Sunday, August 04, 2013

Juvenile Detection

"Peter wants to see the pitta," I told my wife. "The Red-bellied one," I further explained.

"Where and when?" she asked.

"Ecopark. Saturday."


Peter was downcast when we met him Saturday at the mini-forest at the Ecopark. "No birds!" he lamented.

We stationed ourselves at the place where local birder, Anthony Balbin, said was the playground of the pittas. Minutes dragged by so slowly like a plodding snail. Cynthia not wanting to be the breakfast of mosquitoes wandered around. Her perambulations were rewarded by the appearance of a Mangrove Blue Flycatcher. 

Then there was a bird she couldn't figure out. When she returned to our stake-out place she showed me a really bad photo of the unknown bird. Striped head, dull brown. I dismissed it as just one of those Yellow-vented Bulbuls. 

Humidity intensified to an unbelievable degree. Not wanting to drown in my own sweat. I asked Peter to forget about waiting for the pitta for now and check-out the surrounding areas. As we rounded the trail we received a relentless scolding from a Grey-backed Tailorbird - berating us perhaps for not being patient enough.

Silence once again. Even the resident Ashy Thrushes seem to have taken a vacation that muggy Saturday morning. I told Peter that I'll do some trail-trekking. He opted to stay put. My wife, once again, was doing her own exploration.

Not finding anything of the avian variety, I went back to where Peter was. As soon as he saw me, he place his finger over his lips then pointed towards a bunch of leaves. I looked and voila! a nest! 

"Ashy Thrush," he whispered. I looked again and saw the nest. I looked at Peter with raised eyebrows. "Just wait," he advised me and then showed me the image he took while I was out meandering. Indeed there was an Ashy Thrush on the nest. Soon a flutter and one adult came and sat on another future addition to the Geokichla cinerea population of Ecopark. Joining us was Reuel Aguila who also documented another Ashy Thrush nest about two months ago.

Note: To protect the welfare of the nesting Ashy Thrush, no photos of the nest will be shown.

Having had my fill of nest photos, I looked for my wife. I met her near the purportedly pitta place. She was peering into the undergrowth and beckoning me with her hand. Apparently she detected something exciting. I looked at where she was looking and I gasped audibly. A juvenile Red-bellied Pitta was feeding nonchalantly about 3 meters away. My brain assessed the situation and immediately came to the conclusion that I need a more portable gear. I practically wrested Cynthia's camera with the 300mm lens from her. Reuel also came and joined me as I crouched like a tiger at the semi hidden dragon of a bird. Meanwhile, my wife went to inform Peter of her discovery. For about 20 minutes or so all of us feasted on freshly delivered pitta.

That, of course, was the highlight of our birding day. Maybe not the adult Pitta that Peter was hoping for but detecting a juvenile and getting some pictures of it was definitely worth the sweating and the waiting.

No comments: