Sunday, April 25, 2021

Finding Nature In The City: Hive On The Treetops, Glossy Starlings Hopping With Sparrows, Miracles Unfolding in Plain Sight

We celebrated Earth Day just a few days ago but the truth is, every day ought to be Earth Day.  Even with the extended quarantines, we ought to pay tribute to the planet. As the Eastern school of thought states, we're not separate from nature, from the Earth.  Even if we hide inside air conditioned buildings, air conditioned vehicles, hemmed in by concrete in the middle of the city, we are connected to nature.  Even if my current milieu is just a short walk or jeepney ride away to the nearest park, it is fulfilling to keep revisiting the place.  I keep discovering something new every time I drop by, proof that Nature is dynamic.  Pandemic or no pandemic, the flow of life goes on whether we're conscious of it or not.

Asian Glossy Starling
In my search for the birds, a park acquaintance pointed me to a high treetop where bees built a 2 1/2 to 3 foot honeycomb.  It's great news as it means there are ample sources of pollen within the park and in the periphery.  I'm not going to take bees for granted.  Aside from the birds, they're important pollinators.  I don't even have to write how valuable they are to our existence.  I just hope the park staff would leave the hive alone -- it's high up a Para Rubber tree anyway.  Curious visitors can be treated to the sight of nature in action.

Elsewhere in the park, I was treated to the sight of Eurasian Tree Sparrows taking turns in bathing in a puddle.  Not to be outdone, a Yellow Vented Bulbul followed suit, afterwards flying to a nearby Bagras tree and busied him/herself preening and fluffing his/her wet wing feathers.  

Zebra Dove

Near the composting area, I mimicked the shrill tweet of a Maria Capra (Philippine Pied Fantail/
Rhipidura nigritorquis) who kept dancing (it sure looks like that to me) on a small mound of earth.  He/she wouldn't miss the chance to take potshots at me, flying to within a foot of my face twice as if challenging me.  Interesting indeed.  While other birds wouldn't want to come near a human, Maria Capras have been known to swoop at anyone, human or dog, who'd come too close to their turf.   In any case, even the sparrows here have become accustomed to humans, never really minding me as I meditate on my favorite bench, coming to within a few inches in their hopping search for food.

On a Sunday when I visited, I was delighted in seeing Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) mimicking the Eurasian Tree Sparrows, hopping and foraging on the grassy grounds.   I am used to seeing them flying from treetop to treetop so it was a surprise to see them mingling with the much smaller sparrows.  Ditto the Zebra Doves (Geopelia striata) who are most genial in sharing foraging space with the noisy sparrows.  

Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)

Speaking of sparrows, they're a daily visitor to my window ledge garden so I am accustomed to their ruckus.  One thing I noticed it that my potted plants which I bring out every now and then for a bit of sun seem to welcome the interaction.  Not that the sparrows are harmless; I couldn't really grow herbs or chili pepper anymore as they're prone to eating the leaves when the feeder runs out of birdseed.  I once took a week-long vacation and found just remnants of oregano plants I grew from seed.  Not even my decade-old Pachira tree is spared.  But I've come to live with their antics.  At the height of the quarantine last year, hearing their tweets at first light was a salve to the soul.  It still is.



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