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.

Cool Weather and Cool Birds

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!

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or just go back to sleep if you’re Barkley

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.

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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.

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Tali – photo by Tonji Ramos

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.

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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!

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photo by Tonji Ramos

That morning, we also saw:

  • Black-naped Oriole
  • Barn Swallow
  • Pied Bushchat
  • Yellow-vented Bulbul
  • Collared Kingfisher
  • Brown Shrike
  • Pink-necked Green Pigeon, 4
  • Tawny Grassbird
  • Purple Heron
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Pied Bushchat

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.

 

More birds for August

We’ve been seeing a lot of these guys near the house.

This Lesser Coucal seems to have claimed the bamboo fence as his hang-out.

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Lesser Coucal

 

This week we noticed a string on the Pied Harrier’s leg. I am hoping that the Pied Harrier gets the string off somehow.

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Pied Harrier and Large-billed Crow in a battle!

 

The Pygmy Flowerpeckers are still on the Aratiles tree. Now that all the ripe fruit are gone, they are eating the green fruit!

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Pygmy Flowerpecker

 

This Cisticola was a bit further away from the house. It has become one of the easier birds to photograph. It calls out loudly while perched on an exposed branch before diving back into the long grass.

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Golden-headed Cisticola

Awesome birdy August

We are having an awesome birdy August! We added three more new birds to the farm bird list! That makes SIX new birds for August!

  • Striated heron Butorides striata
  • Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephaus stentoreus
  • Yellow-wattled Bulbul Pycnonotus urosticus
  • White-bellied Munia Lonchura locugastra 
  • Ruddy-breasted Crake Ponzana fusca
  • Philippine Green Pigeon (formerly known as Pompadour Green Pigeon) Treron axillaris
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Yellow-wattled Bulbul

We’ve now seen three kinds of bulbuls at the farm:

  • Yellow-vented Bulbul  Pycnonotus goiavier – One of the most common birds at the farm. It’s a garden bird and is never found in mature forests.
  • Philippine Bulbul Hypsipetes philippinus – This is a forest bird! It is usually seen in forest edge and advanced second growth. I always keep an eye out for these birds because I think they assist in reforestation by bringing in different seeds from forest trees and plants. I’ve been seeing more of them in our area. 
  • Yellow-wattled Bulbul Pycnonotus urostictus – Another forest bird like the Philippine Bulbul. It is usually seen in lowland early second growth and forest edge. I only saw one bird that perched in front of me for a few seconds. Maybe we’ll be seeing more of them as our area becomes more and more forest-like.

We also had a returning bird. A few years ago, we had two Pied Harriers Circus melanoleucos, a female and an immature, that hung around the farm for three months. This was in November 2013 until January 2014. Then they both disappeared. Later in 2014, we saw a female Pied Harrier. We wondered, was this the same female? Did something happen to the immature? There were no more sightings in 2015 and 2016. Then this month we saw a female Pied Harrier! It’s possible that it’s the same one from 2013!

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Pied Harrier

This month I also had my best views ever of Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea at the farm! I thought that I would be seeing a lot of these birds in our area. In the early days, I even wrote about seeing one when we first toured the farm and how it was a “sign”! But, they weren’t as easy to see as I imagined they would be .. until now!

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Black-naped Monarch, female

This month, they were right near the house and very visible!

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Black-naped Monarch, male

We are only halfway through August! I’m looking forward to the rest of the month!