Monday, October 10, 2011

Back to Basics

I have been wanting to write about the wonderful week I spent in Negros Oriental but I honestly don't know where to start! So I will fast forward to my birding adventures back here in Manila the past weeks. We revisited the more familiar sites we frequented as we were newly fledged birders. After exploring the unique wonders of Negros, we went back to the "basics."

Lots of Little and Great Egrets!
Coastal Lagoon. We, or rather I, wasn't able to visit any mudflats during our stay in Negros and was feeling deprived of waders. So the first birding trip on our list was the Coastal Lagoon. I don't know why but I have this new fascination for them no matter how difficult most of them may be to ID. We stopped at the fishing wharf and  saw hundreds of egrets and terns and lots of waders on the exposed mudflats too! We went a few days after the storm and thanks to the mangroves, the area did not suffer any damage from any storm surge (unlike the area of Roxas Blvd..) We saw lots of Asian Golden Plovers and was able to get a lifer: a Marsh Sandpiper!

My first Ruddy Turnstone turning stones!!!
We proceeded to the Coastal Lagoon and saw that the storm had washed more garbage up the beach as well as on the path leading to the inner ponds. The low tide allowed us great views of another lifer for me, a Ruddy Turnstone! I could have stayed there all day watching it busily turning rocks on the beach! We scoped out the beach and were able to spot some waders foraging in all that waste (it's quite a sad sight.) After a few minutes of scanning the trash, Jops, Mark Jason, Jelaine and Ned were able to spot a Sanderling! They all saw it! Except for me! Note to self: go back asap!

UP Beta Way. I have always birded in this place and come back regularly to check on what surprises it may show me (like the Oriental Cuckoo a few months back.) This time, we found the place full of Brown Shrikes! There was also a flock of Lowland White-eyes in the area and White-collared Kingfishers calling from afar.

UP NIGS. We revisited the site of our first guided trip and I was quite saddened with all the construction going on. The central portion which used to be home for Striated Grassbirds was now walled in and... gone. We didn't see the resident Long-talied Shrikes in the area too. Hmmm.

UP Hardin ng Rosas. The last time I went here the place was overgrown and you couldn't see the pond and rice fields. But last weekend, the place was clear enough to bird in! We saw a Common Kingfisher trying its best to swallow quite a large fish until it dropped it and flew away. There were some egrets in the rice fields too as well as a single Java Sparrow. The Peregrine Falcon also made an appearance and we were able to spot a Common Sandpiper in a muddy patch!

Mangrove Blue Flycatcher (photo by Jops)
La Mesa Ecopark. We've been wanting to scout this place for other birdy areas and we were able to do so last Sunday. We also kept an eye out for the family of Ashy Ground Thrushes but were unable to spot them. Lots of trees were felled by the storm and others had lots of broken branches. We went on through the trail and were able to see a beautiful Mangrove Blue Flycatcher perched just in front of us as well as a Red-bellied Pitta a bit far off from its "usual" area. A brief sighting of an immature Brush Cuckoo sent my heart palpitating!

These, for me, are my "basic" birding sites. I wish for everyone to have these kinds of birding places, where you can rush to on a sunny weekend morning or when you just feel the need to bird. After going on an adventure, it was nice to go back to the familiar places and rediscover them again.

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