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Forest Wagtail in Mt. Makiling

Mt. Makiling
by way of UP Los Baños (TREES Building)
up to "Station 14" only (before "90 degrees")

December 6, 2003
Time: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Weather: Excellent weather (intermittent drizzles and sunshine)
Amado Bajarias

Last Saturday, December 6, I went for a walk on Mt. Makiling to see if I could get a glimpse two of my favorite residents there, the Scale-feathered Malkoha and the Nuthatch.

Near the entrance (where the ticket kiosk is) the usual Makiling crowd was there in the upperstorey of the trees along the trail: balicassiaos, red-crested malkohas, and Coleto which looks just as startling as its call is fascinating.

Further up, before the Flatrocks sign, Tarictic hornbills were calling on either side of the trail. I got one good look at a perched Tarictic, its head tucked into its shoulders so that only its bill showed over its black body. This was the lowest elevation that I've encountered Tarictics on Makiling although Carmela and others have said that they've seen Tarictics ranging much lower, particularly in the "Canopy" below the TREES building.

From the Flatrocks sign until the area where the sari-sari stores were, I usually dont see much of anything but in the area near the sign which reads "BAGTIKAN PLANTATION" something flew from behind and landed about 10 feet in front of me on the trail. It stayed on the ground for 4-5 seconds before it flew on a nearby tree where it stayed on a branch for a second or two. The peculiar thing about it was how it moved its body and tail sideways non-stop (it reminded me of how fishes swim upstream, it was that kind of rythmic movement, like dancing in place, but not exactly). Even when it was on the branch, it moved its body that way continuously. When it flew deep into the forest, I rifled through Kennedy and recognized it as FOREST WAGTAIL. No mistaking it.

Just before the sari-sari stores, a scale-feathered malkoha called and posed on a branch near the ground. A crippler.

The area beyond the MUDSPRINGS marker bore nuthatches, tits, pygmy woodpeckers and blue-headed fantails traveling together.

It was interesting to observe the dynamics between those 4 species on the trees. The easiest to spot is the pygmy woodpeckers because of its distinctive trill. Not far from the woodpeckers are the nuthatches who seem to be also picking at something on the branches and tree trunk. The pygmy woodies and the nuthatches can work any which way: upside-down, sideways, right side up. The nuthatches arent as frantic-looking as the pygmy woodies who really look like hard workers. The nuthatches move along the tree trunk and branches in bursts of speed. The Elegant Tits, meanwhile, are perched nearby, maybe waiting for critters dislodged by the poking of the previous two species. Sometimes, the Blue-headed fantails, very showy and vocal especially in the late afternoon, joined the fray.

I am not sure if those species travel together because they have formed some kind of mutually beneficial relationship or maybe they're just drawn together by a certain quality in a certain kind of tree.

1. Scale-feathered Malkoha [Phaenicophaeus curvirostris]. 1 seen. more heard calling "kizzzzzkit"
2. Red-crested Malkoha [Phaenicophaeus superciliosus]. 4 seen. more heard calling "chuk... chuk..."
3. Philippine Coucal [Centropus viridis]. 1 heard calling "chi-gook"
4. Tarictic Hornbill [Penelopides panini]. 1 seen. at least 2 more heard calling
5. Coppersmith Barbet [Megalaima haemacephala]. heard only
6. Phil Pygmy Woodpecker [Dendrocopos maculatus]. 8-10
7. Phil Bulbul [Hypsipetes philippinus]. 10-20
8. Balicassiao [Dicrurus balicassius]. 10-20
9. Elegant Tit [Parus elegans]. 5-10
10. Velvet-fronted Nuthatch [Sitta frontalis]. 8
11. Stripe-headed Rhabdornis [Rhabdornis mystacalis]. 5-10
12. Grey-streaked Flycatcher [Muscicapa randi]. 4
13. Blue-headed Fantail [Rhipidura cyaniceps]. 5-10
14. Forest Wagtail [Dendronanthus indicus]. 1. encountered
11:55 am along the trail
15. Coleto [Sarcops calvus]. 1 seen. more heard calling
16. Olive-backed Sunbird [Nectarinia jugularis]. 2
17. Flaming Sunbird [Aethopyga flagrans]. 1

Coppersmith Barbet