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New Country Record

Locality: Calayan
Province: Cagayan
Island: Calayan Island
Dates: 16-17 May 2010, 6am to 6pm
Birder present and reporter: Christian Perez
Environment conditions: warm and sunny
Reference: WBCP Checklist of Birds of the Philippines 2009

Trip notes:
The Calayan Rail was seen in Sitio Longog, Barangay Magsidel, about 4 hours' walk on muddy trails from Centro, deep in the primary forest. Our very competent guide, James "Jam" Reynon, was equipped with recordings to call the birds. We stopped in about 15 spots to call the birds, and they responded about 10 times out of 15. One, 2 or up to 4 birds responded at a time. However, the Rail is very shy and runs away in the dark undergrowth at the slightest sign of human presence, and is difficult to see. I was lucky with a good sighting of a Rail running through a patch of bright sunlight, but was not able to take pictures. According to the guide, in the early years after discovery, many birds were not shy and would approach people when called. But those birds have probably been shot and only the shy ones remain now (passing their shy genes to the next generation). I don't think I would have been able to see or even hear one without the recorded calls.

The Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo), was seen near the house of Conrado (Totong) Duerme, about 5 minutes by tricycle from Centro. According to him, 3 birds arrived in October 2008 during the migration season. One bird was shot the same day, the second one flew away immediately, and the 3rd one has remained there since then. The Crane is not shy and is easily approached to a distance of 5 meters. It spends most of its time in a small river bed, walking around in the nearby rice fields in the early mornings and late afternoons. They say that it sometimes flies around over the rice fields and always returns to the same area (although I haven't seen it fly myself).

The Brown Hawk-Owl was seen deep in the forest on the way to Longog. Based on the split proposed by Ben King (not reflected as a species in the WBCP 2009 checklist), it is a Northern Boobook Ninox japonica. The locals say it is a resident in Calayan. (Thanks to Des Allen for help in identification)

The Whistling Green-Pigeon seems to be relatively easy to see around Centro. The Ryukyu Scops-Owl is common and was heard calling every night, but I did not see one. The Chestnut-eared Bulbul is very common. The Tabon Scrubfowl in Calayan is found in the primary forest, not on beaches. I also included in this list sea birds seen from the boat in the open ocean on the way to Calayan Island: Wedge-tailed Shearwater and Common Tern (thanks to Arne Jensen for help in identification).

Bird list:
Cattle Egret – 3
Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo) - 1
Oriental Honeybuzzard – 1
White-bellied Sea-Eagle – 2
Tabon Scrubfowl – 1
Red Junglefowl – 1 HO f
Barred Rail – 1
Calayan Rail – 1 (heard 20 more)
White-breasted Waterhen – 1
Whiskered Tern – 1
Whistling Green-Pigeon – 2
Green Imperial-Pigeon – x HO
Common Emerald Dove – 1
Common Koel – x HO
Philippine Coucal – 3 (more heard)
Ryukyu Scops-Owl - x HO
Brown Hawk-Owl - 2
Glossy Swiftlet – x
White-collared Kingfisher – x
Chestnut-eared Bulbul – x
Black-naped Oriole – x
Large-billed Crow – x
Green-backed Whistler – 1
Asian Glossy Starling – x
Crested Myna – 1
Purple-throated Sunbird – x
Lowland White-eye – 2
Eurasian Tree Sparrow – x
Chestnut Munia – x

15 May 2010, 7-9am, open ocean between Claveria and Fuga Island

Wedge-tailed Shearwater – 100 (both light and dark phase)
Common Tern - 12