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18 February 2009 @ 04:00 pm
Of Birdwatching  
(PHOTOS by neon2rosell)

Wednesday afternoon of last week, after our class, I went with my PE teacher to the campus' post office to check out a bird that was fast becoming a celebrity in the birding community. (FYI, I have Birdwatching/Birding for PE this semester.) This colorful bird, they say, is about 5 to 6 inches in size and goes by the name of Coppersmith Barbet. xD A passerby was kind enough to point us the exact location of the nest. It was a perfect circle, probably around 3 inches or so in diameter, on a dead branch of a Narra tree, about five meters from the ground. We stood staring at the nest for five minutes before Sir Bert said it would be better to watch it early in the morning, when it's normal for birds to be active.

Friday afternoon, before another PE class, I decided to eat a serving of fishballs at the food kiosk by the college building. The kiosk stands near a Narra tree, in front of a security office. The tree is almost leafless and dead branches sprout from all directions. When Ate Bebels handed me the paper plate of toasted fishballs, I started hearing a slow hammering sound. I became even more curious when I realized it couldn't be anything else but a bird call. It was loud and unconventional; it sounded very different from the normal chirps the Eurasian Tree Sparrows (ETS, more commonly known as Maya) and Yellow-vented Bulbuls make, and it succeeded in tempting me to look for its nest.

At first, I thought it was coming from a tree behind the security office. Then, I realized it was somewhere nearer. I asked Ate Bebels if she heard the same noise, "pok-pok-pok," she mimicked. While I wasn't looking, laughing at how she imitated the sound (pok-pok is a slang term for prostitute in Tagalog), her husband saw the bird came out from a hole. He described it to be small and green in color. Then, scanning the Narra tree, I found two perfect circles on a dead branch in the middle of the tree. The slow hammering sound continued. Since I didn't see the bird, I walked away frustrated to go to my PE class.

Sir Bert told us to meet him at the parking lot behind the Faculty Center building. Trees of all sorts grow on the lot beside the parking lot. A Spotted Wood Kingfisher(SWKF) has been sighted in the area a few days ago by Sir Mando, a popular UP birdwatcher. The SWKF has been gaining popularity since then, a number of birders has been visiting UP just to see it. I first met Sir Mando last January, when my groupmates and I were patrolling the science pavilions behind the AS building for a birdwatching session. I already saw the Kingfisher about three days earlier, when I went birdwatching with online friends Dong and Jenn. When we were unable to locate its current whereabouts, Sir Bert took out his SLR and showed us a video he took of the Coppersmith Barbet earlier that day. And, mygawd, it is probably one of the most beautiful birds I've seen in my life so far (forgive me if I say so, I'm an amateur birder xD). It's brightly colored with a black-bordered yellow face. Its throat and forecrown are red, its wings green and the underwings of a lighter shade. And it has a tuft of hair that looks like a set of whiskers before its dark bill protrudes. "Pok-pok-pok." Sir Bert was mimicking its call!~

After class, I told him about the nest I found and we went straight to the area. Almost to the Narra tree, Sir Bert cried out, "that's it!" pointing to another tree opposite the kiosk, there was a bird perched on one of its branches. Three birds that resembled the one on his video flew to the Narra tree and started to dance around. True enough, it was a Coppersmith Barbet's nest! That's when I realized that I just found my first bird's nest. :D

Maybe this picture will give more justice to the barbet's beauty:

I didn't take birdwatching seriously during the early weeks of the semester. Knowing that we can somehow coexist with birds was enough for me, I didn't have the time to watch them. I was forced to take the PE since the University Information System would not list me under Pilates (which I've tried to enlist in for 8 semesters already). I think it was the Red-Keeled Flowerpecker and Guaiaberos that ignited the fervor in me. When my groupmate and I went birdwatching during a Thursday morning around the AS building, I spotted a single bird perched on the highest branch of a tree beside the Kamia Residence Hall. When I raised the binoculars to my eyes, I saw the red vertical line on its breast. Unfortunately, it flew away before my groupmate could locate it. When we were about to leave the area, we started hearing a very loud noise coming from one of the trees near the building's parking lot. Then, swoosh!~ Five big green birds flew above us, heading to the group of trees behind the next building. I couldn't move, I just stood there staring at the empty sky overwhelmed with my eyes all wide.O_O

An hour after, when I went to Hardin ng Rosas (HNR), I found Sir Mando doing his usual HNR birding, I reported the birds to him and he told me that it was a Red-keeled Flowerpecker and probably a flock of Guaiaberos. He said he hasn't tried photographing Guaiaberos and was unsure if they were indeed Guaiaberos. Maybe because he hasn't seen one in the University yet. I found out later that they were Guaiaberos, confirmed by pictures taken by another birder.

