When we were newbie birders in 2008 one of our friends invited us to take pictures of waders and Philippine Ducks in his friend’s fishpond in Batangas. When we were done taking photos of the birds on the water, he asked us if we wanted to see Pink-Necked Green Pigeons. He said they were just nearby, perched on the trees. Of course we said yes. It was our first time to see them. They were so pretty! There were so many of them. The males had orange breasts! I was more excited over seeing them than the dull brown and grey plovers and plain white egrets that we drove there to see in the first place.
Now that we have this place, I get to see Pink-necked Pigeons every morning outside my own door! I am still excited about seeing them, maybe even more excited than when I first saw them in 2008.
There are big aratiles trees behind the round pen that fruit year round. The Pink-necked Green Pigeons love the fruit. They make the aratiles their first stop in the morning.
Then they they check out the lantana shrub that’s growing wild beside the round pen.
Next is group huddle at the madre de cacao trees further behind the round pen. Breakfast is done and they spend some time grooming, preening, and probably just enjoying the sun and breeze.
The madre de cacao look their best at this time of the year. They are full of pink flowers and new yellow leaves. The birds with their green bodies and pinkish-orange breasts make the trees look even better!
Then the birds move on to other parts of our refuge.
The new stalks of amor seco are too fine to support even a small bird like this Scaly-breasted Munia. So it grabbed onto 3 stalks of the grass with one foot so it can feast on the seeds! This red grass is the source of those sharp seeds that stick on pants, fur, and paws. The Chestnut Munias we so fun to watch that I thought I might be ok with some amor seco weeds near the house just so I could watch the munias some more. Tonji had other ideas. A few hours after I took this photo, he brought out the tractor and mowed down all the amor seco growing in front of the cottage!
On the trees
These were some of the regulars in the trees near the cottage. Two Yellow-vented Bulbuls sharing a tree with two Pink-necked Green Pigeons.
Black-naped Orioles are all over the place, even in the rain. It was a very rainy July.
Island Collared Dove. We keep our eyes out for these guys. They are becoming scarce in other areas of the country due to hunting. The ones in our place are favoring the mango trees now even if we didn’t have much of a mango season this year. Tonji has plans to make the mango area even more attractive for wildlife.
In the sky
Black-crowned Night Herons are common birds that roost in colonies. We usually just see one bird flying by.
The migratory season has begun! This is a flock of egrets, most likely Intermediate Egrets. This group did not stop over. They are probably looking for a nice fishpond or rice field.
I have this fantasy of seeing a rare migrant on the grass in front of the cottage! That would be something!
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!