Sunday, April 1

birding at anvaya: summer's here!

with the finals over, i was looking forward to joining anna g, jun o and karen o in leading a guided trip for the employees and members of anvaya cove beach and nature club. they picked me up immediately after (the longest ever) graduation of class 2012 and we took the 2 hour drive to morong, bataan via subic, arriving at almost midnight! i literally collapsed into the bed after my long day. call time was 530 the next morning.

i woke up refreshed despite my less than usual number of sleep hours. jun o was already outside the manager's quarters, watching a pied bushchat and some glossy starlings perched on a nearby leafless tree. the starlings were soon replaced by bar-bellied cuckoo shrikes with their distinctive calls.  then it was time for us to move to the main pavillion to start our guided trip!

the guided trip was a class on its own. we started at a tent set up by the main pavilion facing the landscaped lawn. chestnut munias, glossy swiftlets, yellow-vented bulbuls, eurasian tree swallows, a brown shrike and a striated grassbird, and even a small group of pet ducks led by a lone geese acted as true to life props for our introductory birding lecture. the munias were even building nests at the bamboo right beside the tent!

this grassbird provided a good "prop" to our outdoor lecture!

munias were busy building their nests right beside our lecture area

 it was an easy walk in the bright morning sunshine around the main lawn, many birds easily seen and even their calls heard clearly by the whole group.  the ever-reliable collared kingfisher with its brilliant blue and the stunning yellow black-naped orioles drew oooohs and aaaahs from the participants.  pretty soon, one of the staff members took charge of the scope, expertly focusing it on nearby birds for the others! karen spotted a common kingfisher perched on the pond plants, and a ripple of excitement went through the group. at the end of the hour and a half walk, everyone had good looks at at least 14 species! 

the participants gamely described the birds they saw through their bins 
and through the scope

a little egret was one of the more visible birds that morning

a pied triller sang and preened for several minutes, unmindful of his audience

the cabana complexes were all named after birds!

some of the staff and management participants expressed surprise at how much they enjoyed the morning birdwalk (something they obviously were not expecting)! among the guests, a couple had drove in all the way from manila the night before just to join the birdwalk, while a father and daughter tandem from san juan were enthusiastically sharing their own backyard birding anecdotes. the whole group ended the session with coffee and snacks back at the tent before going separate ways.

while the guiding team was having breakfast, the father and daughter tandem excitedly came up to us to show us a chestnut munia that had hit the glass walls of the restaurant!  the poor thing was dazed, and we suggested to merely let it rest in a quiet place to allow it to recover. the father offered to just allow it it rest on his open hand, and his daughter (and all the rest of us!) watched it recover until it surprised all of us by taking off after a few minutes!  his daughter, miki, then showed us her notes for the morning... a birdlist with side notes and even a sketch of the collared kingfisher!  a birder in the making!

bird strike victim recovering in hand

miki's notes: birder in the making!

after another lecture and a short brunch meeting with the activities manager and her team, we were free to do as we pleased for the rest of the afternoon.  while karen and anna decided to go for a quick dip in the pool, jun and i went to explore the nature and fitness trail.  we were able to add a few more species to our bird list for the day as we walked thru the trail which crisscrossed a stream several times.

busy woodpeckers at the nature trail

several of these lycaenids too!

as we made our way back to the pavillion, we stopped by the ponds on the main lawn again, happily clicking away at several chestnut munias, and even attempting to shoot at the glossy swiftlets gliding over the water.

munias still gathering nesting material

 there were several immature munias also

trying my luck with the glossy swiflets: blurred in flight

we caught up with karen and anna at the pool, and they advised us to climb up the tower across the pool for some eye-level views of lowland white-eyes.

it turns out, the white-eyes were building a nest!  the nest was hidden well away behind the leaves of the mango tree, and the pair ignored our ogling and shutters clicking away. gerygones hopped and sang noisily while ets's hung around.

a very charming pair of lowland white-eyes were busy with their nest building

can you see the very carefully hidden nest?

noisy gerygones filling the air with song

and a very sleepy ets

beach! the summer icon

pretty soon we were getting hungry and we all settled down by the pool for an early dinner (or was it a super late lunch?). as we chowed down, we noticed a white-breasted wood-swallow perching on a coconut tree by the pool and we thought how strange it looked.  as we watched, it suddenly plopped down at the space between the coconut leaves. another nest!  and this had the best location yet: poolside with a view of the beach!

a cozy wood-swallow nest by the pool

as the sunset, the staff teasingly asked us if we were ready to go yet, four hours behind our original schedule!

tropical drinks by the pool at the start of summer

a relaxing dinner by the pool at sunset after a day of dude birding: it was a great way to start the summer break!

thanks to anna for organizing and leading the team and to anvaya for their gracious hospitality!


  1. We also saw a Bar-bellied Cuckoo Shrike outside the managers' quarters!

  2. yup, parang mag f fall forward sya off the branch, haha.