Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Birds After the Storm

I like seeing bird’s nests. That’s a fact. I get excited whenever a nest is spotted because I marvel at the architecture and uniqueness of each nest. Imagine a bird building such structures with only their beaks and feet! Look ma, no opposable thumbs! How awesome is that?!

I’ve written a post a long way back about the nests I’ve seen so far. I’m happy to add another nest that Jops and I spotted earlier this month. I didn’t post any photos about it since it was clearly an active nest, with the parents flying in and out to feed at least two chicks in it. We were lucky enough to see a nest of a pair of Mangrove Blue Flycatchers!

We noticed both parents staying in one area bringing food in their beaks. We saw the male Flycatcher perch on the side of the nest, where two hungry beaks opened up to receive the food!! That's when we realized the hollow in a small tree trunk was the nest! Upon checking our field guide to confirm our observation, we were surprised to read that their nests in the Philippines haven't been described yet at the time of publication. So it was even more exciting being able to observe something first hand that is not in the field guide yet =)

The shallow hollow in the trunk was about 8ft from
the ground and filled with some nesting material


We returned to the site a number of weeks after and I admit I was quite wary of what we would find. Typhoon Glenda had just passed the week before and we were expecting considerable damage in the trails. I was curious to know if the nest and chicks survived the storm.

The trails have been cleared of debris, but the inner portions of the trail showed considerable damage to the trees and other plants. 

The trails were cleared but were bordered by fallen branches and trees
A lot of the younger trees were bent or broken after the typhoon

Before reaching the nest area, we saw quite a number of birds hopping around the mini-forest's floor. The Hooded Pittas were busy foraging and a pair of Red-bellied Pittas showed up as well. Photographing these birds while they are hopping and sprinting away are a challenge on any given day, but add to that all the fallen branches and brambles... almost impossible to get a clear shot!

Spot the pitta!
Blurred and headless! I love the bright red though =)

We approached the nest and didn't see any bird activity. I tried my best to peep inside using my binoculars and found the nest empty. My heart sank a bit as I considered the worst, thinking that the chicks didn't survive the typhoon. Then Jops was calling me to the other side of the trail: immature Mangrove Blue Flycatchers! There were two!

I hurried to where he was and took some time spotting the small bird singing among the trees. We saw some small movement and there it was, still sporting the scaly feather pattern I love!

Immature Mangrove Blue Flycatcher

It stayed singing on its perch while another one answered back unseen from further inside the trails. I am hoping these two were the chicks we saw previously in the nest and that they had successfully fledged, although I really have no way to be sure of that.

It transferred to a different perch and even flew down to the ground to pluck some food from the soil before flying up a branch again.

Another view of the young Mangrove Blue Flycatcher

I had previously only got some fleeting views of young Mangrove Blue Flycatchers so I was really happy with the long, unobstructed views we got that morning =)

I also got a close encounter with a plump male Emerald Dove which was perched right in front of me at eye level at the edge of the trail.

It stared at me as if daring me to move...
I didn't.

There was also a LOT of Lowland White-eyes in the trails that day as well as very vocal Grey-backed Tailorbirds, although I did not see any of them.

Spot the White-eye!

We were beginning to miss the Ashy Thrushes when we saw one bringing a big, fat, and still-wriggling earthworm in its beak!

Nom nom nom! Hearty breakfast!

Seeing the breakfast worm reminded us we hadn't had any breakfast yet! We made our way out the trail but not before we spotted three Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers preening on a bare branch.

All lined up for take-off?
After preening, of course!

The woodpeckers were busy that morning as we spotted one more intently pecking away at a node of a tree. As it was working, it didn't notice a skink making its way slowly towards it! The skink left it alone after a quick peek.

Spot the woodpecker and the skink!


It was a short birding morning but I got to see the immature Mangrove Blue Flycatchers plus the pittas, thrush, woodpeckers, white-eyes, doves... our list was quite long! Even after a strong typhoon the birds are thriving and well, I guess I can take my cue from them =)

1 comment:

  1. wala na yung laman nung nest? :-) hope it fledged na before the big typhoon.. I saw it July 11 and july 13.. was super surprised to see it's in a hole! cuz all the while I thought mangrove blue fly makes nests like sunbirds , fantail, white-eyes .. yung bang naka buo from twigs and leaves fibres etc.. hahaha didn't expect it to be just a hole :-D

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