Going home to Coron on a short trip, with a four-day training to oversee meant very little time to bird. However, I was not to be denied. On the afternoon of my third day, I went to the area that we Coronians call the Boulevard. Actually it is a reclaimed area that was meant to have a seaside boulevard. A project of our former governor. In 2012, Manila based birders Bob and Cynthia Kaufman, was able to photograph several species of waterbirds in the area. At that time, the place was empty. In 2013 and 2014, I was able to see and photograph several lifers. Although due to the increasing human presence (the public market was transferred at this site sometime in 2014), there were less birds in 2014 as compared to the two previous years. So I didn't expect much this year. On my first foray into the area, I saw a couple of Asian Golden Plovers near a puddle, plus a few other smaller birds. But the big flock of terns that was present in the past three years was nowhere to be seen. I also saw fellow bird photographer Al Linsangan III trying out his drone. I stopped by to chat with him for a while before going back to Darayonan to get my gear.
After getting my camera, I decided to go to Villa Khadine but after a few minutes of not seeing anything except a couple of Bulbuls and Starlings, I decided to go back to the reclaimed area. There were still not many birds but there were about eight terns perched on the zipline cables. I walked near the puddle, leaned on a lamp post and aimed at the Asian Golden Plovers. There were two of them on the far side of the puddle and one nearer to me. As soon as my camera focused on the nearer one, I noticed it was a larger bird and not an Asian Golden Plover. I was not sure what it was although the size was similar to a Wood Sandpiper and a Common Greenshank. Since it was only about five to six meters away, I took lots of shots. It was only later when I asked for the bird to be identified by experts that I found out that this was a Ruff (the female is called a Reeve). I once saw this bird from afar (through a scope), in Candaba. But it was so far that even looking through a scope, it was not that easy to distinguish the features.
After several bursts, I took a couple of photos of the Asian Golden Plover, an immature Yellow Wagtail and a Kentish Plover.
Asian Golden Plover
Yellow Wagtail (imm)
Then I took several more photos of the Ruff...
Not finding any other birds, I climbed on the van and was about to leave when a group of whitish birds landed on the ground and was making some noise. White Wagtails! There were seven or eight of them and another four to five Yellow Wagtails making noise and darting about. I encountered a similar flock on November 28, 2014 but it was already dusk so all my photos then were poorly exposed. The light today was a better but it was still a challenge because these birds are so active.
White Wagtail, immature
Then I saw a bird standing motionless on top of a mound. I ignored thinking that it was one of the Yellow Wagtails. When the White Wagtails flew away, I snapped several shots and realized that this was not a Wagtail. I have posted this photo in facebook and have asked for identification from the experts. According to Desmond Allen, a renowned Ornithologist, this is definitely a Pipit but he is not sure if it is a Paddyfield or Richard's Pipit. My friend Bob Kaufman has ID'ed it as a Paddyfield. But I am asking how come it is shorter and fatter than the Paddyfield Pipit that I normally see at YKR.
A Pipit - either Paddyfield of Richard's
The White Wagtails came back and I was able to get a closer photo.
I wanted to go back the following morning to get more shots of the unidentified Pipit but I was not able to (at this point, I still didn't know that I photographed a Ruff). Neither was I able to that afternoon as we had a staff meeting. But the following morning, which was my last for the trip, I made a short trip to the boulevard. By this time I already knew about the Ruff so I was hoping to see more of it.
The first bird I saw was a Scaly-breasted Munia taking a bath.
Scaly-breasted Munia sunning itself after a dip in the puddle
Then a group of noisy Eurasian Tree Sparrows dove into the puddle.
Group bath, ETS style
And the Asian Golden Plover followed took its turn.
Asian Golden Plover freshening up
Asian Golden Plover
I saw some birds perched on the zipline cables so I made my way to the water's edge and snapped a few photos.
Barn Swallow about to take-off
Before leaving, I made a couple of turns around the area and saw a Paddyfield Pipit on one of the mounds. This is the Paddyfield Pipit that I am used to seeing.
I also managed a few pictures of the few terns. I am assuming that this is a Whiskered Tern.
On my last go around, I saw one bird that was different from Paddyfield Pipits scurrying about in the ground. I noticed that it was slightly larger. At the time I took the photo, I thought it was an Oriental Skylark but Desmond Allen later identified it as a Ruby-throated Pipit on its first winter. According to the Kennedy Guide, it is generally rare. And of course it is a lifer for me. My 39th for the year and 232nd overall.
Ruby-throated Pipit on its first winter (per Desmond Allen)
I ended my birding trip on that positive note.
This was my eighth (8th) lifer in this reclaimed area. Perhaps my last because according to the scuttlebut, the provincial government is looking for investors to develop said area.