Sunday, November 29, 2020

Makati City Birding: Finding Lifers Along the Rails and at the Sycip Park

Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica)

Nature has a way to surprise you when you think you've, more or less, exhausted what is there to spot.  The Finlayson's squirrels.  The sparrows and Zebra Doves.  The Philippine Pied Fantails now found in busy Makati streets.  

I've always spotted differently-colored birds when I used to take the PNR trains way back when it was refurbished but never had the chance to shoot and examine what kind of birds usually inhabit the trees and estuary that line the station nearest where I live, on Buendia/Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue.  Last weekend, I had to take out my Nikon B700 earlier than expected while walking on my way to Makati Central Square and onwards to Washington Sycip Park because there were swallows flying to and from the trees to the electric wires.  True enough, they were Pacific Swallows (Hirundo tahitica), elegantly winged with black that flashes blue in the brilliant sunshine, their heads yellowish-brown in the early afternoon light.  It's lifer #1 for the day for me, and the first in quite a while since the lockdown.

Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis) •  migrant bird

In Washington Sycip Park, I was busy trying to locate the squirrels (they did show up), when I saw small birds high up the treetops near my favorite bench.  I thought they were bulbuls but on closer look, they obviously were not.  A friend identified them as Arctic Warblers (Phylloscopus borealis), a migrant species wintering in Southeast Asia. Good thing I paid them heed instead of dismissing them outright as I would've missed out on my second lifer for the day.

Oh, I've got a full frontal of one of the squirrels, albeit a bit overexposed due to the high contrast conditions of the tree canopies.  But what the hey, I've spent a nice time having coffee and donuts in the park, meeting my favorite dogs (a pair of Italian greyhounds by the names of Renzo and Santi I befriended, a super-expensive breed at P120,000 for a pup if you can get one), spotting lifers and squirrels, all in the same afternoon.  And for some precious minutes, I get to take off my mask and face shield and breathe through my nostrils sans impediments.  I mean how lucky can you get?


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