Wednesday, October 29

small BUT...

such a tiny and plain bird, hard to believe it stirred up so much excitement and intense birding from our foursome (ixi, nicky, felix & i)!

it's sightings like this that suddenly make you forget your tired feet, hunger, the awful weather, the slow birding (and your desire to pee!).  we jumped up and down, ran around like mad and felt like downing bottles of beer to celebrate. birdwatchers are a crazy breed.
(ashy-breasted flycatcher: philippine endemic)

Friday, October 17

more than the usual…

"I thought we were just going to go birdwatching!" Robert A echoed my thoughts EXACTLY.  It was 8pm and we had just finished dinner at a Chinese restaurant at the Subic Freeport CBD.
How did I get there on a Thursday night?  Let me start from the beginning…
Mike L had announced that the DOT and Sec. Ace Durano (and Mike of course) were going birdwatching at Balanga and Subic Thursday.  The mission?  For Sec. Durano to be able to experience birdwatching before the London Travel mart in November.
Excited at the prospect of being able to join on the weekday (hooray to sem break!), and slightly guilty that I have not been very helpful in external club activities, I asked if I could join.  Disheartened by Mike’s vague reply (“We’re going to use the DOT coaster, I’ll ask if there’s space for you”), I complained to the BAPers (at the Columbia GB5 outlet opening on Wednesday): “Uuh. Mike REJECTED me! Can you believe it?”  One thing/text message led to another and…
Nicky and Felix and Mike and I were in Mike’s car with Nick at the wheel (Yes, President Mike and his personal staff: driver, bodyguard and secretary)at 6am Thursday morning headed for Balanga to meet up with the DOT coaster and the Sec.  (Aren’t my friends great?)
And what a morning!
Is Balanga prepared for Birdfest 2009? (Wow, thinking about birdfest 2009 in October 2008?  That alone is an indication.) YES, YES, YES!

Too make a long story short:  imagine schoolkids waving in the streets, welcome banners all over town, dance numbers, musical numbers, exhibits, tents, city and provincial officials (Mayor Joet, Governor Tet, Congressman Abet, Tourism Officials, Baranggay Capts., etc. etc,), speeches, ceremony, media folks, food, food, food.  It was like a fiesta! And, oh yes, birdwatching.  Tortugas and Sibacan welcomed us with egrets, terns, plovers, sandpipers, black-winged stilts, brahminy kites, kingfishers, moorhens, WHITE-SHOULDERED STARLINGS, etc. etc.  All these even in the mid-day heat and the sun high in the sky and burning our eyes!  And Balanga and the province of Bataan?  All I can say is WOW.  They welcomed us with an all-out, carefully planned live-advertisement package of their city and province! Honestly, I was so surprised with their enthusiasm and support for their upcoming birdfest and the DOT promotion of Balanga as a birdwatching site. Unbelievable.  Their energy is contagious and daunting at the same time.  I actually thought, birdfest na ba? Did I sleep for a year and is it 2009 already? If today is any indication, Birdfest 2009 is looking to be one BIG and SUCCESSFUL affair.  My hats off to the city of Balanga and to the entire province of Bataan.  Today was certainly a preview of things to come.

welcomed to tortugas with a dance

wbcpers doc joey, emperor mike, felix, and nicky
excited balanguos
sec durano scoping the stilts in the midday sun
a filling lunch at joyous restaurant
the itik-itik and other "bird dances"

Oh, yeah nga pala… we were going to have to give Sec. Durano his birdwatching 101 (minus the fanfare and throngs of people). I was afraid we were never going to get to Subic.  But after a hearty and heavy lunch, off to Subic we were!  We hit a snag again when a courtesy call to the SBMA chairman turned into another mini foodfest, but at 430pm (thanks to Mikes’ “Secretary? We HAVE to go.  The birds won’t wait for us!")… we were finally headed to Nabasan.
Thank goodness for power birding!  Blue-tailed bee-eaters, White-breasted wood-swallow, a Dollarbird, Brahminy Kites (one being chased by a crow),  a White-bellied woodpecker , a Coleto and a pair of Philippine falconets (the cutest bird ever!  and an endemic of course) were all good (and colourful, if not cute) introductory forest birds to the Sec.  And just before darkness fell, a barking Spotted Wood-Kingfisher was a good lesson on the importance of recognizing bird calls.  Whew!  All that in 30 minutes.  I never went through Nabasan in such a short time. The bird gods were on our side today.  I think Sec. Durano was pleased. (And Robert got his birding fix for the day. And Nicky breathed a sigh of relief. And Mike was content.) Mission accomplished (or appetites whetted, at the very least).
 nicky and mike showing sec durano a coleto

 Dinner was a relaxing affair with the PCVC, PhilTOA, DOT, Sec. Durano and WBCPers.  With all the official duties done for the day (and away from the maddening crowds) the conversation jumped from the enthusiasm of the Balangueños and the birdfest, to the London Travelmart, to the success of the Birdwatching guidebook project, to bird photography, to the deteriorating condition of the birdwatching sites, to birdwatching, to the WBCP and WBCPers.

Dinner to end the day
Such a loooong and surprising day.  And, again, I thought I was just going to go birdwatching. That turned out to be just the icing on top of the cake.

Friday, September 26

Monday, September 22

a most unusual birthday present

Last Friday evening, at the birdfest evaluation meeting, Lydia gave me a belated birthday present.

At first I thought she was giving me a cutting of an ivory plant, but the real present was 2 caterpillars happily munching away at the leaves!

Pretty, yellow-black-and-white (almost pale blue) caterpillars! 

In fact one of them was getting ready to metamorphose (is that the word?) into a chrysalis, its mouthparts were glued to the vein of one leaf, and it was hanging on, its small body curled up.

Lydia took them from her very own butterfly-friendly garden in the middle of busy San Juan.  With care and luck, they will turn into beautiful orange butterflies, Philippine cousins of the popular monarch butterflies of the Americas.

It's funny how the caterpillars caught everyone's attention, especially when Sean shouted "nagpalit na sya!" and the meeting was brought to a halt as everyone admired the shiny green chrysalis that the curled up caterpillar turned into. The perfect natural history lesson.
Thanks Lydia for a most unusual birthday present.  I'm so happy you thought of me as someone who would enjoy watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly.  I'm excited to report that both of them are now in the process of change (as i said to Adri, a good lesson in apoptosis and molecular development!), a yellow chrysalis and a younger green chrysalis with a line of black and gold flecks.

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata...

Monday, September 15

back to reality...

last week i was looking at this in the peace and quiet (and rain) of sabang

then it was back to the city for a few days filled with the (always energetic) birdfest

and this morning I'm back to this:


Monday, September 1

to lariam or not to lariam

i've been to puerto princesa 3 times before and i've never taken any malarial prophylaxis.
however, its been quite the talk lately, probably because its such a large group going and paranoia is high.

and i keep remembering, how, when mike had told me news of arnel mallari's passing (from malaria), i instantly recalled standing in the middle of the iwahig/balsahan trail, in the middle of a bamboo thicket, i (with arnel, adri and tere), was swarmed by hundreds of mosquitoes who didn't seem familiar with OFF lotion and what it was supposed to do.

nicky had recommended lariam (mefloquine hcl, roche), and i really didn't pay much attention to his directions.  today, doc chito emailed everyone a list of what they could take, including lariam, which should be taken 1 to 2 weeks BEFORE departure and 4 weeks AFTER arriving back in manila.

oops.  i'm leaving saturday.

to top it off, i googled lariam and found pretty disturbing info. apparently it can have really harsh side effects:
mefloquine may cause psychiatric symptoms in a number of patients ranging from anxiety, paranoisam and depression to hallucinations and psychotic behavior.  on occasions, these symptoms have been reported to continue long after mefloquine has been stopped.  rare cases of suicidal ideation and suicide have been reported though no relationship to drug administration has been confirmed.  (product insert)

uh oh. wow. it was linked to the suicide of american soldiers who came from afghanistan. and... there was even a law & order svu episode bsed on those events!
very interesting. google can turn up such paranoia-inducing information (literally).

well, if i start acting psychotic in class, you'll know which prophylactic i took.

