Monday, April 29

a ruby red lifer (plus a dusky one too)

after 8 years with the bird club, i finally have the siberian rubythroat on my lifelist.

when i had joined the bird club way back in 2005, one of the few promotional materials available back then was a green info card with a picture by singaporean resident and visiting birder ivor lee of a male siberian rubythroat. a photograph taken at the now long gone tambo grasslands... bulldozed over and developed into various sorts of commercial enterprises, another green space which vanished at the blink of an eye.

rubythroat is certainly an apt name, ruby red (yes, as red as the wicked witch of the east's shoes!) feathers line that anatomical region of the bird often found in grasslands near wetland areas. each migration season, we would be on the lookout for this skulker, in tambo (when it was still there), at the coastal lagoon protected area (which is still there... for now and hopefully forever) and at candaba.  often we would hear it calling cheerfully, but i had never glimpsed it myself, relegating it to ho ("heard only") status. so when several birders reported the regularity of sighting it at candaba the past few weeks, adri and i were off at the first opportunity!

candaba is predictably scorching at this time of the year, so we arrived before the sun was high enough to burn off the cool of the early morning.  even at half past five it was quite light already. we immediately positioned ourselves at the recommended stretch of dirt road. 

wait, wait, wait. 

a few clamorous reed warblers sang loudly around us. zebra doves and red turtle doves perched on the tree above us, coo-ing softly.   rails ran back and forth across the dirt road.  egrets and herons glided quietly above us while oriental pratincoles whooshed in every direction. a pair of noisy pied fantails chased each other, maneuvering smoothly through the grasses and shrubs.

a clamorous reed warbler in mid-hop

one of the many coo-ing red turtle doves around the ponds

barred rails on the road

adri trained his bins on the ground of a nearby camachile tree and the wait was over!  a beautiful male siberia rubythroat was quietly moving about the lower bushes! 

lifer! a male siberian rubythroat

it was very skittish, and flew back and forth in and out of the brambles. even in the shadows, its bright red throat glowed. the siberian rubythroat is certainly a beautiful grassland bird.

eventually, a tricycle passed between the bird and ourselves and it disappeared into the long grasses.

having shot so-so pictures (i think the technical term is "documentary shots") myself and with adri not being able to take any digiscoped photos, we decided to move on. after all, we had fabulous views of a bird we had been waiting 8 years to find!

we drove around the ponds, many of which had been or were currently being drained and converted to rice fields.  several wandering whistling ducks flew above us, and we spotted a pair of philippine ducks resting at a shallow watering hole.

2 philippine ducks at the quickly drying-up ponds

there were several white-breasted waterhens walking along the road, some of them providing comical entertainment.

a pair displayed high flying kung-fu moves as they battled each other while a third bird waddled around them.

everybody goes kung-fu fighting! even the white-breasted waterhens

another adult pair had a couple of juveniles in tow.  they peered at the road carefully from the grasses before crossing the dirt road, much like a human child and his nanny crossing a busy street. the juveniles looked very awkward, certainly a face only a mother could love!

isn't that a face only a mother could love?!?

the migratory grey herons were gone but it seems that the purple herons have multiplied in number, and several young birds and several adults could be seen with the black crowned night herons at the back ponds, totaling in the hundreds.

purple herons everywhere!

toward the end of the circuitous road, we decided to check the area where a dusky warbler had been reported regularly since december. we had put off adding this warbler to our lifelists, it falling into the category of "it looks like a warbler." so there was no better time than then to check it out, in case it was still hanging around.

we racked our brains recalling which side of the road it should be at, and adri tried taping it in with the call he had downloaded from the internet the night before.  and finally- movement!  a little hop and jump behind the tall grasses near the ground, and out comes a...nother male siberian rubythroat!

this one was much more cooperative than the one we had seen earlier that morning, and after several minutes of close encounters in the tall grass, adri decided to give digiscoping another try.  as he ran back to the car to get his scope and camera, i tried my best to keep up with the bird which was actively running around in the grass. at one point i lost it and i kept my eyes open for any movement.  finally, something caught my eye, and it was the original target:  the very plain looking dusky warbler! a 2nd lifer for both adri and myself!

finally, the rubythroat showed itself again. it was busy eating some of the camachile fruit which had fallen to the ground! 

another siberial rubythroat wresting with the fallen camichile fruit

just as our photo session was getting intense, one of the local men suddenly stood right beside adri and myself and began gathering fruit from the camachile tree with a sungkit! he kept shaking the tree and most of the fruit did not actually fall into the bag of the sungkit but to the ground where the rubythroat was!  i gave adri a "what the...?" look.  this man was certainly oblivious to what we were doing!  not surprisingly, the rubythroat was flushed and crossed the road to perch on a thorny bramble.

and that turned out to be a good thing actually! adri and i got our photos, 2 lifers and were on our way back in time for lunch at home.

a very cheerful siberian rubythroat singing softly on a hot candaba morning!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats! Ganda ng pics! Sarap ng feeling na naka-lifer tapos wala pang lunch time no? =P hehe