Dive Bombers and Other Birds

Tudor Richards, USNR

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We soon found, however, it was not difficult to get over to leyte Leyte, where it was much easier to get around, this island being much less rugged and much more developed than Samar. Tacloban, tacloban the capital, was a rather filthy town and not particularly oriental looking except for the populace, but not uninteresting. The stores had little to offer, though we found some small but pretty cowrie shells for sale, some on necklaces or bracelets, some not. Our most successful trip took us first to tolosa Tolosa, a comparatively unspoiled little native town twenty-odd miles south of Tacloban at the foot of an interesting-looking little hill topped by a ruined Spanish fort. We intended to climb the hill after visiting the town but never found the trail and instead walked around the base on the seaward side, T.R. venturing a swim in the warm and none too clean-looking bay. After getting back to the road we hitch-hiked in stages back to Tacloban, walking for stretches so as to get better views of the bird-life. birdsFew of the birds looked very exotic, and altogether on three trips to Leyte we saw about eighteen species, most of which were later identified from my notes by one of the curators at the National Museum. They represented a dozen or more families, but of these only four or five were new to my acquaintance—Sunbirds, Old World Orioles, Wood Swallows, Bulbuls, and Old World Warblers, from which our Kinglets are sometimes separated and sometimes not. The wood swallow looked like a rather chunky edition of our common swallows at home. The oriole, more closely related to crows than our orioles, which are in the blackbird family, behaved so much like a woodpecker that we thought it might be some strange tropical member of that family. The little sunbird was perhaps the most exotic-looking bird we saw. Almost as tiny as our hummingbird, it is brown above and yellow below, with a deep blue throat and has a longish, slightly down-curved bill. We saw it flitting about the tops of palm trees. The bulbul, perhaps more like our thrasher than anything else, was most interesting because of its loud notes, which seemed to proclaim it a character at once. more birdsAn almost pure white kite hovering over the meadows was the most exotic-looking member of the hawk family even though we did see both a white-headed eagle and a white-headed hawk unless we got the two confused. One or two inconspicuous members of the Old World Warbler tribe, a strawberry finch, three or four members of the heron tribe and a couple of swallows made up the list.

The Leyte countryside countryside we saw was mostly open coastal plain, which varied from narrow to wide. Palms were the only conspicuous trees except for the bits of forest on the slopes to the west. Shabby native villages, mostly constructed of palm thatch, were frequent along the road, which was, incidentally, very dirty. Altogether the landscape was somewhat disappointing. The mountains were not only inaccessible but, because of low clouds, usually inconspicuous.