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Tags: Bacolod Airport, Bacolod City, Chestnut Munia, Java Sparrow, Red-rumped Swallow, Sacred Heart Cemetery, Sum-ag
Categories : The Philippines
As I am on the mend it is progressively getting easier to walk though staying upright for long is still difficult. But I am getting out and about and I can confirm that adage that once you start birdwatching you never stop. On Friday afternoon after a big rain storm I was enjoying looking at the abundant Olive-backed Sunbirds in my mother-in-law’s garden when a Yellow-vented Bulbul perched high up on a tree and hung around for a while, like five minutes or so. I was surprised by how unfazed it was as there was a lot of human activity below. In Thailand I always associate this species with skittishness and it takes off at the slightest disturbance. Also for an area as built up as this, where the human pressure on every square inch of land is palpable, I don’t really expect to see much more than Euarsian Tree Sparrows and Olive-backed Sunbirds. So while a relatively common bird, it was good to see the Yellow-vented Bulbul here.
On a hunch I decided to accompany my wife and mother-in-law to visit my deceased father-in-law’s grave in The Sacred Heart Cemetery in Sum-ag. Boy Baradero was a decent man sorely missed by his wife, daughters and his five nephews and one niece. I was very fond of him and was sad to see him go at a comparatively young age.
My hunch, bolstered by previous visits to the cemetery, was there might be some good birds to see here – it’s lush and peaceful and there are several “wild” sections. So I said my prayers and took a short stroll. The first bird to get my attention was a Chestnut Munia and as I progressed I could see it was here in very good numbers. I also picked out a couple of Scaly-breasted Munias and also a Java Sparrow, a really delightful looking bird; I am sure there must have been others but I only could pick out one. When I reached one of the wild places I picked out a green pigeon which flew in and parked high up in the canopy of some higher trees. It then disappeared. I really didn’t get enough time on it other than making out a dominant colour of green. Very interesting. A couple of largish Brown Shrikes and an Oriental Magpie Robin were perched on wires and a few Pied Fantails were also busy. I am sure this cemetery warrants further investigation and must give it more time on my next trip.
Saturday morning we flew to Cebu. There were a few Striated Grassbirds perched on wires as we approached the airport at Silay. Of much more interest was the number of Red-rumped Swallows visible from the departure lounge. These were unmistakable with their long forked tails and whitish, rufous rump patches. I think they must be nesting in the eaves below the departure lounge – whatever, a delight to get a grandstand view of these guys darting around. I don’t know their status – if they are nesting as I say then they are in all likelihood residents. So if you are waiting for a flight at Bacolod make sure you have a good look at the swallows.
As I said at the beginning you can never stop looking at birds once you have started – be warned!
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Tags: Bacolod City, Black-crowned Night-heron, Chinese Egret, Grey-tailed Tattler, Punta Taytay, Ruddy Tunstone, Ruddy Turnstone, Sum-ag, Whimbrel
Categories : The Philippines
This is my local patch in The Philippines, ten minutes from my wife’s family home in Sum-ag, Bacolod City, sitting on the edge of the Sulu Sea. Punta Taytay has changed quite dramtatically since my last visit here two years ago; then there was a sea wall and a few food stalls and little else. It has been developed with the addition of larger sit down restaurants covering the length of the sea wall and there are also a couple of viewing areas too. My initial fear that this might be for the worse was soon allayed: the mangrove is actively being regenerated and within five minutes of arrival I had seen three Chinese Egrets.
I must confess to being surprised by the ease with which I am seeing this species – I happily own to a litany of identification errors. I have checked my field guide and what I am seeing can only be Chinese Egret. They cannot be Eastern Reef Egrets, the most likely species with which to confuse them as they have clearly visible nape plumes and I wouldn’t expect to see Reef Egrets in this mudflat/mangrove habitat but more so in rocks and outcrops. I also had the privilege of watching one of today’s Chinese Egrets feeding in the sea and true to form, it angled its neck to 45 degrees and started to run and flash its bill like a dagger after prey – an impressive and amusing sight. So I am completely certain these are the real thing. Nine Chinese Egrets in two birding sessions – wow!
On arrival, Chinese Egrets apart, a small, mixed group of Eurasian Curlew and Whimbrel took to the air – the white patches on their respective rumps were visible and the Whimbrel could be distinguished by their call and smaller size. I then noticed some biggish birds emerging from the trees at the back of the mangrove and once I got these in my sights it was clear they were Black-crowned Night-heron. These are new birds for this patch; in fact a check in the Kennedy field guide shows that when this excellent work was published in 2000 this species had not been recorded in Negros and it is in fact classified as “uncommon” for the rest of The Philippines. [see comments for an update on status]. Well these night-heron look as if they are roosting here during the day.
I then noticed a small flock of waders flying in and touching down towards the mangrove edge. A quick scan revealed about 25 Grey-tailed Tattler and a closer look revealed a further 15 or so already settled down. These are not birds I see that often in Thailand but they can be reliably seen here and in good numbers too. A couple were showing breeding pluamge. I decided to try and get in closer and as I walked in a fair few other waders became visible notably Lesser and Greater Sand-plovers but also good numbers of Pacific Golden Plover (40+) and Ruddy Turnstone, a count of six in the end, but like tattlers, not a bird I see often in Thailand.
Pacific Golden Plover
So an excellent session whose only downside was I got my feet cut on sharp rocks as I waded back in to the sea wall. A little bit sore! But Punta Taytay will now be a fixture for me and so long as my feet are not hurting too badly tomorrow I’ll go out for more.