Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spotted Buttonquail in the garden - 28th Feb

A quiet week birdwise mainly due to an increased workload. The best bird of the week by far was a pair of Spotted Buttonquails crossing the road by my house on Thursday. I've seen a pair of these several times over the last few weeks, always in the late afternoon crossing the road from my garden going to the house opposite. They seem to be on a bit of a regular circuit, hopefully I can get some better pictures soon.

Female Spotted Buttonquail.
Grey-streaked Flycatcher. In the staff housing compound at IRRI.
Striated Swallow. On the upland farms in the early part of the week.
Green Paddy Frog. Easy to find in the fountain just inside the entrance of the Botanical Gardens at Makiling, these make brilliant subjects!

Friday, February 15, 2013

IRRI upland farms - 16th Feb

I tried a different area near the IRRI farms today for a change, and it was excellent. I had initially wanted to do a bit of owling around the university, so set off at 4:00am, just as the main group of revellers was returning from the annual festival on Baker Field in the middle of the campus, so no luck there! I instead went to the upland farms to wait for sunrise, and look for nightjars. Several Philippine Nightjars were singing, but none showed themselves. The first bird of the morning was a very close fly-by from a beautiful Grass Owl.

I decided to explore the ranks grass areas near the edge of the forest, and was rewarded with views of several birds I haven't seen often at IRRI, including two separate Plain Bush Hens, Barred Rail, Clamourous Reed Warbler, and a brown shape diving into a bush that was probably a Siberian Rubythroat. Other interesting birds included 5 Guiabero, Pied Triller, Black-naped Oriole, White-throated Kingfisher, Tawny Grassbird, Pygmy Flowerpecker and Lesser Coucal. Aerial feeders over the forest and adjacent farmland included Asian Palm Swift, Glossy Fwiftlet, Island Swiflet, Striated Swallow, Pacific Swallo, Barn Swallow and a bird that flashed past me as I was driving home that had to have been a Sand Martin.

Two White-throated Kingfishers having a bit of biff. It had started out quite calmly...

The bird on the left had been raucously declaiming his/ her presence, when the bird on the right swooped in and perched nearby, yelling its head off...
This was too much for bird #1 who almost immediately attacked the Johhny-come-lately in a stuka-like swoop that was extremely effective....
.....leaving the first bird in full possession of the field!
Tawny Grassbird
Island Swiftlet

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Week ending 10th Feb - IRRI, ISH, Makiling Botanical Gardens

With the Makiling Trail closed until March all my birding recently has been in the rice fields at IRRI, around IRRI staff housing and the occasional wander in the Botanical Gardens. While there has been nothing too spectacular I've seen and heard a good selection of birds.

Makiling Botanical Gardens: I visited this spot on both of the last two Sundays. The best bird was an Ashy-breasted Flycatcher high in a tree about halfway between the gate and the bridge on the right hand side. It didn't pose very long for photos, disappearing for long periods, but over the space of an hour I had enough detail to be happy with the identification of this elusive endemic. Other good birds over the last two visits included Red-crested Malkoha, Luzon Hornbill, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike and Grey-throated Sunbird.
IRRI staff housing: A pair of Spotted Buttonquails crossing the road outside my house one afternoon were my first of this species in a couple of years. Other birds around the complex include regularly calling Philippine Nightjar, Philippine Hawk-Owl and Philippine Scops Owls.

IRRI fields: The state of the rice fields is such that there is little open mud, so very few waders are around. The Peregrine is still on its pylon, and winter visitors such as Common Kingfisher and Brown Shrike are still everywhere.

 Red-crested Malkoha
 Pygmy Flowerpecker outside my front door, my most reliable spot for them!

Female Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike ssp. striata, with a combination of grey throat and breast with black and white barred belly. Quite different from the male which is almost unbarred in this race.
 Long-tailed Shrike
 Pied Bush-Chat

 Green Paddy Frog
 Skink spp.