saturday afternoon was spent exploring the bat colony (both Philippine Giant Fruit Bat and Golden-crowned Fruit Bat photographed) and the lower section of roads connecting the bomb bunkers. A good selection of birds here including Whiskered Tree-Swift, Coleto, Philippine Green Pigeon, White-eared Brown Dove, Green Imperial Pigeon, Philippine Serpent Eagle, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Red-crested Malkoha, Guiabero, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Luzon Flameback, Luzon Hornbill and best of all, Green Racquet-tails. The Racquet-tails were quite noisy, but impossible to see until they moved by which time only a few seconds of in-flight view was possible, still a great bird though!

Sunday morning was devoted to the forest trail up to hill 394. While none of the 3 Subic specials I was gunning for showed themselves (White-fronted Tit, White-lored Oriole and Rufous Coucal) we did get a good selection. Great views of White-bellied Woodpecker, also Sooty Woodpecker, Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove, Purple Needletail, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike, Blackish Cuckoo-Shrike, Philippine Falconet, Emerald Dove, along with many of the same species seen on Saturday. On the way back we were shaken out of our reverie by an almighty racket made by 4 or 5 Rufous Hornbills shouting their heads off. Despite the obvious close proximity of the birds we didn't get so much as a glimpse, extremely frustrating!

The long drive home was made a little less tedious by the sight of a dozen or so White-winged Black Terns in breeding plumage bouncing around over a pond.

Philippine Giant Fruit Bat, Pteropus vampyrus lanensis.
The majority of the bat colony at Subic comprises the Philippine Giant Fruit Bat. Extremely large, and with a reddish coat becoming dark on the head...

Giant Golden-crowned Fruit Bat, Acerodon jubatus. Far fewer of these very smart bats here. I didn't in fact notice them on the day, only identifying them when processing the photographs!

A Philippine Giant Fruit Bat with a youngster clinging on to it!
Philippine Serpent Eagle, carrying what I thought to be a snake, but may in fact be a stick. It was circling slowly and calling when it did this.
Whiskered Tree-Swift, posing obligingly
Rufous-crowned Bee-eater, Merops americanus. A recent split from Blue-throated Bee-eater.
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Barred Rail
Male Luzon Hornbill

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Week ending 6th May - UPLB

As a break from climbing mountains on Saturday I tried to answer a question that has been perplexing me recently, namely where are the Indigo-banded Kingfishers?They are usually seen on the stream that runs through the UPLB campus, but I haven't seen them for at least a couple of months. The stream is only easily accessible at a few spots, so I decided to get down to the stream bed and follow it, so that I would be able to cover the entire stream, the theory being they must be on a stretch of water that I can't see from any vantage point. Needless to say this was not what happened. Firstly the stream bed is difficult to get to due to lots of undergrowth, some of which is vicious. The bugs also took exception to my adventures, and lastly the water was pretty rank, adding several unpleasant skin diseases to the list of potential hazards. Bird-wise it was also a disappointing day. Aside from several parties of Yellow-wattled Bulbuls the only birds of interest were a pair of large dark birds that flew down the stream in front of me, and which I took to be Barred Rails.

All in all an unsuccessful day. Tomorrow will be better!

 Yellow-wattled Bulbul
Philippine Bulbul

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

San Juan - 1 May

Labour Day in The Philippines means a day off work, so I picked up Richard and Claire at 5, and we headed off to San Juan. We started at the main ponds north of the main house, which had a large flock of Philippine Duck as well as a fair number of Black-winged Stilt. In amongst them was a bird with a strongly marked black head and hind neck. Most of the Stilts we have in The Philippines are H. h. himantopus. In juvenile plumage they have dark greyish hind-neck and cap which fades as they age to a pure white head and neck. H. h. leucocephalus (aka White-headed Stilt) also occurs, in adult plumage they have a black hind-neck and ear-coverts extending to the eye. This bird however had these features plus an all black crown.

We continued around the ponds, finding a good selection of San Juan birds, including Grey-tailed Tattler, Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Pacific Golden Plover.

Putative H. h. leucocephalus and H. h. himantopus adults.
The black hind-neck does not connect with the black mantle. In the fore-ground is a young H. h. himantopus with a greyish crown.
A juvenile H. h. himantopus with a dark crown, ear-coverts and hind neck.
Pacific Golden Plover, breeding plumage and non-breeding plumage
 White-collared Kingfisher
 Slaty-breasted Rail

Lowland White-eye

Mud Skipper sp.