Saturday, November 24, 2012

Candaba - 24th Nov

A good day at Candaba with Mark Wallbank. We got there just after sunrise on a very sunny and cloudless morning which turned out to be an absolute scorcher. There was a lot of water around, with large expanses of flooded grassland. The ricefields were being prepared for the next crop, and many were in the process of being ploughed leaving large expanses of wet mud. This activity was attracting huge numbers of birds, particularly all the Egrets (Great, Intermediate, Little and Cattle), Whiskered Terns and Barn Swallows all of which were very numerous in the farmed areas. The muddy fields were not as productive for waders, with the only birds present being Black-winged Stilt (100+), Wood Sandpiper, Long-toed Stint (1), Greenshank (5) and Snipe sp (10+).

The flooded grassland had a huge flock of ducks. We estimated at least 10,000 birds. The largest proportion were Garganey (5000+), with Philippine Duck (4,000+), Tufted Duck (200+) and Shoveller (200+) making up the rest. There were only a few individuals of other species, with a dozen or so Eurasian Teal,  3 Pintail and a lone female Wigeon

Other migrants included a pair of White-shouldered Starlings were near the mayor's house and several Arctic Warblers in the trees.

Aside from this Candaba was its usual self, with amazing numbers of roosting Grey Heron, Purple Heron and Black-crowned Night-Heron around the mayor's pond, and loads of rallids including Barred Rail, Buff-banded Rail, White-browed Crake, White-breasted Waterhen, Purple Swamp-Hen and Common Moorhen. Yellow Bitterns were in good numbers, but only one Cinnamon Bittern.

Male Red Turtle Dove. Loads of these beautiful doves today.

 Oriental Reed Warbler

Juvenile Lesser Coucal catching the early morning sun
Zebra Doves

Part of a large concentration of Egrets. Great, Intermediate and Little Egrets here in big numbers, with plenty of Cattle Egrets as well.
(Philippine) Purple Swamp-Hen
Wandering Whistling Duck
Purple Heron
Part of a huge flock of duck. Mostly wintering Garganey, there was also a large proportion of resident Philippine Duck, as well as a few other species.
Arctic Warbler
The tail-end of a snake crossing our path on the way out

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Banahaw - 17 Nov

A good day on Mt Banahaw. Unfortunately Richard couldn't join me, so I headed off on my own, and picked up my guide Chris from the lodge. On the way up we passed flocks of Chestnut-faced Babblers, along with several calling Mountain Tailorbirds. The flowering plants had Colasisi, Metallic-winged Sunbird, Buzzing Flowerpecker, Pygmy Flowerpecker, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker. Once off the ATV trail I headed for the Whiskered Pitta site, this time the gully was quite dry and much less slippery than previously. On the way up a large mixed flock contained the following species; Yellowish White-eye, Mountain White-eye, Green-backed Whistler, Citrine Canary Flycatcher, Mountain Verditer, Mountain Leaf-Warbler, Balicassiao, Sulphur-billed Nuthatch, Bicolored Flowerpecker, Buzzing Flowerpecker, Elegant Tit, Blue-headed Fantail, Arctic Warbler. One of the largest and most diverse bird parties I've seen in a long time, excellent entertainment. At several points up the gully we heard large birds flapping in the trees, and a couple of times the soft calls of Flame-breasted Fruit Doves, but we couldn't catch sight of them. Close to the top we disturbed a raptor from the forest floor. It flew about 5 feet over our heads and landed in a tree, posing nicely. Philippine Serpent-Eagle.

We headed down at about midday, with not much to be seen until we got almost to the village where we encountered another flock. This time it was mainly Flowerpeckers (Orange-bellied and Buzzing), Arctic Warbler and Metallic-winged Sunbird. As we left the flock we spotted a male Narcissus Flycatcher immediately above us. Assuming this bird was the last hurrah we started down the final stretch of trail when Chris motioned me to stop. Low down, just off the trail we saw movement. At first it was impossible to tell what was there, as we waited we got tantalising glimpses, but they added up to a real mystery. Eventually it transpired that there were at least 4 birds of 2 species, in an area of forest about 4mx4mx4m. The initial bird was a female Snowy-browed Flycatcher, a male showed briefly, as did a second female (or juvenile male). The fourth bird was a Green-backed Whistler.

Snowy-browed Flycatcher ssp dulangana. An odd species. I've seen these in Thailand, but they seem quite tricky to find here. There are 8 endemic subspecies listed in the Field Guide, the one here is restricted to Luzon and Mindoro.

I'm not sure whether this is a female or a juvenile. It has a clearly greyish head compared with its back, different from the third bird in this set.

And a male nearby. He didn't hang around long.
This is definitely a female
Green-backed Whistler

Male Narcissus Flycatcher

Female Metallic-winged Sunbird
 Philippine Serpent-Eagle

Saturday, November 10, 2012

IRRI - 10th Nov

My planned forest visits were scuppered by a lack of appropriate transport, so birding was restricted to a quick trip to the fields on Saturday. The most interesting bird was the Peregrine which has reappeared for the first time this winter. Previous early dates were 15 Oct in 2011, and 21 Nov in 2010.

Not much else about. A Bright-capped Cisticola coming into breeding plumage was an unusual sight in midweek.

Peregrine, F. peregrinus calidus, a common winter visitor in The Philippines....
... which is very different from  the much smaller resident race, F. p. ernesti. This one was photographed on a high-rise block of flats in Manila.

Long-tailed Shrike
Bright-capped Cisticola.