Sunday, August 10


Triggered by Ma'am Miren's upcoming retirement, we've been exchanging AMOR (slash MBGRL) lab memories.  We've been having good laughs (I can imagine all of us laughing out loud in front of our computers by ourselves) remembering the make shift sofa bed from the PCR machine packaging, drinking (and more) in the lab, ma'am Miren's (in)famous one-liners, alien-busting nuns, progress reports, "favorite" RAs, etc. etc.

Shali sent these picture of their batches' field trip to SEAFDEC in Binangonan circa two thousand ewan.

I remember walking on the floating fishpens!  Check out Flo's haircut and try to spot Adri (and yes... see how much weight i've gained since then). Haha!

walking on laguna lake

seafdec binangonan tour c/o flo

lunch at balaw balaw, angono

(All of a sudden I'm itching to drive the laguna bay loop...)

Friday, August 1

birdfest time!

Philippine Bird Festival 2008 coming soon! 

ROX sponsored the media launch of the 4th Philippine Bird Festival : Puerto Princesa, Aba, Kakaiba! last night!

It was a great party inspite of the horrendous traffic because of the relentless afternoon rains.  Because the DOT is paying attention to birdwatching this year, we were graced with the presence of Sec Ace Durano and several media people. Mayor Joet Garcia and the Balanga folks were there too (including Tetchie B!) looking forward to Birdfest 09 in Bataan!  Mike got impossibly stuck in traffic and almost didn't make it!  Robert A and Anna G hosted the (just-the-right-length) program, and of course the WBCPers chatted and ate and drank the night away. Thanks to Alex L for once again documenting a WBCP event (some pics below!). As usual, birdfest palawan peacock-pheasant logo by Arnel T.
I'm sure everyone's excited and looking forward to Puerto Princesa in September...

Ready for the birdfest?!?

WBCP & DOT Sec Ace Durano group pic: who's wild?

Ang walang kamatayang Birds of the Philippines


The 2008 Philippine Bird Festival themed: Aba, Kakaiba! will be
held on September 12 and 13 in Puerto Princesa City. The event also
marks the start of the annual winter migration of birds from
mainland Asia and Japan.

Aba, Kakaiba! 4th Philippine Bird Festival, aims to raise public
awareness about the diverse birdlife in Palawan and local efforts
for the protection of the still pristine forest, wetland and coastal
habitats of the country's western-most province. This year's
festival logo features the Palawan Peacock Pheasant, a beautiful
forest fowl found nowhere else in the world.
The 4th Philippine Bird Festival opens at the Puerto Princesa
Coliseum on September 12 with an exhibition of rarely seen photos of
Philippine birds, displays, lectures and film shows as well as art
and fun activities for the kids. Admission is free and schools are
encouraged to participate.
Puerto Princesa City will also host the 1st Bird Conservation Forum,
a pre-event to the Philippine Bird Festival. The Bird Conservation
Forum aims to bring bird-watching hobbyists, conservationists, eco
tour promoters and local stakeholders together to discuss bird
status and map plans for the protection of their critical habitats.
"The Philippine Bird Festival aims to get people excited about
nature and conservation through recreational bird watching and bird
photography," says nature enthusiast Michael Lu, president of the
Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP). The WBCP, the country's
premier bird-watching society, initiated the first bird festival in
2004. "Habitat loss from ill-planned development and urban pressure
is the greatest threat to bird populations and other wildlife. The
WBCP hopes to get communities and professional planners actively
involved in developing ways to help wildlife through green spaces
and nature-friendly property management."
On September 13, delegates will also visit the Puerto Princesa
Subterranean River National Park, followed by a trip to Rasa Island
sponsored by the Katala Foundation, on September 14. The
Subterranean River National Park along with Rasa Island, the last
stronghold of the endemic and much-threatened Katala or Philippine
Cockatoo, have been included as bird-watching hotspots in the
Adventure Philippines program of Recreational Outdoor Exchange
(ROX) and Department of Tourism.
The choice of Palawan to host the 4th Philippine Bird Festival
received support and encouragement from local and international
conservation organizations, public officials and the business sector.
Among the organizations that are participating in the Philippine
Bird Festival are Katala Foundation, Birdwatch Palawan, WWF-
Philippines, Conservation International, Cebu Biodiversity
Conservation Foundation, Isla Biodiversity Conservation, Tubbataha
Reef Marine Natural Park Office, Philippine Butterfly Habitat
Conservation Society, Art Thrive, My Zoo Foundation and Birding
Adventure Philippines. International organizations such as the
Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network, Wild Bird Society of
Taipei, the Chinese Wild Bird Federation, Xiamen Birdwatching
Society, Bird Conservation Society of Thailand and the Nature
Photographic Society (Singapore) have confirmed participation for
this year's project.
The bird festival is sponsored by the Department of Tourism, Puerto
Princesa City, Team Energy Foundation, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation,
Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club, Landco Pacific Corporation,
Katala Foundation, Birdwatch Palawan, Aigle and the Recreational
Outdoor Exchange (ROX).

