Tuesday, April 10

the empty nest?

it was saturday morning, and as i arrived at the trail of the mini forest at the la mesa eco park, i found myself again in the company of jops, maia and peter (whom i had joined just a few days before at candaba) and other wbcp members who were there to give a public guided birdwalk.  

all of us arrived earlier at the park to do a little pre-guided trip birding.  we got terrific views of a red-bellied pitta and a couple of the endemic ashy ground thrushes.

later, as the others left to prepare for the guided trip, i stayed behind to get better views of the ashy ground thrushes.  peter was standing very quietly and motioned to the pair very quietly foraging on the ground. "they would be invisible if they weren't for their movement," peter exclaimed in a hushed voice.  suddenly, one of them hopped up from the ground to a small tree obscured from our sight by a large tree trunk. i quietly moved to my right to get a good view.

"a nest!"

sure enough, there on the branches of a young tree, just above eye level, maybe 6 feet up from the ground, was a familiar sight.  just like last september's nest, it was nestled in the thin branches of the palo santo, quite a large, and very untidy nest. it was made from several large dried leaves, twigs and even some moss. it was located across the mini-forest from the nest observed last year.

just then, the ashy ground thrush on the nest was joined by a second adult and for a very brief moment both of them were on the nest, and then gone.  one of them would return to inspect the nest very briefly, perhaps twice in the 20 minutes we watched the nest.  a cheerful pair of lowland white-eyes which were flitting about int he low undergrowth all morning (probably with a nest of their own) even inspected the nest on at least one occasion. we wondered it they were still building the nest, as it seemed they left it unattended for a longer period than they were actually at the nest, and even then their visits were very short.  not wanting to disturb them, we left the nest, elated at our find.

later in the afternoon, joni, maia and i, attempted to show mike the ashy ground thrushes, but all joni could spot was a very young bird hopping about in the shadows.  was this the immature thrush, recently fledged from the nest? we wondered.

i would be back at that same spot sunday and tuesday with different groups.

on sunday morning, i joined nicky, mel, ju lin and her group of singaporean birders.  we split up into 2 groups, with one of the groups spotting a very accommodating hooded pitta further in the trail, and our group once again observing the pair of ashy ground thrushes visiting the nest briefly.  this time, the lowland white-eye was back, stealing some nesting material and also catching some insects in the nest.  one of the ashy ground thrushes seemed a bit more attentive at the nest, rearranging some to the nesting material and sitting on the nest as if to improve its shape. still, most of the time, the nest was left unattended.

and again, the red-bellied pitta walked wandered across the path several times, as curious about us as we were about it.

tuesday afternoon, and i was back.  this time to join adri and dion h. of vent and also alex t. 

who would greet us on the trail but the red-bellied pitta, very obliging for 2 o'clock in the afternoon. 

this time, there was no activity at the nest.  we stayed almost an hour but there was no sign of the ashy ground thrushes on the nest or on the ground.  even the white-eye pair, which still busy in the undergrowth did not inspect the nest.

empty nest or preparation for a second brood, it is still good news to see that the ashy ground thrushes, once-evil-birds in my book, seem to be thriving in this park-in-the-city. this is the second record of a nest in a small patch of second growth in the middle of the residential area.  it may be adjacent to the water reservoir, but it only emphasizes what surprises can reveal themselves in these green corridors of the city.


  1. i just realized: the empty nest and the empty tomb! both good news! happy easter everyone!

  2. OMG your shot of the Red-bellied Pitta! =) Happy Easter too! =)