Sunday, April 4, 2021

ECQ Chronicles: Wild Makati - A Compendium of Wildlife Spotted at a Time of Quarantine

The Covid-19 quarantine and lockdowns have dragged on for more than a year now.  As my friend and fellow photographer, Tom Stirr of www.smallsensorphotography.com has noted -- we all have to find some sort of creative expression especially if we're not working and using our jobs as an outlet of our creativity.   It's not just a use-it-or-lose-it proposition but a way to keep sane.  We're at a time of our history when people (myself included) are used to multitasking, turbocharged internet, instant-everything, and now we're being forced to hold our horses and slow down.

In any case, I'm sharing a compendium of wildlife I've spotted in the past year right here in Makati. I  keep to the confines of the city, visiting the nearest park (Washington Sycip Park) at the heart of the CBD.  Birding teaches me patience, it's not a pay-per-view thing where you visit once and see all that you set to see.  Nature is dynamic and ever-changing, one visit will differ from another.  And some birds are just passing through (the crows for example), some have taken up residence (the woodpeckers, bulbuls, and trillers).  

The benefits of revisiting the same places are manifold -- the place reveals its many denizens little by little.  There are the Yellow Vented Bulbuls who dare antagonize the bigger Brown Shrikes (poularly nicknamed as butcher birds for their observed behavior of using sharp branches as spikes for impaling their prey).  Call it tool utilization if you will and note that humans do not have a monopoly for using tools (you might as well ask the crows and ravens too in this regard).

The Maria Capras (Philippine Pied Fantail) are usually very aggressive and territorial but right here at the park, you'd notice them mingling freely with the Eurasian Tree Sparrows in foraging for fallen seeds and fruits on the grasses.  They'd even copy the hop and tail wagging that the sparrows are fond of doing.

The Yellow Vented Bulbuls are really at home here, terrorizing not just the Brown Shrikes but also the Finlayson's squirrels which outweigh them easily by more than half their weight.  We've seen this scene and found it funny.  The many cats in the park have been quick to learn the squirrels' propensity for coming down for potential foraging and have been responsible for trimming the population.  Hard to blame the cats since the squirrels are technically rodents, I told the MACEA maintenance staff.

At times, you don't have to venture far to see birds.  I've seen quite a few birds while feeding my foster stray cats along the PNR station, even Little Egrets and Brown Shrikes flying to and from the trees that line the railway.  Just be careful though as the barangay tanods and police are wary of activities along the railway.  As I've said in my previous post, nature is not just out there in the boondocks and the forests.  It's in our midst.  We're in it, embraced by it, animated by it.  We just have to open our eyes and minds to see it.

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.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Pandemic Chronicles: Wildlife Sighting Hidden In Plain Sight

While the lockdowns and widespread quarantine protocols admittedly had a lot of disadvantages, there are also some positives to be gleaned from these.  Being limited to one's milieu made a lot of us look more closely (or a lingering, second look) at the places where we live.  I love the mountains and I yearn to go out of town and recharge my auric and etheric fields out there but for the time being while the threat of COVID-19 is still in force, it's a nice time to acquaint (or should I say, reacquaint) myself in things nearby. 

One of the first things I did when the lockdown eased up was visit the nearest park -- in my case, it's the Washington Sycip Park at the heart of the Makati City business district.  Hardly a place to spot wildlife, you may say.  But Nature has its own set of surprises, hidden from most people in plain sight.

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