Thursday, September 06, 2012

Getting Down to Brush Tacks

As far as the Brush Cuckoo is concerned here are the brass tacks: "Solitary and secretive from coastal mangroves to mossy forest to at least 2000m, rarely at forest edge or in clearings. More often heard than seen, perches in the canopy." - A Guide to the Birds of the Philipppines by Robert Kennedy, et al.

Here I was looking at a bird that I'm convinced was a Brush Cuckoo. Solitary? check. Secretive? well I could see it so it must not be secretive. Rarely at forest edge or in clearings? Hmm, I was in a semi-urban subdivision, with a huge house behind me and another one a few meters to my right with a patch of trees in between. More often heard than seen? I definitely did not hear it (what with my semi-impaired auditory sense) and I definitely saw it. Perches in canopy? well at least that was correct. Despite (or because?) of those and even after I have processed my photos I still was not 100% sure that this bird was a Brush Cuckoo. I did not also consider the fact that my wife and I have seen this species here (almost at he same spot) before. (I must be getting old...or maybe getting insecure at my identifying prowess?). Thankfully my Facebook friends, Adri Constantino and Tonji Ramos confirmed that it was so.

I had some personal errands to do in Antipolo City so Cynthia and I decided to drop by our favorite birding place in that area. Palos Verdes is a private subdivision where trees are abundant and houses aren't. Thanks to our friends John and Vivette Webb, we were able to access this avian oasis (we have seen about 30 species from our various visits here).

It was an interesting early morning as we saw a White-breasted Waterhen - the first time we saw that species here. Unfortunately I was not able to get a good photograph of it. We saw couple more "firsts" in this subdivision: an immature Black-crowned Night Heron which was so skittish it took off the moment we arrived, and a Large-billed Crow cawing  from a distant tree.

But the highlight of the day was indeed the Brush Cuckoo. I was standing on the street while Cynthia was paying a visit with the Webbs. Initially I saw a movement in the tree top almost perpendicularly above me, then without so much of a "weep" it showed itself in the open. This was one of those times when I wished I brought along my big lens and tripod. Ah, but we have to make do with what we have, don't we? With my handheld camera I took shots of the bird in the canopy until my arms and my neck could no longer bear the agony.

My appointed time for my errand was fast approaching so we bade farewell to our gracious hosts. 

It was a trying experience that we had to endure for the next three hours - such was the brass tacks of banking here in the Philippines. At least we didn't go cuckoo.

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