Tali the Pied Harrier grows up!

We had the opportunity to watch a Pied Harrier grow up and acquire his adult plumage in our refuge. We spotted two Pied Harriers in our place, often perched on the bamboo fence. One of them had a string on its leg. We called it Tali, for the famous beach in Batangas and because Tali means string. Because of the string, we could easily identify it each time it showed up. Tali stayed in the refuge for almost a year.

Please disregard the date on the first three photos!

This is Tali when we first saw him in August 2017. He’s having a scuffle with a crow.

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August 2017

This is in September  2017. He is brown all over.

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September 2017

The string is clearly visible.

3 Oct 13 2017
October 2017

No photos from November and December 2017.

Then surprise! When we saw him again in January 2018, he had a lot of black markings on his face and back!

4 Jan 27 2018
January 2018

He’s definitely a male Pied Harrier! This is in February 2018.

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February 2018
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February 2018

This is Tali in March 2018. The photo has an orange cast from the sunset.

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March 2018

This is July 2018, the last month we saw him. His head looks completely black.

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July 2018

Still in July 2018, with the black extending further down his chest.

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July 2018

He looks like a different bird! But because of the string, we know it’s still him. It’s Tali!

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. There’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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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.

 

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!