Sunday, September 2

birthday birding and a year after...

i don't ever remember having birded on my birthday before, and since i've been feeling under-birded the past few months, i was able to sneak in three hours birding with adri today - in between regular sunday market and family lunch. while a few years ago, up diliman would have been the choice "neighborhood patch", the la mesa ecopark has overtaken the university campus the past year.  the lmep has a compact mini-forest and enjoys spillover from the nearby water reservoir. in fact it was almost exactly a year ago to the date (well, it was the day AFTER my birthday), when alex, tere, adri & i first tried birding at the mini-forest. we were there to check out red-bellied pittas reported by the bird photographers when we quite happily stumbled upon the (before this past year) ultra-hard to spot endemic ashy ground thrush!

since then, the ashy ground thrush has been reported regularly at the park and so has lost its evil bird status.  regular public birdwalks at the park led by wbcp-ers jops & maia have even had first time birders and park employees getting the thrush on their lifelists on their first birding trip! in fact, adri & i, with help from several of the birders and photographers had written an article about this bird which was published in the most recent issue of birding asia (the oriental bird club biannual publication).

strangely though, i had never had a chance to photograph this shy, beautiful bird over the past year.  not for the lack of close-encounters exactly, more like a lack of close encounters every time i had the camera with me!

but today the ashy ground thrush gave me the best birthday present: it perched right in the open for adri & myself! & this time i had the camera with me!

it had a caterpillar in its mouth it carried around so we're inclined to think that it has a nest somewhere! talk about prolific, nesting has been reported almost throughout the year!

we lucked out on the current star of the park: a pair of very active rufous paradise flycatchers... but we didn't mind really.  we still can't get over how great the lmep is for a quick city birding fix!

several mangrove blue flycatchers were busy feeding young birds. they were quite noisy calling out to each other.

mother & child busy looking for food

mom staying nearby
and the young one learning to hunt!

melodious calls of the oriental magpie-robins also filled the small patch of forest.

and the migrants continue to come in: we spotted my first arctic warbler for the season, two brown shrikes (one looking all the worse for wear while the other already fattened up and busy chasing all the other birds away) and a  couple of very active pechora pipits scavenging around the leaf litter with one even enjoying a bath in a puddle of water.

the pechora pipits were a blur in the low light

not bad birding at all, especially on my birthday! 

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