Sunday, 25 March 2012

This Little Piggy Went to Market

My 06:00 departure today found me a full hour late for the slaughter of the 'fatted family pig', by the time I got just a short way down the road head and hocks were already part smoked.

Within a couple of minutes this ELEGANT TIT (E) appeared in a tree above me,

but have to admit to nearly loosing it by passing it off as Great or Green-backed Tit.

According to the book there are a few 'endemics' to be had at altitude so an early start to climb Great Bitin the highest what the locals refer to as 'mountain' behind the village of Sagada in Mountain Provence.

There are lots of these Pinnacle Rock Formations hereabouts and luckily there was a


awaiting my arrival on this one. The Guide to the Birds of the Philippines describes this bird a a 'migrant' but a chance look at Wikipedia shows a Sub-species Monticola solitarius philippensis.

In a local garden a little further along but still within the village another 'endemic' CHETNUT-FACED BABBLER was waiting for me and giving reasonable views.

The weather wasn't really the best for mountain climbing, about 70F and quite humid, but the scenery almost immediately made up for the discomfort.

There were plenty of DRAGONFLIES of what was believed to be 4 distinct species in a habitat

that was mostly Pines, rough grassland and scrub. An OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT was seen at this location, but far too flighty to bring you a shot.

This WATER BUFFALO, likely awaiting a days work in the paddy-fields, gave me the once over as I passed by

while a male ORIENTAL MAGPIE seemed more occupied with procreating.

Lots of BUTTERFLIES on the slopes and on the grassy plateau as I reached as near the top as I was going.

The views too were well worth the climb,

so spent a full hour enjoying the good weather, surveying all around me and contemplating 'my lot' - no complaints!

I only encountered 3 people since stepping foot on the mount, all subsistence farmers, like this chap carting his crop to market.

I did ask him what it was but the answer was lost in translation. Bit high for 'rice' I would have thought.

There were some interesting low growing Juniper type plants with these lovely bells

and when I turned to look at my jacket hung on a fence post

this cracking Moth had taken up temporary residence there.

Copulating Dragonflies were also seen,

along with Fern Fronds about to unfurl but best

were views of the Rice Terraces in their '40 Shades of Green'. The plan is to get a little nearer to them tomorrow. On the way down, the strange sight of Swifts flying between the Pine trees and well worth checking out. They were most definitely picking something from the trunks and branches, but if this were insects or resin was never established. Another bird I may have just assumed was what I had seen before except for this behaviour. Closer inspection showed a heavily speckled white rump, lower belly and under-tail making these most certainly GLOSSY SWIFTLET.

Close to the foot of the mountain there was a school which I discovered later were on their Summer Vacation. Nevertheless a good number of the children were busying themselves in the SCHOOL GARDEN while others were playing Basketball and all girls Baseball.

Among the many fruiting trees there were 4 species of bird I just could not get a grip on. Most escaped without photographic record, but

this, complete with a fairly decent photo,

still remains unidentified.

Having thumbed through the Guide dozens of times I have wanted to call it Thrush or Bulbul but nothing seems to fit. Any help would be gratefully accepted with clues including Luzon Island, altitude above 1,200 metres.

Outside of this typical Sagada house was to be the final addition to the list for today. A very fast flying BUZZING FLOWERPECKER behaving, as the name suggests, like a Bee, settling for only a split second to pick off food.

This 'real' Bee was doing the same thing at a far more sedate pace.

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