Thursday, December 15

Tuai bulbul buffet

A few Saturdays ago, Adri and I joined Alex and Tere birding at the Tanay Epic Park Rainforest Camp.  I had birded here a few times before but it has been a couple of years since my last visit. It was a relaxing trip (I even got a lifer - Blue and White/Zappey's Flycatcher, just within a few minutes of our arrival!) which allowed me to escape the end-of-sem work I had in school.

One of the highlights was the huge, fruit laden tree right in front of our cottage.  It was a frenzy of Philippine and Yellow-vented Bulbuls gorging noisily on round fruit dripping in large bunches from the branches. 

Even early in the moring, before the sun came up, a few bulbuls were already around as if to lay their claim. But the tree was so heavily burdened with fruit I am quite sure that the territoriality was unnecessary!

As we watched, amused by the birds seemingly endless appetite, we wondered what the tree was.  A small sign at its base identified it as Tuai, and a quick text message to Anthony A. confirmed that it was a native tree, Bischofia javanica.

Aside from the bulbuls, other birds were quick to pass through: a beautiful pair of skulking Scale-feathered Malkohas, a few flowerpeckers, Naked-faced Spiderhunters and Elegant Tits. A White-throated Kingfisher and a Brown Shrike would also fly in from their lookout perches nearby.

But it was really the Philippine Bulbuls that kept at it, hanging at the base of the mass of fruit and picking patiently at the drupe to get to the white flesh.

Also spotted at this magical tree were several cuckoos!  A pair of Philippine Drongo Cuckoos flitted about the large canopy.

A Rusty-breasted Cuckoo kept on quietly moving from the tuai to a tree behind our cottage and back.

Our excitement peaked every time a female Violet Cuckoo arrived, teasing us with a fleeting view or perching just behind the cover of leaves at the tree's apex!

But the cuckoos were there for another reason.  The tree seemed to be crawling with tiny hairy caterpillars! We could hardly see them even with our binoculars, but the cuckoos were obviously eating their fill of the hairy larvae!

Watching them and realizing that they were just picking off the caterpillars as they crawled past their feet was enough to make us feel itchy! 

See how many caterpillars this drongo cuckoo picked off the branch (while ignoring a couple right beside it) in the span of a few minutes - thanks to Adri for the video!

The tuai, another native tree to consider planting!

Tanay EPIC Park Rainforest Camp is located at Sitio Bayucan, Tanay, Rizal.  Visit their website at or their facebook page at

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