This week I got photos of two birds that we’ve seen at the refuge but never photographed at the refuge before! It makes me so happy to add to our list of birds photographed at the refuge.
The first one is the Philippine Hawk CuckooCuculus pectoralis that I thought I photographed during our previous visit to the refuge. This time I searched for it in the trees so I could take a picture. This bird was doing its best to stay hidden inside the tree, behind a branch. I have a lot of pictures of the branch! This still counts as a bird photo since the bird is recognizable!
The second one is a Ruddy-breasted CrakePorzana fusca that silently showed up in the former round pen at around 6:15 in the morning. It stayed long enough for me to run into the cottage, grab my camera, and take photos from the veranda! It was walking back and forth, foraging in the grass like a chicken. I thought it was a wild chicken. It did not immediately register that this was a Ruddy-breasted Crake, a bird that is considered difficult to see. Aside from our refuge, the only other places we have seen this bird are in Tarlac and Tadao, Ilocos Norte.
Tonji first saw this bird in our refuge in August 2018. He saw two adults and one black chick in the mango area. Now, less than two years later, we have a photo!
All that time spent trying to get better photos of the Philippine Hawk Cuckoo was not wasted. I got better photos of other birds!
I had very close views of some Coppersmith Barbets.
And I got to watch the birds hanging out, eating fruits, and catching insects!
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?
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.
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!”.
When we were newbie birders in 2008 one of our friends invited us to take pictures of waders and Philippine Ducks in his friend’s fishpond in Batangas. When we were done taking photos of the birds on the water, he asked us if we wanted to see Pink-Necked Green Pigeons. He said they were just nearby, perched on the trees. Of course we said yes. It was our first time to see them. They were so pretty! There were so many of them. The males had orange breasts! I was more excited over seeing them than the dull brown and grey plovers and plain white egrets that we drove there to see in the first place.
Now that we have this place, I get to see Pink-necked Pigeons every morning outside my own door! I am still excited about seeing them, maybe even more excited than when I first saw them in 2008.
There are big aratiles trees behind the round pen that fruit year round. The Pink-necked Green Pigeons love the fruit. They make the aratiles their first stop in the morning.
Then they they check out the lantana shrub that’s growing wild beside the round pen.
Next is group huddle at the madre de cacao trees further behind the round pen. Breakfast is done and they spend some time grooming, preening, and probably just enjoying the sun and breeze.
The madre de cacao look their best at this time of the year. They are full of pink flowers and new yellow leaves. The birds with their green bodies and pinkish-orange breasts make the trees look even better!
Then the birds move on to other parts of our refuge.
This tree fruits year round. Many Filipinos of a certain age have childhood memories of eating the fruit straight from the tree! We planted several of these non-native (though naturalized) trees as a year-round food source for birds and bats.
It is a small, spreading tree. According to some websites it can be grown in pots.