It all started slowly driving past my traditional birding route in Subic. I heard a couple of high-rising whistle notes coming from one of the tall trees. I wasn’t sure what to make of it because I hadn’t heard of this particular call before. So I patiently waited for the bird to come out and perch out in the open. Frankly, I was pretty unsure of what to expect, but patience does have its rewards. Suddenly, a medium-sized blackbird flew from the left side of the road to a tree on my right. The first thought that came into my head was a Balicassiao. But this particular bird had high-rising whistle notes instead of the screeching siren-like song of the Balicassiao. Balicassiaos are known to mimic other birds, so I shrugged the thought of it being a different species for now. Once there was a small window of opportunity, I quickly snapped a couple of photos of the bird. When I reviewed my initial images, I realized that this bird is the Uncommon Blackish Cuckooshrike!
I patiently waited for a couple of them to fly or go down to an open perch. Although one unfortunate thing did happen while I was waiting, the weather became windy, forcing the Blackish Cuckooshrikes to stay put in the dense canopy. I had to wait around 25 minutes until the wind dialed down, and once it did, the Blackish Cuckooshrikes started to become much more active, hopping around the trees. Although here comes the difficult part of photographing the Blackish Cuckooshrike, they love to stay on top! The very top of the trees! The composition was challenging, but after a couple of bursts, I was able to grab some decent frames of the Blackish Cuckooshrike. Quite a surprising lifer to start my 2022 birding year!
Photographed by Vinz Pascua
Least Concern, Philippine Endemic (Luzon, Catanduanes, Marinduque, and Cebu)
Subic Bay Rainforest, January 2022
Canon EOS R5 + Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R + Canon EF 600mm F/4L IS II USM + Canon EF 1.4x II Extender
Wimberley WH-200 Head + Gitzo GT2545T Tripod
ISO 1000, f/8, 1/500, Manual Mode, Spot Metering
Wildlife Photographer, Graphic Designer, and Digital Artist for Haring Ibon. He’s also an active member of the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines (WBPP) since 2020.
Visit www.vinzpascua.com for his photography, art, and design works.