Thursday, July 10

disturb me

this is one of my favorite prayers, attributed to sir francis drake. 
excellence is a goal which I often forget in this world which is content to settle for mediocrity.
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

attributed - sir francis drake -1577

Wednesday, July 9

reality in the mountains

Birding in the mountains of the Sierra Madre in Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) was an eye-opening experience.  It was heart-breaking to actually SEE the forests disappearing.
Many, many thanks to Tinggay for her invitation and generous hospitality. 

Here's my trip report for birdwatch:
Tinggay, a friend of Leni S., invited us to go birding in the mountains of Rodriguez (formerly Montalban). Leni, Adri and I, Alex and Tere immediately confirmed our willingness to explore new territory.

Tinggay welcomed us to stay overnight at their beautiful ancestral house and made all the arrangements so that all we had to do was ready ourselves.  After dinner we stayed up a bit for exchanges of stories and anecdotes of birding adventures and retired to our rooms for our early start the next day.

Makaingalan, Brgy. Puray is a part of the Sierra Madre mountain range in Rizal Province.  The dirt road is accessible only by a "weapons carrier", a modified 4 x 4 vehicle raised well-above the ground.  Our destination was about 2 hours from Rodriguez town, so we started at 4am to make sure we were at the site by sunrise.

We found ourselves bouncing around in the "weapons", which was hardly a passenger vehicle.  As the surroundings grew lighter, we discovered ourselves on the top of mountains, high above the city.  Metro Manila was blanketed in fog (or should I say smog?), with only the tops of the tall buildings, giving a clue to which part of the city lay underneath. South of the city, the mountains rose above the fog, looking like islands on a quiet blue sea.  The mountains around us were mostly cogon and grassland, with a few shrubs and trees. 

We stopped for a bit halfway to our destination, to stretch our legs (and rub our sore heads and backsides), and the sparse trees around us were alive with the calls of oriental magpie-robins, coucals, a tawny grassbird and a few others.  It was still a bit dark and we gave up trying to spot these early morning risers.  It was overcast, and the temperatures were cool, perfect for walking around.

Later, upon reaching our destination, we were greeted with suspicion by the villagers, who mistook the spotting scope for a measuring device and us birders for land surveyors ("nagsusukat ng lupa").  When we explained that we were not out to land grab, and showed them our binoculars and the Kennedy, they became a bit friendlier.  They told us of the many birds (including tarictic and rufous hornbills) that were still in the forests and at the nearby waterfalls.  Unfortunately, these places were several hours muddy hike away, and with the sky threatening to drench us in rain, we decided to bird by the roads.

There was very little bird activity, although, the places we birded at were heavily disturbed.  The few birds we saw though were decidedly not afraid of people which led us to conclude that hunting probably was not an issue here.  Several malkohas perched nearby, and we even watched an elegant tit and its brood of fledglings feeding close by at an ipil-ipil tree.

Still, we were deeply troubled and bothered by the landscape around us.  Even with the already heavily degraded forest cover, we could actually see the remaining forest disappearing before our very eyes.  Charcoal production ("nang-uuling") was a primary source of livelihood, and we could clearly see the smoke from the burning wood.  Literally truckloads of charcoal were being produced daily. Slash-and-burn farming ("kaingin") was also an obvious practice.  And lumber from illegal logging littered the roads.  Adri wanted to follow a trail when we saw a couple of men carrying lumber at the top.  They stopped in their tracks and we were told that they were illegal loggers who were afraid we were there to catch them and sieze their goods.  We were told by our companions that most of the people who lived in the baranggay were settlers from Aklan.  One of them pointed to a mountain whose trees were limited to its crown, and the outer tree-line burned brown: "you see that? they only started harvesting those trees for charcoal last year.  now almost all the trees on that mountain are gone".

