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Tibanglan Weekend

Date: October 18-19, 2003
Location: Tibanglan (Kalayaan, Laguna)
Weather: October 18 - cloudy, October 19 - partly cloudy
Birders: Kitty Arce, Andrew Galano, Mads Bajarias, Lu-Ann Fuentes, Lala Espanola, Liza Dans, Louis Lopez

Our Tibanglan Weekend was a blast! As it was my first time to camp out, the experience will never be forgotten! I took public transportation with Andrew, Mads and Lu-ann thinking that the experience wouldn't be complete if I took my car and driver along :) So On Saturday at 1PM we departed QC and thanks to Pres.Bush's arrival we got to Siniloan at 6PM.

I was told that there was going to be a 1-1 1/2 hour hike to the farm (the camp site). We crossed ricefields with water that came up to our shins.It was super muddy and slippery oh and dark..but we had flashlights. When we crossed clearings we saw nightjars flying low and after much discussion it turned out to be GREAT-EARED NIGHTJARS. Most of us - if not all, slipped and I got stuck on mud up to my knees that Andrew and Mads had to dig me out of the mud. It was soooo hilarious! hehehe Just thinking about it makes me laugh all over again. And so after 2 1/2 hours of walking in the dark, in the drizzle and on slippery mud we made it to the first hut where we saw hundreds of was magical! :) And then we had dinner and got ready for night birding and sleeping.

But of course on the way to the Lisa's hut where we will be sleeping and having breakfast for our super early birding 3 of us had to slip...that was me, Andrew and Louis. I guess it had somthing to do with the snake Lisa and company discovered that's why we hurried down the path. When we finally got to Lisa's hut where they found an owl from the last Tibanglan trip it was quiet except for the crickets, frogs and the sound of the stream. So with an aching butt, i slept.

We all woke up at a sound of bird that we couldn't identify. I think Lala was able to record it though. And then when there was little light already Mads went out to check the nightjars out and Lu-ann, myself and the rest peeked thorugh the window and witnessed PHILIPPINE NIGHTJARS flying low and back and forth around the the ricefields. It was still quiet when we all got out of the hut to look around before having breakfast...Lala, Lu-Ann and Mads saw a metallic colored bird fly fast by them but they failed to properly ID it...but they say it looked like a dove or a pigeon. But we also saw 2 beautiful WHITE-THROATED KINGFISHERS across the rice field and the resident RED CRESTED MALKOHA.

So after breakfast we went back to the first hut to get our stuff for the day and get ready for the hike and for the search for raptors. In the area around the second hut too we saw PHILIPPINE BULBULS and LOWLAND WHITE-EYES. The forest was interestingly too quiet for a nice day but when we got to the top with Mang Zaldy and Noli ( a young boy who seems about 12 years old to me :)...) We spotted a lone OSPREY. We waited on top hoping to see thermalling raptors but after 30 minutes or so Mang Zaldy said that we can try going to SM or in other words "Sapang Malaki" (Big Stream). On our way to SM we heard BLUE-HEADED FANTAILS that Mad saw later on the hike. We heard PHILIPPINE COUCAL calls. We also heard a LARGE-BILLED CROW that we also later on saw...several individuals crossing ricefields. Sometimes when we thought we were hearing birds, to our surprise it was only Mang Zaldy and Noli making the bird calls...and sometimes Lala as she was practicing her calls too hehe :)

So we walked and walked and walked when suddenly Lala was aksing us to be quiet and come to her slowly....and we just couldn't believe what we saw a couple of PHILIPPINE FROGMOUTHS!!!!!!!!! The pair was roosting low where if you were hiking and they failed to poop in front of you you'd missed them! Yup, the Frogmouths pooped in front of Mang Zaldy and that was how they were spotted! hehehe And so we sat there under them....the Frogmouths only about 6-10 feet away from us.


We started taking photos of the couple, started chatting about how lucky we were (hehehe), we even had our snacks there while watching them and we stayed there for a good 40 minutes and the two frogmouths were just looking and i guess curious on who the other noisy birds were. hehehe According to Mang Zaldy they always see frogmouths and that we could stay there all afternoon and they wouldn't move unless we shook the tree.

And so we walked on.......Spotted some FLAMING SUNBIRDS and Philippine Bulbuls. And finally we go to SM (Big Stream or Sapang Malaki). Wow. It was soooooo beautiful. It was 11:30AM and it was hot so we had fresh Buko Juice and then as Lala was surveying the forest across the stream she said something like "OH MY GOD!!!!!! RAPTORS!!!!!!!!!" Lu-Ann with her binocs started counting.....there were at least 15 RAPTORS!!!!!!!!!!! WOOHOO!!!!

Finally we saw THERMALLING RAPTORS and then we were all jumping for joy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hehehe Unfortunately, we saw them only for a bit and not even all of us saw them right away because they were soooooooo far but those who saw knew from their movements and shape that they were indeed raptors! :) And then we saw 2 PHILIPPINE WOODPECKERS, a male COLASISI and a PURPLE THROATED SUNBIRD on our way back.

Philippine Frogmouth

Back to the hut, we realized that if we just stayed at the hut and birded only there we would've witnessed the raptors closer and longer but that was ok :) So we had a very healthy lunch and got ready to hike down.

