The past three days, Jops and I, together with Sir Chin of Birdwatch Coron and Rommel of Birdwatch Palawan, conducted a birdwatching training for Coron tour guides and brought them out birding in two locations. For the second site, we went to the Capayas area. After a few hours of birding, the participants left while the rest of us (me, Jops, Zelyn, Sir Chin, and Rommel) stayed behind to bird some more.
We walked to the home of Kuya Erwin, the resident Capayas guide, and he led us to the Capayas creek where kingfishers frequent. Along the way, we got close-up views of some White-vented Shamas and Hair-crested Drongos (lifer!)
We passed the area and refocused out attention to the creek. No, no kingfishers yet. We hiked a distance, crossed the creek, but still no kingfishers. We did see a Black-naped Monarch and heard a raptor calling from atop the trees plus more White-vented Shamas.
As Kuya Erwin was leading us deeper into the brush, we decided to head back and try our luck next time. So, our group trudged back toward his house, through the trail, across the creek... and then, a kingfisher! Kuya Erwin excitedly started pointing out a tiny, orangey bird perched partially hidden across the water. A superb Oriental Dwarf-Kingfisher! Another of my favorite lifers on this trip!
aka Rufous-backed Kingfisher
Jops braved the ravine and ventured down the creek for a better photo. Of course, I stayed behind and enjoyed my view from a high and dry location. While admiring the beautiful bird, Kuya Erwin suddenly got even more excited and pointed to another kingfisher a few meters downstream. A Blue-eared Kingfisher! Our second sighting for the day! I looked for Jops but he was still stalking the dwarf!
|Our second Blue-eared Kingfisher for the morning!|
The kingfisher was focused on some prey in the water and it soon dove and flew out of sight. As Zelyn and I were rejoicing over the kingfisher, a small bird caught our attention as it perched on a banana plant behind us. A very handsome Lovely Sunbird (it was a male =P)! Lifer! It flitted in and out of view and quickly flew away. I looked again for Jops and saw him emerging from a failed attempt at the dwarf...
Our group trekked back to Kuya Erwin's house and were quickly treated to in-your-face views of some Palawan Flowerpeckers! First, a male flowerpecker landed on a guava tree just outside his house and then quickly perched and fed on some bananas which were hanging on a branch, laid out just for the birds =)
|Male Palawan Flowerpecker|
The bird, which I think is my favorite flowerpecker (at the moment), soon flew away but was almost immediately replaced with a female. As with all flowerpeckers, the female is more drably-colored compared to the male. The bird soon flew away and just in time too, as our breakfast had just arrived hot and fresh from Darayonan Lodge! As we were enjoying our delicious breakfast of lamayo (a kind of fried dried fish), fried rice, and egg, a male Lovely Sunbird decided to feed on the red flowers just beside our breakfast table. None of us could grab our cameras as our fingers were oily from the fish! No photos for any of us, but Jops did get to tick off this lifer =)
We had to say goodbye soon after breakfast as we had to prepare for the birdwatching activity for kids later that afternoon. No worries, we decided to come back the following day.
And come back we did! We were back in Kuya Erwin's house early the next morning and we were prepped and excited for a full day of birding. We were also joined by Birdwatch Coron member, Michelle. Some of the early birds in the early morning fog were Ashy Drongos, Olive-winged Bulbuls, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrikes, and Palawan Flowerpeckers.
We heard some Common Flamebacks calling and we decided to go look for them in a higher portion of the area. The race in Busuanga is known as the Spot-throated Flameback and not the Red-headed Flameback (split from Greater Flameback) I mentioned previously. Thank you Paul and Rob for the corrections! Birder friend and blogger Paul has an excellent post about the recent flameback splits here. (Maiabird's Note: This is the third version of this paragraph! And I thank my birder friends from the bottom of my heart for the correction and more importantly for the education =) Jops and I weren't able to see the woodpeckers and just heard them so it's impossible for us to positively ID. Rob did share that if we heard it, then it was most probably Spot-throated. Great info to know!)
So up the steep hill we went in search for the trilling birds. They weren't anywhere to be seen but we got excellent views of a Crested Goshawk having its breakfast! All the smaller birds were making a ruckus due to its presence and it was really amazing to see it with its prey clasped in its talons.
|Crested Goshawk eating a... chicken?|
|Birders, birds, and forest =)|
|Yellow-throated Leafbird, a Palawan endemic|
Our group split up into two, with me, Jops, and Kuya Erwin looking for the woodpeckers while the rest went to the creek to search for the kingfishers. We regrouped after a few minutes with no sightings of our target birds. We had breakfast (again delivered from Darayonan Lodge) before starting a long trek to find more birds.
We ventured into meadows with grazing cows, walked through a path surrounded by dense greenery...
... crossed shallow waters (and Rommel even got stung by a bee!) for the kingfishers. Both the Oriental Dwarf-Kingfisher and Blue-eared Kingfisher made appearances again! I got a better shot of the dwarf this time =)
|All for the kingfishers!|
aka Rufous-backed Kingfisher
We started walking away from the creek and walked and walked... and walked. We searched for the Chestnut-breasted Malkoha and was able to spot one skulking and hiding from us. I was able to catch a glimpse of the bird but not a good enough view to call it a lifer. I guess it'll have to wait til my next trip to Coron. Even if we dipped on some birds, Jops and I were able to get eleven lifers on our first birding trip to Coron.
But, quite unexpectedly, as we were reviewing our bird lists in the pre-departure area of the Busuanga Airport, we even got our twelfth lifer! A squadron on Brown-backed Needletails suddenly swooped into view, flying low over the fields and soaring above the airport. It was such a nice way to end our activity-filled trip to Coron!
Many thanks to Sir Chin and Birdwatch Coron for hosting the training, inviting us, and bringing us out birding. Birding in Coron was such an enjoyable adventure that I can't wait to go back and to share this experience with more of our birder friends! Club trip, anyone? =)