New bird photo records and nice trees too!

UPDATE: The bird in the photo that I identified as immature Philippine Hawk Cuckoo is a Rusty Breasted Cuckoo! That’s a new bird for our farm!

It’s time to go birding again! We used to have so much fun traveling all over the Philippines looking for birds. Our favorite birding site is of course, this place of ours! After being away for three months because of the lockdown, it was reassuring to see that the old regular birds are still there. It seems like there are even more birds now.

We used to hear Philippine Hawk Cuckoos calling in the distance. It was on our list as “h.o.” or “heard only”. This time we saw two of them in the cluster of trees right in front of the cottage and I was able to photograph a juvenile perched on a tree. It’s still h.o. for us.

It has a really distinctive and loud call that can be heard in this video.

Philippine Hawk Cuckoo calling from the trees in front of the cottage.

We had a new bird for the farm! This is an immature Rusty Breasted Cuckoo. It was perched quietly on a tree. Bird #102 for the farm list!

Philippine Hawk Cuckoo immature
I thought this was a juvenile Philippine Hawk Cuckoo, it’s a Rusty Breasted Cuckoo

There was also a Stripe Headed Rhabdornis checking out the nesting box in that same cluster of trees. It was my first time to photograph this bird at our refuge.

Stripe Headed Rhabdornis checking out the nesting box

Another view of the Rhabdornis.

Stripe Headed Rhabdornis and Yellow Vented Bulbuls in a tree
Rhabdornis with Yellow Vented Bulbuls

I had a great encounter with a Philippine Collared Dove in our mango area. It was perched on a low branch and didn’t fly away even if I was standing near it with the three dogs! It either didn’t notice us or didn’t mind that we were there!

Philippine Collared Dove

This Black Naped Monarch is on a fruiting Bangkal Nauclea orientalis that we planted some years ago.

Black Naped Monarch in a fruiting Bangkal tree

This Pied Bushchat was giving me the evil eye!

Pied Bushchat male
Pied Bushchat male and female
Mr and Mrs Pied Bushchat

And then we had plant surprises! This Mangkono Xanthostemon vedugonianus is flowering! We planted it in 2019 and it is still tiny, but flowering!

Mangkono tree flowering
selfie time!
Mangkono tree with red flowers

Another plant surprise was this row of Binayuyu Antidesma ghaesembilla that was planted by the birds! The BIRDS! We planted a lot of Talisay along this strip. This was also where Tonji made a swale to slow down the flow of water so it would have time to be absorbed by the soil. I also cleared a lot of hagonoy from this area that were choking the trees we planted. Somehow, I failed to notice that there was a row of Binayuyu that we did not plant growing in between the Talisay!

Talisay and Binayuyu trees

The young trees are in flower. They are very noticeable now! I was told that Binayuyu has male and female flowers. These might be male flowers. We noticed young trees like this all over the refuge. The Binayuyu fruits are a favorite of the birds. Birds, thanks for planting more trees!

Binayuyu, male flowers
Binayuyu inflorescence

The Return of the Pied Harriers

Our winter season visitors are back! The Pied Harriers are very visible, flying around the cottage. This time there are three of them. The mother and immature duo are now a trio of the mother, an adult male (we think it’s Tali, all grown up now) and another immature bird. The trio is much better at keeping the crows at bay. We haven’t noticed them being harassed by the crows.

Could this really be Tali? He seems to be keeping to his old habit of hanging out on the bamboo fence. The telltale string on the leg is gone. Maybe he was able to remove it himself?

the bamboo fence is a good place for grooming

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!

Birds Doing New Things

Sometimes we see birds as predictable creatures of habit. They have favorite perches that they return to day after day. Their behavior becomes familiar and part of the flow of the day.

This has become a familiar early morning sight. 5 White Breasted Woodswallows perched on top of this Agoho tree.

Other times we get to witness entirely new behavior. I thought it was unusual to see a Philippine Bulbul perched on the round pen. They usually hide inside the trees. What was it doing?

This looks to me like a young Philippine Bulbul. Based on the sounds, I think there was a nest inside the aratiles and this bird is one of the young from the nest.

The Philippine Bulbul was carefully, drop by drop, picking up dew from the fence posts.


I’ve never seen other birds do that on the fence posts before.

Soon there was a second Philippine Bulbul that was also drinking water in the same manner.

Maybe they’re really thirsty? Or experimenting?

The funny thing is I had just decided to put out bowls of fresh drinking water for the birds! The evenings and mornings are still cool enough to produce dew on the ground. The rest of the day has been very hot and dry. I thought it would be a good idea to provide an extra source of water for some of the birds.

The Collared Kingfisher was one of the first birds to use the water bowls.

It took a dunk, dried shook itself dry, then perched on a tree branch.

A second Collared Kingfisher joined it on the branch. I think they first one told the second one to try the bird bath! And it did!

If only I could read bird minds! I think it’s thinking “I learned something new today. Nice bath!”.