Sunday, May 27, 2012

Back to the Petroglyph 2012-05-27

After a few weeks hiatus from my weekly hike, I decided to do it again now that the weather has improved a bit from last month's 36 degrees daytime temperature. I had to get up early, as usual, to avoid the noontime heat. After a quick meal, I left for the Angono Petroglyph. The climb was a sweat-fest as usual, I reached my usual stop (in front of Perlie's restaurant) in a little more than 30 minutes - a few minutes slower than my fastest record of about 27 minutes. I was slower due to the 3 short breaks I made instead of the usual 1 that I often do. Actually, the only difficult part of the hike was the short 20 minutes climb. The first 10 minutes was a walk-in-the-park through the residential area. I was practicing to improve my stats to avoid breaks, but I'm still not fit enough to do so.

Before reaching the guard station, along the way, you can usually hear some birds calling, but won't have the energy to watch birds because it's the steepest part of the way and I'm usually gearing towards finishing the most stressful part of the climb.

While resting at the bridge in front of Perlie's, I heard a collared kingfisher calling. I looked around a bit and saw 2 of them. I immediately took out my camera from the backpack and took some shots.

White collared kingfisher

When I had enough rest, I started walking again while doing birding. Along the way, I was able to admire this common bird which landed in front of me.

Yellow vented bulbul

I was also able to admire the view of the lake below.

When I reached the Petroglyph, I stayed there for sometime and took some shots of the owls. Initially, I saw the 2 owls side-by-side on a branch. Later, the female separated, charged some smaller birds and perched on a different tree. I leave them for maybe an hour or two to concentrate on my target bird - the Elegant tit which unfortunately I wasn't able to see. When I returned to the platform, the female was gone.

 Mr. and Mrs. PEO

Something's gonna come out...

 PEO doing the Undertaker (famous wrestler) eye.

I've read from the mailing list a day earlier that the bird club will be going there, but I didn't know what time they will arrive. Then Roden told me that he received a message from Jops saying that they will come. So I decided to stick around a bit expecting them to arrive in the afternoon. I just decided to stay until late afternoon, again to avoid getting sunburned.

I was surprised a lot of birders came, many of them visitors. After about an hour of watching and photographing the birds, they left. Just as they left the area, another lone birder arrived. She also did not stay long and left after taking some shots of the owl.

Now that all birders were gone, I decided to call it a day as well and head for home. The hike downhill was much more pleasant than the climb because the sky was already cloudy and cooler than in the morning.

Here are some of the other images I took:

White throated kingfisher

A millipede that looks like it just came from the Transformers movie.

 Oriental magpie robin

Scaley breasted munia

Baby spiders

Here is a short list of the birds I saw:

Yellow vented bulbul - 2
Long tailed shrike - 2
Swiftlet - 1
White breasted woodswallow - >3
Philippine eagle-owl - 2
Philippine pygmy woodpecker - 2
Black naped oriole - 6
Golden bellied flyeater - 1
White throated kingfisher - 2
White collared kingfisher - 2
Scaley breasted munia - 5
Oriental magpie robin - 3
Striated grassbird - 2

Heard only:

Philippine coucal
Olive backed sunbird - 1

Some other birds

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Partial Sun and Bird Equals Sunbird 2012-05-21

I wanted to get up early to observe and photograph the partial solar eclipse from my place. I intentionally set my alarm the previous night to about an hour earlier than the actual sunrise to give me time to have breakfast and do my morning routine. When the sun rises, I was ready to capture it, but clouds covered most of the eastern horizon. I waited a few minutes, then the sun started to show itself through the thinner clouds. The distinct crescent shape due to the moon's shadow can be seen.

I started snapping photos every few minutes, hoping to capture every interval of the eclipse. I also observed 3 groups of sunspots on the disc of the sun.

 My 4.5" Orion Starblast on an AZ mount

Towards the middle of the session, I heard an Olive backed sunbird calling and decided to capture the birdie. I have seen this sunbird living in our compound, but it was the first time I managed to photograph this li'l fella.

