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Report from Cabuyao, Laguna

Date: April 21 to 24, 2003
Lala Española

I was at a church camp in Cabuyao, Laguna from April 21-24. We stayed at the Institute of Foundational Learning in this town to the north and is less than an hour's commute from Los Baños. The place being run and maintained by orphaned or abandoned children and a few adults is quite interesting. The community raises chickens, ducks, goats and tilapia and grow vegetables and rice in their organic farms and plots, which provide for their daily needs.

A businessman owns a very large fishpond beside the community. The surrounding area is rice fields and criss-crossed by irrigation canals. Most of my bird watching was done during break time in the morning after breakfast and before dinner. During the last day of camp I had the entire afternoon free but the heat was so intense that I spent only a couple of hours bird-watching outdoors.

1. Cinnamon Bittern - seen near the fish ponds in the morning around 8AM and at dusk starting around 4:30PM. I usually see at least three individuals in the morning and again at sunset. I have seen both a female with the heavy brown streaks on the breast and a male with more solid buff underparts. What bothers me is that I have seen one flying with white crural feathers near the heel. The Kennedy book didn't mention any white feathers on the heel.

2. Dark-Colored Rail spp. - Seen diving into a thick scrub beside an irrigation canal. Probably a Plain Bush-hen because it was entirely dark but I remember that the bill was also dark and not lime green.

3. Watercock- saw one leisurely walking along the dikes between two rice paddies. I originally thought it was a common moorhen but I didn't see any white on the flanks.

4. White-eared Brown-dove - saw one flying slowly across a field from a thicket. It could also be an Amethyst Brown Dove since it had a white line below the eye. It was surprising since the place was rather barren and dry for brown doves.

5. Zebra Dove - heard around the vegetable garden early in the morning.

6. Tern spp.- since I didn't bring my Kennedy book I wasn't able to take note of the diagnostic features that would differentiate the species. I however think that one of the species I saw was a White-winged Tern because unlike other terns that plunge into the water to catch prey, it dips to the surface to pick up fish with its bill. Some terns were predominantly black. Many of the terns were seen somersaulting over rice fields and some were flying very low.

7. Blue-tailed Bee-eater - saw at least two gracefully flying above a grassy field.

8. Lesser Coucal - three were seen perched on dried okra plants. Another was seen perched on top of a tall clump of grass. They call back in answer to "pishing."

9. Swiftlet spp. - many seen flying very high. The glare was so intense that I didn't bother identifying the species.

10. Barn Swallow - numerous and flying gracefully over rice fields. Other swallows with less forked tails were also seen.

11. Yellow-vented Bulbul - in small noisy flocks around the vegetable garden.

12. Striated Grassbird - very noisy and bold. I saw one up close vocalizing in a small tree. I wonder whether they also walk on the ground in short grass because I saw two large brown birds mating on the ground in a newly harvested rice field. They certainly looked like warblers.

13. Zitting Cisticola - a dainty bird that gives out a clicking call in flight. It flies in a jerky motion and shows its characteristic white-tipped tail. It most often perches on rice stalks. When disturbed it alights and runs on the ground between rice plants.

14. Yellow Wagtail - seen near an irrigation canal.

15. Brown Shrike - seen perched on fences and low-lying branches.

16. Eurasian Tree Sparrow - countless and feeds on rice grains about to be harvested.

17. Chestnut Munia - saw four flying low across a field.