Tuesday, April 9, 2013

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

No comments:

Post a Comment