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Ateneo Bird Report

Annette Tamino, Mike Lu, Jon Villasper and Allan Fernando
Date: March 23, 2003
Time: 5:45am-8:00 am
Fair weather with clear skies

I remembered my friend Larry made a joke about the blue eagle and asked if I knew an animal with the scientific name Ateneos azureus. I wasn't able to get the joke because I was thinking that it was a serious question. How slow of me...

Thanks to Mike Lu who managed to pick me up at 5am in Ortigas, we were able to reach Ateneo campus before sunrise. Fortunately I was able to see a tall guy lugging a backpack and a pair of binocs at the admin building after fetching a pair of sneakers at the dorm. Well if I didn't see the binoculars I would have left geographer Jon Villasper figuring out where we were from the campus road map. But then the binocs were a dead give away. We joined Allan (whom I met for the first time) and Mike so we could head out to the wildlife sanctuary near the main gate but after observing some LONG-TAILED SHRIKES. For first time birders I really do recommend Ateneo or UP birding since the common birds really fly so near, you can see a lot of detail and study diagnostic characters easily.


(southern edge of the baseball field):

We saw the WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN really quick at the lagoon drainage of Lambingan bridge (that's what my students call that small arc of concrete walk). It was really elusive as compared to accounts of the waterhens in UP Diliman. Then we went back to meet with Gil who at first said he was lost in the middle of the parking lot? (joke)

Mike drove us to the Manila Observatory and we birded the area at around 6:45. Spotted two ZEBRA DOVES right ahead of the narrow cemented path. Then we went nearer the clump of acacia, star apple and mango trees. At one of the grass clusters was an immature BROWN SHRIKE, which may get some confused since it seem to be like a grass bird in color, shape and form. But diagnostics such as the black mask on the eye is unmistakable and the movement of the tail which seem to look like it's being rotated in a circular motion was observed, while grassbirds move their tails up and down in a vertical axis only. At a flowering acacia tree were 4 flowerpeckers, one with white belly and lime-green and brown upper parts, the other three with all yellow belly and the same colouring on the upper parts---the Pgymy Flowerpeckers? which need to be IDed again since they were flitting so fast we couldn't see them well. Musical birds were the PIED FANTAILS numbering more than 5 individuals, YELLOW-VENTED BULBULS numbering more than 10 individuals, some EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS and more Long -tailed Shrikes. Of course the shrill cries coming from a pair of WHITE-COLLARED KINGFISHERS caught our attention. We were able to see more details of its form: the crown is really glossy and really dark blue and the size is bigger than 5 inches. Our last ID was for 2 STRIATED GRASSBIRDS perched on an open electrical wire.

Since we didn't want to take a shortcut through the barbed wire fence, we went back and drove to the Jesuit Residence. At least I am relieved to have more than 5 species on the list since I was short of being embarrassed by the paucity of birds. In 1998, Perry Ong and company recorded 27 species for the Ateneo including an 4 escaped Colasisis (published in Science Diliman 1st half of the year, 1999).

(north east from the intersection at Gate 3):

At the JR we did birding at the forest patch alongside and heard the call of a BLACK NAPED ORIOLE. I think I'll wait for Allan to confirm his sighting for a certain bird. Was it in this area that you saw the emerald dove? Some silence then, the sound of a Black-naped Oriole again, yellow-vented bulbuls and Pied Fantails in flight. I heard a soft familiar sound somewhere and the drilling sound of a PHILIPPINE PGYMY-WOODPECKER. Suddenly I knew that the best bird we are about to see was at the private zone (at the back of the infirmary or the JR building itself). It was my first time to be in this area so if you reach the no entrance sign, ask permission from the caretaker that you'll be birding and don't flash a smile because he might think you're up to no good.

I guess I'll leave the WHITE COCKATOO details to Gil who was happy to have seen such exotic species thrive in this little forest patch with the grounds of Loyola Memorial Garden down below on the east. Imagine being in the Ateneo since 2000 with 100% risk of being birdnapped mainly because of an attention seeking loud "waak-waak." In December 2000, my breadgirl friend and I even named the noisy one as Cocka-one and its silent partner Cocka-two.


Gil’s account of the Indonesian Cockatoos

It must have been 7:20am when I caught a glimpse of a large white bird in the ravine as it was gliding away from us northeastwards towards the perimeter of Loyola Grand Villas. We did not see it again until a little later and not before we were apprehended by somebody at the JR garage, saying that we were on private property. Fortunately, Annette had already requested and received permission from one of the fathers seated at the entrance of the residence when we arrived.

I saw the white bird again, gliding around, not long enough to have a good look but positive to know that it is a WHITE COCKATOO. I was already satisfied with the ID and did not expect to see it further. But Allan excitedly pointed to a banana tree some distance away in the ravine, and there was Cocka-One perched ona banana leaf and nibbling on the leaf as well. And partly hidden by the fringes of another banana leaf was Cocka-two, somewhat less mobile.

The two birds stayed on the banana tree for some time for the group to really look at them, all of smooth white feathers and gray beaks and feet. We did not see Cocka-three, rumored offspring of Cocka-one and two, which Annette reported earlier, but I was not only happy, I was elated !


We also saw 4 BARRED RAILS calling like ducks (short, shrill honks) at the same time down below a little gorge in the same area. More White-collared Kingfishers here (more than 5 individuals). Calling the attention of Mike, the small birds we saw with the hanging nest were probably LEMON THROATED LEAF WARBLERS. You were actually correct in your description. The diagnostic characters were the whitish-lime colour of the upper eye and eyebrow rim and the lemon throat (we agreed it wasn't white) and the tail longer unlike the short rumps of flowerpeckers. I also checked that it was in the bird list compiled by Perry Ong et al. in 1998. Their nest was made of soft material, more like long blades of dry cogon and talahib grass that hung on the stuck-up leaves of an acacia tree. We also saw a nest made by the Pied Fantail that was pasted on a tree trunk, this time it was made of broad dried leaves.

We called it breakfast time at 8:00 am with 15 species on our list and two nests.

1. Barred Rail- 4 in gorge behind Jesuit Residence
2. White-breasted Waterhen- 1 adult, found in vicinity of Wildlife Sanctuary along Gate 3
3. Zebra Doves- 2, found at the Manila Observatory
White Cockatoo- 2 adults, found at the Jesuit Residence
5. White-collared Kingfisher >5, numerous in vicinity of the Jesuit Residence.
6. Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker- heard at Jesuit Residence
7. Yellow-vented Bulbuls >10 found except at the SEC area
8. Black-naped Oriole- heard at Jesuit Residence
9. Lemon-throated Leaf Warbler- 2 adults with nest at Jesuit Residence *
10. Striated Grassbirds- 2 , found at the Manila Observatory
11. Pied Fantails >5, found MO and Jesuit Residence
12. Brown Shrikes- 2 (1 immature, 2 adult), found only in Manila Observatory and Jesuit Residence
13. Long-tailed Shrikes >10, found in all 4 areas
14. Eurasian Tree Sparrows >5, except in the Jesuit Residence
15. Pygmy Flower Peckers- 4 at the MO*

• not 100% confident ID