Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hidden Eden

A mountainside covered with lush greenery just a few minutes from where we live. A mere dot in the map yet hosting quite a number of bird species. In the few mornings that we spent there we were serenaded by Black-naped Orioles and Olive-backed sunbirds. White-breasted Woodswallows put on such breathtaking aerial displays. Flocks of between ten and twenty Lowland White-eyes would pass through the treetops sometimes followed by a group of Golden-bellied Flyeaters. Long-tailed Shrikes seemed to be everywhere while Pied Fantails and Pied Trillers would occasionally drop by. Early migrants Brown Shrikes and Arctic Warblers were welcome sights. Glimpses of an Elegant Tit and a Philippine Magpie Robin gave us a thrill. Both Collared and White-throated Kingfishers played hide-and-seek with us.

Surprises were Barred Rails and White-breasted Waterhens walking along the road (isn't this supposed to be a mountain? so what are waterbirds doing here?). Even more surprising were the sightings of the uncommon immature Philippine Hawk Cuckoo and immature Mangrove Blue Flycatcher.

All in all we counted 23 species in three days of leisurely birding. To say that these birds inhabit the wooded areas of a private subdivision in Antipolo borders on incredibility. It was a pleasant surprise to discover this hidden eden not too far from home. Ah, but paradise would not be paradise if it does not harbor some deep secret. A secret that had been shared with us by the local residents. A secret that could further advance Philippine ornithology. A secret that for now shall remain hidden in eden.

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