To all our followers in this site, thank you so much! Please be informed that due to some technical glitches that I cannot figure out, I have decided to move this blog to a new platform. The new address is https://chiwitchronicles.wixsite.com/website. Hope to see you there as well.
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
After a somewhat hectic and stressful week that included an aborted Tanza sortie, I felt the need to bird. So I decided to go to Taytay last Sunday afternoon, September 19, (since it was the birding patch nearest to me). However it was drizzling in San Juan the whole morning. A message to Cainta residents, Brian Enriquez and Joel Dayao, revealed that it was also raining there. But Joel kept urging me to go because "mahina lang naman ang ulan". And by about 1:24pm, he joyously messaged, "wala nang ulan, dito", followed by, "punta ka ng maaga at baka madilim na by 4pm". A leisurely late Sunday lunch was hurriedly finished, dishes washed (that's my home chore 😀), dress up, and off I went. I reached the site at exactly 3:08pm and there was no bird activity for the first half hour except for some Egrets ad Terns on the other side of the field. But I quietly and patiently sat in my car, waited, and scanned the field as I contemplated the meaning of life, the pandemic, and the uncertain future.
The first significant capture of the day was a quick fly-by of the Purple Heron. This occurred about almost an hour after I arrived.
Friday, September 17, 2021
Thursday, September 2, 2021
There are three somewhat common bitterns found in the Philippines - Yellow, Cinnamon, and Black. There are others, such as the Schrenk's Bittern, but this is more rare. Of the first three, the last is the most elusive. I have previously seen it in different locations but no decent photos. I even went to the Total Station along NLEX twice just to be able to get a photo of this bird. But each try always ends in bitterness (pun intended). So when several birders started posting photos of the Black Bittern taken somewhere in Taytay, Rizal, (which is only 30 minutes from where I live), it was something worth checking. But our friend delta started running amuck so I postponed it. Finally got the courage to go this morning. Fellow WBPP member Eugene Garme (Ugin Bxu in FB), offered to meet me at Tropical Hut at 6:30am.
I left the house before 6am and stopped by a gas station along Ortigas. After refueling, my car won't start. Fortunately there was a mechanic who was able to help me fix it. However, it caused about a 10-15 minute delay. Then waze sent me to another Tropical Hut. So I had to call Eugene for directions. Finally found him a little 7am. We convoyed and arrived at the site a little before 8am. After the usual greetings punctuated by a fist bump, we went to the road side area and waited for our target bird. We of course observed proper health protocols including social distancing or what Loel Lamela calls "galit-galit" birding. After about forty minutes, our target bird appeared.
Here ate three of the images that I was able to create.
Saturday, August 21, 2021
An armchair tick refers to "an addition without leaving one's home, typically as a result of a taxonomic change." In plain english, it means that a new species was created by splitting it from an existing one (taxonomic change). Thus a birder is able to add a new species to his list without actually going out to bird. I have previously experienced this in 2014. On February 8th of that year, I birded at Bangkong Kahoy and one of my 12 (😲) lifers that day was the White-throated Kingfisher. Later that year, I saw the same bird at Penang, Malaysia. I included it among the list of species I saw/photographed that day but I did not count it as a lifer because I had already seen it previously at Bangkong Kahoy. A few months after this, the White-throated Kingfisher in the Philippines was split and declared a new species by one of the organizations that maintain World Bird Lists (I think it was Clements). This new endemic species was called the Brown-breasted Kingfisher. Because of this, I gained a new lifer, the Brown-breasted KF (which I saw in BK, DRT, and Baras). However, since I also saw the White-throated Kingfisher in another country, I kept said bird in my list.
About three weeks ago, I learned from fellow Palawan birder, Erickson Tabayag that there were three new recognized Palawan endemics, (this time, I think IOC did the split). One of these is the Palawan Crow, split from Slender-billed Crown. This became an armchair tick for me. However, it was not an addition to my overall lifer count because Palawan Crow only replaced Slender-billed Crow in the list unless of course I can find the latter in any of my trip reports outside of Palawan. Yes, I make a list of the birds I saw after every sortie. It is kept in a small black notebook (now two notebooks), and later copied to an excel file. I wonder which birding mentor I copied this from... hmmm...
Anyway, the prospect of a potential lifer led me to scour my birding notebooks and hard drives all the way back to my pre-birder days (2010), in search of a record, any record, of the Slender-billed Crow seen or photographed outside of Palawan. But nada, zip, zero. I sent all the photos I could find to Maia Tanedo, Djop Tabaranza, and Rommel Cruz, but all of them IDéd these as Large-billed Crow. 😡😡😡. The main problem was, when we bird, we do not usually pay attention to the crows, so no photos, not even listed. 😢😢😢
Last night's search led me to bird photos from my family's November 2018 Japan trip. While checking the internet if the Slender-billed Crow occurs in Japan (it doesn't), I learned that there were two species of crow in that country, namely, Large-billed Crow (Ssp japonensis), and Carrion Crow. This prompted another frantic search in my Japan files if I was able to capture a Carrion Crow. Towards midnight, I found a photo of a crow that looked different. Not wanting to disturb any Filipino birder (due to the late hour), I decided to message Rob Hutchinson, thinking that he was still in the UK (which is seven hours behind). He replied a little past 1am saying that he was back in Manila (patay!). I apologized for waking him up but he said he was experiencing jetlag. So I asked him to confirm the ID of these four:
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
As I have previously written in this space, we went to Infanta last July 10 to shoot the Luzon Scops Owl chick and the Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove. While waiting for the parent owl to show up, a mixed flock arrived and I started shooting these busy little birds. It was composed of the usual Infanta suspects - Elegant Tit, Sulphur-billed Nuthatch, Blue-headed Fantail, Citrine Canary Flycatcher, and Philippine Bulbul. At least that's what I thought until I started going over the photos one by one last July 17 and came across the photo below, which I thought was a Philippine Bulbul. I was in my mancave in our basement and my guidebooks were in our bedroom two floors up. Not wanting to run upstairs, I used my phone to take a photo of my computer screen and sent it to Loel Lamela, Cheta Chua, and Djop Tabaranza. All three replied within a few minutes to say that it was a Black-crowned Babbler with Cheta saying it looked like a juvenile.
Monday, July 12, 2021
A couple of weeks ago, Mary, the daughter of Kamote, the Infanta bird guide, messaged me that her father found an owl. Not knowing what kind of owl and not wanting to waste a trip to Infanta, I replied asking what kind of owl but I never got a reply from her. Knowing that Loel Lamela, my Team Culion teammate in 2019, frequented Infanta, I messaged him about it. His reply to me was a shot of his camera LCD screen. It turned out that he was there at that time shooting said bird. My heart started beating faster when he said it was a Luzon Scops Owl. I looked at the Kennedy Guide and Desmond Allen's new book to check if Loel's ID was correct. To be sure I sent it to Djop Tabaranda and Maia Tanedo. Djop said it looked like Luzon Scops Owl and not Philippine Scops Owl because of the yellow eyes, but he was not 100% sure. I sent Loel's photo to Desmond and he said he could not be sure
It took me another three days (June 29th), before I could find time to go to Infanta. Loel told me to be there by six am or earlier but as (bad) luck would have it, I slept late and woke up almost five am! As a result I arrived at Kamote's house around 7:30am, was at the site by 7:40, and got my sixth lifer for 2021 before 8am. Stayed only till 10am and was home before 1pm. If only all sorties could be that easy...
Here are the images I was able to create: