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Birding Batad, Banaue, Ifugao

Date: May 7-8, 2005
Place: Batad, Banaue, Ifugao
Birders: Peter &Leni Sutcliffe, Rene Bajit, & Francis Binalet (local guide)
Trip Report:Rene Bajit
Bird List: Rene Bajit and Leni Sutcliffe

We left Munoz past 2, after Peter went through my watercolor paintings, scrutinized the rendering, and, with his inaudible comments (reading from his gestures), I guess I'd shift to non- detail technique, as his eyes focused more on my only tree subject, rendered in wash, with almost no details. It was as if we were an instant clique: Peter, the artist, Leni, the bird-lover, and me, the hybrid of both.

Elegant Tit
Elegant Tit

May 7, the ride in the mountains was both leisurely and scary. The road was narrow, edge soo deep, and the view outside was a hair- raising experience. A Philippine Coucal crossed our path while negotiating a climb, and, at one time, a Pied Buschat perched on a high reed, almost at arm's length to me. It didn't bother to fly as we were also in motion.

Orange-bellied Flowerpecker
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker

Along the way to the village, we were awed with the so many beauties- the butterflies- in all sizes and color, the fresh aroma from the wild plants. Peter would rest in between hikes and savor the natural scents..hhhmmm.. soo natural and soo unique. The solo tree with a tamarind-like fruit with teak-like leaves caught our fancy. An Elegant Tit was seen at the undergrowths as the sun was already high. Almost near the village, we admired at a flock of female Orange-bellied Flowerpeckers which frolick the among the flowers and attended the youngs. We surmised the males would have been "attending to other younger females" as there was none to see.

We met Francis after late lunch in Rita's place. Rita's daughter, Charmaine, now a lovely lady (we baby-sit her in our mission years), tendered us warm welcome, sumptuous pancakes, and soups, (as in the Alps accdg to Peter)) which gained Peter's ceaseless high praises for the young lady. Gaspar, a long-time friend, and a village leader, accompanied us with the afternoon birding. The wonderful amphitheater-like rice terraces was the biggest surprise among all. There were many bird calls; we only hoped we were experts. We retreated early as the rain threatened to fall, which it did the night throughout.

Francis came to fetch us 5:30 the morning that followed. It is in this experience when we were amazed at how Francis could see a bird from afar without the aid of a binocular. He can tell the color and the exact spot of the bird, where I have difficulty even with my equipment..The trek to the trail was an experience itself. Here is the natural beauty, as the club would dream of. The natural forest, the pockets of rice terraces and camote mountainsides. "A walk in the garden" as Peter would say. There in the early morning sun, amidst the trees showered with rain the night before, were lots of lifers for me and Leni. Though these were more of flowerpeckers flycatchers, and sunbirds, they were variety and were seen only in that side of Batad. Bigger birds we have seen were Philippine Bulbuls, Tawny Grassbirds, Long-tailed Shrike, and coucals. Fruit- doves can only be heard as they are scared by the airguns ("bec there was nothing to eat in leaner months", people would say) and they come many only in the months of October to January when most of the trees are laden with fruits.

Back at Rita's as we were preparing to leave, Leni was surprised to see a collared lizard (like a frilled lizard and an iguana) atop a tree, swallowing an insect the size of a thumb. It can do a chameleon, changing colors as it went through the branches.. It is about 8 inches long with its tail 3x its body length. What a rare encounter with the wild. Orly and Romy are missing some great wild subjects.

There isn't much bird around in Banaue town; I guess it's because it is more human and building populated. But I think the village and forested pockets below would reveal some species similar to those seen in the higher elevations, as we can hear bird calls from the hotel. But a sure place to bird, specially in the months of October to February, as Francis would claim, is Batad and the adjacent mountains, when most of the trees are blooming and fruiting. Just like anywhere else in summer, bigger birds are always hard to come by..

Pygmy Flowerpecker
Pygmy Flowerpecker

1. Philippine Coucal, Centropus viridis, 2 (at different times)
2. Swiftlets, swifts: many
3. Pacific Swallow, Hirundo tahitica, many (seen by Rene)
4. Philippine Bulbul, Hypsipetes philippinus, 8 + (many more heard)
5. Elegant Tit, Parus elegans, 1 adult; 1 immature
6. Pied Bushchat, Saxicola caprata, 2 (at different locations)
7. Tawny Grassbird, Megalurus timoriensis, 3 (many more heard)
8. Luzon Bush-Warbler, Cettia seebohmi, many heard only. ID by Desmond Allen and Arne Jensen from recording of song by Leni Sutcliffe.
9. Mugimaki Flycatcher, Ficedula mugimaki, 4 (perched on high wires in different locations; seen by Rene Bajit)
10. Snowy-browed Flycathcer, Ficedula hyperythra, 1, female
11. Little Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula westermanni), 1
12. Long-tailed Shrike, Lanius schach, 2 (1 seen by local birder Francis; 1 seen by Leni at the Saddle)
13. Brown Shrike, Lanius cristatus, 1 (seen by Leni)
14. Flaming Sunbird, Aethopyga flagrans, 1, female
15. Metallic-winged Sunbird, Aethopyga pulcherrima, 1
16. Striped Flowerpecker, Dicaeum aeruginosum, 1
17. Red-keeled Flowerpecker, Dicaeum australe, 2
18. Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Dicaeum trigonostigma, 6+ adults, female; 4 immatures being fed
19. Pygmy Flowerpecker, Dicaeum pygmaeum, 2
20. Yellowish White-eye, Zosterops nigrorum, 5
21. Mountain White-eye, Zosterops montanus, 2
22. Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Passer montanus, many
23. Scaly-breasted Munia, Lonchura punctulata, 2(Rene's observation: subspecies: only the head to neck is dark; light tan with scales from neck to vents; couldn't be adolescent as they were seen perched with strands of pine leaf - nest- making maybe?)
24. Chestnut Munia, Lonchura malacca, 30 + (identified by Rene; small boys were guarding the ricefields against them)

Date: May 7, 2005
6-7 am
Weather: sunny
Location: Banaue (from the Banaue Hotel, on the side overlooking rice terraces)
Birder List: Leni Sutcliffe


Red-rumped Swallow, Hirundo daurica, about 15