Sunday, July 31, 2016

Quick Fix

There are times when we can't do some serious birding but the desire somehow keeps nagging. What to do in such situations? A quick fix of course. That means birding in our neighborhood. 

On an almost regular basis, my wife and I do our morning exercise by walking around our subdivision, stopping every so often when we see birds. So this particular Saturday morning, I decided to bring along my camera to satisfy my birding itch. There weren't that many birds and I managed to photograph only three species.

Thanks to the Yellow-vented Bulbuls our walk was made "fruitful".

Thanks to the Zebra Dove for giving us a "leg-up".

And finally, thanks to the Philippine Pied Fantail who obliged us despite being haggard looking. We surely are your fans.

I would like to apologize to the Eurasian Tree Sparrows for not taking their photos. You guys were just so busy foraging, no one stopped to pose for us even for a few seconds.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


JIF is the number one peanut butter brand in the United States. Lately, however, JIF acquired a new meaning here in the Philippines. Now JIF stands for Jacana In Flight - photos of which had become a common posting in Facebook the past several weeks. Like most bird photographers, we wanted to be a part of this growing community. Our friend and regular birding companion, Peter and I contacted Jonet T. Carpio - he is "the man" who rules over the Jacana territory. So it was arranged - we meet up at the Camella Homes in Bulacan between 6:30 and 7 Saturday morning.

At 6:30 we were there. Jonet gave us a detailed description of what to expect, where to look, and the best time to photograph our target species. For the next hour and a half we endured the scorching sun as we attempted (most of the time unsuccessfully) to get our JIF shot. I said unsuccessfully because the long-tailed birds were so unpredictable in their movements. You'll never know when they will decide to fly and if they did it was only for a short distance - oftentimes too short for our cameras to focus properly on the fast moving subject.

Thankfully, there were some passable photos that would be good enough to be included in the JIF posting in Facebook.

In between lulls when the Pheasant-tailed Jacanas were not up in the air, other species provided a respite, thankfully so. Interestingly, we were provided with BIF opportunities. Normally, BIF would mean "Bird In Flight" however, in our case that morning, BIF turned out to be Bittern In Flight. All three species went flying by, albeit at varying distances and at different times.

Black Bittern
Cinnamon Bittern
Yellow Bittern
Around 9 am, the jacana activity quieted somehow. A birding couple, Gilbert and Wilma Go, came and joined us. We stayed with them for another half hour with still very minimal activity from our target bird. 

At 9:30 with the heat becoming unbearable, we bade goodbye to our new friends and to our host. Our deepest gratitude goes to Jonet who took time off from his schedule to show us where the jacanas were and providing very important information about birds in the area and even setting up a hide for us photographers.

One of the slogans for the famous peanut butter I mentioned above goes: "it's terif!" That's exactly how we would describe our experience with our version of JIF.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

A Rose by any name..

Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri). This species is also known as Ring-necked Parakeet (which is more appropriate, if I may say so). A feral population of these large parrots had established themselves within the "Libingan ng mga Bayani" (Heroes Cemetery). Although not a lifer for us (we've seen them in Hawaii where they were introduced decades ago), we thought it would be nice to add this species to our Philippine list.

Since we were assured by friends who had been there that these birds are a sure find at the Libingan, we took our time getting there last February of this year. As in we got there at 10:30 am! And that, dear friends, was a big mistake. For two hours we waited, wandered, wondered and totally wasted our time. Life definitely was not a bed of Roses...or should I say Rose-ringed Parakeets...that miserable mid-morning.

About five months later, lo-and-behold, our friend Bim Quemado posted some photos of the parakeets in Facebook! And, of course, they were taken at the LNMB! I quickly PMed Bim and asked for the precise time and location that such gorgeous images were taken. "About 200 meters from the pond at 8 am" was our friends' quick response. Isn't social media just awesome?

The following day, being a Saturday, we were at the exact place Bim mentioned. At 6:30 am. Suffice it to say that Roses seemed to bloom everywhere! Their joyful songs filled the morning air. My only regret was that I did not bring my tripod along, thus not being able to get bird-in-flight (BIF) shots. And therefore getting some blurry and/or dark images. Nonetheless, we did get some good shots.