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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I was nursing my first cup of coffee for the day (it will number anywhere from 4 to 8 cups) at our house balcony early this morning when I was startled by what sounded like bickering birds, feasting over ripe chico fruits meters away.

I hurriedly got my camera and ever so quietly tried to slip back nonchalantly to my coffee and smoke, trying my best to appear unmindful of the birds at all. See, I’m enjoying my coffee! Go eat your breakfast! was what I tried to project to the birds.

After getting used to my presence, they went back at it and I very slowly took aim and fired away.

It was a pleasant morning surprise, a great way to start a brand new day!

Asian Glossy Starling is what these birds are called, thanks to Mark Wallbank, a birder. The ones with zebra-like stripes of black and white are immature; those in glossy black are the mature ones.

View slideshow.

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