White Eared Brown Doves

I was ready to write off any chances of taking pictures of birds. We were at the refuge with all our photography gear, but I thought that our chances of taking pictures of birds were slim since we were very preoccupied by Lulu, the new addition to our family!

lulu the very cute australian cattle dog puppy
Hello Lulu!

It turns out we had a fun bird photography session after all! We got our first photos and great views of White Eared Brown Dove in our place! I first saw this species in our place in December 2016 in the mango area. I didn’t have a camera at the time. I remember feeling very excited to see it since it’s a bird that is usually found in the forest. It’s a good sign for us to see more forest birds instead of the usual garden birds.

There were two White Eared Brown Doves in the round pen. They were eating the fruits of the Lantana shrub. During the previous week, the Pink Necked Green Pigeons eating the Lantana fruits. I never realized before that Lantana was so popular with birds! I know the flowers attract butterflies, good to know that the birds like it too. In the US they spend a lot of money to remove from pastures it because it is invasive and is toxic to cattle. It is native to Central and South America.

There was also a Spotted Dove that visited the round pen. It’s what first caught my eye and made me check the round pen. When we first saw it, the White Eared Brown was mostly hidden inside the tangles of the shrub. Later on it came out more in the open and then was joined by a second White Eared Brown Dove.

The first bird stayed in the round pen for a long time. It has a visible bald patch on its back. looks like it is molting.

white eared brown dove eating lantana fruit

What a treat to take take pictures without even leaving the veranda. We got to watch the new dog and the new birds at the same time!

Fabulous Firsts in February!

All these amazing this happened this month!

First photo of a Philippine Duck swimming in one of our ponds!

Philippine Duck swimming in a small pond
Philippine Duck

I’ve taken lots of photos of Philippine Ducks. This one is a first and very special to me because I’ve been dreaming of taking this shot ever since we made our first pond! We know we have Philippine Ducks and we know they use the ponds. We have photos and videos from the wildlife camera of Philippine Ducks swimming in our ponds. I’ve been dreaming of taking my own photograph of one of the ducks while it’s in the water.

In this particular pond, you can stand on the path, peer through the weeds, and check to water for birds. I was so excited when I saw a duck swimming! I tried to move slowly and quietly so I wouldn’t alert the duck or the dogs. Haha, the dogs had no idea that there was a duck close by! I also had to manually focus the camera because of all the weeds.

First time for our Malabulak trees to have lots of flowers!


Malabulak trees in a row Bombax ceiba
The ones with flowers are only 3 meters and 4 meters tall

In 2017 one of our Malabulak trees produced a bud, but the bud didn’t turn into a flower. In 2018 we had a few buds and flowers. This year we have lots of flowers on several trees. These trees attract a lot of birds when they are in flower. We haven’t seen any birds on ours yet, maybe because our trees are not very tall yet.

Malabulak flower

First time to see the flower of the Alibangbang tree!

Here’s the long-awaited flower!



We have lots of Alibangbang trees growing wild in our refuge. They produce seeds and sprout all over the place. Yet I never saw a flower. I wanted to see a flower because this would confirm the ID of the tree. I was assuming that the trees we have are Bauhinia malabrica, the native version of Bauhinia. The Bauhinia that is usually found in urban settings is the imported, non-native version Bauhinia purpurea that has big purple flowers. It is a popular ornamental plant. The native Bauhinia has small, yellow flowers. In 2018 I was able to definitely confirm the ID of the tree. It was a bit anti-climactic though because all I saw were unopened buds.

First time to see a Grey-Faced Buzzard Butastur indicus in the refuge!

Grey faced buzzard in flight
Bird # 101 Grey-Faced Buzzard

We now have 101 species on our refuge bird list! This bird is a migrant. I was standing on the veranda of the cottage when I saw it flying by. I hope that it uses our place as a stopover!

We still have two weeks left in February. I’m looking forward to what the next two weeks bring!

Birds Having a Picnic

What a relief! One of the fields that I messed up before has been restored! In 2015 I removed the big clumps of hagonoy that were growing in the picnic lot. The next year the lot was completely covered in small hagonoy plants. They came back with a vengeance!

I was very sad to see the picnic lot in such bad shape. It looked worse than before I did my weed removal efforts. Good thing we have another hagonoy removal weapon in our arsenal! The tractor! I noticed that when Tonji makes a path through a field of hagonoy, the path itself stays remarkably free of hagonoy! Grass and other things sprout on the path, but not hagonoy!

In 2018 Tonji cleared the picnic lot using the tractor. Immediately after, it looked so much better. There was grass and a nice variety of legumes and other plants that sprouted. And best of all, the Philippine Collared Doves seem to like it! They used to hang out on the other side of the field, near the bamboo fence. This time I saw them foraging on the restored area of the picnic lot!

6 Philippine Collared Doves and 1 Red Turtle Dove
Here they are looking more relaxed

They really seem to like the area. Momo, Barkley, and I watched them from across the picnic lot. Then we went on our morning walk. On our way back, they were still there! When I decided to double back and take more pictures, they simply flew up into a nearby tree. It looked like they had plans to do more foraging.

One Philippine Collared Dove perched on a Madre de Cacao. The rest are concealed in the native alibangbang tree on the right.

Now I know what to do and what not to do when trying to removing hagonoy. It’s so nice to be able to create habitat that the birds can use.

And here is a Purple Heron that was also in the area!

Harriers and Ducks

It’s so good to be back at the refuge after a long absence and see that things have gotten bigger, greener, lusher! And we had had a big surprise. There were two Pied Harriers! It’s a different pair of Pied Harriers from the ones we had last year. These ones last year were a male and female. These ones are both brown, so maybe a female and an immature? Two females. One of them perched on the bamboo fence, just like old times! Makes us think it’s the same female from last year.

Pied Harrier perched on a bamboo fence
Is that you Laiya?

We also saw 4 Philippine Ducks. Tonji saw them swimming in the big pond when he was cutting the paths in that area. The dogs and I saw them on the path beside the smallest pond. The path was newly cut and they were on the short grass.

two Philippine Ducks in flight

This was short visit inspect things and make plans. We planted 20 more Narra seedlings and 20 Duhat seedlings that we grew from seeds. This year we are boosting our seedlings with vermicast made at home from horse poop compost. We’re hoping this makes our trees even bigger, greener, and lusher this year!