Here are some pictures of the eclipse:

Coastal cleanup 2012-05-20

 Together with other members of the bird club, we went to LPPCHEA to attend the Ocean month event. When we arrived, the place was already packed with people, particularly members of the other conservation organizations and other volunteers. The event was supposed to include the following activities: coastal cleanup, birdwatching, stargazing and other events organized by the other groups.

After the introductory speech from different VIPs, the program ended and signalled the start of the actual activities. First, the cleanup. It was a hot day for cleaning and the place is already crowded, a few of us decided to just take a walk to the usually restricted parts of the peninsula. After walking about a kilometer of dirt road, we reached a mangrove forest. We continued walking along the mangrove forest and reached the area where the volunteers from the police force were planting more mangroves on the depleted area. After staying a few minutes and watching them finish planting all the plants they carried, we were invited to hitch a ride with them back to the assembly area.

Upon our arrival, the cleanup must have ended as well, faster than we expected. Then it's time for the birdwatching session. We didn't see a lot of species, but we saw many egrets and terns. After the bird watching session, the sky was getting dark. However, instead of packing some of us wanted to do a tree walk, so we followed the group until it's time to return home. We had dinner at the Pancake house along Macapagal Blvd. before we went our separate ways.

Here are some pictures from the activites.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Birding at La Mesa Ecopark 2012-05-13

Armed with a superzoom digicam and a binocular, I went to La Mesa Ecopark in Quezon City early to catch some birds with my new toy. A few meters from the entrance gate, I saw a black naped oriole landed on a nearby tree. I wasn't prepared at that time, so I quickly unzipped my backpack, took out my camera bag, and then the camera itself. Then I started taking test shots and making adjustment to the exposure, fortunately the bird stayed a bit longer than my previous encounters with a BNO. I was able to take only one decent shot though because my cam keeps focusing on the wrong target. Before I could set to manual focus, it flew away.

While outside the Drillon orchidarium, I saw a raptor outside the park circling the Manila Water Reservoir. I also took some shots of it.It was an Osprey.

I proceed to the trail where we saw the red bellied pita last time I was here with other birders. At the first intersection, I meet a group of birders whom I knew - Alex, Tere and an American birder. Walking together we saw a Mangrove blue flycatcher - another life bird for me. This time, I managed to capture a few dozen pictures and some turned out quite good, well at least to my low standard.

After observing some very active birds (white eyes, gerygone, faintails, orioles and some woodpeckers), we went our separate ways. They came earlier than me and were prepared to leave when we met. After they left, I decided to try looking for the pita by following its' call (Tere told me that the strange sound I was hearing was the pita's call). I failed after maybe half an hour of searching. When the sky started to turn dark due to some rain clouds forming in the area, I decided to call it a day.

Golden bellied gerygone

Yellow vented bulbul

I didn't see a lot of birds and failed to see my target, but I was glad that I managed to add another entry to my life bird list.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Birds from Various Places

Together with my mom, we went to Singapore and paid a visit to my sister who's been living there. Aside from the side trip to Hongkong and Macau, I was able to do some birding even though my companions are not interested in birds. ;)

Here are some images I took during the trip.

From Singapore

Javan myna

This is a hairless bird (Javan myna), probably caused by mutation or illness.

Olive backed sunbird from a tree outside Vivo City in Harborview, Singapore

A white breasted waterhen from the Botanical garden in Singapore

From Hongkong

Masked laughing trush

White backed munia

Little heron

Black collared starling from Kowloon Park, Hongkong

An Oriental magpie robin in  Kowloon Park, Hongkong

Red whiskered bulbul

Wood duck in Kowloon park

Rose ringed parakeet

A black kite in flight

From Macau

Great tit

Chinese hwamei (Melodious Laughingthrush)

A Light vented bulbul (Chinese bulbul)

White wagtail from Guia Hill, Macau