Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Anniversary Frogmouth

Time flies by so fast! I felt like it was just a few months ago when I wrote about Jops and my second "birding birthday" or "birding anniversary." April 9 marks the first time we went birdwatching with the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and we got hooked on birding since then =)

We have been very blessed with quite amazing lifers the past two birding anniversaries. On our first year, we were able to spot a Chinese Francolin with a group of friends in Nuvali in Sta. Rosa. On our second year, we went birding in Canyon Cove in Batangas where we didn't get any lifers until we got back home in Quezon City and we spotted an immature Philippine Scops-Owl in the evening!

Today is our third birding anniversary and Jops and I didn't have any plans to find lifers. We just wanted to spend some time birding nearby to celebrate. I even told our friend Rob that I didn't think we'd get any lifers this time since we just planned to bird in the La Mesa Ecopark in the morning. That was until our birder friend Jasmin posted a photo of a nesting Philippine Frogmouth spotted nearby!

NO WAY! We got in touch with her immediately and she very kindly helped facilitate getting permission for us to bird in the La Mesa Nature Reserve in Greater Lagro, Quezon City since prior arrangements need to be made to enter the nature reserve.

So, at 6:30AM on our third birding anniversary, Jops and I, together with Rob and Irene, found ourselves in the La Mesa Nature Reserve, preparing for the trail that would possibly give us an awesome anniversary lifer. We were met by Sir Dave who is part of the management and our guide, Kuya Efren. It was really nice that both of them remembered us from the introductory training we gave about birdwatching February last year!

We soon hit the trail and I had butterflies in my stomach! Would we be so lucky and blessed to see a frogmouth on an impromptu twitch on our birding birthday??

On the trail as the sun (and temperature) rose

Even if I wanted to brisk-walk directly to where it was spotted, we of course couldn't help but bird along the way. The trail was alive with bird calls and we got to see Collared Kingfishers, Black-naped Orioles, Guaiaberos, White-breasted Woodswallows, Lowland White-Eyes, and lots more.

Collared Kingfisher bathing in the morning sun.
One of many Guaiaberos we saw and heard along the trails.

We walked around a bend and Kuya Efren suddenly entered a small path off the side of the trail - we were at the frogmouth's site. As I followed him and Jops into the brush, I saw Kuya Efren pointing further into the greens and I knew I would be getting to see the Philippine Frogmouth in a few seconds.

And it was amazing =)

Philippine Frogmouth:
our 3rd birding anniversary lifer!

The frogmouth was sitting very still on its small nest which was snugly built on a small bend of a thin trunk. It had its head raised up, doing its best to camouflage itself as a dry leaf, and doing a very good job at it =) We each took our positions at a safe distance from the nest and started photographing this very unique-looking bird. I couldn't believe it! We still got a lifer! 

We kept a safe distance from the nest so as not to disturb the bird,
and we took different positions to photograph the frogmouth. 
We were all squatting, kneeling, or sitting since the nest was quite low

It was quite a bird to observe! The markings on its back were beautiful, it's "hairy" face very unique looking, and its posture so peculiar. We got to see the bird at different angles which was such a treat! I love it when I am able to take my time studying a bird's field marks =)

Showing its chin and its underparts
Amazing patterns on its feathers!

 We soon left the nest and decided to bird until mid-morning. Back at the information center, we showed Sir Dave our photos and chatted with him and some of the guides and bikers and some of the nature reserve's staff asked if they could join us the next time we visited to go birding =)

Up to now that I am writing this, I am overwhelmed by the fact that we were still gifted with a lifer on our birding anniverary. And not just any lifer... an uncommon endemic frogmouth lifer =)

Thank you again, Jasmin! You showed us our 200th lifer in Candaba last year and now paved the way for this one =) Milkshakes and milk tea for everyone!