This was in many ways a very satisfying afternoon's birding.
I was able to show Don Sausa the mudflats at Punta Taytay this afternoon and he had a great time with his big telephoto lens, hardly had he set foot onto the mudflats than a common kingfisher posed for him as he was saying: "I wish I could get closer to this bird!" I think Don got a lot of other good shots too. I got this bad light shot of a whiskered tern cleaning his toes as it were!
What a relief to spot a solitary gull-billed tern amidst the whiskered terns! This bird had an appreciably wider wingspan, was much whiter, had a more pronounced forked tail and had a biggish black bill; in fact it really stood out. Elsewhere there must have been up to 200 intermediate egrets in the mangrove which appears to be a sort of pre-roost as the birds gathered there and then flew off in the fading light of the day. I can only surmise these must be migratory birds. And just as the light was going a small flock of about 12 unidentified shorebirds flew in and I really didn't know what they were. I didn't feel happy with tattler on account of size, I didn't think they were common greenshanks, I don't think they were Nordmann's, I didn't think they were a bird I had ever seen before. Now I have managed to look at the field guide I am wondering if they maybe were red knot in non-breeding plumage: stout birds, I would say "fat", greyish on top, white supercilium; I have asked Don to check his photos to see if they can provide some assistance.
Additonally there were plenty of Pacific Golden Plovers, Sand-plovers, and a fair few whimbrels plus a few collared kingfisher.
The downside: the guy in the photograph is carrying a dead fish killed as a result of dynamite being used. He came up to talk with us and was pretty angry that this type of illegal fishing is going on. This is the sad part of the story: I have heard people say on a lot of occasions in the last few days that the Philippines has great conservation laws but no enforcement. The funny side of the down side: I got very dirty in the mudflats and nearly lost my shoes, stuck in the mud, in the fading light as I struggled to get back to the car. There was no real danger, just inconvenience and great entertainment for the locals looking at this "'cano" ("American" ) covered in mud!
I think there might be a few interesting things happening here on the bird front over the next few weeks. I think Punta Taytay would be an area worth watching and I would if I was going to be here.