No lifers for the five of us (but enough lifers to inspire Tinggay to sign up as a member of the club), but it was truly an eye-opening trip for us.

On our bumpy ride back to town, we discovered that although the rain didn't pour up in the mountain, it did in the lowlands, and the "weapons" crossed rivers that weren't there a few hours before.  At the back of Avilon Zoo, there was small ricefield that teemed with birds oblivious to the rain.

Thanks so much to Tinggay for her invitation and hospitality. We'll be back? J

SITE/LOCALITY:    Makaingalan
CITY: Rodriquez (for. Montalban)
ISLAND:     Luzon

START DATE: 6/29/2008

NAME OF BIRDER(REPORTER):     Trinket Canlas
OTHER BIRDERS PRESENT:  Adrian Constantino, Tere Cervero, Leni Sutcliffe, Alex Tiongco, Tinggay Cinco

ENVIRONMENT CONDITION:  slightly overcast, brief and light showers

1.    Spotted Buttonquail Turnix ocellatus      1          
2.    White-breasted Waterhen (White-breasted Bush-hen) Amaurornis phoenicurus      X      heard several    
3.    Common Emerald Dove     (Emerald Dove) Chalcophaps indica   1    
4.    Guaiabero Bolbopsittacus lunulatus  6          
5.    Scale-feathered Malkoha Lepidogrammus cumingi   1          
6.    Red-crested Malkoha     (Rough-crested Malkoha) Dasylophus superciliosus      4          
7.    Philippine Coucal Centropus viridis 2     heard more 
8.    Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta      x     common     
9.    Pygmy Swiftlet Collocalia troglodytes     2          
10.   Swift/ Swiftlet sp. Apodidae sp.    x          
11.   Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike Coracina striata      9          
12.   Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier  5          
13.   Philippine Bulbul Ixos philippinus  10+        
14.   Balicassiao Dicrurus balicassius    1          
15.   Elegant Tit Parus elegans     12+        
16.   Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis  2     heard more 
17.   White-browed Shama Copsychus luzoniensis  X     heard
18.   Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata      7          
19.   Lemon-throated Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus cebuensis    1          
20.   Tawny Grassbird Megalurus timoriensis     X     heard
21.   Striated Grassbird Megalurus palustris    2          
22.   Grey-backed Tailorbird Orthotomus derbianus     X     heard several    
23.   Bright-capped Cisticola              (Golden-headed Cisticola) Cisticola exilis     3           
24.   Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea     3          
25.   Coleto Sarcops calvus   4          
26.   Orange-bellied Flowerpecker Dicaeum trigonostigma     2

SITE/LOCALITY:    Rodriguez Town
BARANGAY:   San Isidro (ricefields behind Avilon Zoo)
CITY: Rodriquez (for. Montalban)
ISLAND:     Luzon

1.    Little Heron     (Striated Heron) Butorides striata   1          
2.    Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis  1          
3.    White-breasted Waterhen (White-breasted Bush-hen) Amaurornis phoenicurus  2      
4.    Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus  5          
5.    Spotted Dove     (Spotted-necked Dove) Streptopelia chinensis     1          
6.    Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica    10+        
7.    Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus     x     common     
8.    Chestnut Munia     (Black-headed Munia) Lonchura malacca    50+        

Tuesday, June 24

after frank

i came home early from school yesterday (hmmm... i shouldn't even have been in school really) and adri and i decided to take issa and sam for a short walk to the playground.
by then, most of the streets had been cleaned of fallen plants and branches, so there was barely a trace of frank's aftermath in our little subdivision.  the height of the creek's water the day before was marked by plastic bags caught on plants growing on the stone wall.
there wasn't anyone at the playground, and just a few boys (and men) playing halfcourt basketball.  sam and issa played at the swings, slide, monkey bars and seesaw (bakit walang playground nung bata ako?) for a bit and then we took the long way home. 
barely a trace of frank's aftermath, no one at the playground, no classes...

