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Birding with WBCP

Date: December 15-30, 2005
Site: Philippines
Observer: Chuck Heikkinen & Delia Unson

We again combined our visit with Delia's family in Manila with birding, managing to get out 10 times. We had no time for overnights away from Manila, burt were able to take day trips to Mt. Makiling in Los Banos and to Mt. Palay-Palay National Park in Ternate Cavite. Birding was greatly enhanced this time by our being able to connect with the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (http://www.birdwatch.ph). We participated in 2 of their field trips and were joined on 2 other excursions by one of their members, Mark Villa, whose guiding was invaluable. His email address is: markjason@gmail.com. We also had the goal this trip to digiscope as many species as we could during our stay , and had much better luck than we had anticipated. Our digiscoped images can be seen under Birds of the Philippines at http://community.webshots.com/user/delia_and_chuck_photos.

Following is our daily excursion record, followed at the end by a list of species and locations. Please check the list of a full report of all birds seen. The diary mentions only highlights for us.

Birding with WBCP members in Mt. Palay-Palay
Birding with WBCP members in Mt. Palay-Palay

 

 

Philippine Falconet
Philippine Falconet

Plain-throated Sunbird
Plain-throated Sunbird


Fri. 12/16/05 - Our first morning in Manila. We headed to one of our reliable spots, the American Cemetery in Fort Bonifacio. They open at 9 am these days, and the current director is reputed to feel that birding is not a function of the Cemetery. Thus, much of the brush around the perimeter has disappeared. Many birds nonetheless, have stayed and it is still worth a visit. Barred Rails, Lowland White-Eyes, Pied Bushchats and Pied Fantails are easy to find. In addition to the other birds, we also found a pair of introduced Rose-ringed Parakeets.

Sat. 12/17/05 - We checked out Ateneo de Manila University today. It is usually excellent for a variety of birds, but few were present. The single notable exception was the Long-tailed Shrike of which we saw many, and garnered a large number of photos.

Sun. 12/18/05 - We joined the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) at the American Cemetery in late afternoon for their field trip, and enjoyed meeting members. The most exciting bird was a Nightjar, most likely Philippine but also possibly Gray, that was flushed from a hedge. There were also a pair of Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers.

Mon. 12/19/05 - Today we were taken to the Tambo Mudflats and the Coastal Road by Mark Villa. We had seen Philippine shorebirds in previous trips, but these were in good numbers and had good variety. At Tambo we found the Common Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, and Little-ringed Plover, along with Pacific Golden Plovers. We had great scoped views (and photos) of a Little Heron and a Common Kingfisher. On the way to the flats as we walked through the tall grass, we found many Striated Grassbirds, a Middendorf's Grasshopper Warbler, and both Bright-capped and Zitting Cisticolas. Mark said that Siberian Rubythroats can sometimes be found here, but we found none. We then went to Coastal road on the mudflats near the abandoned restaurants. Some of the buildings are currently being used as housing by several families, so be careful how you enter the shoreline. Here we found Little and Great Egrets, American Golden Plovers, and Gray Herons in big numbers. In addition, there was Red-necked Stint, a Common Redshank, a Greenshank, a a Black-headed Gull in addition to several other species.

Tues. 12/20/05 - We went with a couple of semi-birding friends to Libingan ng mga Bayani (the Philippine National Cemetery). A lot of the peripheral brush has disappeared in favor of neighboring housing development, but some remains. On the lawn as yet unfilled by graves, we found a Richard's Pipit and then spotted a very patient Lesser Coucal called from nearby. In the deep ditch area near to the left of the road as one enters, we spotted what probably was a Buttonquail but we could not get a long enough view.

Wed. 12/21/05 - We returned on our own to Tambo Mudflats. We again had Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers and got great views of a Buff-banded Rail, a Clamorous Reed-Warbler, and Yellow Bittern in addition to most of the birds we saw on the previous trip here. Near the end of our stay, a guard climbed a small tower on the other side of the fence. He had a shotgun, and seemed just to be on the watch. We waved at him; he waved backed.

