Whos keeping an eye on me....

Wednesday, 30 April 2014


Herald - Scoliopteryx libatrix

This is the latest moth on my garden list. Caught (and of course released) yesterday evening



Monday, 28 April 2014

Pied Flycatchers

From a  walk this morning.

Female on the left carrying the essentials

the female

a fine looking male 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Philippines 2014 - Pt 5 A visit of sorts...... to Candaba Marsh

We had decided not to stop at Candaba Marsh on the way to Los Banos, time would be an issue and we wanted to get a good start at Mt Makiling. However while on the Expressway we saw a huge sign for Candaba Marsh, Jeff and I looked at each other and agreed to go for it..... of course we didn't have any other directions to hand, so nearly two hours later and we were still searching and asking everyone we came across where it was, no one had even heard of the place. Eventually we found a Paddy field worker who directed us down the correct dusty track that we had driven past at least twice already.

This was going to be a short visit now but any new species would be gratefully received. Thankfully birds were abundant in the pools and trackside lagoons that we came across with Whiskered Terns and Gull Billed Terns, Common Redshanks and Black Winged Stilts the first to be seen.


We didn't actually venture to the marsh proper due to lack of time, but at the largest pool we came across we picked up a lovely bird that we had only seen distantly from the expressway as we drove from Subic, we were therefore more than happy to get close up views here of an
Eastern Marsh Harrier

It quartered the fringes of the pool for a few minutes and was eventually seen off by a Purple Heron.

At the back of this pool we had 50+ Philippine Ducks, (we didn't need this species as we picked up a surprise sighting of a few on Bohol but was really good to see such large numbers here). Other Duck species were Tufted Duck, a single Mallard and Eurasian Teal, Garganey were in good numbers and in brilliant breeding colours and the smart Wandering Whistling Ducks. 

Wandering Whistling Duck

I noted a single Grey Heron along with dozens of Purple Herons, a fleeting sighting of a Pheasant Tailed Jacana while there were plenty of Philippine (Purple) Swamphens, Common Kingfisher, Common Moorhen, as well as dozens of  Zebra Doves and Red Turtle Doves which was a new species for the trip list.

This Yellow Bittern flew across the pool never to be seen again
For me the highlight of this impromptu visit was the sight of these Oriental Pratincoles in breeding colours. These alone was worth the journey.
This image showing 5 of over 20 that were dotted about this patch

A stunning bird in full breeding plumage
and another one of my favourite birds of the whole trip
Barred Rail
We finished the visit with a pair of Pied Bushchat,
here is the male
Somehow we hadn't managed to damage the car in Manila but we did a good job on this virtually deserted track when we hit a stationary motorcycle. The two motorcycle passengers laughed it off while we assessed the damage and sweated over the probable excess cost when we return the car in a few days time.... but that is another story!   
We move onto Los Banos and Mt Makiling.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Spring Migrants at last

Managed to get out for a quick walk this morning to the Goyt Valley and picked up the two target species. Both Pied Flycatchers and Common Redstarts showed in poor light and a little distant when the camera came out. However  I was very happy to see a pair of each showing well at times.

female Common Redstart

male Pied Flycatcher

female Pied Flycatcher

The evening before I stopped at the other end of the valley while returning from a day out and managed a single Short Eared Owl .

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Philippines 2014 - Pt 4 Luzon (Subic Bay Area)

Subic Bay

Day 1:

The less said about the journey through Manila the better, but we did eventually arrive at our hotel near Subic Freeport. We had the very helpful sketched map from the Birding2asia website that made the driving around the Subic area a little easier. This would be the only Island that we would not have a guide. We expected the birding therefore to be a little harder and no doubt we would miss a few things along the way, but hey ho lets see how we go on. We arrived well after  midnight but needed a beer (or two) then bed for an early start.

Our first location was a road leading up to Subic heights, which looked like a complex of now disused accommodation.  Our first birds on the road were Elegant Tits, a pair of Guaiabero

 and a pair of the brilliantly funky Red Crested Malkoha.

The most prolific bird were certainly the Black Naped Orioles who seemed to over run this particular section of roadside woodland. Philippine Bulbul, Bar Belied Cuckoo Shrike and an un-identified Raptor that now  having re- read my notes could have been a Jerdons Baza , unfortunately it will have to go un-recorded..... a Grey Faced Buzzard was identified though. We drove a little further up the road to the disused complex and recorded dozens of White Breasted Wood swallows, Yellow Vented Bulbuls and a pair of obliging Stripe Headed Rhabdornis.
We continued up towards the hospital and past an abandoned US telecom point that had some promising looking habitat, however  it only provided an Olive Backed Sunbird a few Red Capped Bee-eaters, as well as a Guard that caught me snooping around.... for birds of course.
We continued on towards the Boton falls Trail where along he way we picked up this stunning  Whiskered Tree-swift

Other birds in good numbers were Streaked Flycatchers and Brown Shrikes and a perched Crested Serpent Eagle.

