Sunday, February 15, 2015

Frustrating Black Heads

Notice those dark spots on your skin? They're blackheads and they are quite frustrating. Thankfully, the internet offers some remedies to restore your skin to its regular smoothness. 

Now if you're a birder and you are looking for a bird - a single bird - with a black head among thousands in a pond more than a hundred meters away, that can be really frustrating! That is why I relegated that task to my very patient, sharp-eyed wife, Cynthia. So with commendable tenacity she scoured the pond looking through my long lens at each individual bird present to see which one had that distinctive black-head that would identify it as the uber-rare Baer's Pochard.

"I got it!" she called my attention. I peeped and sighed.

"But it's a Eurasian Coot," I stated with extreme caution, "It is still an uncommon migrant here in the Philippines, but sadly, it's not the Baer's"

She resumed looking at the pond going through it with a fine-tooth comb.

"There it is!" she said as she pulled me over to my camera.

"Ummm, errrrr,  I think that is a Tufted Duck. See the white body? And the other one is a female." She gave me a look that made me regret the day I was born. I wanted to remind her that it was Valentine's Day and love should be the prevailing mood but a mouth kept shut, I believe, would be the better option.

Then came the heroes who saved our day (and possibly my life). Alex and Cel, using a pair of super binoculars, were able to see a different kind of black head - one with bluish eyes and a dark body. It was there all along but was slumbering peacefully (and unseen) behind some broad-leafed plants. Only when an inconsiderate Philippine Duck flew over it splashing the sleeping rare migrant with water that it lifted up its black head in full view. My wife was now able to put the Pochard in our camera's crosshairs and of course took a shot.

But wait! Having been rudely awakened by an unwelcome splashing, our beloved Baer's started shaking off the moisture from its body. Indeed back is black.

During those times that Cynthia was dealing with black heads I was focused on (and trying to focus on - photography wise) the Eastern Marsh Harrier that kept flying over, occasionally spooking the more jittery kind among the hundreds of birds on the ponds. I have not gotten a satisfactory shot of this raptor in the last three times we visited Candaba. So it is kind of all-or-nothing now because the probability of us returning here in the near future is quite slim. Well, the photo I got may not be the harriest, but it definitely is harrier than the ones I had before.

At around 10:30 we agreed to call it a day. Somehow my wife got sleepy after peering through my camera for what seemed like an eternity. And oh, we did something strange for lunch. Bypassing our normal choices of restaurants we unexplainably settled for the place of the golden arches. Ah, what black heads had done to us!


Choy Wai Mun said...

Interesting write up, Bob. Congrats on your Baer's!

trinket said...

Your photos of the Baer's are getting better and better!
(on another note, napahawak ako sa ilong ko while reading the blackhead-y post!)