we hardly ran into anyone on the street, no kids on bikes, no kalye badminton, no bouncing balls, no running kids in rubber slippers, no one. just a maid walking a dog, people cleaning the street and watering their plants and a few construction workers on their way home. all adults. wow, where were all the kids?  at the risk of sounding old, i HAVE to say... dati basta walang klase nasa kalye na kami! patintero, bikes, or just roaming the streets. i suppose now the kids were inside playing some game, or surfing the net or watching tv or a (pirated) dvd; discovering the world from inside their rooms.

ay, iba na talaga. i suppose my nieces and nephews wouldn't know patintero from shato, or piko from agawan base. back then, indoor games meant scrabble or monopoly or pusoy or clue  (which reminds me, adri was able to install clue on my computer.. so now you can play a game originally meant to be played by three or more people by yourself!).

oh well. the world turns. life goes on. ladida.

Sunday, June 15

bye to lippy

(caution... graphic photo)

i've had my lipoma on my left arm since forever, and yesterday, edna finally cut it out.

it hadn't really been a bother most of my life, except in the past three years of exceptional weight gain, it suddenly grew to ugly proportions.

so edna arranged OR (yes, put me to sleep so felt zero pain) under george's name at st. lukes, and in under an hour, lippy the lipoma was in a zip lock bag.

bye to lippy the lipoma!

it my first surgery (having my eyes lasered really doesn't count) and my very first hospital wristband. edna said it took me quite a while to be sedated and that i was very yappy in the OR.  how embarassing.  i am now dr. canlas' weepy and yappy sister who had to be put to sleep for a simple procedure. i really don't remember much, she could be inventing stuff.  i do remember waking up in recovery and edna showing me lippy.  cecille was right, anaesthesia is a very restful experience.

was quite hungry by the time i left the hospital (didn't have a bite to eat or a drop to drink at the wbcp "meeting" the night before, thank you)... so adri, edna and i had pizza, chicken wings and pasta at yellow cab. yum.

p.s.  i was edna's very first official surgery patient!  yay! (i didn't point out to her that i was a non-paying patient, so it shouldn't really count)

Wednesday, June 4

...and birding with the marines

so with the sight of a tricycle on the ternate-nasugbu highway construction site imprinted in our brains, leni,adri and i headed for caylabne at the end of the road, to help out with a guided trip for the participants of the resort's preservation bay coastal clean-up.

we missed mike's go at the microphone by a few minutes, but were just in time to join them for lunch.  arnel, tintin, caloy, cel, alex l., mel and kitty were already there. 

the weather is strange as it went from rainy last week to HOT and humid this week.  caylabne graciously prepared a 3-bedroom unit where we could all relax after lunch until 4pm when the guided trip was scheduled.

it turns out that it was a small group of volunteers we were tasked to introduced the wonderful world of birding. :)  a group of young jaycees and a group of (just as young) marines.

mike tasked adri and i to lead the marines through the trail by the river (the "harder" trail by mike's standards, hehe).  it was difficult birding with such a large group on such a small trail, but the marines had quick eyes and were very alert to even the tiniest movements of the small birds.

they were familiar with the orioles and the philippine woodpecker, but strangely it was the first encounter with a tarictic for all of them.

adri showing the marines their first luzon hornbill

it was funny (and not in a ha-ha funny way) how you would hear the comments about shooting the birds and slingshots.  obviously, there is still that mindset among many filipinos about the challenge of hunting something beautiful. but it was still great to see their smiles and their excitement at seeing the hornbill, the sea-eagle and even the tiny rhabdornis.  truly, all you need to know is what's out there to see.

later on, we all realised how young these marines were. it was their last 3 months at the marine base in ternate, right between the ternate-nasgubu highway and caylabne, before they were shipped of to god-knows-where to fight in a war which really makes no sense to a lot of filipinos.  this short time, picking trash from the coast and birding with us, was already a big vacation from them, a break from their usual routine.  my prayers are with them as they go into battle.

we ended the day with sunset at the view deck.  overhead, house swifts chattered and twittered noisily as they swooped for insects. we rested on the lawn and enjoyed the cheerful company of birders.

a view of the el fraile battery, corregidor and the mountains of mariveles

arnel practices rock climbing and hangs on for dear life
... or so you think!
as we sat and exchanged stories with the other birding group, arnel suddenly shouted "uy, ano yun! anu yun?!?"

