The heat was becoming unbearable. Smog and pollution were pervading the valley. In an attempt to escape these, Cynthia and I went to the hills. Of Antipolo.
Initially we just saw the usual suspects: a Barred Rail, White-breasted Wood Swallows, Yellow-vented Bulbuls, Golden-bellied Flyeaters, and Pied Fantails. Then Cynthia heard a melodious song. A colorful song coming from a black-and-white bird. We've gotten glimpses of the Philippine Magpie Robin here before but this was the first time I was able to take a picture of it.
Things began to look-up (I am tempted to say that you can interpret that word almost literally - the birds were high up in the trees, beginning with that Magpie Robin). Again, it was Cynthia who heard the repeated "twick" "twick" of a Colasisi (Philippine Hanging Parrot). There they were raiding the red flowers of the African Tulip tree. This was a first time sighting for this species here in this village. At a distance a Bright-capped Cisticola was also enjoying the morning. Another first time sighting!
Later on we witnessed an immature Lesser Coucal trying (and, thankfully failing) to locate a Pied Fantail's nest much to the aggravation of the parent birds. That was also the first time we've seen a Lesser Coucal here although we've been hearing their calls quite regularly.
But the highlights of that morning were the conversations we had with two different ladies who witnessed our birding activities. The first came after we saw the Magpie Robin. An elderly couple were hiking when they saw us, cameras and all. The lady approached us and asked if we were residents (which I'm sure she knows that we're not; it's a small subdivision where everybody knows everybody). We introduced ourselves and told her that we were guests of our friends from church, John & Vivette Webb. She smiled and then asked curiously what we're doing. We gave her a glowing report on the joys of bird watching and bird photography. We even enumerated the various species that we have seen and photographed here in their very own community putting emphasis on the very uncommon Slaty-legged Crake that we saw last year. To our surprise, she asked, "is that bird more expensive?" That had some sort of discombobulating effect on us. Did she mean a photograph of a rare bird would be more expensive that than of a common one? or (hopefully not) if it would be more expensive as a caged bird?
I hastily drew our calling card from my wallet and handed it to her explaining that we do this thing as a hobby, not as a business nor a sport. Cynthia told her to go to our Smugmug website and look for the Birds of Antipolo Gallery. Maybe when she sees those photos, she and her husband might have more appreciation for the birds around them.
Our second encounter was with Mrs. Linda Co. We've met her before. As a matter of fact it was at her yard that the Slaty-legged Crakes decided to build their nest 9 months ago. Since then she had become more aware of the birds in their area. She even related to us that three weeks ago she saw an albino Coucal! She and Cynthia were in the middle of a conversation when suddenly my wife stopped in mid-sentence and started shooting at something from across the street. That something turned out to be a White-eared Brown Dove - another first time sighting in Antipolo!
We resumed our bird talk with Mrs. Co until it was time for us to go. She promised that she would call should the albino Coucal or any other interesting bird should show up in their neighborhood.
Oh, before we got into that conversation with Mrs. Co, I had a serendipitous encounter with a lovely lady - a female Mangrove Blue Flycatcher.
Now back to the valley. And everything that goes with it.
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