Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Bird Year 2014 Month 1 - The Frenzy - Mt. Palay-palay and La Mesa Eco Park.

Sometime in October 2013, while looking at some bird photos in facebook, I came across a post by fellow Birdwatch Palawan member, Erickson Tabayag.  He posted a couple of bird photos and the lead sentence said, "Erickson Tabayag added photos to the album Big Year".  So I asked him if he was doing a big year.  He replied saying that that was just the title of his album.  This led us to an exchange in FB wherein the end result was we suggested to the BWP leadership to have a Big Year type competition for 2014.  To cut the long story short, BWP president Rainier Manalo and vp Rommel Cruz agreed.  I was tasked to draft the rules.  Typhoon Yolanda caused us some delay in finalizing the mechanics but everything was finalized by mid December.  The contest would be open to all Birdwatch Palawan and Birdwatch Coron members and would commence on January 1, 2014.  The official title of the competition was Bird Year 2014.  No joining fees, no pictures required, honesty system, no real valuable prizes (yet). It is simply a fun challenge among friends, simply for the love of birding and the birds.  Of course, the winner gets bragging rights!

Birdwatch Palawan, has an annual year-end birding in mainland Palawan.  However, in order to jumpstart the BY2014, this was moved to January 2-3 in Taytay, Palawan.  This put me and other Coron birders at a disadvantage since we could not join the trip.  Rommel suggested that we also hold a simultaneous event in Coron.  However, since I spent New Year in Manila, it was not possible for us to hold such an event.  So I felt that the PPC crowd will get the early lead.  And since there are a lot more established birding sites in PPC and the mainland, we Coronians, seem to be underdogs.  Still I remained hopeful that Birdwatch Coron will rise to the challenge.

January 1 came and needless to say, I was excited to start.  I was determined to be the first one to submit a Trip Report so while eating my first breakfast for the year, I kept an alert ear for our usual backyard birds in Manila.  Before long, I spotted a pair of Pied Fantail, several Eurasian Tree Sparrows and a Yellow Vented Bulbul. I immediately opened my computer, filled out and submitted Trip Report # 001. I do not know if I was the first to submit but I am pretty sure, I was among the first.

My next birding opportunity came two days later when I read in the WBPP page that there will be a group who will go to Mt. Palay-palay in Ternate, Cavite on January 4.  Like any responsible birder, I sought permission from my wife if I could go.  I joined the group of fellow WBPP members Roy de Guzman Daantos, Bj Capacite, Prof Reuel Aguila, Prof Bert Madrigal, and Tholightz Quindara.  Our targets for the day included the Luzon Tarictic Hornbill and the Philippine Trogon. We dipped on the Trogon but we did see the Hornbills, a White Breasted Wood Swallow, a Peregrine Falcon, Barn Swallow, Serpent Eagle, Brahminny Kite and the Philippine Falconet,  a lifer for me.  Some photos of the day:

Luzon Tarictic Hornbill 

Luzon Tarictic Hornbill

Peregrine Falcon

White-breasted Wood Swallow

Serpent Eagle

Philippine Falconet

The following day, January 5, I met Manila-based Birdwatch Coron member Rap Garcia and Arch. Rico Santos at La Mesa Ecopark.  Rap joined our August 2012 training in Coron while she was still with Club Paradise so she was not really a newbie but it will be Rico's first time to go birding.  So I had to switch to bird guide mode...hirap pala ng trabaho ni Erwin... hahaha

Being a Sunday, there were a lot of people at LMEP.  But we did manage to see the usual suspects - ETS Fantail, and YVB.  But for my BY2014, I was able to add the Black Naped Oriole, Brown Shrike, Philippine Magpie Robin and the Red Bellied Pitta to my list.  Architect Rico had a filed day taking photos of the Pitta as it stayed visible and stationary for several minutes.
A juvenile Red Bellied Pitta

We tried looking for Spotty but he was a now show.  Even the Ashy Ground Thrushes did not appear.  Since I still had family duties, I left my birding companions at LMEP by mid morning and went home.

Still, fourteen (14) species including 2 lifers, in the first five days of the year is not so bad.  I just might have a chance to be in the top 3 of the Enthusiast Category.

Next post will be the Coron frenzy...


  1. Great birds to start your Bird Year! Good luck!