Thu. 12/22/05 - Mt. Makiling, on the edge of the UP - Los Banos campus. We arrived with Mark Villa at about 5:50 am. We immediately heard Philippine Hawk Owls calling, followed by a calling Spotted Wood Kingfisher. As we started our walk up the Mountain from Trees, the forestry headquarters, a guard stopped us and said we couldn't go up because of the danger. When we ask what danger there was, he said a birder had been held upby robbers with guns and masks this past summer, and no one was supposed to walk the road up the mountain without a Trees escort before 8 am. We persisted, and he finally let us go up, " at your own risk " , and also noted that there was a film shooting scheduled that would result in a good amount of traffic on the road up, thereby increasing safety. We had no unpleasant encounters in our 9:30 walk up to Station 12 and then down again. It was raining off and on, mostly on, during a good part of the day, and that appeared to keep the birds deeper in cover. This has been an almost magical location for us. On the mountain around station 12 Mark and Delia saw a Night-Heron but were unable to sort out which it was. Then between Station 11 and 12 Mark spotted and showed us a Forest Wagtail, possibly more common than indicated by previous reports. We got a photo: the bad news is that the exposure time was 8 seconds and it was preening: somehow most id marks are still there. At Station 7 in the nursery in a lull in the rain, we found a tree with Stripe-sided Rhabdornis: Plain-throated Sunbird: Flaming Sunbird; and Red-keeled, Orange-bellied, and Buzzing Flowerpeckers. We heard one Scale-feathered Malkoha on the mountain, and got glimpses of several Red-crested Malkohas. Gray-backed Tailorbirds were heard everywhere, along with atleast one White-browed Shama and 1 or 2 Tarictic Hornbills. After getting back to Trees, we parked near the dormitory, on the edge of the UP botanic gardens, and spotted about 37 Red-crested Malkohas, 7 Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrikes, a number of Coletos, 2 Philippine Falconets, 1 Colasisi, and a Coppersmith Barbet. From there we went to DTRI ( dairy research institute - great ice cream ) on the UP - Los Banos campus in search of Spotted Buttonquail. We found none on the muddy trail opposite the dairy sales building but as the sun set, we had about 8 Pintail Snipe ( voice ID ), and both Striated and Tawny Grassbirds.

Fri. 12/23/05 and Sat. 12/24/05 - Non-birding days

Sun 12/25/05 - We checked out the grasslands and deserted biuldings of the old International School near Market Market in Manila. We were told that Java Sparrows could be found roosting on the buildings. We found none, but did get good views of a White-collared Kingfisher, both Striated and Tawny Grassbirds, and Crested Mynas. We also got a fleeting look at a White-breasted Waterhen in a ditch on the far side of the area.

Mon. 12/26/05 - Field trip of the WBCP to Mt. Palay-Palay National Park in Cavite near Puerto Azul. Highlights for us were around 10 Brahminy Kites, GreaterFlameback, Tarictic Hornbills close enough to see very well, close up Philippine Falconets, and Blackish Cuckoo-Shrike. Because we were so immersed in attempting to photograph everything we could missed seeing the Philipine Fairy Bluebird spotted by some group members. As we were leaving, we were taken to a reliable Whiskered Treeswift spot ( none there ), amd saw instead Red-rumped Swallows, White-breasted Wood-Swallows, and both Pygmy and Red-Keeled Flowerpeckers.

Our life birds are preceded by a double asterisk.

