Wednesday, October 26

almost lifers

Recently Adri & I caught the twitching bug when a Ruddy Kingfisher was reported at a nearby gated subdivision in Quezon City.  At first I shrugged off a text from WBCPer Jops, "No pressing need for me to see that bird," I told him arrogantly, thinking of the final grades due in a week and the pile of tests I had to finish checking.  And after all, I had just achieved getting that kingfisher on my lifelist on a trip to Coron.  Curiosity got the better of me though, with Adri reminding me that the new kingfisher sensation was most certainly of a different race, the migrant subspecies bangsi or majorcompared to the endemic linae of Palawan.  We just couldn't resist when Jops & Maia asked if we wanted to have a go at it after a guided public birdwalk at the La Mesa Eco Park on Sunday morning.  So after a "break" for lunch (it was actually a birding lunch, but that's another story), we met up at Jops' for a (crossed fingers) date with the Ruddy Kingfisher.

On the short drive, Maia & Jops were telling us about their brief encounter with the kingfisher the day before, so brief that they wanted an upgrade.  As we were driving up to the hotspot, Adri immediately exclaimed "Ayun sya o!," causing us to all lurch forward as Jops stepped on the brakes abruptly.  Sure enough, perched on a scraggly kakawate tree, was a rufous bird with a magenta-ish wash and huge bill.  

This twitch was looking like a drive-thru bird, it was a far cry from all the futile mangrove treks in Puerto Princesa or even the short river walk in Coron I had gone through to see this bird. 

We spent almost 2 hours enjoying the bird which, after sometime (when it was nearly dark), seemed to decide that we were not enemies, and causally flew from one kakawate to another, sometimes dropping to the ground to pick up an occasional earthworm. It was already late afternoon, bad light for any decent pictures, but I got these:

The magenta back tells me it must be of the bangsi subspecies... so this Ruddy Kingfisher isn't quite a full lifer, but it upgrades my Coron subspecies.  Probably not to bank bird status though,  I haven't heard of any possible splitting of the species, but definitely they look different enough to me to warrant subspecies listing.

We decided that the morning light would be better for documentation, so we agreed to come back during the work week if the chance came up.

That chance came on Wednesday morning, when we met up once again with Jops and Maia, and this time Bob & Cynthia as well as JV (who lived a couple of blocks down from the kingfisher spot).  Bob & Cynthia had dipped on the Ruddy but had seen & photographed a Spotted Wood-kingfisher (also out of place as it is usually found in the forest) in the same area.  We jokingly concluded that our combination would bring a sure sighting of both the Ruddy and the Spotted Wood!

What happened was just the opposite.  No Ruddy, no Spotted Wood either! And so with none of the target birds in sight, we contented our selves with an exchange of bird stories and the latest gossip in local birding.  All this while watching "normal" birds:  brown shrikes, arctic warblers, gerygones - as they wove in and out of the canopy of the flamboyant trees which lined the street.  

Suddenly, Maia stood at full attention and exclaimed " That doesn't look like an arctic warbler!" It was a flycatcher! And that got our full attention on a little nondescript LBJ (little brown job).  After photos were taken and the bird gone we attempted to identify the bird. I was really counting on it being an Asian Brown Flycatcher... while Adri, wishing for a lifer, wanted a Dark Sided Flycatcher.  Not really the wisest way to go about bird identification, with heavy biases! Later, having we checked the guidebook, wondered out loud at field marks (little brown job? hello.), beak length, wing length compared to tail and body, our conclusion was: we needed help.

Later on, after photos were uploaded on the internet for experts to help, it was identified as either a female or a first year male Narcissus Flycatcher. I'd seen the Narcissus several years ago in a kakawate grove in UP Diliman, again not a lifer. But then again, I'd only seen the full adult male of the species never the female.

Pwede na din.

Postscript: the next day, a migratory Brown Hawk Owl was spotted and photographed at the same spot... it seems I arrived a day too early for a "real" lifer!


  1. of course!
    c/o my old powershot A1000IS... with a little help from Swarovski! :-)

  2. Would you believe wala pa ako ng Ruddy Kingfisher????? I lack 3 kingfishers and he's one of them! Hmmmmmm.... must go check him out when I get back!

  3. Hi Ixi!!! Don't worry, I got my 2 Ruddy kingfishers this year lang, back to back! I have one up on you! Di ba same tayo? Black-capped and Philippine? One big and one small kingfisher!

  4. Yes! That's right! The Black Capped that's rare and the Philippine Dwarf! When I see the Ruddy, tie tayo!

  5. Coron nalang? Hehehe. Sama natin si Ixi!

  6. Game ako diyan!!! Schedule na natin. By golly lifer ko yan pareho if ever.