A flock of around a dozen Brahminy Kites flew over while this wonderful White Eared Brown Dove gave close up views



Not long after we came across a party of the weird looking Coleto. They could have entertained us for even longer than the 10 minutes we stood and watched their antics.

New birds were quickly seen with Slender Billed Crows, Crested Myna and then a raft of woodpeckers. White Bellied Woodpecker (we only heard this species on Bohol) Luzon Flameback and a pair of Sooty Woodpeckers! One of which perched motionless on this tree trunk for well over 15 minutes.

We moved location and headed past the airfield and headed toward the ocean adventure park for lunch. We picked up a good flock of Red Capped Bee-eaters in the grounds of a derelict building and then some more near the park itself.
We drove to the checkpoint and after having a hard time from an over zealous policeman we eventually snook past him and were able to park up near the bunkers and walk an area of road towards Hill 394. After some sorting of IDs we could nail down the Blackish Cuckoo-Shrike and now figured we had indeed seen the dark form of Balicassiao, play back helped us sort this lot out. Philippine Green Pigeon a largish flock of Black & White Triller (after much deliberation, this species is definitely going on the trip and life list). 
The gate at Hill 394 was always going to be tricky to get past, and sure enough the guards were in no mood to let us in but did give us details of how to do it in future, a bit late for us on this occassion but this info may help people in future who wish to visit and maybe able to contact them before arriving in Subic. I have no idea how to find this place but here are the contact details anyway.
Limay Factory: Barangay Lamao, Limay, Bataan.
Tel Nos: 047-2445772 (73) or (74)
Fax: 047-2445810
We spent the early evening trying in vein to locate a Scale Feathered Malkoha but did add some Purple Needletails, Dollardbird whist Blue Naped Parrots ended the days birding and to be honest it was good to get out of the searing heat. We stopped at the Giant Fruit Bat colony for spectacular views of 1000s taking to the air, an amazing sight. 
Day 2:
An early return to Hill 394 fto try to find the Scale feathered Malkoha again.... and again no luck. A cracking view of a Yellow Breasted Fruit Dove and Green Racket Tail were probably the highlights of the morning as we walked up and down a stretch of this road.
An afternoon lunch at the amazing Bunker Bob restaurant close to the dilapidated Botanic gardens recharged the batteries. The afternoon got us good views of  a pair of Red Jungle Fowl perched low in a bushy tree, Black Chinned Fruit Dove and more Sooty Woodpeckers

Bar Bellied Cuckoo-Shrike

 and a new trip species with Blue Headed Fantail
Day 3: Only an hours birding before the long drive to Los Banos brought us a pair of wonderful Luzon Hornbills
male Luzon Hornbill

female Luzon Hornbill

Jeff and myself always knew this leg of the trip would be more difficult. We didn't hire a guide so we were aware that the logistics or just being being in the exact location for a particular species was crucial. Not knowing all the calls and the ID of tricky birds or birds that the views were either obscured or very distant. However the real frustration was the heat. It wilted both myself and Jeff but also it made the birding very quiet from around 10am onwards.
It was enjoyable in a masochistic sort of way, certainly the beer in the evenings was just reward for a tough days birding.
Next stop Los Banos and a trip to Canadaba

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Great Crested Grebe

One of the pair at my local Village Pool. Always a smart bird to see.

this non native critter decided to show itself from the murky depths of the pool to sun itself
Red Eared Terrapin

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Parkhouse and Chrome Hill

Sunday morning and no rain...... a forty five minute drive to the Quiet Woman Inn at Earl Sterndale. Kim Liz and myself will be taking in Parkhouse Hill, Chrome Hill.

The Quiet Woman Inn

Kim and Liz at the start

Looking towards Parkhouse Hill with Chrome Hill in the background

on top of the world..... well maybe just Parkhouse!

Looking from the summit of Parkhouse down to the road below and then straight into Chrome Hill

Leaving the summit of Parkhouse Hill

halfway down, then we cross the road and start walking up Chrome Hill......
no rest for the wicked eh!

Been their done that...... looking back at Parkhouse as we start the climb of Chrome

Come on Kim

and were not even half way up yet....

 it maybe sunny but the wind felt gale-force

Looking towards Tor Rock and the last climb of the day

Liz with Chrome Hill behind and Parkhouse Hill further back and to the right

four and a half hours after the start and looking a little weary

and a little further still

The final portraits

Chrome Hill

Parkhouse Hill