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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
That morning, we also saw:
Pink-necked Green Pigeon, 4
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.
We saw a record number of Philippine Ducks at the farm! 23 ducks at Pond #1. We were happy and surprised to see them. We thought that the two Pied Harriers that are wintering in our place drove the ducks away from their usual hangout. So nice to see that they’re still there are that there are more of them!
We walked to Pond #1 thinking that it was probably not being used by the ducks. We wanted to check the water level. As we approached, the ducks flew into the air. We watched them for a few minutes, Tonji took a video, then we turned to leave the area so the ducks could go back. They were circling over us and calling out. Barkley however ran towards the pond. He ignored us when we called him back. So Tonji went to get him and was able to quickly look at the pond. The water level was high and the grass around the pond was flat, probably from the ducks sitting on it!
Seeing these birds encourages us to make new projects! When summer comes Tonji will start a new, bigger pond with either a lookout tower or a hide for observing the birds. Or maybe he’ll make a “scrape”, like a shallow rice paddy to see if it will attract birds that like to forage in shallow water.
Some things were lost, some things were gained, and much was learned.
We went on overseas trips in March and May, in addition to many local birding trips throughout the rest of the year. As a result, I didn’t get to spend as much time on the farm as the previous year. We did mostly 1-day trips to the farm/sanctuary. My hagonoy eradication project fell by the wayside. On the plus side, I learned how to do less housework type chores during my short visits to the farm and more fun things like walking around with Momo and Barkley.
In July we had two harvests of mangoes! They were absolutely delicious! We offered some of the first harvest for sale and they were gone in a flash. The next harvest, we gave away to family and friends. People were eager to eat our all natural, un-sprayed, pesticide-free mangoes! Our mangoes stayed greenish on the outside but became very sweet and orange on the inside. People told us the fragrance and sweetness of our mangoes reminded them of the mangoes of their childhood.
We treated ourselves to some very cool tools and gadgets in 2016! We got a scope for birdwatching from the veranda, a digger for making more wildlife ponds, and a wildlife camera for observing the wildlife as unobtrusively as possible.
March 2016, when Tonji was figuring out how the little digger works! This is Pond No. 4 under construction.
We usually keep away from the ponds to encourage the ducks and other wildlife to stay there. When there’s a real need to visit the pond, all of us including Momo and Barkley hop into the golf cart to check out the pond together.
We were going to set up the trail camera at Pond No. 4 for the first time. We drove up to the pond slowly and quietly, staying on the path so we wouldn’t startle the birds. When we reached the pond, we saw two Philippine Ducks standing on an island in the middle of the pond! Continue reading “Duck Island!”