Saturday, September 30, 2017

Surprises for the Birthday Boy: Coron Day 2

It was Djop's birthday on our second day in Coron and we were up and ready to go at 5:30am! Great early start to celebrate his birthday! 😉 We were going back to Capayas Creek after an amazing first day birding in the area. We arrived at the site and immediately set up in the hut for the day. The Blue-eared Kingfishers were in the same spot we saw them the previous day but they kept to the shadows. We were waiting for them to show better when we were distracted by the call of a Blue Paradise Flycatcher

Kuya Erwin led us closer to where the bird was calling and we saw two of them flying around some low trees. I was able to get some nice views through my binoculars but the birds did not come out for any photos. While we were looking at the flycatcher, Sir Chin was photographing a juvenile Hooded Pitta that was busy preening on a low branch. It was soon joined by an adult before they flew off.

Many birds were calling around us, Palawan Flowerpeckers, Olive-backed Sunbirds, Ashy-fronted Bulbuls, but not many showed. A couple of Blue-headed Raquet-tails made their presence heard as they flew above us. One perched on a nearby tree but did not come out to show itself. I distracted myself with a beautiful caterpillar busy munching on a leaf.



We decided to walk to the other side of the road and search for more birds there. We realized Djop hasn't been able to get good views and any photos of the White-vented Shama, one of the more common birds in Coron! Unacceptable!

Well, the birthday boy was in for a surprise because we hadn't even reached the main road when we were treated to nice long views of a singing White-vented Shama! We also got another one just across the road!

 


We walked further down the road while Black-naped Orioles flew around the canopy of trees above us. We were hoping for better views of the Rufous-backed Kingfisher that only showed briefly the previous day. We got to the small bridge and spotted a Grey Wagtail and a Common Kingfisher along the banks of the creek.



Djop and Kuya Erwin went exploring for the kingfisher while Sir Chin and I waited by the river bank. We were chatting when a small orange bird flew across the water to land unseen in the bamboo across us! Rufous-backed Kingfsher! We were still trying to spot the bird when it flew back to our side of the creek and towards the area where Djop and Kuya Erwin were. We gingerly made our way to where they were and they pointed out a juvenile Rufous-backed Kingfisher! They told us it was being fed by an adult bird, which was probably the one Sir Chin and I saw by the creek! Another birthday surprise for the birthday boy! What a treat to be able to observe this kind of behavior!

Such a beautifully-colored bird 😍

The birds transferred to a more hidden perch but I was lucky enough to have found an opening in the foliage to witness the adult bringing food to the young one. I managed to get a short video too!



It started to drizzle soon after the kingfishers left, so we started walking back to the hut. We had to stop at the barangay hall when a light rain fell, and we compared notes and took some group photos 😁

Taking a break during the rainshower!
After this shot, Sir Chin's camera fell!!! 😨
Thankfully, no major damage! 

When the rain slowed down to a light drizzle, we made our way back to the hut for breakfast. The birds weren't so active but a Black-chinned Fruit Dove had its own breakfast on a nearby tree and the Black-naped Monarch made a brief appearance (so no picture hehe.)

It was a hazy, drizzly morning!

It was soon noon time and the Blue-eared Kingfishers were back in their usual spot. To our delight, they stayed for quite a long time, unperturbed by our presence.

This is my favorite shot of the Blue-eared Kingfisher. I like its pose 😊

We were having our lunch of chili crabs and steamed fish when a male Lovely Sunbird perched close to the hut! We quickly washed our chili crab-soaked hands and ran to our cameras but the bird had gone! Back to the crabs...

After lunch, we walked to the area near Kuya Erwin's house and chased a male Lovely Sunbird as it flitted around the trees. I hope Djop and Sir Chin got good shots because these were all I got:

Would've made an awesome photo 

Let's play: Guess the Sunbird!

Ashy-fronted Bulbuls and Yellow-throated Leafbirds also surrounded us, while a Blue-Paradise Flycatcher teased us by calling but not showing. We returned to the hut and enjoyed our views of the kingfishers diving for fish in the creek.

The pair of Blue-eared Kingfishers hunting for fish! We were treated to lots
of diving action and whack-the-fish action that morning.
 As I was observing the kingfishers, I was surprised to see a branch slither away. Slither?! Snake!

My friend Emerson identified this as
Dendrelaphis levitoni, a Palawan faunal region endemic

I excitedly pointed it out to Djop (another birthday surprise!) and Sir Chin, mainly so I had witnesses and people would believe I saw a snake and did not just imagine a branch moving 😂 But the snake stayed in view for a bit, allowing us to observe its beautiful patterns and movements before it disappeared among the rocks. So cool! It was actually our second snake of the trip. Djop saw a thin, bright green snake up a coconut tree the previous day. Bird activity died down in the late afternoon so we decided to pack up and head to Villa Khadine to check out the birds there.

We arrived in Villa Khadine where we were welcomed by Tita Gigi, the owner and friend of Sir Chin. They had spotted a Stork-billed Kingfisher earlier that day and we were hoping we could see it too.

At the entrance of Villa Khadine

Tita Gigi pointed out the spot where they had seen the kingfisher but there was a large group of Asian Glossy Starlings already settling to roost. We walked to the view deck and took in the view of the mangroves in the dwindling day light. So much green!!!

As we were taking photos, Djop suddenly pointed out a bird perched on a tall and very far tree. Looking through our bins... Chestnut-breasted Malkoha!

Another surprise sighting for the day!

There were two malkohas in the tree and they flew closer to us but stayed hidden. Tita Gigi invited us for coffee and we chatted about the birds they could see in the resort.
  
Thank you, Tita Gigi, for the welcome and the coffee!

We soon said our thank yous and goodbyes and walked to the van. It was a great birthday birding day and we were looking forward to a yummy celebratory dinner in Darayonan

But there was another surprise in store for the birthday boy! As we were approaching the van, a Spot-throated Flameback called loudly and flew above us and perched! It was too far and covered for good photos but we did get good views as it moved its head back and forth.

Last surprise of the day!

It was quickly getting dark so we said our goodbye to Tita Gigi and drove back to Darayonan. Little did we know that Sir Chin had another surprise for the birthday boy! 

At Darayonan, we shared a wonderful and delicious birthday dinner for Djop of adobo, shrimps, and lobsters!!! Plus a yummy chocolate birthday cake for dessert!

Yummy (and easy to shell) birthday lobsters!

With our stomachs and our hearts full, we finished our dinner and said our heartfelt thanks to our host (and ninong) 😊 We still had another exciting day ahead of us before our flight back to Manila!!!

Thank you, Ninong Chin!!! 😊
To be continued...