Saturday, April 3, 2021

ECQ Chronicles: More Birds & Wildlife Sighted at the Sycip Park

Pied Triller
Now that we're onto our second week of a another round of ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) following yesterday's high of 15,000 plus new cases, it's well and good that I've more or less convinced myself that traveling outside our bubble (why does it remind me of the 70's series "Logan's Run"?), nay our city, is out of the question for another year or so.  Instead of seeking the wildlife in the boondocks, something interesting is happening here -- some of the birds and wildlife are showing up right here in the city.

Case in point, after spotting a Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker (Yungipicus maculatus) weeks ago, we next spotted a Pied Triller.  Then, I spotted a Coppersmith Barbet (Psilopogon haemacephalus) on top of an elusive skink (bubuli in the local language) after a round of Earthing and meditation (and of course, some Dunkin coffee and donuts).  Oblivious to most park visitors, these wildlife have been inhabiting the trees and environs, like creatures hidden in plain sight.

Coppersmith Barbet

I haven't seen the Grey Wagtail again after the koi lagoon reopened after a year of renovation but I hope he's still around or will come back soon.  I know the Philippine Pied Fantails seem happy to come back to the lagoon now that it's filled up again, flying from the trees to the boulders that frame the pond.

The crows haven't come back again (or at least when I'm around) but I guess being opportunistic (and smart) birds, they will come back should they see food sources (read: humans with our food scraps, especially during the weekend Legaspi market held at the parking lot next to the park).  

With the new round of MECQ, maybe the air quality around the city would get a bit cleaner, marred by the increased vehicular traffic due to the loosening of protocols some months back.  It may sound cliche or something borrowed from a Kevin Costner movie ("Field of Dreams") but it's true -- if you build (a park), the wildlife will come.  I'll paraphrase it to say something related to my observations: if you can't come to where the wildlife usually is, let the wildlife come to you.  

Common sun skink

Phil. Pygmy Woodpecker
Another thing to keep in mind is to be receptive to what nature aims to impart to us.  Trees are a salve to the city-weary.  Even one tree (or plant) matters.  Even a pot or two on your window sill can be home to thousands or millions of micro-organisms and insects.  

It took me awhile of mending my little corner of a ledge garden before the plants can attract the birds but once they learned of a safe haven in the middle of a city building, they keep coming back.  Nevermind if these are the Eurasian Tree Sparrows that some birders deem as "common".  These are sentient beings and they're fascinating to encounter nevertheless.  In the midst of the intense lockdowns last year, their welcome twittering was the herald of surviving still another day.

The sparrows are especially busy (read: noisy) at first light.  Even if you're not inclined to reading nature books, you'd notice that the birds seem guided by the light and weather changes.  Even without the benefit of a clock (well, time is a human construct, after all), the birds know when to arise and forage for food.  They can recognize a familiar place even if that garden is disrupted or rearranged, like when I clean up the ledge and repot the plants.  

Large billed crow
I'm pretty sure some of the visitors are from the second or third generations of the original birds who discovered my little patch.  And while they're in for the food (birdseed), I've noticed that a lot of them come here for the shelter and safety, seeing birds preening and napping unself-consciously from behind my blinds.

Even with the coming of the vaccine/s, the prospect of traveling is still up in the air.  I thank the Divine Spirit for sending us wildlife to connect us to nature despite the lockdown and quarantine.

Don't forget the squirrels - Finlayson's squirrel at Sycip Park
If you're new to birding, don't be overly awed by what some quarters say you must invest on like a camera, binoculars, or somewhat costly thingamajig.  IMHO what is of more prime importance is an open mind and senses attuned to a more primal calling.  A heart for nature trumps technological stuff any day.  For me, the biggest lesson I've learned is something I also learned in meditation -- nature is in us, we're embraced by it regardless of where we are, in the middle of a mountain or a busy city.  Nature is not out just out there, locked out by the quarantine from access to it.  We just have to open our eyes and mind to it.


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