conditions, scattered clouds with winds from northeast
Ned Liuag with Hannah
Spent the day casually birding from the second story window
of our house here. Since we arrived late this morning, the
birds were generally silent and dispersed. I've gotten used
to birding by ear so I needed a bit more patience before locating
my favorite residents in surrounding trees.
luck I found three beautiful LOWLAND WHITE-EYE gleaning insects
in the branches five to seven meters away. I suspect that
there might be more but these birds were keeping quiet this
time. I still think that the best place to find these birds
in the neighborhood is the Laurel compound near the IFI church
around the corner. The compound used to have these old mango
and duhat trees in their yard, which had to be chopped down
for safety reasons. The white-eyes continue to flock at this
site for reasons known only to these birds. When I cannot
locate them in our yard, a walk down and past the Laurels
place will usually reveal a small flock twittering in the
topmost branches of the two or three remaining trees in that
spent a lengthy time admiring these active little birds from
my hide when the vocal but hard to see RED-KEELED FLOWERPECKER
flew from its favorite chico tree behind the orchidariums
before perching in one of the rambutans. Known to wander into
open country from forest and edge, this endemic is a common
visitor to our lot and surrounding gardens here. As in previous
occasions, this species was observed with a bit of plant material
in its bill. I presume this is a berry from a mistletoe-like
plant growing in the crown of the chico. It was an added bonus
that the flowerpecker perched closer to my position where
it was joined by one of the white-eyes, allowing a relative
comparison oftheirsize and shape.
birders might find the ubiquitous EURASIAN TREE SPARROW a
nuisanceto look at but here they are healthy, clean and scarce
in numbers. Iknow they've been referred to as mice with wings.
(The feral rock dovebeing the New Yorker's winged version
of the rat.) Yet for a bird seenpicking through the garbage
floating on the Tripa de Galina creek inMakati, I find that
it isn't hard for me to like Tree Sparrows. Here isa species
known to colonize islands by hitching rides on ferries andfishing
boats and to be tolerant of urban conditions. So when they
getkind of scarce around my office in Makati, I start to get
real worriedabout the air quality in there.
because we now have three cats prowling the property, and
alitter to come, the Tree Sparrows are loath to take dust
baths in thegarden or the yard like they used to. Even if
you don't see themengaged in this activity in your gardens,
the telltale signs aredepressions in the dry ground where
the birds rub about to get rid ofparasites.
was particularly interesting that a flock of nine tree sparrowsshared
the treetop where a single YELLOW-VENTED BULBUL was sounding
itsbubbly call. From my vantage, I could easily identify its
raised crestand the conspicuously colored vent. Owing its
omnivorous habits, theYellow-Vented Bulbul is one of the successful
birds in Metro Manila.I've seen them feeding on flowers and
shoots, chasing insects like aflycatcher around Greenbelt
Park in Makati or picking insects fromtwigs. The only thing
they don't seem to do is snatch food scraps offthe ground.
In some places here it is called the kulkul, which soundslike
its call. When referring to the bird in non-birding company
I callit the malipago because theFarsi(?)-derived English
common name has a rather offish meaning inTagalog.
nearby, I could hear the sweet-sweet call of an OLIVE-BACKEDSUNBIRD
but failed to locate it. A pair of PACIFIC SWALLOWS were on
thewing above the Laguna College campus next door and I spotted
a singleASIAN PALM SWIFT on its way back to the coconut plantations
surroundingSampaloc Lake, which I'll be discussing later.
BROWN SHRIKES were still around. The plump female is stillquartering
in the orchidarium and I spotted it in the early afternoon.I
know it is interested in the flowerpecker and switches to
hunting modewhen the latter arecalling. This particular shrike
has a favorite perch. I inadvertentlydisturbed it one evening
when I was out for a breath of fresh air. Thisshrikeseems
to like that tree and its droppings are smack in the same
spotevery time I visit.
spotted a male in the open lot across the street today and
admired theway its belly seemed to ripple gold to buff then
gold again in thesunlight. Taking a leaf from another birder's
advice - to observe notjust watch - provides a different kind
of experience. It has for me aZen-like quality to it.
am sure there are three shrikes in this section of the neighborhood.One
keeps hidden in the trees at the far end of the yard, but
I hear itcalling. The rambutan and mangoes are in bloom, so
it will not be longbefore the Brown Shrikes depart for their
breeding grounds on themainland. It will be sometime till
I visit San Pablo again so I mightnot hear them again till
late August or early September when theirreturn signals the
ripening of the lanzones.
MARKETA visit to San Pablo is never complete without a trip
to the market,where you might encounter one or two bird sellers
peddling forestspecies. This afternoon, I was offered a pair
of RED TURTLE-DOVES forP90! In the cages, I counted four WHITE-EARED
BROWN DOVES, a pair of SPOTTED DOVES, two COMMON EMERALD DOVES
and two medium-sized white doveswhich I didn't investigate
closer and could have been immature PIEDIMPERIALS. Must mention
a few SCALY-BREASTED MUNIAS transformed intoBaclaran Sparrows
i.e. spray-painted and adult CHESTNUT MUNIAS. I wastempted
to purchase some of the birds and liberate them in the yard.