and we quickly followed his gaze on a black-and-white pigeon being mobbed by the house swifts as it flew a few meters above us... pied imperial pigeon!!!! (yes, i truly believed and we all agreed it was a pied imperial pigeon) woohoo!

what a great way to end a long day.

the sun sets on another day of birding

palay-palay road update...

inspite of the rising gasoline prices (see my previous blog entry), adri and i decided to drive to ternate last sunday for the caylabne preservation volunteers' guided trip. 

and since we were driving anyway, se decided to leave in the wee hours of the morning so we could squeeze in some birding at the ternate-nasugbu highway construction site, which i last visited over two months ago (see pictures from that trip here). happily, leni s. had the same idea and we met at the (now non-existent!) gate to the site at 6am (which happens to be way past sunrise at this time of the year by the way).

so update on the road... the gate is now gone so anyone can enter freely it seems.  no need to flash your birding paraphernalia or your wbcp id or name drop.  and at the "basketball court" you will be greeted by several trucks and heavy equipment.  and look!

yes, there is now a two-lane concrete road for the first couple of kilometers.  and the small herd of goats has now multiplied into a small armada which are let loose to invade the virgin road and the roadside vegetation.

the birds were very noisy at the place where we usually park and start our birding.  the black-chinned fruit dove was still there, and the white-browed shamas and tailorbirds and black-naped monarchs sang noisily behind the vegetation.  the air was buzzing with guaiabero activity, and adri was able to scope an unusually sad little bird for leni to inspect.
we saw a couple of male tarictics, one feeding at a fruiting tree that leni identified to be Trema orientalis. we wondered how such a large bill could pick out such dainty fruit. 

much of the roadside vegetation had been cleared, so i was thinking of what lydia would think of that when i saw a few butterflies flitting about the now bare soil.

and as usual, it was not just birding for me but "bugging" as well. since i touched up on my zoology i now know that this is a millipede and not a centipede :)

the morning grew warmer and we rested by the roadside before heading back up.  while waiting for a pair of greater flamebacks to re-appear, several philippine falconets kept us company. 

movement in the trees turned out not to be a bird, but a large male macaque (and you all know how i detest monkeys) hanging out on a tree far, far (thank goodness) above us, probably trying to make out what we were doing (and if we had food).

as we were pondering the fate of mt. palay-palay and imagining the sight before us in a few years after the road is finished and opened, a familiar, but out-of-place sound reached our ears.

and as if it seal the inevitability of the future, what else would come up the dirt road...

a tricycle in the middle one of our favorite birding sites.  how else could we react?  leni let out a big "OH NO."  and we laughed and joked about how that lone tricycle shuttling passengers to the end of the dirt road could be used to shuttle the dude-birders (you know who you are) for 15 pesos one-way.

here's leni, almost incredulous at the sight of the tricycle coming from down the mountain after a few minutes.

and with that, we packed our water and biscuits and sandwiches, shook the dust (from the tricycle which passed by of course) from our pants and headed up to meet mike and the others at caylabne.

we could only imagine what sights will greet us the next time we find ourselves at the infamous ternate-nasugbu highway.
(to be continued...)

Monday, June 2


53.57 pesos to a liter of unleaded gasoline!!!
After a peso increase each week, this week it was suddenly a peso and fifty centavos.

Should i drive less (should i walk more?) Should i hitch rides more (should i drive by myself less?)  Maybe i should drive my normal routes and give up other expenses. What, what should I do? WHAT?!?

Wow.  When will it end?  I dread waking up on Saturday to see how much gas prices have increased. 

Reminder to self: gas up on Fridays.

It now costs my car about a thousand pesos to get 200-250 km around or out of (and back to) Manila.

Argh.  ARGH.

