Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Roses are red but Violets are not blue

There I was standing forlornly beneath a tall tree staring at the tiny pond covered by huge waterlilies below. Hoping against hope that a bird, any bird for that matter, would suddenly materialize before my despairing eyes.

Earlier that morning, I could not find the Coppersmith Barbet's nest near the NIGS building at U.P. Diliman. It was supposed to be a can't-miss location, but me being directionally-challenged that I am, and without my trusted scout, Tonto (aka Cynthia, my wife), this Lone Ranger disintegrated into a pathetic Lost Ranger (a perfect example of an oxymoron right there). Then seeing but not photographing a Yellow Wagtail added to my woes.

I was in that particulary surly mood as I wished, no, prayed that I would see some bird soon. The gray clouds parted and a burst of sunlight illuminated the leaves of the tree on my right side. A brownish bird flitted by and perched on a branch. At first I thought it was just one of them Yellow-vented Bulbuls that seemed to be conjured into existence by the flash of sunlight. But the color looked different on this particular bird. I looked at it through my binoculars. My heart skipped, jumped and beat furiously. I can tell it was some sort of a Cuckoo, but can't nail the ID. Brush? Bronze? It was small, smaller than the cuckoos I have seen before and just about the size of those Bulbuls. What am I doing? I should be taking pictures of this mysterious bird. Hurriedly I raised my camera and began shooting like crazy. Then it flew off! Only to return to a different perch and now it was backlit! Aaargh! I kept shooting knowing I can rely on good ol' photoshop to tweak the image later on.

Like any moving drama story, the villain came. Black-masked and tail-wagging, it gave a screech and chased my cuckoo away.

Back home I quickly grabbed my Kennedy guide and frantically flipped the pages until I found what I was looking for. My cuckoo was a female Violet Cuckoo, quite an uncommon species especially in a semi-urban environment such as the campus of the University of the Philippines in Diliman. It may not be as colorful as the male - which is actually violet plumed - the female was still a beauty to behold with its bright reddish head, striped belly and bronze wings. Colors that took my blues away.

No comments: