Wednesday, April 24, 2013

IRRI - 24th April.

A very pleasant hour or so spent in the fields this afternoon. Lots of birds around, including flocks of Oriental Pratincoles and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters who've moved in for the summer, and Brown Shrikes and a few Yellow Wagtails who haven't left yet.

Few waders apart from the odd Little Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper, but plenty of other things to hold the interest.

 Plenty of Oriental Pratincoles about...
...but a bit hard to photograph in flight.
Blue-tailed Bee-eaters have also arrived in force..
The White-collared Kingfishers never left...
 ..and nor did the Pacific Swallows...
...or the Barred Rails.

The Brown Shrikes are getting ready to travel north...

... as are the Yellow Wagtails.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

UPLB - 20 - 21 April

Due to the excessive heat I've done most of my birding this weekend at night. The first bird heard on both nights, from my house, has been a Philippine Eagle-Owl. It appears to be in the gully running between the IRRI staff housing complex at the SEARCA housing area. This thin tongue of forest has produced Red-bellied Pitta before, with Indigo-banded Kingfisher on the stream at the bottom of the gully, but I wasn't expecting an Eagle-Owl!

A good area for owls seems to be Baker Field in the middle of the campus. There are plenty of trees, but they are generally not too tall, and are easy to walk around. On Sunday morning I had a pair of Philippine Scops Owls here, responding quickly to playback here, and there were several Luzon Hawk-Owls calling. I got views of the Luzon Hawk-Owls on the road up the hill towards the Botanical Gardens, but they didn't hang around for pictures.

Philippine Nightjars were also very actively calling, though I didn't manage to see any.

One of a pair of very responsive Philippine Scops Owls at Baker Field. This one seems to have caught a large rat.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ponderosa Golf Club, Puerto Galera - 8th April

After San Cristobal Richard and I joined Simon on his return to Puerto Galera, and we tried for night-birds at Ponderosa the next morning. No nightjars were in evidence, but we did get a response from a recording of Mindoro Boobok, though we didn't see it at all.

We started down the quarry track at first light, but saw very little apart from Mindoro Bulbuls and Philippine Cuckoo-Doves until we got to the quarry itself. Almost immediately we had a Pink-bellied Imperial Pigeon fly past, and quickly heard Blue-crowned Racquet-tails calling, though they were never visible. A large flock of Purple Needletails hunted overhead for most of our time there, as did smaller numbers of Glossy Swifllet. Once the day had warmed up the raptors started, with first a Changeable Hawk-Eagle and then a Philippine Serpent Eagle.

On the way back we had a little more luck, with White-eared Brown Dove and Chinese Goshawk showing well, but it was basically a quiet day with a few small highlights.

An interestingly plumaged Changeable Hawk-Eagle.

White-eared Brown-Dove
Chinese Goshawk
One of many thousands of Cicadas that provided the background din to the weekend. At one point Simon measure the noise levels at 90dB.

San Cristobal, Mindoro - 7th April

The long weekend gave me a chance to explore a patch of forest near San Cristobal on Mindoro where a Mindoro Bleeding Heart was seen by Mark Wallbank in early February. Richard and I met our guides Ed and Ente in Victoria, and were joined by visiting birder Simon Lloyd from Abu Dhabi. We tried to make an early start to look for night birds (we were somewhat delayed by late transport), and got to the edge of the forest at about 5:15. On the way in I'd seen a Philippine Nightjar on the road, and we heard several more as we waited for the light.

When it was light enough we started down the broad track. The first birds seen were a small group of Mindoro Bulbul, these were to be the commonest birds in the forest. After a while the forest improved, and we started the hunt, walking very slowly along the track, keeping an eye on the path ahead. This tactic proved very successful in finding Red-bellied Pittas, of which at least 5 were seen. Little else was visible, apart from a few Balicassiao, and several mindorensis Philippine Coucals. Plenty of birds were heard, not least a deep booming call that none of us could place, and Ente claimed was 'Bleeding-Heart' (Checking the recordings with other birders proved the calls to be Pink-bellied Imperial Pigeon, nice but not our target!).

As we were returning down the track, with very little to show for our efforts I spotted a medium sized dove walking down the track away from us. Ente hadn't seen it, and my imprecations to him to stop were enough to startle the bird which immediately took off and flew into the forest. All I saw was the back, which was a fairly uniform very dark greyish, almost slaty. There was no band on the rump (so not Emerald Dove), and the tail was short so not a Cuckoo-Dove (which would very rarely be seen on the ground in any case). The slate grey colour of the upperparts would also rule our White-eared Brown Dove (which does sometimes visit the ground). Assuming my impression of the colour was accurate then the only bird it could have been was Mindoro Bleeding-Heart, however it was an extremely unsatisfying view!

After this frustration we continued our walk home, with only a Philippine Serpent Eagle being added to the day-list.

One of five Red-bellied Pitta that we found today on the trail. This seems to be a real hotspot for the species.
 Calling Philippine Serpent Eagle