Sunday, February 7

Too dark, too fast, too far, too hidden, or ... not birds

Makiling has always been one of my favorite birding sites, near enough for a day trip from Metro Manila.  But somehow, my last couple of trips have been quite unexciting, with few sightings on the first part of the trail and even the usual suspects keeping out of sight.

So, eager to improve on our luck and hoping for Maria Makiling's blessings, Adri and I headed out on a school holiday.  I must admit that the birding did improve greatly, with wonderful sightings of Striped Flowerpecker, Yellow-bellied Whistler, White-eared Brown Dove, Rufous Paradise Flycatcher and Scale-feathered Malkoha, among many others.

Bird photography-wise however, I was far from satisfied.

One of the first sightings we had was a White-browed Shama, a bird I have not seen clearly in quite a while.  I was happy to have a clear view of it singing in the undergrowth.

Too bad it was too dark for a decent photo:

We were also happy to come across a mixed flock.  It started with a lone Elegant Tit, accompanied by a Rufous Paradise Flycatcher, Handsome Sunbirds, Yellow-bellied Whistlers and Yellow-wattled Bulbuls.  They were moving through the canopy so fast we could hardly keep up with them. 

Whilst we were trying to catch the bird wave, a pair of Luzon Flamebacks, suddenly landed on a nearby tree!  I was so surprised and before I could adjust my camera settings to take a decent photo, the woodpeckers had moved on as well.  

Too fast for slow me.

We had taken our time up the trail, that we were nowhere near the nursery at mid-morning and it was already getting quiet.  We decided to move to the Botanical Garden, not sure if there would be any worth while sightings nearing noon.

After a quick walk around, we were curious about a couple of birds calling out loudly from the tops of the high trees. The calls were unfamiliar and attempts to sight the birds gave us quite a kink in the neck from looking up.  The best we could see was movement in the thick foliage, and once in a while a pair of black silhouettes moving back and forth.

Finally, the noisy birds moved to a more open tree (no less high though) and through our binoculars we could clearly see their distinctive features: glossy purple plumage, a barred belly and a bright orange beak and eyering.  Mystery solved: 2 Violet Cuckoos.

And yes they remained up high and far away: waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay up in the trees.

We were getting hungry (and had given up on the Cuckoos coming any closer), so we decided it was time for lunch.  We were sidetracked though by a pair of Red-Crested Malkohas which were very, very near to us on the side of the path.

I had never seen such an obliging pair of Malkohas.  They remained virtually motionless for almost an hour (yes, lunch was delayed by an hour).  Unfortunately, they remained motionless behind a trunk or some leaves or tangles.  

Hidden behind the leaves and branches, sooooo close and yet so far away!


In contrast, the butterflies were quite cooperative to having their photographs taken.  

(Clockwise from top left: Cyrestis maenalis , Zethera pimplea, Mycalesis ita, Neptis sp., Notocrypta paralysos, Phitecops corvus, Tanaecia calliphorus - corrections to ID very welcome)

And so was this sun skink (birds and reptiles are dinosaurs... so this photo counts right?)

All decent photographs of ... not birds.

On the brighter side,  I'm happy that our birding up the lower forest trail has vastly improved since the last two outings.  And, there's always the next visit to look forward to right?


  1. A good day for butterflies! Yey!

    1. Haha, better photos than the birds for sure. But still not too many seen.

  2. Still good Trinket :-D Bumawi sa Butterfly list :-D