Hello from Laos. This is a belated birthday greeting (almost two months past but not late -- I did greet my good friend...) and also a strange title, but I think it would have been sillier to use "Peeking at Pecking" as the lead to a post about bird watching. This is about the 8th birthday of Amaranna, perpetually eight years old, which she celebrated last October in style and with lots of color -- by hiking to Mt. Makiling on her big day with a group of friends and watching birds!

Here's a good take on a great birthday idea, which can also be a reminder of what we stand to lose if the climate continues to go awry. And the list of things to lose, as far as birds in a small, particular place is concerned, is long, as you will see towards the end of Amaranna's post. Can anyone tell me what the local names of the birds are listed at the end of this post? But here's excerpts from Amaranna's musings first... A couple of weeks after Milenyo (international code name: Xangsane) hit the Philippines, she and her friends decided to visit Mt. Makiling, curious about the effects of the typhoon on this birding haven.

"The morning started overcast and humid, which may have made viewing a little easier, as the birds seem slower. Makiling is not known as an easy birding area, but that morning, the place could only be described as dude birder's haven. The trail was closed, but all we really needed was to stay at the grounds of the TREES hostel. Milenyo had stripped a lot of trees of lots of their leaves and small branches, and so the birds were in full view.

"At first we couldn't put our bins down as we were seeing one bird after another. It was a delight to compare an Ashy Minivet with a Black and White Triller quite leisurely. Red-crested Malkohas, Coppersmith Barbets, Tarictic Hornbills simply took their time and stayed perched for what seemed to be an eternity for birdwatchers who'd normally just see a flash of feather here and there.

"After a while, we were so confident that we could put our bins down, rest our arms, have a cup of coffee, and munch on sandwiches because we knew the birds would still be there when we looked up again.

"The biggest thrill for breakfast was a Greater Flameback perched in full view, and for about 5 minutes right outside TREES hostel.

"At 8:30 am, the group headed towards the Botanical Garden and was greeted by noisy Bar-bellied Cuckoo Shrikes. Everyone stood in shock on the bridge towards the Raptor Center, gasping at the amount of mud dumped by a landslide on the once sparkling creek. Fortunately, all that mud did not keep members of the group from going down and being rewarded by a sighting of 2 Indigo-banded Kingfishers. For those who did not go down to the creek that morning, another trip to Makiling was instantly planned.

"Bird sitings:

1. Raptor sp. Accipitridae/ Falconidae sp. 1 probable Osprey 2. Philippine Serpent-Eagle Spilornis holospilus – 1 3. Philippine Falconet Microhierax erythrogenys - 2 4. White-eared Brown-Dove Phapitreron leucotis 4 5. Guaiabero Bolbopsittacus lunulatus 10 6. Scale-feathered Malkoha Lepidogrammus cumingi 1 7. Red-crested Malkoha (Rough-crested Malkoha) Dasylophus superciliosus 5 8. Philippine Coucal Centropus viridis - 2 9. Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta 10 10. Indigo-banded Kingfisher Alcedo cyanopectus 2 11. White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 1 12. Spotted Wood-Kingfisher (Spotted Kingfisher) Actenoides lindsay - 1 heard 13. Tarictic Hornbill (Luzon Hornbill) Penelopides manillae 5 14. Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala 10 15. Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker (Philippine Woodpecker) Dendrocopos maculatus 2 16. Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus 1 17. Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike Coracina striata 5 18. Black-and-white Triller Lalage melanoleuca 3 19. Ashy Minivet Pericrocotus divaricatus 4 20. Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier 3 21. Yellow-wattled Bulbul Pycnonotus urostictus 10 22. Philippine Bulbul Ixos philippinus 15 23. Balicassiao Dicrurus balicassius- 7 24. Stripe-headed Rhabdornis (Stripe-sided Rhabdornis) Rhabdornis mystacalis 10 25. Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis 1 26. Grey-backed Tailorbird Orthotomus derbianus 2 heard 27. Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea 1 28. Yellow-bellied Whistler Pachycephala philippinensis 1 29. Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 4 30. Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 5 31. Coleto Sarcops calvus 2 32. Plain-throated Sunbird (Brown-throated Sunbird) Anthreptes malacensis 1 male 33. Red-keeled Flowerpecker (Red-striped Flowerpecker) Dicaeum australe 3 34. Lowland White-eye Zosterops meyeni - Heard 35. White-bellied Munia Lonchura leucogastra 3

Redster