Thursday, June 13

the butterflies (& birds!) of radar hill

since we had traveled all the way to ilocos norte for the great spimp twitch, we decided to spend an additional morning exploring other birding sites in the area.  one area which looked  good to explore was radar hill. off the main highway, a road around 9 km long, led up the hill and ended at a military camp, the jose paredes air station, around 550 masl.

the area looked quite promising, many parts looked like they were part of a well-forested area spanning several hillsides. we did see and hear several  birds on the road.  philippine coucals and blue-throated bee-eaters were quite common. several whiskered-treeswifts were perched on the trees by the road. there were philippine pygmy woodpeckers, colasisis, white-browed shamas, blue-headed fantails, elegant tits and black-naped monarchs. there were also white-throated, collared and spotted wood-kingfishers.  hooded pitas were quite common too, we heard a different one calling at almost every turn.  a small spotted buttonquail was seen twice at the same stretch of raod.

one of several whiskered tree-swifts

a trio of bee-eaters in a row

we had a surprise raptor too! actually 3 of them: 3 common buzzards flew above us heading northeast! unusually low altitude as they are most often reported in the high mountain provinces of the cordilleras. it was an extension of our raptorwatch for migrating birds of prey last month!

on a not-so-good note- there were only a few doves: pompadour green-pigeon, white-eared, yellow-breasted, black-chinned, reddish cuckoo-, and common emerald doves were all heard or seen. however, we had a feeling there must be some hunting going on as they were all extremely skittish, as were the other medium-sized birds like the blackish and bar-bellied cuckoo shrikes.  we also observed a lot of old large woodpecker holes on the wooden posts along the road, however, we did not glimpse a single one!

we did observe at least one pair of birds who had successfully fledged their young: a pair of yellowish white-eyes were busy feeding 2 young birds perched below their nest, probably having just left the nest that day. (we also saw some lowland white-eyes, unusually overlapping in habitat with the yellowish!)

a yellowish white-eye busy looking for food

a fluffy white-eye fldgeling under its nest
(can you see the other fledgling and the nest near the top of the photo?)

mom/dad with food!  each fledgling had its turn getting fed, very efficient!

we also observed a pair of scale-feathered malkohas who were just starting out: they were in the process of building a nest. definitely not nest parasites these relatives of the cuckoos.

one of a pair of scale-feathered malkohas building a nest

as the others walked ahead of me, i got distracted by the many, many butterflies flying around! 

we first noticed them puddling underneath a huge tree.  fine drops were falling to the road, was it dripping tree sap that was gathering butterflies underneath its shade?

several of these papilios were puddling under a tree

the papilios' wings showed varying degrees of wear and tear 

quite a beaten specimen of one of my favorite lycaenids: caleta roxus

there were a lot of interesting looking plants as well.  at one area, all the duhat trees were host to a now familiar mistletoe. the bright red flowers were a beautiful sight, and many of them invited olive-backed sunbirds to sip their nectar.

the trees were dripping with the red flowers of the mistletoe amyema incarnatiflora

a female  olive-backed sunbird taking a sip of nectar

by the side of the road i saw at least two different kinds of vines, both with clusters of star-shaped flowers.

this reminded me of a hoya but the flowers and leaves weren't so succulent

one of them grew profusely over the small trees, and its flowers attracted quite a few lycaenids and pierrids.

a lycaenid (one of those whose identity eludes me: it had a bright orange upper side)
sipping nectar from the flowers of a very profuse vine.

caleta roxus joining the lycaenid in the previous picture (do you see its false head?)

some of the butterflies were attracted to less pleasant things: a pair of cruisers were joined by a skipper another nymphalid taking in minerals from the remains of a dead lizard.

a variety of butterflies attracted to a dead thing on the road!

as i hurrried to catch up with the others,  i saw that they were in the same predicament as i was.  they were being distracted by the butterflies! how could they not be?  several small lycaenids were perching on our shirts, bags, and even our hands and faces!

a fresher specimen of c. roxus on adri's bag

another lycaenid stayed perched on my hand as i walked for several meters!

some of the butterflies were perching on the road and the rocks by the side of the road, bathing in the hot mid-morning sun!

another cruiser on a lily flower planted near a grotto

a common jester perched on the grotto walls 
how i wish i got a better photo of this skipper!

i was not familiar with this sunning nymphalid so i took pictures of its underside... 
... and its upperside!

a tiger sipping from the rocks

and a crow sipping from the concrete road!

many of the them were chasing each other, perhaps guided by the scent of another chemical (not salts nor flowers nor decay but love!): pheromones!

the chase of ages

guided by the scent of lurve!

it's too bad that radar hill is quite far away from metro manila.  it looks like such a promising place to watch both birds and butterflies!


  1. wow! that's a lot of butterflies! added Radar Hill to our places to visit in the future. :)

    1. Go! Go! Go! :) it would be nice to have more birders going to have a better "bird rating" of thee place. And butterfly rating too of course ;-)

  2. Radar Hill... this needs some quick planning... aaargh, it's rainy season. Those are marvelous shots. How long did you stay in the area? When are we going back Mr and Mrs paruparozzi? Now you have me restless!

    1. We just went for 2 consecutive mornings. Sooo many butterflies and interesting plants! But so far away also :-p

    2. Thanks ate lyds! I really enjoy taking butterfly pictures!

  3. So many beautiful photos! Even action shots of butterflies in love! =)

    1. Thank you Maia! Lurve is beautiful! :-)