Tuesday, August 20

drive through birding

adri & i had signed up to help out anna, jessie and gina facilitate a bird walk for the guests and staff of anvaya cove beach & nature club on saturday afternoon. 

conveniently, our favorite lowland forest was on the way to anvaya in morong, a perfect opportunity to hit two birds with one stone (is it even right for a birder to use that expression?!?) 

so even if we were scheduled to meet up at before lunch, adri and i piled our stuff into the car at the wee hours of the morning for a little drive-through birding at subic. which was of course to be repeated the next day as we left anvaya and headed home, once again passing through subic!

the few hours we spent in the morning of saturday and afternoon on sunday were not as productive as we might have wanted, but still afforded us with satisfying views of many birds of the luzon lowland forest.

we had a good view of several woodpeckers, including many pairs of greater flamebacks.  

a pair of greater flamebacks creeping up a tree trunk

another greater flameback hiding behind a tree trunk

philippine coucals and rufous coucals called out noisily from the foliage, but the former kept well hidden except for occasional glimpses as they moved about the vines. the latter showed themselves quite well, playing around the branches of a tree a gazillion miles away.

one of several rufous coucals plaing hide and seek up a tree

we also came across a few red-crested malkohas, and also a handsome scale-feathered malkoha at a now predictable site.

a well hidden red-crested malkoha

and a not-so-well hidden beautiful scale-feathered malkoha not so well hidden

we had set the goal of photographing the fairly common white-throated kingfisher (is it now the brown-backed kingfisher?) on a natural perch, and we failed miserably as all of them seemed to prefer to perch on the power lines.

one of many, many white-throated kingfishers perched on the power lines

as we drove through, we disturbed a largish flock of guaiaberos feeding at a fig tree, leaving behind one adult and a juvenile, perfectly camouflaged against the green foliage.

an adult and a juvenile guaiabero busy eating figs

but the highlight of our short sortie was a family of luzon hornbills.  there were several birds feeding busily on some fruit, unmindful as we watched them from inside our car. we observed that both the males and the females in the group had their distinctive casques looking a bit smaller and the notches scarring their beaks not so evident. could these be young hornbills?  if so then it is a wonderful sign that the tarictics are still successfully breeding in subic!

male luzon tarictic hornbills busy eating

one of the female hornbills in the flock

a few meters down the road, we encountered a pair of luzon hornbills that were definitely adults.  they were also busy eating fruit similar to the ones we had seen the previous flock devouring. i am always amazed at how gently they seem to hold fruit, big or small, with their huge beaks.

another pair of luzon hornbills

this pair was more wary of us, and didn't stay out in the open for long.  the male crept up the tree and kept an eye on me sticking out half of my body from the car window, trying to take a photo!

"i can still see you!"

in all the years we have birded in subic, this flock of 6 plus 2 birds is the largest flock of tarictic hornbills i remember encountering, definitely the most number of thornbills that i have observed at a close distance from the road. i hope the experience will be replicated many more times in the future!


  1. Wow! Super finds for drive-thru birding! Subic never disappoints! =)

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Irene! Woodpeckers are always good to see. :-)