Monday, May 12

makiling in may

 because it was mother's day weekend, i couldn't join the southwoods birding group or mike's sunday dude birding at taal. so, i checked my birding notes from last year and was excited to see that on may 22, 2007, adri and i saw 4 spotted wood-kingfishers and 4 white-browed shamas on the forest trail.
a quick text brigade to the guys and on saturday we were off to makiling at 4am complete with sandwiches and coolers, expecting to spend the entire day birding.

yahoo! makiling was generous to us again.  we saw the strange sight of a white-browed shama hopping about the ground on the trail. twice. and the spotted wood-kingfishers!  they were unusually vocal even in the late morning until after lunch, and we enjoyed 6 sightings in all!  all of them seemed to be preoccupied with eating or hunting, so were pretty much oblivious to our presence.
the grey-backed tailorbird would not be left out, coming out into the open from a tangle of vines, calling loudly. we could clearly see its entire body vibrating with each trill.
a philippine hawk-cuckoo also flew back and forth across the trail, taking wing only

when we were a couple of meters away, only to perch in the same place after we passed it.

so to all birders out there... may is a good time for the residents and endemics.  probably going crazy mating and breeding after the migrants have gone.

(ok, i know i have no bird pictures. i don't think i can afford a camera for bird photography soon, so i'll just be content with creepies and crawlies and birders in action.)

see us in a line watching a female spotted wood-kingfisher downing a juicy caterpillar! it looks funny in the picture,
we didn't realise we were so orderly!

 BIRDLIST: Forest Trail
1. Philippine Serpent-Eagle Spilornis holospilus 2 
2. White-eared Brown-Dove Phapitreron leucotis 3 heard more
3. Black-chinned Fruit-Dove Ptilinopus leclancheri 3 heard more
4. Luzon Bleeding-heart Gallicolumba luzonica x heard
5. Guaiabero Bolbopsittacus lunulatus 1 
6. Colasisi Loriculus philippensis 6 heard more
7. Philippine Hawk-Cuckoo Cuculus pectoralis 2 heard more
8. Scale-feathered Malkoha Lepidogrammus cumingi 3 
9. Red-crested Malkoha     (Rough-crested Malkoha) Dasylophus superciliosus 2 
10. Philippine Coucal Centropus viridis x heard several
11. Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta 3 
12. Spotted Wood-Kingfisher           (Spotted Kingfisher) Actenoides lindsayi 6 heard more
13. Blue-throated Bee-eater Merops viridis 7 
14. Tarictic Hornbill      (Luzon Hornbill) Penelopides manillae x heard
15. Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala 4 
16. Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker      (Philippine Woodpecker) Dendrocopos maculatus 2 heard more
17. Red-bellied Pitta Pitta erythrogaster x heard
18. Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike Coracina striata 4 heard more
19. Yellow-wattled Bulbul Pycnonotus urostictus 3 
20. Philippine Bulbul Ixos philippinus 12 heard more
21. Balicassiao Dicrurus balicassius 14 heard more
22. Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 3 
23. Elegant Tit Parus elegans 1 
24. Stripe-headed Rhabdornis (Stripe-sided Rhabdornis) Rhabdornis mystacalis 9 heard more
25. White-browed Shama Copsychus luzoniensis 2 heard more
26. Grey-backed Tailorbird Orthotomus derbianus 1 heard more
27. Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea 1 heard more
28. Plain-throated Sunbird      (Brown-throated Sunbird) Anthreptes malacensis 3 
29. Flaming Sunbird Aethopyga flagrans 1 
30. Buzzing Flowerpecker Dicaeum hypoleucum 1 
31. Pygmy Flowerpecker Dicaeum pygmaeum 1 
32. Lowland White-eye Zosterops meyeni 1  

 BIRDLIST: Dairy fields
1. Spotted Buttonquail Turnix ocellatus 1 
2. Barred Rail Gallirallus torquatus x heard several
3. Philippine Coucal Centropus viridis 1 
4. Asian Palm-Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis 1 
5. White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 1 
6. White-collared Kingfisher           (Collared Kingfisher) Todirhamphus chloris 1 
7. Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus 6 
8. Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier x common
9. Philippine Bulbul Ixos philippinus 2 heard several
10. Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis 1 
11. White-browed Shama Copsychus luzoniensis 1 
12. Striated Grassbird Megalurus palustris 2 
13. Bright-capped Cisticola              (Golden-headed Cisticola) Cisticola exilis 1 
14. Zitting Cisticola      (Fan-tailed Cisticola) Cisticola juncidis x heard
15. Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica 1 
16. Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 1 
17. Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus x heard
18. Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus x common