Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella)

While we were looking for Lina's Sunbird at 1400m in the eastern Mindanao mountains we found a stunning Green Crested Lizard in low branches. Whether or not this represents an undescribed sub-species (species?) is unclear, certainly these mountains have been little visited by naturalists so there is always the possibility of new discoveries. Many thanks to Pete Simpson for this photo.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Rufous-crowned Bee-eater (Merops americanus)

At the Compostella Valley farm I have seen distant bee-eater species in previous years but not been able to identify them to species (there are two Philippine species). A group of 20 showing well by the river turned out to be Rufous-crowned (Philippine endemic, previously part of 'Blue-throated').

Lina's Sunbird

Lina's Sunbird is restricted to the mountains of eastern Mindanao - a difficult to access and often dangerous area. Davao-based birder Pete Simpson has found a remarkable new site which can be reached by a road which goes up to 1400m. I travelled there with Pete last week and had my first, long awaited, views of this stunning sunbird. We also saw a female gathering the white tufts from seeds presumably for nest building. As with many Mindanao birds very little is known about nesting behaviour.

Sunday, 12 July 2015


Quite surprised to find a reasonable number of waders on Olango, despite the early July date. These included a few Grey-tailed Tattlers, Eastern Curlews, Whimbrels, Greater Sand Plovers and Greenshanks. Distant egrets included at least one apparent Chinese Egret - wardens suggest there are 5-6 present. A Rufous Night Heron was roosting near the reserve centre. A Whiskered Tern (1st summer?) was seen earlier this week,

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Philippine endemic subspecies

In the Compostella Valley, Mindanao, two species I have not seen here before are Little Ringed Plover and Moorhen - both of resident endemic forms. The LRP is longer billed and has pink at the bill base, also the eye-ring looks more prominent and maybe the black on the head more extensive? The Moorhen was skulking but has an interestingly large facial shield!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Sailfin Lizard

There seem to be very few lizards which are capable of running across water but the Philippine Sailfin lizard (Hydrosaurus amboinensis) is able to cross short distances taking advantage of highly developed flattened back feet. One this week (presumably this species) crossing the river in the Compostella Valley, Mindanao, was the first I have seen.

Thursday, 2 July 2015


July is not the best birding month in Singapore but it is always good to see something unexpected on a short visit. I was surprised to find about a dozen Little Terns around the marina reservoir - some carrying fish. Also, the more expected White-bellied Sea Eagles, Black-naped Oriole, Collared Kingfisher, Striated Heron, Pacific Swallow etc. A large Water Monitor lizard was also showing. Grey Herons here are of a remarkable pale grey race.

White-bellied Sea Eagle - juv.