October 28, 2015, Bangkok, Thailand — Nicky and I visited La Mesa Ecopark, a metropolitan oasis in Manila, for a couple of hours early this morning. Our biggest target here was Ashy Thrush, a tough endemic that has been reliable at this spot lately, and it didn’t take too long to get cracking views of one. While I was watching the thrush, a Spotted Kingfisher perched almost in front of my face, and I had the delicious dilemma of which bird to look at. Not bad for an urban park.
We then met a friend of Nicky’s named Adrian Constantino and the three of us headed to the University of the Philippines campus, where Adrian used to work in a molecular lab. He knew where a Philippine Nightjar likes to roost in a tree outside the College of Arts faculty building. “It sits in this mango tree except when the mangos are ripe,” he said (when the fruits ripen, people shake the branches to pick them and the nightjar moves to a tree next door). Sure enough, the bird was sleeping on its usual branch, seemingly oblivious to the many people walking underneath it. A security guard knew all about the nightjar and happily helped point it out.
And, so, that’s it for the Philippines: Four islands in 10 days! I encountered more than 200 species of birds in this country, of which almost half were endemic, thanks to the help of Nicky and his local contacts.
Nicky is a sharp birder and a wonderful guide. He was preparing specimens for the national museum when he was seven years old and knows Philippine birds (and, it seems, half the people in this country) as well as anyone. If you ever make the trip, I’d highly recommend getting in touch with Nicky—he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through birdingphilippines.com.
I landed in Bangkok after dark this evening, where Panuwat “Par” Sasirat, an enthusiastic Thai birder, was waiting expectantly. No rest for the weary! We drove northeast into the night, ready to hit the ground running tomorrow morning.
New birds today: 6
Year list: 5020