After the seemingly unceasing rainy days of recent weeks that saw several provinces in Eastern Visayas being declared under a state of calamity, the clouds broke up early last week and things seemed to get sunny once again eliciting one giant collective sigh of relief from everybody.

I was extra blessed this passing week with my spotting of two sunbirds – one, a favorite of mine, the Siwit, the local name for the Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) also called Yellow-breasted Sunbird; Yellow-bellied Sunbird;  and, secondly, a not-so-common bird called Naked-faced Spiderhunter – a lifer (first time to view at its natural habitat) for me! – at Lake Danao in Ormoc City, Leyte.

The sunbirds and spiderhunters are a family, Nectariniidae, of very small Passerine birds (perching birds/ songbirds).

I missed seeing the Siwit at our veranda during the incessant rains I began to wonder whether she’d moved on and found a better refuge.

Then just a couple of days ago, I heard her familar call!

She was back!

At Lake Danao in Ormoc City, Leyte last Friday, February 11, 2011, I was again in luck. Gee, the lake goddess surely loves me!

About 2 months ago it was there where I was able to spot several lifers and seldom seen ones, among them a Samar Tarictic Hornbill (Penelopides samarensis) and an Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis). (See previous post: http://callezaragosa.com/gerryruizphotoblog/?p=1013)

This time I was more than fortunate to have spotted what I initially thought was another ordinary sunbird. It was immediately identified by birder friends as a Naked-faced Spiderhunter – not yet classified as an endangered species, but certainly a rare, hard-to-find one.

A quick search in the internet mentions sightings and photographs of it only in Mindanao and at La Mesa Dam Eco Park in Quezon City. There’s no mention of sightings nor a photo taken of it in Leyte!

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Ludette and I are newbie members of the Wild Birds Club of the Philippines (WBCP) and we have practically zero knowledge when it comes to identifying birds and getting their correct scientific names…

And so when fellow WBCP member Ed Cadavis prompts us if we would be interested in taking shots of a pet eagle – a not so common one – for purposes of proper identification by birding experts, we just couldn’t say no for an answer.

Specially since the bird, Ed dangles a teaser, has laid an egg!

We hurriedly went to the eagle’s owner, bird pet lover Wilson Uy in Guindapunan, Palo, Leyte to take shots of this beautiful bird.

We were not disappointed, although we knew we could have gotten better shots if we had all the time in the world. ;)

The bird has been identified as a Philippine Hawk Eagle (Spizaetus philippensis). Endemic to the Philippines, it is a medium-sized hawk-eagle characterized by its striking appearance due to its long crest of four or five feathers protruding from its crown. It thrives in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. The species is threatened due to habitat loss, or simply the destruction of its natural habitat as a result of agricultural, logging and mining development projects.

But the nagging question remains hanging: is the egg fertilized or not?

We really hope it is.

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