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.

Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker
Since last year, we've been spotting more and more birds which the guide books were saying weren't supposed to be here (good thing they don't read 'em books).  And just when I thought the list is more or less conclusive, Nature keeps popping up pleasant surprises.  It's a lesson to be learned -- Nature is never really stagnant.  It keeps changing, transforming, evolving, right down to the microscopic level.  Pandemic or no pandemic.  Heck, even if humanity goes away tomorrow, I think Nature will do just fine.

One recent Sunday I met up with my best bud, Ironwulf, at the park, he spotted a Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker.  I mean, how cool is that?  Last time I spotted one, it was in Maligcong, Bontoc, some 700 or so kilometers away from here.  On that same day, there was a pair of large-billed crows cawing loudly from the treetops.

Large Billed Crow
The playful Finlayson's squirrels are back in force, quite becoming an attraction for some people who visit the park.  At least, I don't look so strange looking up to the treetops most of the time LOL.   This Sunday, while fixing a solar panel for my sister in Tondo, I finally spotted the source of mystery bird sounds the past months.  I was right in identifying the birds -- Yellow Vented Bulbuls -- who made the neighbor's fruiting mango tree its permanent home.  Amazing is what I can say.  Tondo is even denser in terms of human population and here are birds that usually inhabit more forested, less peopled places.

I don't care if hardcore birders would say the bulbuls are commonplace.  Heck, I treasure the Eurasian Tree Sparrows who visit my bird feeder every day.  At the height of the lockdowns, their welcoming sounds every morning are a pleasure to hear, marking another day of survival with gleeful birdsong.

Finlayson's squirrel
And no, you don't have to be an expert to appreciate the birds (or the squirrels).  Nor turn this birding passion into a competition for having the most numbers spotted or identified.  The birds are a joy and a gift of Nature. Too often, they're just ignored or taken for granted which is why people are amazed to know so many birds are there for the sighting, if we develop the eye for seeing and appreciating their presence.

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