Saturday, May 12

north and ...north-er

(you know i mean further north)

i'm beginning to sound like a broken record but i was back in candaba AGAIN on a friday afternoon. i've actually stopped counting how many times i've been this year.

adri & i had volunteered to help out mike, jon j, jops & maia in guiding around 40 public high school teachers.  primer group of companies' advocacy arm CORE was sponsoring their trip as part of their program aptly called nature class. 

adri & i had gone on ahead to candaba (later than we had planned... alarm clock didn't go off), and as soon as we hit the dirt road, adri pointed out the terns that were following the farmers who were tilling their fields.  mixed in with the whiskered terns were white-winged terns!  the two species were easily distinguishable in their breeding plumage. the whiskered terns looking handsome with their black caps and orange bills.  and it was suddenly obvious what gave the white-winged terns their name - their white wings stood out in contrast to their all-black bodies and heads!

that's more like it: white-winged black terns true to their name in breeding plumage 
(mixed with a couple of whiskered terns here)

with hardly any migrants left, there was still a lot of resident birds to point out to the teachers.  the rookeries of the black-crowned night-herons and the purple herons were busy with activity, the pheasant-tailed jacanas strutted and flew from pond to field and back, moorhens and bitterns walked on the hyacinth and occasionally a few wandering whistling ducks flew across the vista.  it was certainly enough excitement to amaze the city teachers, drawing many exclamations of surprise and inquisitive comments.

pheasant-tailed jacana - how can one tire looking at this beauty?

nature class: science teachers of the manila head teachers association, 
division of city schools, go birding in candaba

it was a half day activity, but adri and i still had a long way to travel, further north all the way to subic.  we had been having problems lately with all the changes in policy the ecology center had been having regarding permits and we had to arrange for birding permits for bap.  jon j was on summer break and had never been, so we invited him to tag along.  horrendous traffic and torrential summer rain delayed our arrival, so we had no choice but to do power birding after our official business, zipping through the cubi-triboa and ilanin districts with a moderate rain falling.  it was darker than we expected, with overcast skies, but we still racked up 21 species seen and an additional 10 heard. not so bad for barely 2 hours of birding.  a plain bush-hen with a downy chick was foraging by the highway in front of the nipas. pompadour and green pigeons, coletos, as well as a couple of male tarictic hornbills seemed to be enjoying the rain, feathers all wet. 

this luzon hornbill is just one of the birds that seemed to welcome the summer downpour

adri pointed out a hummock-like balicassiao nest on a tree near the road. we decided to walk a bit down nabasan when the rain let up, and as we headed back to the car before darkness fell, jon spotted a white-browed shama hopping across the road!  unfortunately, the brown hawk owl and the philippine hawk owl eluded us once again, and i had to list the elusive brown hawk owl with the usual label "heard only" in my notebook.

we decided to have dinner near the business district so we could head straight back to quezon city.  it was a long and tiring day, but hey, subic is always a birding destination worth heading north for.

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