Monday, October 31, 2011

Birding Side-Trip #1

Sometimes, you find yourself having to do something and that opens up an opportunity for a birding side-trip. This past week, I was lucky enough to find myself birding in two new sites and getting one lifer from each! Our first birding side-trip was in Cavite State University.

Jops was invited to give a talk in Tagaytay and he thought it would be a perfect chance for a birding side-trip in the Cavite State University campus. His talk was scheduled in the afternoon, so that afforded us a whole morning of birding. He'd been there numerous times before for work and has been telling me that it was a good birding site. He got some lifers there before! So, we packed our bags and drove south.

Some of the trees in the pool area
The campus is big and in some portions, still dense with trees. We birded in the area of the swimming pool, which was basically a deserted portion of the university. Some pools had no water in them and since it was already the semestral break, there were almost no students on campus.

From the gated entrance, the path leading down to the pools reminded me of the trail of Mt. Makiling. Large trees lined the path and bird calls could be heard all around. I could already see Philippine Bulbuls flying among the trees!

We reached the steps leading down to the pools and here we saw a large fruiting tree! Within minutes, we spotted Stripe-headed Rhabdornis, Lowland White-eyes, Yellow-vented Bulbuls and more Philippine Bulbuls.

Half-way down the steps, I saw a couple of birds perch on the small tree above us. From their form, they looked like munias... best guess: Scaly-breasted Munias. I trained my binoculars to where they were perched and I felt my heart beat faster as I saw their white bellies lined with brown speckles! LIFER! I didn't expect to get any lifers on the trip but there they were, perched just meters above me!

Further down by the empty pool, a couple of White-throated Kingfishers perched on a tree, occasionally swooping down to grab an earthworm before perching again and enjoying its meal. (Observing this quite large kingfisher, whacking the worm against the tree branch made me wonder if the earthworm was actually putting up a fight.)

We also got nice views of a Black-naped Monarch in the same tree!

I chose to sit half-way down the steps, enjoying the eye-level view of the fruiting tree while Jops made his way down to the pool area. I just sat there taking in the views of the Stripe-headed Rhabdornis feeding above me. Such beautiful markings!

Stripe-headed Rhabdornis. Photo by Jops (taken in Subic)

We birded in other areas of the campus but had to cut the trip short since we had to travel to Tagaytay City for the main purpose of this trip: Jops' Globe Negostar talk. It would be great to go back and explore the area more. WBCP club trip maybe? =)

Jops' Globe Negostar talk!

Birding side-trip #2, coming up!

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