1. Grey Heron, Ardea cinera - around 30 on 12/19 on the Coastal Road, Manila

2. Great Egret, Egretta alba - 2 on 12/19 and 1 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats; 10 on 12/19 off the Coastal Road, Manila

3. Little Egret, Egretta garzetta - 2 on 12/19 and 1 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats; about 70 on 12/19 off the Coastal Road, Manila
4. Little ( aka Striated ) Heron, Butorides striatus - 2 on 12/19 and 1 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

5. Yellow Bittern, Ixobrychus sinensis - 1 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats.

6. Oriental Honey-Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus - 1 on 12/26 at Mt. Palay-palay.

7. Brahminy Kite, Haliastur Indus - 6 on 12/26 at Mt. Palay-Palay

8. Crested Serpent-Eagle, Spilornis cheela - 1 on 12/26 at Mt. Palay-Palay

9. Philippine Falconet, Microhierax erythrogenys - 2 on 12/22 at Trees on Mt. Makiling; about 8 on 12/26 at Mt. Palay-Palay

10. Eurasian Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus - 1 on 12/19 off the Coastal Road, Manila

11. Barred Rail, Gallirallus torquatus - 2 each on 12/16 and 12/18 at American Cemetery; 4 on 12/19 and 2 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

12. Buff-bandedRail, Gallirallus philippensis - 1 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

13. White-breasted Waterhen, Amaurornis phoenicurus - 1 on 12/25 in the wet grasslands around teh abandoned International School in Manila; can usually be found also at Ateneo de Manila University

14. Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus - 12 on 12/19 and 3 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats; 1 on 12/20 at Libingan ng mga Bayani

15. Asian ( aka Pacific ) Golden-Plover, Pluvialis fulva - about 130 on 12/19 off the Coastal; 2 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

16. **Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius - 4 0n 12/19 and 3 0n 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

17. Kentish ( aka Snowy ) Plover, Charadrius alexandrinus - 20 0n 12/19 and 4 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats; 8 on 12/19 off the Coastal Road

18. **Common Greenshank, Tringa tetanus - 1 0n 12/19 off the Coastal Road

19. Common Greenshank, Tringa nebularia - 1 on 12/19 off the Coastal Road; 1 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

20. Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos - 8 on 12/19 and 1 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

21. **Pin-tailed Snipe, Gallinago stenura - 6 on 12/22 at DTRI on the UP-Los Banos campus

22. **Rufous-necked ( aka Red-necked ) Stint, Calidris ruficollis - 1 on 12/19 on the Coastal Road; 1 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

23. Black-headed Gull, Larus ridibundus - 1 on 12/19 off the Coastal Road

24. Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybridus - 2 on 12/19 at Tambo Mudflats and 30 on the Coastal Road; 1 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

25. Rock Pigeon, Colomba livia - seen only for sure over Tambo Mudflats, but it is wide-spread

26. Red Turtle-Dove ( aka Red Collared-Dove ), Streptopelia tranquebarica - 1 on 12/16 at American Cemetery; 1 on 12/20 at Libingan ng mga Bayani

27. Spotted Dove, Streptopelia chinensis - relatively common in open, grassy areas

28. Zebra Dove, Geopelia striata - very common in lowlands

29. White-eared Brown-Dove, Phapitreron leucotis - 1 0n 12/22 on Mt. Makiling

30. Green Imperial-Pigeon, Ducula aenea - 2 on 12/26 on Mt. Palay-Palay

31. Guaiabero, Bolbopsittacus lunulatus - 2 on 12/26 on Mt. Palay-Palay

32. Colasisi ( aka Philippine Hanging-Parrot ), Loriculus Philippensis, 6 on 12/22 on Mt. Makiling; 1 on 12/26 on Mt. Palay-Palay

33. Brush ( aka Rusty-breasted ) Cuckoo, Cacomantis variolosus - 1 on 12/22 on Mt. Makiling

34. Red-crested Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus superciliosus - 37 on 12/22 on Mt. Makiling; 3 on 12/26 at Mt. Palay-Palay

35. Scale-feathered Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus cumingi - 2 on 12/22 on Mt. Makiling

36. Philippine Coucal, Centropus viridis - 1 on 12/20 at Libingan ng mga Bayani; 1 on 12/22 on Mt. Makiling; 2 on 12/26 on Mt. Palay-Palay

37. Lesser Coucal, Centropus bengalensis - 1 on 12/20 at Libingan ng mga Bayani; 1 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

