Monday, February 22, 2021

Makati City Birding: More Sightings of Forest Birds Plus New Sightings of the Finlayson's Squirrels

Grey wagtail foraging at the lagoon construction site
Birding has some characteristics of ghost sighting I guess.  You can point out the birds to people and they can't seem to see them birds.  Or squirrels, for that matter.  Save for the Washington Sycip Park maintenance staff who knows my face, I still get a lot of looks from park guests which I've become accustomed to.  I'm there for a number of reasons which may look or sound strange to others who are content to text under the trees, take selfies on the path, or jog on the trail.  As I've often written here, I take my meditation and other rituals to the park when I can.  Also Earthing or grounding.  Ditto with having Dunkin' coffee and donuts (a good excuse as any to momentarily remove the face mask and shield).  Then, there's spotting the wildlife.

I guess some people are inclined to think wildlife exists in the forests.  Can't blame them since Sycip Park is on the small side; can't really expect to spot wildlife here especially if you're not patient.  But wildlife does, indeed, exist here, most often hidden in plain sight.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

When Forest & Mangrove Birds Are Seen In The City: Did The Quarantine & Lockdowns Help Birds Make Further Inroads Inland?

Ashy Ground Thrush spotted in Sycip Park Jan 2021
A recent article in Travel + Leisure entitled "A New Study Finds That Improved Air Quality Has Saved the Lives of 1.5 Billion Birds" based on research done by Cornell University begs the question whether this phenomenon isn't just limited to the USA.  Last year, a few months after the quarantine protocols were eased, we saw a Black Crowned Heron (Nicticorax nycticorax) in the garden pond of Ayala's Greenbelt 5 Mall.  One time I crossed the street headed for Waltermart in front of Don Bosco School in Makati I thought I saw some sort of raptor bird (maybe a Brahminy Kite) flying over the roof of the mall. I thought hmmm... maybe just anomalies.

But yesterday while doing my meditation, grounding & Earthing at Sycip Park, I chanced upon a thrush. I didn't know what it was when I photographed it (good thing I was lugging my Nikon at that time) but I thought I've never seen it before.  My friend and fellow birder, Ferdz, identified it as an Ashy Ground Thrush (Geokichla cinerea).  I've seen other thrushes before in the mountains and loner birds (read: shy) that they are, they are usually found in lower and higher montane forests away from human habitations, and certainly not in the middle of the city or within a few steps of the mall at the heart of Makati. It's a pleasant and welcome surprise (hope we humans will not cause them harm for being here in our midst).

Monday, January 11, 2021

Going Back To Nature: LLPCHEA Birding Day On My Birthday & Spotting Four Lifer Birds

Lifer #1 - Yellow Bittern at Pond 1
It's been almost a year since I last traveled farther than the city of Makati and I'm obviously rusty as to what to bring for our planned birding morning at the Las Piñas Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecosystem Area (LPPCHEA) with my best buddy, Ironwulf.  It was good he told me to wear long pants (I opted for compression pants under my trekking shorts instead) as the mosquitoes (and I suspect sandflies) were aplenty on the trail to Freedom Island.  Maybe, not a lot of people know that the sanctuary is open anew after the lockdowns and quarantines so we were practically the only visitors last Saturday morning.

Chinese Egret
It's literally an honest-to-goodness breather to be able to take off one's mask and breathe in the air, no matter if the rather calm, still waters in the sanctuary oftentimes carry a musty stench.  Ferdz was able to go here by folding bike some weeks ago but wasn't able to enter the park proper since a permit was needed.  This time, we had the permit on hand, hiking all the way to Freedom Island and Pond 1 (Pond 2 was fenced off and off-limits) as well as the boardwalk area.  The sight of the mangrove forest as seen from the boardwalk is surreal; it's like a painting come alive with occasional egrets flying in and out.

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