Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Olongo Island, 9/11/12

After taking a day off from birding to recover from Honey's cousin's 40th birthday party(too much San Miguel and karaoke!)I was ready to get back to birding. Waking up at about 6:30 and seeing that it was partially clear I got the urge to go over to Olongo Island to check out the shorebird scene. Checking the tide charts, there was an early morning high tide so I didn't see any reason to hurry and we had time for a proper breakfast. Honey, her sister Hara and friend Jecka joined me in the taxi ride from Minglanilla (400p) to the Angasil Warf on Mactan Island, near the site where Magellan met his demise at the hands of Cheif Lapu Lapu. We paid 10p each to the 20 minute pumpboat ride to Olongo Island and hired a tricycle (120p) for the ride to the RAMSAR shorebird preserve. The tide was dropping as we arrived at 11AM and exposing the coral flats. Birds were arriving in small flocks so I got the camera ready and spent the next four hours wandering the flats while Honey and company enjoyed the fresh air and scenery. Animated Terek Sandpipers probed the wet sand and ran around like wind-up toys.
Here's a flyby Common Redshanks.
There were several Gray Plovers around but I think this may be a Pacific Golden-plover judging by the dark flecks on the undertail coverts. Anyone agree?.
Olongo Island is a great place to see the endangered Asian Dowitcher.
My fourth godwit species of the year, Bar-tailed Godwit.
Another great species at Olongo is Great Knot.
Gray-tailed Tattlers were common.
I studied this tern quite a while trying to decide on Common or Roseate. Comments are welcome.
Here's my list for the day. Little Egret 68 Striated Heron 5 Rufous Night-Heron 1 Black-bellied Plover 5 Pacific Golden-Plover 1 Lesser Sand-Plover 10 Greater Sand-Plover 15 Terek Sandpiper 6 Gray-tailed Tattler 20 Common Greenshank 3 Common Redshank 5 Eurasian Curlew 3 Bar-tailed Godwit 12 Ruddy Turnstone 3 Great Knot 3 Red-necked Stint 3 Curlew Sandpiper 40 Asian Dowitcher 4 Gull-billed Tern 4 Whiskered Tern 3 Roseate Tern 1 Collared Kingfisher 5 Golden-bellied Gerygone 3 Brown Shrike 1 Pied Fantail 1 Barn Swallow 1

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Raja Sikatuna and Nuts Huts, Bohol 9/2-6/12

After recovering from the jetlag, I made a five day trip to the adjacent island of Bohol to do some birding and bugging. After getting off the ferry I hired a habal habal (motorcycle) to take me to Nuts Huts, a tourist lodge on the Loboc River. This funky set of bamboo huts along the river with a restaurant on the hillside overlooking the river caters to budget minded tourists from around the world. While I was there, other lodgers hailed from Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, France, Poland, Israel and Hong Kong. They stay there to get a taste of the jungle but I've had good luck with birds here in the past and was hoping the bugs would be good also. As it turned out the birding was poor this time. Maybe it was seasonal or maybe due to the loud music played on the river restaurants that constantly ply the Loboc River but bird numbers and diversity was way down. My best bird was found the first evening above the restaurant. This cracking Black-faced Coucal was a surprise as they are normally high in the trees in the forest.
My goal in Bohol was to look for two of my nemesis birds, Yellow-breasted Tailorbird and Streaked Wren-babbler at Raja Sikatuna Nature Preserve. It tool me two trips. The first visit was by a motorcycle I rented at Nuts Huts. The second trip was by local bus and was much cheaper and more interesting. After a miserable nearly birdless day hiking the steep slippery trails in the rain forest on the first day, I decided to hire the services of local guide Ryan Sugala who with aid of recorded calls was able to find both of the species for me. Ryan is a nice young bird enthusiast who works for the forest service and knows the area birds well. I recommend him highly. Here's the Streaked Wren-babbler that finally showed after a lot of work.
While Ryan was able to get me my two target species, birding at the park was much slower than in my past visits. I did manage to see Silvery Kingfisher, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Coleto, and Metallic-winged Sunbird, but I missed Steer's Pitta, Rufous-lored Kingfisher and Visayan Wattled Broadbill (heard only). Meanwhile odes were disappointing in their numbers and diversity but spectacular in their beauty. Here's a common Nuerothemis species.
This one looks like the Planiplax were get at Bentsen.
Back at Nuts Huts I also managed to find a few odes. Most spectacular was this beauty hanging out in the restarant. It's shade loving nature reminded me of Three-striped Dasher.
So far I've only found three damsel species. This one along the Loboc River was the coolest. I'll have to do some research when I get home.
Best vertebrate award goes to this Hydrosaurus. This 30 inch lizard is the largest member of the family Agamidae and gives the tourists a thrill at Nuts Huts.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What's shakin?

Last night I was lying in bed in Honey's family's humble house here in Minglanilla south of Cebu city, reading Simon Winchester's rivoting account of the catastrophic eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 near the island of Java. I had just finished the chapter discussing the history and theory of plate tectonics and the west Pacific's rather unstable geologic underpinnings when I felt the room start to shake. My first thought was, "Wow, the kids (Honey's brother has three small children) are really jumping around and shaking the house." Then I noticed the whole room and bed I was lying on was gently swaying back and forth several inches (it seemed) and I knew what was going on. It only lasted a few seconds and then Honey came in the room and exclaimed we had just had an earthquake. While I was gently swaying in bed, she had been in the bathroom taking one wild ride on the toilet. Within minutes we were on the internet and discovered that a 7.9 earthquake had just occurred deep within the earth near the Philippine Trench, about 200 miles east of here. Pretty ironic. Such is life here on the Pacific Rim. Anyway, while I was reading I heard the squeaky song of a Pied Fantail outside and managed to get this pic through the window. They're pretty common.
Another common species is the Collared Kingfisher. They prey on anything that moves and are often far from water.
Each of the three evenings we have been here there has been a dragonfly patrolling nonstop over a parked car in the yard. It seems to behave like a glider or emerald. I'll have to do some research.