Saturday, June 20, 2015

Mocking Birds

Ah, the heartache as a result of being mocked by birds, how does one get over it?

I was all by myself, bathed in a torrent of sweat, searching for birds that I can photograph in the mini-forest of the La Mesa Ecopark. 

There was a fleeting shadow among the leaves that promptly disappeared as I focused my eyes (my eyes! not even my camera!) on it. That was just about it.

A slight movement among the leaf litter. Ashy Thrush! I pointed my camera at it. It looked at me and then it moved as if saying to me "photograph me if you can". I followed, slowly, hiding behind a tree trunk. I can see it. I raise my camera. The thrush once again moved challenging me to follow it. Stealthily, I repositioned myself, once more seeing the bird. Before I was able to aim my camera at it, it flew. Out of sight. There was a mocking, laugh-like twitter. I sighed. 

I walked along the trail. Then I heard it - the unmistakable call of the Hooded Pitta. I half-ran to where the mournful sound was coming from. The call got louder and louder. I stopped and gazed around. Then came the "uh-oooh". It was so loud, the Pitta could not be more than ten feet away. But where is it? I looked up, hoping it would be calling from a branch. Not there. I searched the grounds around me. No movements at all. And yet, the call was still loud and near. A flutter, a shadow quickly darting from the clump of leaves in front of me to....I couldn't tell where it landed. Again, came the call - now farther away. I followed. A bit louder now but still no sign of the hooded green bird that seemed to tease me, daring me to find it. Another fleeting shadow. Another call - this time emanating from a place even farther away. The call, the deriding laughter, echoed in the distance, taunting me, daring me to keep on pursuing the source of such scornful sound. But I, no longer desiring to be the patsy of such playful ploy, turned away and decided to look for other birds, perhaps those with a more cooperative nature.

I was meandering along the trail, my pride brought down a notch or two by the pesky, invisible pitta, when the Ashy Thrush flew across my path. I raised my camera only to see it merge among the low branches completely disappearing like an avian Houdini. I searched the adjacent area. Nothing. Suddenly a moving shadow and a jeering call. Then silence. Oh how I missed my expert spotter (aka my wife, Cynthia). 

It was while I was mulling over this situation when a special-ops team of minuscule black ants made a coordinated assault on both of my legs. How those tiny dots could inflict so much pain puzzled me. I did a frantic rubbing on my legs accompanied by a fervent prayer that I would be able to get rid of all those that had attached themselves to my flesh. Thank God, the ant bites were gone after a few minutes.

It was just too much for my wounded pride to bear. I decided to end my birding day after spending only two hours in the suffocating humidity of the forest. I needed to be home and spend the rest of the day licking my wounded pride.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Itch Over

Host: Ladies and gentlemen, tonight's guest is none other than Bob Kaufman, bird photographer and blogger. Good evening, Bob, welcome to the show.

Bob: Good evening! Thanks for inviting me. Frankly I'm a bit nervous.

Host: Just relax, Bob. I heard that you finally went birding this morning. How long had it been since you last birded.....

Bob: Mid-April in Hongkong.

Host: the Philippines?

Bob: Oh, sorry. If I remember correctly it was March 7th.

Host: Wow! That long ago already? You usually go birding with your wife, Cynthia. But this morning she wasn't with you. Why?

Bob: It's because of the heat. She just couldn't bear it. Actually even I was hesitant to go but the need to satisfy my birding itch finally overcame my vacillation.

Host: Where did you go?

Bob: At the La Mesa Ecopark.

Host: Did you see a lot of birds?

Bob: Sadly, no. Were it not for the help of some friends that I met there I would probably have seen even less.

Host: So nice of them. I also heard that the Hooded Pitta is now seen quite regularly there. Were you able to see it?

Bob: (Pause)

Host: Did you see the Hooded Pitta?

Bob: Next question please.

Host: (smiling) What birds did you see?

Bob: Well, there was a Barred Rail that hid behind the bushes before I could even raise my camera to my eyes, a flock of tiny Lowland White-eyes, an Ashy Thrush that wouldn't stop singing, and a hungry Guaiabero. That's about it.

Host: And you got pictures of those, I'm sure.

Bob: Well, yes. Except for the Barred Rail.

Host: Would you like to show them here?

Bob: (demurring) Ummm, not really. Honestly, it's because none of my shots turned out well. Let's just say that this morning's trip was all about my need to go birding after a long hiatus. And now I'm glad that that itch is over.

Host: There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, we learned something new tonight. In birding oftentimes it's the simple joy of fulfilling the need to pursue one's passion that really matters. Thank you, Bob Kaufman, for sharing your thoughts and experience with us.

Bob: My pleasure.