Sunday, October 30

Happy halloween!

Look who's here!

Shrikes are called tarat in the local dialect, but for today's ghoulish holiday, I think it is appropriate to borrow the local name of butcher cousin long-tailed shrike: mamumugot (head hunter).

BBS (backyard brown shrike) has settled well in the garden, hanging all sorts of hapless creatures on its rose bush larder.  Happy to have her back!

Her movements have become so predictable that it didn't take much effort for Adri to take this shot. He just asked me to do some fancy, quick lettering on a piece of plywood which he strung up on the favorite perch (clothesline across the backyard) and he had several shots to choose from in no time.

A happy halloween to all tonight!

Saturday, October 8

Sunny Saturday morning on campus

Sunny Saturdays are few and far between this rainy season, making it difficult to plan out-of-Metro-Manila birding trips.  Thankfully, the sprawling University of the Philippines grounds are just a stone throw's away.  So when the skies were looking clear last weekend, Adri and I went for a quick drive and walk to check out the birds.

We ran into birding couple Bob and Cynthia, and caught up on the latest news.  In typical birder and photographer fashion, our conversation remained uninterrupted while we stared up into the trees and pointed out birds in the canopy.  A few Golden-bellied Gerygones were hopping about, and we all happy to spot our very first Arctic (Kamchatkca/Japanese Leaf) Warbler for the season.

As we were about to go our separate ways, Adri spotted a lone migrant Ashy Minivet perched on a clump of bamboo in the distance.

When Bob and Cynthia left to check out other birding spots on campus, Adri and I continued our exploration of the College of Science Complex.  An unusually quiet Collared Kingfisher was sitting on a low branch in the dappled sunlight.

A few noisy Crested Mynas were flying around, perching from tree to tree.  At each tree they stopped for several minutes, inspecting the branches carefully.

A Long-tailed Shrike was busy following one of the gardeners who was trimming the grass, keeping a careful lookout for any insects disturbed by the noisy grass cutter.

The Black-naped Orioles were also very vocal, their piercing whistles heard from several blocks away.

But the definite bird-of-the-moment was the Brown Shrike. These newly arrived migrants seemed to be in the process of battling every resident bird in their annual territorial disputes!  They called loudly and harshly from every parking lot, quadrangle and unkempt green space.

There were also a lot of butterflies flying around, probably enjoying the sunny morning as much as we were.  The Leea plant in front of the Marine Science Institute was attracting several of them, which were perched and recharging under the bright sunshine.

While watching some Yellow-vented Bulbuls and a Coppersmith Barbet devouring the fruit of a Ficus beside the library, we ran into another familiar face: fellow WBCP-er Jon Villasper, and the conversation turned from the latest birds spotted to the latest Pokemon spotted on campus!

When Jon left us to battle it out in a nearby Pokemon Gym, our attention turned to a Red-keeled Flowerpecker hopping about on one of the trees. While its a bird often heard around campus, we seldom actually get a chance to track it down and spot it.

Time had flown by quickly and we had already been walking around for over a couple of hours!  Our spontaneous birding trip had given us the quick fix we were hoping for.

Good to have a great green space so near home.  I'm sure the Collared Kingfisher who saw us off agrees!