Saturday, October 13, 2012

Makiling the Magnificent - 14 Oct

A fabulous day's birding on Makiling. Richard and I had arranged to meet at 5:30 and drive up to Agila camp, which we duly did. The road is being repaired so we had to dodge graders and the like on the way up. The good birds started early though, as Richard spotted a shape in the road which quickly flew off, we stopped and began the hunt, eventually there it was, Red-bellied Pitta. The light was terrible still, but we eventually both got onto it, a great start to the morning. At Agila camp we parked up, and started walking. Within 50 yards we had our first migrant of the day, a fantastic little Ferruginous Flycatcher, which performed marvelously. Buoyed by this we continued up the track. Several small bird parties were scattered along the track, with one containing a brilliant female Rufous Paradise Flycatcher.

The next bird party had a Philippine Trogon and Yellow-bellied Whistlers, as well as a Pechora Pipit wandering along the trail in the same area. We were to see a further 3 Pechora Pipits. A little further on a Philippine Drongo Cuckoo was nice, something I haven't seen in quite a while. We were then treated to an extraordinary shriek that I couldn't place at all, until I saw the source, a Philippine Fairy Bluebird. This was amazing, I have only ever seen them in Mindanao, and had long dismissed the only record I'd heard of from Makiling as very stringy. Their call is incredibly loud, and quite distinctive so I can only assume they are very thinly spread here. Soon after this yet another party (consisting mainly of Stripe-headed Rhabdornis) contained a magnificent male Narcissus Flycatcher, unquestionably the most spectacular find of the day. Nearby a White-bellied Munia was nest-building.

By this time it was time to turn back. The Ferruginous Flycatcher was still on station, with a more common Grey-streaked Flycatcher watching over it from on high. The highlights didn't stop there however. On the drive down the mountain a wagtail on the road turned out to be a Forest Wagtail, a long awaited rarity!

There were of course plenty of more usual Makiling birds, including; Brown Shrike, Glossy Swiftlet, Buzzing Flowerpecker, Elegant Tit, Flaming Sunbird, Arctic Warbler, Philippine Woodpecker, Grey-backed Tailorbird, Yellowish White-eye, Sulphur-billed Nuthatch, Blue-headed Fantail, Philippine Bulbul and Balicassiao.

In addition to all that Richard also had a probable Eye-browed Thrush while I was busy taking photographs of something else.

Other migrants at IRRI staff housing included several flocks of Chestnut-cheeked Starlings and a single Ashy Minivet on Sunday.

Ferruginous Flycatcher. Quite a rarity here, this is the second I've had at Makiling, the first was in autumn 2008.

Philippine Drongo Cuckoo, strangely absent for quite a long time, the sightings from the last couple of weeks have been my first for over a year.
Male Narcissus Flycatcher. In almost the same spot as the female from last winter

Forest Wagtail. A long expected bird!