Thursday, May 8, 2014

El Nido Adventure: Final Hurrah and the Mystery Blue Flycatcher

I woke up early Saturday morning, decided to make the most of the one or two hours we had before we boarded our plane and left El Nido.

Nature has the most awesome colors!

Our first day was a great exploratory adventure and I was able to see 8 lifers. Our second day wasn't as birdy but we were lucky enough to have spent an hour in Lagen island (huge thanks to Noel B. for the generosity!) where I added more lifers bringing my total El Nido lifers to 12! I wasn't expecting any lifers on our last morning in El Nido Cove, but I did want better views of one of my lifers, the Stork-billed Kingfisher.

The sea and beach was very calm early in the morning

Jops and I walked to the far end of the beach to the area where we saw the kingfisher two days ago. Jops was able to spot it on a leafless tree through the spotting scope on our first morning in El Nido Cove. While walking, we spotted a Little Egret feeding in the shallows and an Osprey flew past over the sea.

Soon we were near the leafless tree and, hiding under the leaves of a talisay, we waited for the kingfisher to show. It did but was quite shy and very sensitive to any movements we made. I was able to get a photo of it hiding behind a tree trunk =P

Handsome Stork-billed Kingfisher

The kingfisher disappeared from view but would come back to perch on a different tree on the beach a number of times. In between these appearances, a number of other birds showed themselves.

A couple of Thick-billed Green Pigeons landed on a fruiting ficus tree, quickly disappearing into the thick branches as they fed. A Grey-streaked Flycatcher also decided to perch very close to us and stayed unmoving on its exposed perch.

Grey-streaked Flycatcher

A pair of Rufous-tailed Tailorbirds also came out into the open and surprisingly stayed quite a while, flitting from perch to perch. On of them perched just in front of us an stayed put long enough for a mini photo shoot!

Some Palawan Bulbuls also joined the tailorbirds in the brush but didn't show very well. The very common Asian Glossy Starlings also started to become active around us and a pair of Brown-backed Needletails soared overhead. A Collared Kingfisher also made a brief appearance. Soon, it was time for us to walk back to the resort for our breakfast before going to the airport. We said goodbye to Marco, the manager of El Nido Cove, and thanked him for our wonderful stay.

Group shot on the deck!

Soon, we were in the van heading towards the airport. After depositing our luggage and checking in, we decided to check out the mangrove area behind the huts as a final birding hurrah. We heard a flycatcher singing and soon spotted a handsome blue flycatcher perched on the mangrove roots! We got all excited at the possibility of it being a Palawan Blue Flycatcher, another would-be lifer to bring my total to 13! The Palawan Blue Flycatcher looks extremely like the Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, so we took lots of photos and the bird posed beautifully for us.

Mangrove Blue Flycatcher

Alas, upon checking and consulting our friends, and with the help of our friend Christian (who has seen and photographed both the Palawan Blue and Mangrove Blue Flycatchers), we were able to identify the bird: it was a Mangrove Blue Flycatcher.  Not a lifer, but I did get a pretty good picture =) 

My life list for El Nido remained at 12 which was a bonus in itself.  On top of that, we also got to meet lots of super nice people, fledged a few more birders, and added lasting memories from our trip. I can't wait for the next adventure!

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