LAKETook wife and daughter to the lake with my nephew and
niece. From theviewing point on the southern rim of the crater,
I spotted a flight of14 egrets. I presume these to be LITTLE
EGRETS, which have been the mostcommon winter visitor during
my bird count here in November. Alsospotted a dark winged
heron that I believe to be a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHTHERON. I have
not spotted this species here before but this migrant isknown
to be present in the Seven Lakes area from the five captives
keptin the lakeshore community.
wind was strong enough for us to decide against going down
the 100or so step American period stairway leading to the
lake and detourthrough the nearby park. All around Pacific
and BARN SWALLOWS rode thewind, zipping around the mango trees.
Flying among the swallows was anISLAND SWIFTLET whose distinct
scimitar shaped wings and uniformly darkunder parts I described
to my eight-year old niece Hannah.
eagerly joined me on a hike around Sampaloc Lake. We took
off ona clockwise direction at 4:30 this afternoon after promising
wife andbaby to be back at the lakeshore promenade in an hour's
time. It canget quite nippy on the shore and as we walked
towards the outlet a briskwind raised waves on the surface
of the lake.
the site past the small hotel, I noticed a dark bird-like
shapemoving along the edge of an abandoned floating fish pen.
Training mybinoculars on it, I realized this was my first
sighting of a LITTLEHERON on the lake. I pointed the heron
out for Hannah who then saidthat there were two, the second
revealing itself by flying to adifferent section of the pen.
the way, we stopped to admire a huge sturdy tree in the abandonedlakeside
subdivision, covered with pinkish white flowers that were
froma distance reminiscent of cherry blossoms. I forget what
the tree iscalled but it's in the Periplus guide to Philippine
flowers. This treecan be seen white against dark green from
any point along the lakeshoreroad.
this point, we could hear the Red-Keeled Flowerpeckers callingcontinuously
from trees by the road but remaining invisible. But thebest
birding can be had in the north and the east shores of the
lake,where coconut plantations and stands of bamboo remain.
of Asian Palm Swifts were on the wing among the coconut palms
inthe northern section and we would have stayed to observe
if not for thelimited time.
and I found a nice spot in the fishing area from where we
trainedthe binoculars on the floating fish pens and came up
with two moreLittle Herons. While watching the herons searching
for prey, I saw somemovement far across the water attracted
my attention. It turned out tobe a COMMON KINGFISHER, perched
on the bamboo float and intent oncapturing its next meal.
Hannah said she'd seen the egrets flying againbut when I peered
across the lake they'd taken cover again and could notbe located.
was looking into the bamboo stands on the crater rim when
Hannah gavea shriek as a dark shape flapped from below the
bank to finally perchon the bamboo stakes of the fish pen
upshore. This proved to be animmature Black-Crowned Night
Heron, identified by more brown and withlesscontrasting streaks
in breast and upper parts than the immature ofRufous Night-Herons
which are quite common in the Seven Lakes area.
found another kingfisher perched on a bamboo pole in a fish
pen, managed to get within five meters of it and determine
that it was also a Common Kingfisher. I did not want to discount
the possibility that one of the Indigo-Banded species might
have strayed from remaining forest patches nearby.
my wife took the kids downtown for burgers, I carried baby
who had fallen asleep home and staked out in the eastern room
for the highlight of every visit. The PEREGRINE FALCON showed
up at 6:20 approaching the INC Chapel from the direction of
Sampaloc Lake. This one was definitely of the resident race
ernesti, whose finely barred belly I could distinguish. It
rocketed past the house on powerful wings and disappeared
to the south. A few moments later, it showed up in the vicinity
of the INC Chapel allowing superb views as it soared around
the spires for the next five minutes. The Peregrine flew toward
the lake, reappearing briefly before finally disappearing
behind the INC spires.
last bird of the day was the female Brown Shrike wintering
in our orchidarium. In the evening gloom, I spotted it perched
at its usual treetop larder before disappearing among the
foliage, a house gecko firmly in its notched bill. (Sorry
folks, no vivid description of bludgeoning and impalement
Egret - 14
2. Little Heron - 4
3. Black-Crowned Night Heron - 2 including an immature heron
4. Peregrine Falcon - 1
5. Rock Dove - 7
6. Common Kingfisher - 2
7. Island Swiftlet - 1
8. Asian Palm Swift - common in coconut groves around lake
9. Barn Swallow - several
10. Pacific Swallow - several
11. Yellow-Vented Bulbul - 1
12. Brown Shrike - 3 encountered, 1 heard in yard
13. Lowland White-eye - 3 seen from house, heard elsewhere
14. Olive-Backed Sunbird - heard only
15. Red-keeled Flowerpecker - 1, commonly heard around Sampaloc
16. Eurasian Tree Sparrows - flock of 9 seen from the house,
but usually singles observed