38. ** Philippine Hawk-Owl, Ninox Philippensis - heard 2 in early am on 12/22 on Mt. Makiling

39. Glossy Swiftlet, Collocalia esculenta - seen in good numbers in most locations

40. Purple Needletail, Hirundapus celebensis - 3 on 12/16 over the American Cemetery

41. Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis - 1 each on 12/19 at Tambo Mudflats and the Coastal Road; 1 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

42. White-collared ( aka Mangrove ) Kingfisher, Halcyon chloris - frequently seen in lowlands near water or open spaces

43. Spotted Wood-Kingfisher ( aka Spotted Kingfisher ), Actenoides lindsayi - 1 on 12/22 on Mt. Makiling

44. Blue-throated Bee-eater, Merops viridis - 3 on 12/26 on Mt. Palay-Palay

45. Dollarbird, Eurystomus orientalis - 1 on 12/22 at Trees on Mt. Makiling

46. Tarctic Hornbill, Penelopides manillae - 1 on 12/22 on Mt. Makiling; 4 on 12/26 at Mt. Palay-Palay - NB: split recently from the Visayan Tarctic Hornbill, Penelopides panini

47. Coppersmith Barbet, Megalaima haemacephala - 2 on 12/22 at Trees on Mt. Makiling; 3 on 12/26 at Mt. Palay-Palay

48. Philippine Pygmy Woodkeeper, Dendrocopos maculates - 2 on 12/18 at the American Cemetery; 2 on 2/26 at Mt. Palay-Palay

49. Greater Flameback, Chrysocolaptes lucidus - 3 on 12/26 on Mt. Palay-Palay

50. Pacific Swallow, Hirundo tahitica - seen almost everywhere in the lowlands

51. **Red-rumped (aka Striated) Swallow, Hirundo daurica – 3 on 12/26 on Mt Palay-Palay

52. **Forest Wagtail, Motacilla indicus – 1 on 12/22 on Mt Makiling

53. Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla flava – 1 on 12/16 at the American Cemetery;1 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

54. Gray Wagtail, Motacilla cinera – 1 on 12/26 at Mt Palay-Palay

55. Richard's (aka Paddyfield) Pipit, Anthus novaeseelandiae – 1 on 12/20 at Libingan ng mga Bayani

56. Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Coracina striata – 7 on 12/22 at Trees on Mt Makiling

57. **Blackish Cuckoo-shrike, Coracina coerulescens – 1 on 12/26 on Mt Palay-Palay

58. Pied Triller, Lalage nigra – 1 on 12/18 at the American Cemetery

59. Yellow-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus goiavier – abundant in lowlands

60. Philippine Bulbul, Hypsipetes philippinus – at least 15 on 12/22 on Mt Makiling; at least 10 on 12/26 on Mt Palay-Palay

61. Brown Shrike, Lanius cristatus -- found every day regardless of habitat

62. Long-tailed Shrike, Lanius schach – at least 12 on 12/17 at Ateneo de Manila University; 1 on 12/20 at Libingan ng mga Bayani; 1 at DTRI, UP-Los Banos campus at the foot of Mt Makiling

63. Blue Rock-Thrush, Monticola solitarius – 2 on 12/26 on Mt Palay-Palay

64. White-browed Shama, Copsychus luzoniensis – at least 1 heard on 12/22 on Mt Makiling

65. Pied Bushchat (aka Pied Stonechat), Saxicola caprata – 2 on 12/16 and 3 on 12/18 at the American Cemetery. We usually also find them at Libingan ng mga Bayani, but not this time.

