February has been a great month for hanging out at the sanctuary. The oppressive heat of summer is still a future concern. The ground is still nice, moist, and yielding. It only took Tonji nine days to dig up Pond Number 5. I was able to clear a big swathe of hagonoy in a new area using just my hori-hori hand knife. Momo and Barkley enjoyed long morning walks through refreshing dew-covered grass, with stops every so often to admire the birds!
The Agohos are among the fastest growing of the trees we’ve planted. Their height makes them a popular perch of the orioles and crows.
We saw 5 species of doves in February. We had Philippine Cuckoo Dove, Zebra Dove, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Spotted Dove, and Philippine Collared Dove. The Philippine Collared Dove was perched on the wires along our entrance road. We saw it on the same wire on two different weekends.
Tali and Laiya are still around. Will they stay through summer? Or are they migrants?
Tali vs Crow
There are small flocks of Olive-Backed Sunbirds high in the Madre de Cacao flowers, Chestnut Munias in the grassy areas, and jewel toned Bee-eaters on low branches.
The Malabulak trees produced buds! Last year we saw only one bud that didn’t even become a flower. Tonji thinks next year will be a great year for the Malabulak.
The hot days of summer are fast approaching. All to soon it will be time to say goodbye to the cool weather and hello summer and summer projects!
It was cold and raining when we woke up. Gone were the plans to do chores and tend to projects. Out came the big lenses for bird photography, binoculars, and sketchbook. Might as well sit, enjoy the weather, and watch the birds!
First came the Pied Harriers. There were new black feathers showing on Tali’s back and face. Tali is a male! It takes 3 years for male Pied Harriers to assume their full adult plumage. When he does, Tali will have a black head and white chest. He looks like he is almost 3 years old. Assuming that the female is the same one we saw in 2013, there’s a good chance that this is a different offspring from the one with her in 2013.
Tali still has the string wrapped on his leg. It doesn’t seem to hinder his flight. I hope he’s able to get the string off somehow. It seems to affect his landing.
The Pied Harriers moved from the bamboo fence to a tree. Three Philippine Ducks flew past them. Then they did it again. And again! Were they buzzing the Pied Harriers? Or were they just circling the pond? Too bad we didn’t get any pictures or video.
Next came two Brahminy Kites. One was an immature. They perched on a tree and got mobbed by a Crow. This interaction definitely looked intentional!
That morning, we also saw:
Pink-necked Green Pigeon, 4
In the afternoon the weather stayed cool and cleared up for a bit so we could go for a walk, cut grass, and do some weeding.
We saw a record number of Philippine Ducks at the farm! 23 ducks at Pond #1. We were happy and surprised to see them. We thought that the two Pied Harriers that are wintering in our place drove the ducks away from their usual hangout. So nice to see that they’re still there are that there are more of them!
We walked to Pond #1 thinking that it was probably not being used by the ducks. We wanted to check the water level. As we approached, the ducks flew into the air. We watched them for a few minutes, Tonji took a video, then we turned to leave the area so the ducks could go back. They were circling over us and calling out. Barkley however ran towards the pond. He ignored us when we called him back. So Tonji went to get him and was able to quickly look at the pond. The water level was high and the grass around the pond was flat, probably from the ducks sitting on it!
Seeing these birds encourages us to make new projects! When summer comes Tonji will start a new, bigger pond with either a lookout tower or a hide for observing the birds. Or maybe he’ll make a “scrape”, like a shallow rice paddy to see if it will attract birds that like to forage in shallow water.