Thursday, April 19, 2012

Meeting "Jack Hanna"

Well, actually it was jacana, not Jack Hanna (sorry, googlers!)

Allow me to elaborate a bit: We were in Candaba, in the province of Pampanga. Here in the Philippines, it is a well known fact that the locals have a tendency to not pronounce the "h" when it precedes a vowel, i.e. "unter" instead of "hunter; and to add an "h" in front of a vowel when there was none, as in "hant" instead of "ant".

Now how does that all fit in my story? As I was saying, we were in Candaba for the primary purpose of looking for Pheasant-tailed Jacanas. Now in their breeding plumage, these birds are quite gorgeous with their long tails and golden napes. Surprisingly, they were quite easy to find. I was photographing one of these beauties when a curious local approached and asked what it was I was taking pictures of.

"Jacana," I replied.

"Jack Hanna?"

I was so tempted to say that the object of my photography was not really wearing any hat nor khaki pants while cuddling some furry animal and therefore could not be um, Jack Hanna. But since the inquirer would probably just scratch his head at my obvious nonsensical words,  I just smiled and nodded.

The real Jack Hanna
It was scorching hot at the Candaba Wetlands when we went early Wednesday morning. 8 am and we were drenched from too much sweat. Birds were not that plentiful at the usual places made even more apparent by the absence of the migrants. The usual thousands of Garganeys and Shovelers were no longer  in their regular haunts. Even at the "other ponds" (thanks to our birder friend, Jun Osano, who gave us directions to get there) the migrant ducks were no longer visible. Only the Philippine Ducks, and even then just a few hundred of them, remained. On the other hand, Oriental Skylarks were bursting forth from the grasses like feathered skyrockets and Oriental Prantincoles were promenading on the trails like some Middle-eastern potentates.

Zitting Cisticolas were zitting on the grass ztalks, zinging all the while. 

Back at the mayor's place, Cynthia spotted a pair of Wandering Whistling Ducks which elicited an excited "woohoo!" from me.

But it was the Jack Hannas that were the stars of the day. They were at the "other ponds". On our way back they were at the ponds by the mayor's house and as we were leaving, a pair was at the junction of the "back door" trail.

And so it was a fitting goodbye for us, being sent off by a pair of lovely birds with long tails and golden napes.

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