66. Zitting Cisticola, Cisticola juncidis – 6 on 12/19 and 2 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

67. Bright-capped (aka Golden-headed) Cisticola, Cisticola exilis – 12 on 12/19 and 4 on 12/221 at Tambo Mudflats

68. Tawny Grassbird, Megaluris timoriensis – 2 on 12/22 at DTRI (Mt Makiling); 1 at the grasslands near the abandoned International School in Manila

69. Striated Grassbird, Megaluris palustris – seen/heard every time we were in grasslands

70. **Middendorff's Grasshopper-Warbler, Locustella ochotensis – 1 on 12/19 at Tambo Mudflats

71. **Clamorous Reed-Warbler, Acrocephalus stentorius – 2 on 12/21 at Tambo Mudflats

72. **Gray-backed Tailorbird, Orthotomus derbianus – at least 7 on Mt Makiling on 12/22; 1 on 12/26 on Mt Palay-Palay – hard to see

73. Arctic Warbler, Phylloscopus, borealis – 2 on 12/26 at the DNR station near Mt Palay-Palay

74. Gray-streaked (aka Gray-spotted) Flycatcher, Muscicapa griseisticta – 1 on 12/17 at Ateneo de Manila University; 2 on 12/22 on Mt Makiling; 3 on 12/26 on Mt Palay-Palay

75. Golden-bellied Flyeater (aka Golden-bellied Gerygone), Gerygone sulphuria – easily heard in lowlands, more difficult to see – we found it at Ateneo de Manila University, Makati in residential areas, Tambo Mudflats, Libingan de mga Bayani, and the American Cemetery

76. Pied Fantail, Rhipidura javanica – common in lowlands – seen at the American Cemetery, Tambo Mudflats, Makati, and the Coastal Road

77. Yellow-bellied Whistler, Pachycephala philippinensis – 5 on 12/22 on Mt Makiling

78. Elegant Tit, Parus elegans – 1 on 12/22 on Mt Makiling

79. Stripe-headed (aka Stripe-sided) Rhabdornis, Rhabdornis mystacalis – 4 on 12/22 on Mt Makiling

80. Red-keeled (aka Red-striped) Flowerpecker, Dicaeum australe – 2 on 12/22 on Mt Makiling

81. Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Dicaeum trigonostigma – 1 on 12/22 on Mt Makiling

82. Buzzing Flowerpecker, Dicaeum hypoleucum – 2 on 12/22 on Mt Makiling

83. Pygmy Flowerpecker, Dicaeum, pygmaeum – 1 on 12/26 on Mt Palay-Palay

84. **Plain-throated Sunbird (aka Brown-throated Sunbird), Anthreptes malacensis – 4 on 12/22 Mt Makling

85. Olive-backed Sunbird, Nectarinia jugularis – 2 on 12/18 at friends' garden in Quezon City, Metromanila, and heard at other times at the house in Makati

86. **Flaming Sunbird, Aethopyca flagrans – 3 on 12/22 on Mt Makiling

87. Lowland White-eye, Zosterops meyeni – heard on several days from the house in Makati; seen in small numbers on 12/16 and 12/18 at the American Cemetery. Quite common, actually in inhabited areas and elsewhere.

88. Balicassiao, Dicrurus balicassius – 4 on 12/22 on Mt Makiling; 2 on 12/26 on Mt Palay-Palay

89. White-breasted Wood-Swallow, Artamus leucorhynchus – 2 on 12/26 on the roadside on Mt Palay-Palay

90. Large-billed Crow, Corvus macrorhynchos – 1 only on 12/26 over fields on the highway back from Mt Palay-Palay

91. Black-naped Oriole, Oriolus chinensis – 1 on 12/18 at the American Cemetery in Manila; 3 on Mt Palay-Palay.

92. Coleto, Sarcops calvus – 3 on 12/22 at Trees at the foot of Mt Makiling

93. Crested Myna, Acridotheres cristatellus – 6 on 12/19 at Tambo Mudflats; 6 on 12/20 at Libingan ng mga Bayani, and 3 on 12/25 in the abandoned building/grassy area of the old International School near Market-Market in Manila

94. Scaly-breasted Munia (aka Nutmeg Mannikin), Lonchura punctulata – 10 on 12/20 in grasses at Libingan ng mga Bayani.

95. Chestnut Munia, Lonchura malacca– 24 on 12/19 and 6 on 12/21 in grasses at Tambo Mudflats

96. Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Passer montanus– Abundant around dwellings in all locations