Red-Keeled Flowerpecker

Red-keeled Flowerpeckers make me laugh. It's always by itself when I see it, never in a group. I guess it's not an unusual behavior. I like to call them emo birds: lonely, dark and bleeding. xD


Believe me, if you saw something this beautiful with your own eyes, you'd probably go bird loco as well:

Spotted Wood Kingfisher, FC Parking Lot

Our class also went on a field trip to Ternate, Cavite during the first week of the month. There, for the first time in my life, I saw raptors outside a cage, gliding endlessly in the sky. We were able to take a closer look at the Serpent Eagle when it perched on a tree. However, the Brahminy Kites won't quit flying. xD A pair of Tarictic Hornbills also showed themselves to us while we walked down the National Park's road. The other new bird species that we identified were the Swiftlets, Philippine Falconets, Rufous Night-herons, Black-crowned Night-herons, and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and a Whiskered Tree-swift.

A few days after the field trip, I found myself walking from Krus na Ligas (where I live and which is only a few blocks away) to HNR carrying a pair of binoculars. That's when it officially started. Stories from expert birders like Sir Mando were also very enticing, the way he would talk about Sunbirds made me write "Find a Sunbird" on my Life List. Haha. xD

For a few days after I found the nest, I couldn't sleep very well. No, it wasn't from all the excitement, though maybe it contributed - haha. xD I felt rather disturbed. I've been a student under the HRIM program of the university for nearly three years now, I go to the college building almost everyday and it was only during that day that I realized the barbet's existence. I've been a UP student for a long time, and only during my fifth year did I find out there are birds in the campus other than the ETS. Just two days ago, while on my way to the College Library, I heard a familiar shrilling sound coming from the tree beside the SHARP (a student organization) tambayan. I looked up, located the sound and saw three Golden-bellied Flyeaters. :)

Golden-bellied Flyeater

These birds aren't new to the campus. They're only completely new to me. I've been very preoccupied with so many things in life that I've forgotten to stop and smell the roses. I can't imagine I missed seeing how beautiful these birds are for years. And I wonder what other things I failed to see while I was too busy with books, computers, and people.

Right now, I only have a pair of Olympus 10x50 DPS I binoculars, which I borrowed from a classmate a few months ago. As soon as I get out of my current poverty (xD), I will save up for some optical gadgets. Maybe in a few years, I would be able to afford a camera, so I could document better.

There is something ethereal about birds, about birding in general. It's what keeps me hooked. When you enter the world of birding, a bird doesn't just perch, feed and fly, it starts to dance, sing and play. It starts to live. Something insignificant becomes beautiful, and the rest of your life goes with it. At least in my case. :D
Mood: calmcalm
hersecretmafia on February 28th, 2009 02:05 am (UTC)
Those are beautiful pictures. <3

This is "vintagemermaid"
I am adding you to my new journal. ;)
Shannoneffectofautumn on March 13th, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
Wow. Reading this post makes me want to go trekking through the forest for a few hours.

Where have you been? You haven't updated in a while...
(Anonymous) on April 17th, 2009 12:51 pm (UTC)
Hi there!
Congratulations on being able to already see and identify all the birds you mentioned.

And you are in the best company with doc mando and one of (if not THE) best bird photographers in the country Neon.

I really enjoyed reading through your accounts and can relate 1,000% as I have also just started birding this January.

The Guaiabero, I believe is also the one called the Colasisi (this time a slang for a mistress and not a prostitute) and I also love watching it's behavior.

With best regards to a fellow bird lover.

(Anonymous) on April 21st, 2009 11:34 am (UTC)
Hi there. Nice, birdwatching! Try ko din :]
Anyway, links ex tayo kapwa Iskolar :D