Saturday, January 12, 2013

Quarry Road, Bislig - 11th January

Our last day at Bislig started damply, but turned out to be the driest of all the days. It was still very overcast, with very poor light for most of the day, but some excellent birds were found.

It started with both Mindanao Hawk-Owl and Everett's Scops Owl calling from the steep sides of the quarry. We had tried to find owls at the usual stake-out without success. The quarry was more lively, but we had to settle for heard-only records. Other calling birds in the area included Great-eared Nightjar, Pink-bellied Imperial Pigeon and Black-headed Tailorbird. The first bird definitively seen was a Hooded Pitta flushed off the trail close to our parking spot. We heard many of these, with up to 3 calling at once, but only got a glimpse of one. A little further on a Rufous-fronted Tailorbird was more obliging, responding well to playback. A portion of the track was flooded here, and we had to make a long and strenuous detour. As we were doing this we started to hear calling Rufous Hornbill, and when we broke into a clearing we had fantastic views as a pair of these incredible birds flew slightly to one side of us, perched, then flew almost directly overhead before returning to their original spot. The trees around this clearing also held a Barred Honey Buzzard, an Oriental Honey Buzzard and Scarlet Minivet (ssp. gonzalesi).

Soon after this we relocated the original trail, and headed towards the better forest. On the way we first heard and then saw a Yellowish Bulbul, which had been surprisingly elusive up until this point.

As we entered the better section of forest our first stop was for a Rufous-lored Kingfisher. The forest was really nice after this, quite dense. Several Yellow-breasted Fruit Doves were calling near here and we were very optimistic. By chance one of the photographers spotted a Steere's Pitta when we stopped for a breather, and when Zardo played the call it and 2 others nearby started to call quite insistently. In the end Richard and I saw a bird each very well, watching them for at least 10 minutes, a real corker!

By this time I was thinking it was time for a decent bird party, and almost by magic one turned up. The first inkling we had was the strident call of a Short-crested Monarch, an absolutely fantastic little bird. The flock contained both a male and a female, as well as Blue Fantail, male and female Rufous Paradise Flycatchers, Mindanao Pygmy Babbler, Yellowish Bulbul, Yellow-bellied Whistler, Orange-tufted Spiderhunter and a very elusive, apparently solitary Mindanao Wattled Broadbill.

After this triumph we headed back to the vehicle for lunch. While eating this we had 5 raptors soaring overhead, at least 3 of which were Oriental Honey Buzzards, and the others were probably Barred Honey Buzzards. We then dropped the photographers off to try and take pictures of the Southern Silvery Kingfisher. We found the bird easily enough for them, then headed off to a nearby area looking for fruiting trees. On the way we found a Pinsker's Hawk Eagle which was an unexpected bonus. At the next site we searched for doves and pigeons, hoping to catch up with Amethyst Brown Dove. No luck there, though we did add Emerald Dove and Philippine Green Pigeon to our trip list.

By this time it was getting dark, and we had reached the end of our adventure. Considering the dodgy weather and the limited time we left with only a few birds still to get, principal among these are Blue-capped Wood Kingfisher, Little Slaty Flycatcher and Mindanao Bleeding Heart, as well as all the Owls. Most of those missed can be found at least as easily elsewhere. My next chance for some of these will probably be in June when I plan to get to Siargao.

Rufous Hornbill (ssp. mindanensis). Amazing views of an incredible bird.

Barred Honey-Buzzard. The incredibly long crest is the only really decent identification feature in this picture.
Oriental Honey-Buzzard. This is a bit better with its strange neck.
Rufous-lored Kingfisher. Very noisy, and rather high, a classic view of a difficult bird.
Yellowish Bulbul. This was fast becoming a bogey bird until we caught a glimpse of this one. Naturally we had several in a mixed flock a bit later.
Steere's (Azure-breasted) Pitta. Not a good picture of a fantastic bird.
Mindanao Wattled Broadbill. Just visible in the top of a tree...
Southern Silvery Kingfisher.
Juvenile Rufous-fronted Tailorbird.


  1. Wonderful capture of the hornbill in flight and that Pitta is truly magnificent.

  2. I keep saying "mouth watering" about these birds, I think. Well, they are. The Hornbill, the Pitta and the Silvery Kingfisher especially are all fantastic.