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!

New Bird Records, #s 99 and 100!

August was a great month to be at the refuge. We hired people to remove the aroma growing near the cottage. We planted Amugis trees and Leea shrubs. Tonji used the grass cutter to clear the hagonoy that took over the picnic lot after my failed Hagonoy Eradication Project No. 1. We saw lots of butterflies. We started construction on a new and improved horse bathing area and we are converting the old bathing area into storage areas. I’m going to have a super cute garden shed! And most exciting of all, we had two new birds for our Bird List!

Bird # 99

Coleto
Sarcops calvus

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Coleto

Tonji was on the phone when he saw two Coletos fly into the clump of trees in front of the cottage. They stayed for a minute, flew to the Aratiles next to the round pen, then disappeared.

Coletos are forest birds. Their habitat is described as forest, forest edge, and clearings. The pink around their eyes is bare skin! It is a Philippine endemic. We see them most frequently up north in Subic, Zambales.

Bird # 100

Ruddy-breasted Crake
Porzana fusca

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a sketch of the illustration in the Kennedy guide

No picture! Just a sketch and a story! Tonji was driving the car through the mango farm when he saw two adults and a chick crossing in front of him. They would go into the sides of the path and then emerge closer to him! We looked for them on our way home, but they didn’t show up. The next week we returned for a day trip so we could spend time looking for these birds. I think I saw the head of one pop out from the corner of the path as we were about to drive to a new spot. So, maybe I saw our 100th bird.

This bird is described in the Kennedy guide as uncommon. Ok, it really isn’t that common. In 2011, we drove to more than a hundred kilometers just to see this bird. The Kennedy guide also says it is crepuscular and solitary. Perhaps it behaves differently during breeding season.

We welcomed the arrival of the fast-flying migrants that eat up all the flies that multiplied during the rainy season.

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Asian Palm Swift

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Barn Swallow

We had breeding birds. We saw this family while we were waiting for the Ruddy-breasted Crake.

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Spotted Buttonquail

The male takes care of the babies!

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cute chicks

It’s always nice to get good views of these guys.

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Buff Banded Rail

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Black-naped Monarch

And to end the day with an owl on the fence.

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Grass Owl

 

Good night!

The Magic Fence

This bamboo fence is very popular among the birds. We can see it from the veranda of the cottage and we always check to see what’s perched on it.

One day it was Tali, the Pied Harrier. We watched him and admired his full adult male plumage. Earlier in the year he was brown, then in March we saw his black adult feathers coming in. In April, we thought he had migrated and that we wouldn’t see him in full adult plumage. Here he is in July in full male adult plumage!

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After giving us good views Tali flew off. We thought that was the end of the show. Thirty minutes later a Grass Owl flew in and landed on the same spot! Maybe the Grass Owl wanted to see what Tali was looking at.┬áThere’s a path of short grass in front of the fence. It’s a good place to nab a meal.

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The following week the fence was host to these Spotted Doves that decided that bamboo fence was a good spot for sex!

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The Fruits of a Summer’s Labor

This year Tonji spent 21 days building ponds. He started building in February to give himself enough time to get a few ponds in before the start of the rainy season in June. He would have continued building even longer except that we were not able to go the the farm regularly for two months.

The first pond he built was Pond No. 5. It was slow-going and took him 9 days to complete because the area was wet and sticky. In March, we got an unexpected day rainy day and were thrilled to see puddles forming at the bottom of the pond!

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March – Pond No. 5 being inspected by Momo and Barkley

When the real rains came around in June, the pond got filled up half way! It takes a lot of rain to make all the soil settle down and form a waterproof layer that will hold water.

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June – Pond No. half full!

It was nice to see the pond fill up with water, but had the wildlife discovered the ponds yet? Were the Philippine Ducks using it? Did they know that they now had seven ponds at their disposal? We inspected the pond for signs of life. We found lots of small feathers around the pond edge!

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June – signs of life!

This month we’ve resumed our regular farm visits and are thrilled with the results from the pond building! We’ve been having the most amazing views of Philippine Ducks!

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If you look closely, you can see water drops on the duck’s chest. They probably came from the pond!

I also had a wish fulfilled. I was finally able to take the photo I’ve been dreaming of — a Philippine Duck standing by one of our ponds!

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Pond No. 5

And even better, there were TWO of them! There may have been more ducks in Pond No. 5, but we didn’t want to disturb them by going closer. So all of us including Momo and Barkley walked away quietly and left the ducks to enjoy their pond.

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Two Philippine Ducks at Pond No. 5

That same morning we inspected Pond No. 7 and seven Philippine Ducks flew out of the pond. This pond took ten days to build.

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Pond No. 7

The smallest of the three new ponds is Pond No. 6. It took only two days to build and we’ve also seen ducks in it!
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It is so gratifying and encouraging to see our projects working! It’s a thrill to be able to share our space with wildlife.