First photo of a Philippine Duck swimming in one of our ponds!
I’ve taken lots of photos of Philippine Ducks. This one is a first and very special to me because I’ve been dreaming of taking this shot ever since we made our first pond! We know we have Philippine Ducks and we know they use the ponds. We have photos and videos from the wildlife camera of Philippine Ducks swimming in our ponds. I’ve been dreaming of taking my own photograph of one of the ducks while it’s in the water.
In this particular pond, you can stand on the path, peer through the weeds, and check to water for birds. I was so excited when I saw a duck swimming! I tried to move slowly and quietly so I wouldn’t alert the duck or the dogs. Haha, the dogs had no idea that there was a duck close by! I also had to manually focus the camera because of all the weeds.
First time for our Malabulak trees to have lots of flowers!
In 2017 one of our Malabulak trees produced a bud, but the bud didn’t turn into a flower. In 2018 we had a few buds and flowers. This year we have lots of flowers on several trees. These trees attract a lot of birds when they are in flower. We haven’t seen any birds on ours yet, maybe because our trees are not very tall yet.
First time to see the flower of the Alibangbang tree!
We have lots of Alibangbang trees growing wild in our refuge. They produce seeds and sprout all over the place. Yet I never saw a flower. I wanted to see a flower because this would confirm the ID of the tree. I was assuming that the trees we have are Bauhinia malabrica, the native version of Bauhinia. The Bauhinia that is usually found in urban settings is the imported, non-native version Bauhinia purpurea that has big purple flowers. It is a popular ornamental plant. The native Bauhinia has small, yellow flowers. In 2018 I was able to definitely confirm the ID of the tree. It was a bit anti-climactic though because all I saw were unopened buds.
First time to see a Grey-Faced Buzzard Butastur indicus in the refuge!
We now have 101 species on our refuge bird list! This bird is a migrant. I was standing on the veranda of the cottage when I saw it flying by. I hope that it uses our place as a stopover!
We still have two weeks left in February. I’m looking forward to what the next two weeks bring!
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!
So many things are flowering! It’s a good time to revisit Botany in a Day by Thomas J. Elpel. I could not understand this book when I bought it years ago. I recently brought it out again and find it easier to understand now that I am sketching the plants. Most of the keys use flowers to ID the plant.
The weather is great for walking around in the late afternoon with Momo and Barkley and my sketchbook. It’s a good idea to let them run around at the start of the walk and then do my sketching while they’re resting!
It was great to see Barkley so full of energy. Earlier this year, I noticed that Barkley couldn’t walk as far as he used to walk. We finally figured out that there was a problem with his teeth. So sad, his teeth must have hurt a lot. The vet removed 3 teeth and now he’s full of energy again.
One of the first seedlings we planted are the Malabulak (Bombax ceiba) we received from Dr. Ed Gomez. He brought in a lot of seedlings to plant in our village, but the village never got around to planting them. So he gave them to us instead.
Malabulak sheds its leaves every year even as seedlings. It’s very stressful to see the seedling you planted standing completely bare-headed and looking exactly like a dead stick.
This year we noticed something new! The Malabulak is taking on a new, more adult form. It has branches! The green stems growing from the trunk are now brown and woody!