April 17 to 18, 2003
conditions, with few clouds and brisk east and southeast wind
by Ned Liuag
a productive three days casually birding from the house while
visiting with my parents in San Pablo. It was hot throughout
the birding period, except before an hour before sunrise when
the mercury dropped to 20 degrees Celsius.
Recorded a total of 16 species, including a couple of new
ones for the house list. Winter visitors were still abundant
in the area, especially in the early morning.
Planted between 40 to 30 years ago, the crowns of the trees
in the back yard form a thick canopy with the trees in the
neighbor's property. This summer, the jackfruit, chico and
mango trees were heavy with fruit and alongside the flowering
rambutan trees guaranteed a rich variety of food choices for
the birds to choose from. Except for the eagerly awaited rambutan
harvest, most of the fruit produced in the yard ends up food
for bats and birds.
April 17, the day we arrived from Manila, I happened to look
out from the windows of the eastern room and caught sight
of a LARGE-BILLED CROW flapping its way in the direction of
Sampaloc Lake, which is two blocks north of the house.
To my surprise, a pair of BROWN SHRIKES was still in residence.
A female shrike was still wintering in the mango tree growing
beside the wall separating the yard from the Laguna College
campus. The plump female in the orchidarium had already departed
for its Asian breeding grounds and had been replaced by a
sleek young grey-brown male that sported the distinct golden-buff
belly. Occasionally, the male shrike would have a spat with
the pair of YELLOW-VENTED BULBULS whose territory included
the rambutan and lanzones trees in the center of the backyard.
There would be a flurry of wings followed by a mad dash for
cover by the shrike.
Brown Shrike hunting in the open spaces of the American War
Cemetery does not compare to display of stealthy grace by
another in pursuit of prey in the tree canopy. In the War
Cemetery, the action is brief and unremarkable. In my mother's
orchidarium, it is a ballet. Here the Brown Shrike noiselessly
swoops from among tangled branches and leaves, snatches its
target then disappears into cover. The entire action takes
sightings of endemic LOWLAND WHITE-EYE were few and far between.
I counted no more than three birds in one place at any one
time though I am sure that there were more in the orchard.
On two occasions this visit, the flock of white-eyes roosting
in the rambutan trees roused me in the pre-dawn chill with
their distinct 15-minute chorus.
I only recorded a single RED-KEELED FLOWERPECKER every few
hours on all days of my visit. It would either be zipping
past the window, perched and calling from the neighbor's television
aerial, or flitting in and out of the chico tree behind the
my delight, the yards and neighboring gardens were alive with
OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRDS this time, especially in the early morning
hours. Some were quite tame, even flying around just above
our front garden, I watched one male sunbird pestering a pair
of EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS from a rose bush that it favored.
The male of this species is distinguished from its cousins
by the bluish-purple throat. The female has olive-brownish
upper parts, yellow or pale yellow below with a pale yellow
three days, I would hear the familiar singular call che-weet
or the continuous sweet sweet. This last vocalization sounds
like the electronic bird chimes that were popular a couple
years ago. But Olive-backed Sunbirds also utter a short cherk
when it takes off or is agitated.
down some notes on the sunbirds on April 18, I spotted a tight
flock of 14 LITTLE EGRETS moving in the direction of Laguna
de Bay. I also put on the record a few BARN SWALLOWS also
moving north plus several swifts - ASIAN PALM SWIFTS and HOUSE
SWIFTS - trawling the air for insects. Later in the day I'd
watched PACIFIC SWALLOWS buzzing one of the ROCK DOVES now
sheltering in the INC chapel spires. The resident swallows
are a feisty bunch. I have seen them mobbing the peregrine
falcon, which has been regularly observed here between November
and March. The presence of the Rock Doves in the chapel spires
must indicate that this raptor has moved on for the season,
apparently following the migrant tern population that visit
the lakes during the northern winter.
sunrise the following day, April 19, I added a pair of WHITE-WINGED
BLACK TERNS to the house list. I'd been watching intent on
the sunbirds again and had been ignoring the large shapes
moving in the vicinity of the lake. I trained my binocs on
a pair of white rock doves once the sunbirds quit the area
and chanced upon the terns. After consulting the Kennedy Guide
I determined that the dark lining of the under wing on these
birds indicated Chlidonias leucopterus.
added a male BLUE ROCK THRUSH to the San Pablo house record
for this year. This one I spotted first on the TV antenna
of the IFI church and last just before it disappeared on the
roof of the belfry.
I missed out on raptors on these three days but managed a
few night-herons flying in the vicinity of the City Hospital
that overlooks the lake. One of the night-herons seen was
a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON, which shares the lake with Little
Herons and Rufous Night-Herons.
1. Birding periods were noon to sunset on April 17 and 5:30
to 7:00 am and 3:00 to 6:00 pm on the succeeding days from
the second story windows of the house.
I am including in the bird list the most number of birds per
species seen during the three-day birdwatch. I am listing
lowland white-eyes, olive-backed sunbirds and red-keeled flowerpeckers
as common for our garden in San Pablo based on my two-year
record and visual and aural record of individuals or of pairs
throughout the weekend observation periods.
Bush fires evident on the lower western and northern slopes
of Mount San Cristobal. At least a hectare of grassland and
scrub burned down on the western side through the afternoon
and night of April 17 stopping short of a thickly wooded section
of the mountain. The April 19 fires were on the other side
of the ridge but thick smoke was observed until a rainstorm
smothered the fires by mid-afternoon.
Egret - 14
2. Unidentified Night Herons - 3
3. Black-Crowned Night-Heron - 1
4. Rock Doves - 6
5. White-Winged Tern - 2
6. Asian Palm Swift - singles seen House Swifts - 5+
7. Pacific Swallow - common c. 3
8. Barn Swallow - 3
9. Blue Rock-Thrush - 1
10. Large-Billed Crow - 1
11. Yellow-Vented Bulbul - common c.3
12. Brown Shrike - 2
13. male and female Olive-backed Sunbird - common c. 4+
14. males and females Red-keeled Flowerpecker - common, singles
15. Lowland White-eye - common, c.3 Eurasian Tree Sparrow