Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Thrush-y Girls Day Out

With our +1s on their respective tours, Trinket and I made plans for a short trip within the week to La Mesa Ecopark. Just a quick birding fix before we headed to work on a Thursday.

It was girls birding day out!

Trinket and I arrived in the park within minutes of each other. Trinket was able to spot a cuckoo near the park entrance, in the same area Joni and I saw it weeks before, but it hid before I got to the spot. We made a leisurely walk towards the trail, stopping to spot something here and there. The park was almost empty since it was a weekday, and we enjoyed the quiet and isolation as we entered the mini-forest.

The first bird we saw in the trail was a busy Pechora Pipit, hurriedly scurrying around the ground. We laughed about the first time we saw it in the park and we dismissed it as a tiny Ashy Thrush =P We headed towards the area where Jops and I saw the White's Thrush last Sunday. I wasn't able to get good views the last time, and it was actually my main reason for coming back.

We didn't have to wait long before the bird made an appearance! The White's Thrush, formerly known as the Scaly Ground-Thrush, perched atop a clump of palm fruits and started feeding. Unlike our previous encounters with the bird, where it was observed on the ground, this individual preferred high perches and fed on berries instead of worms. I was able to get great views through my binoculars but photographing it was difficult from where I stood.

All I managed was this out of focus photo!

We were still enjoying our views when suddenly an Ashy Thrush swooped in and drove the bigger White's Thrush away. Interestingly, the Ashy perched atop the clump of fruits and started feeding on them as well! We discussed the Ashy's new item on its diet and watched as the bird stood possessively over the cluster of ripe, red berries.

It stayed quite a while as if saying
"This clump is MINE!"

We moved on, managing not to flush the Ashy as we passed by the palm tree. We tried our luck with the Spotted Wood Kingfisher, which Trinket hasn't seen yet in the park. After this morning, she still has yet to see it in the park. The Spotty wasn't on its usual perch. We did get to see another Ashy Thrush, perched very close to us and then it foraged noisily among the dry leaves covering the ground.

Other birds started to make their presence felt: Philippine Pied Fantails, Large-billed Crows, Arctic Warblers, Philippine Magpie Robins, and Red-keeled Flowerpeckers flew among the trees and called noisily from their perches. A scraggly Brown Shrike also showed along the trail as well as some noisy Black-naped Orioles and a Grey-streaked Flycatcher. We found ourselves facing the palm trees again, with the Ashy Thrush still sitting on top! It soon flew away, which gave the Yellow-vented Bulbuls a chance at the fruits.

YVB's turn to eat!

The Bulbul's ate noisily and messily, scattering fruits on the ground as they gobbled up the red berries. I decided to stay and wait for the White's Thrush and Trinket decided to go find herself a lifer in the trail.

I positioned myself in the shade and at the edge of the trail so as not to stick out like a sore birder, er, thumb. The Bulbuls have left the palm trees and I waited. Suddenly, an adult Ashy Thrush perched just a couple of feet beside me. It looked around and then it looked straight at me! It cocked its head one side, then the other and for a moment, I was afraid it would attack me! I raised my hands slowly to my face, ready to shield my eyes lest it did launch an assault on a poor, unarmed birder.

This bird scared me for a moment there! =P

I guess it decided I wasn't a threat (or I was a tree since I was definitely NOT breathing and moving!) and it turned its back to me and diverted its attention to other things in the forest. Suddenly a big bird perched on the palm trees: the White's Thrush was back!!! As soon as I turned my head towards the palms, the Ashy darted towards it, trying to flush the bigger thrush away! I actually let out a loud "Nooooo!"

The White's Thrush held its ground and stayed hidden behind the thin trunk, checking out if the endemic bully was going to attack again. Thankfully, it didn't.

Is the bully there???

When the coast was clear, it proceeded to feed on the berries. After a few second of eating, it stopped. And didn't move. At all. It stayed as if frozen on its perch. I happily took photos and admired the bird through my binoculars. It stayed for a long time, so I sat on the trail and watched.

It stayed still like this for a long time until it was flushed away by a hiker
who greeted my a shouty "Good morning" because she had her
earphones on =P

I got up from my seat (which was a big flat rock) and turned to see Trinket approaching me with a big smile, holding her fingers up in a letter L. Lifer! She was able to see the Slaty-legged Crake! Our excited chatter was interrupted by an ongoing, noisy Ashy versus Ashy fight. We saw the winner plucking out an earthworm from the ground. We continued talking about her lifer and decided to wait for the thrushes to come back.

We began talking about our friend Kitty's recent thrush lifer, and suddenly weren't sure which thrush she saw. We talked about the other possible species including the Brownheaded Thrush and the Eyebrowed Thrush. Just seconds after mentioning them, an Eyebrowed Thrush stealthily perched on the palm trees, plucked a couple of berries, and flew off into the trees. Cool! We thought the Sunda Thrush was worth mentioning aloud, but it didn't show =P

The Yellow-vented Bulbuls were back and after we were seated comfortably on the trail (Trinket on her folding chair and me on my rock), the White's Thrush came back. It gave us good views of its backside this time, before it walked towards the berries and fed.

My official favorite bird!
(for now)

It was the Bulbuls turn to get all territorial of the fruits. They hovered around the Thrush, flying in and out, noisily trying to drive it away, to no avail. Again, the Thrush fed for a while before staying absolutely still. We enjoyed observing it from our seats until it was flushed away by a group of students. A young Black-naped Oriole tried its luck with the fruits but it only stayed a few seconds before it gave up and flew off.

It was almost mid-morning and Trinket and I were more than satisfied with our very productive girls day out. We headed out the trail energized and ready to take on the Thursday that lay ahead of us. =)

5 comments:

  1. Cheers up Miaia! A bulbul nests in my backyard also!
    http://gumgig.blogspot.com/2014/01/streak-eared-bulbul.html

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    1. Wow! Congratulations! You are lucky to have nesting birds in your backyard! =)

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  2. Aaaahhh, can't wait to go there. Hope to see the Slaty, the White's and the Eyebrowed - all would be lifers. Even the Ashy, (for our big year competition). Hehehe

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    1. Cool! Let's go back soon po! Let's get you more big year lifers! =)

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  3. it was a great girl's morning out with you maia! :-) thrushes plus a long-awaited lifer for me, what more could i have asked for?

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