On the hike down, we saw more sunbirds and then a RED-LEGGED CRAKE crossed Lisa and Lu-Ann's path. We determined it was a Red-Legged Crake because Lisa and Lu-Ann noticed the markings on the wings that the crake had, the reddish upper part and the red legs. The sound too was exactly what it said in the book 'a nasal pek'. The location/habitat was also exactly made for the Red-legged the forest near a stream. Interstingly the crake crossed the path opposite where the nest we discovered later on was but as we were looking for it and following it's sound we saw it come around again and went back to the direction where the nest was. The behavior accodring to Lisa's observation was as if it was trying to trick us to follow it so we would stay away from the nest. But i guess we stayed too long looking for the crake and stumbled on it's nest and then it stopped making it's nasal pek sound. The area where we think the nest was located was just full of twigs and leaves and coconut husks. So and then all of a sudden as we were all sticking our heads in the bushes we heard the chick go tweet tweet and then the black chick suddenly appeared..going to the direction of our voices. Mads noticed this and asked us to stop talking and then he called the chick and true enough it folllowed his voice. But for that little chick it would be a challenge to get back to the nest and so using coconut husks we scooped it and returned it back to the nest. We thought of leaving it by itself and hoping the crake would get it but the chick was very exposed that's why we decided to return it ourselves instead. After returning it, we hurried down the path. Lala stayed behind, heard the crake call back again to the chick and so they were reunited again :) I wonder if Lala was able to take pics of it? To me, the chick looked like a chick of a chicken hen that is about 2 weeks old except it was smaller about 2 inches and very black. It was quite healthy because it was moving so fast over branches and leaves much bigger than it is to follow the noises it heard.

We also saw an ELEGANT TIT along the way and the BROWN SHRIKES were seen and heard almost anywhere too, as well as GLOSSY and PYGMY SWIFTLETS, ASIAN PALM SWIFTS and PACIFIC SWALLOWS which was seen at clearings and fields.

So we had to cross the flooded ricefields again......hehehe when all of a sudden Lu-Ann cried out as she fell on the water on her butt!!!!!! She was soaked to her waist in caramel-colored water. It was such a sight! hehehe we couldn't help but laugh....even Lu-Ann despite her dismay just had to join the laughter and in any case we would soon realize just why it was worth it, di ba? :) And it was difficult to cross the ricefields with slippery bridges made out of branches and planks. With that unexpected mishap, Lisa suggested we dress up at Mang Andoy's house. When Lu-Ann finished taking a 'shower' from a drum of rain water hehehe Lala screamed something like "AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH RAPTORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOTS OF THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" We didn't need binocs to spot them this time and there they were - at least 21 GREY FACED BUZZARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And so we were all jumping and screaming for joy again!!! WOOHOO! YIPEEE!!!!! We were able to ID the raptors based on the band on their tail and the white markings on their wings. This was at 4:00PM

So after all the muddy incidents and thanks to Lu-Ann's great fall everything was worth it!!!!!!!!!!!! James, you were right the raptors were such a sight! Our jaws just dropped but then we all couldn't help smile and jump for joy :) hehehehe

We are planning on a next trip to cross the Quezon border from Tibanglan, during the summer next year. Because according to locals such as Mang Zaldy, there are a lot of Rufous Hornbills,raptors and other birds :)

So make your reservations now....hehehe :)

Until the next birding trip!

Regards to all,



1. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) 1 - distinct wing shape
2. Grey-faced Buzzards (Butastur indicus) at least 15 at first sighting 11:30AM (sunny but a little cloudy); at least 21 at 2nd sighting 4:00PM (Cloudy)
3. Red-legged Crake (Rallina faciata) 1 with nest - Saw one black chick; Reddish upperpart very obvious with the white markings on the wings and red legs; sound was a nasal pek
4. Colasisi (Loriculus philippensis) 1 - male
5. Red-crested Malkoha (Phaenicophaes superciliosus) 1 - resident Malkoha accodring to Lisa
6. Philippine Coucal (Centropus viridis) - heard only
7. Philippine Frogmouth (Batrachostomus septimus) 2 - pair roosting on a tree locals call 'mala-kape';observed for 40 minutes
8. Great-eared Nightjar (Eurostopodus macrotis) 1 - flying low on field, heard sound too. Seen at dusk
9. Philippine Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinis) 1 - flying low on field, heard too. Seen at dawn from hut.
10. Glossy Swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta) 10+
11. Pygmy Swiflet (Collocalia troglodytes) 10+
12. Asian Palm Swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis) 10+
13. White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) 2
14. Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker (Dendrocopos maculatus) 2 - seen on the same tree
15. Pacific Swallow (Hirundo daurica) 2
16. Philippine Bulbuls (Hypsipetes philippinus) 2 - Seen and heard everywhere
17. Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) 3 - heard and seen
18. Elegant Tit (Parus elegans) 1
19. Blue-headed Fantail (Rhipidura cyaniceps) 1 - seen once but heard all over
20. Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) 3 - heard and seen everywhere
21. Flaming Sunbird (Aethopyga flagrans) 2 - Seen on coconut trees
22. Purple-throated Sunbird (Nectarinia sperata) 2 - seen on coconut trees
23. Lowland White-eye (Zosterops meyeni) 5-10
24. Unidentified metallic colored bird 1