Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Scaly Thrush Teaches Me A Lesson

It was the first time I really felt frustrated with the lack of birds. Jops, Jun, and I were in the La Mesa Ecopark for some post-Christmas birding and I was hoping for the best. The park wasn't so full and the trails were almost deserted except for us and the occasional passerby. But all we saw after a couple of hours birding were Black-naped Orioles and Brown Shrikes. Good thing we saw an Osprey in flight on our way into the trail. 

We moved further into the trail hoping to see the Red-bellied or Hooded Pittas, but the surroundings were so quiet. A light rain would fall in intervals, alternating with songs from unseen Golden-bellied Flyeaters and yes, more Orioles. Good thing the Ashy Ground-Thrushes were a bit active that morning or else I would have felt really down.

We rounded the trail without seeing any additional birds. No Mangrove Blue Flycatchers. No Tailorbirds. No Crakes. No Pittas. Not even a Yellow-vented Bulbul! I was really beginning to feel sad. I decided to take our birder friend, Tinggay's advice to actually talk to the birds. I did (quietly.) I talked to the Red-bellied Pittas hiding in the brush to show themselves even for a few seconds. They didn't.

By this time, I was feeling really sad already so when Jops suggested we leave the trail to bird somewhere else in the park, I just pouted and followed the boys as they started walking. There wouldn't be any more birds this morning.

It was then when a bird decided to teach me a lesson: no matter how frustrating and hopeless a situation may seem, God has something much, much better in store for you.

Walking out the trail, I saw what looked like a gigantic wader atop a fallen log. It flew off into the trees as soon as we stopped to take a better look. We followed it and saw a huge bird foraging on the ground. It was speckled... the spots looking like burnt fish scales. That's when it hit, we were actually looking at a Scaly Ground-Thrush.

The Scaly Ground-Thrush is described as an uncommon migrant and the largest thrush in the Philippines.
Also known as Scaly Thrush and White's Thrush.

It was very easily flushed, flying off even when we were standing really still. Jops was initially able to take a docu shot of our lifer before it flew away. Along the trail, we bumped into Bram and his lady friend. While we were waiting and scanning the area for the larger thrush, Bram saw a Red-bellied Pitta who apparently decided to answer my request earlier that morning and posed for the cameras. 

The very kind and obliging Red-bellied Pitta. Photo by Jops Josef.

I guess talking to the birds really helps. I started talking to the Scaly Ground-Thrush, this time asking permission for us to photograph it. The Thrush's photo above was taken on our third sighting for the morning =) We saw it one last time, perched a few meters above the ground, before we finally headed out the park. 

Thank you, Scaly Ground-Thrush, for teaching me the lesson I needed to learn the most =) Here's a video of the thrush =)


  1. Replies
    1. Let's go looking for it next time you visit the Philippines =)

  2. yo tambien quiero un Pitta,felicidades en mi Pais es Navidad os deseo todo lo mejor

    1. When you visit the Philippines, let's go look for the Pitta! Merry Christmas to you too =)