Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New Birders, New Pitta, New Friends

Last Sunday, the WBCP partnered with the UP Mountaineers (UPM) and organized a guided bird watching trip for UPM applicants in the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife in Quezon City. The group of 50 applicants were divided into five birding groups led by WBCP guides and saw more or less 10 birds in the park.

Jops giving the introduction to the activity to lots of possible new birders!

Of course, birding is not for everyone but there were some really interested people in the group who I hope will continue birding after that weekend. We had to end the bird walk at 9AM since the applicants still had a tree walk to do, to be led by the Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society. I really wanted to join the tree walk, as I've been wanting to learn more about how to identify trees but Jops and I promised to meet James M. and his family in the La Mesa Ecopark that morning. We invited our fellow guides to join us and of course they said yes!

Off to La Mesa we went. I went straight to the spillway to try to see the Plaintive Cuckoo (would be a lifer!) our friends Adri and Trinket spotted the last time they were there. Unfortunately, the cuckoo wasn't there and we decided to go into the park where we fortuitously bumped into James and his family! We all trooped to the mini-forest where we saw an immature Red-bellied Pitta busily foraging for food.

The immature pitta just starting to develop the red color
in splotches across its belly
It posed very kindly for quite a while... with its back turned =P
A new pitta addition to the LMEP mini-forest

We moved around the trail, looking out for more birds. The muggy weather didn't make it an ideal morning for lots of birds but we did see an Ashy Ground Thrush scurrying about and tending its nest. It looks like the Ashy's are breeding almost the whole year round despite all the human traffic and, at times, human disturbance from getting too close to nests.

Ashy Ground Thrush - always a star in the mini-forest
Sitting on its nest very close to the trail, hopefully it will be observed and
photographed FROM the trail and not from inside the trees

We observed the bird for a few minutes before saying our goodbyes and moving away from the nest. It was almost noon and we all had to leave. Even with just a couple of hours birding, we were happy with the sightings of two awesome birds. It was such a pleasure meeting and birding with James, Natalie, and their kids. James is one of the founders of the WBCP and it was an honor to meet and bird with him =) It was their first time in the park and seeing their reactions upon spotting the birds (especially the kids!) made me realize again how lucky we birders are to have this patch of green in the middle of the city and so close to home too.

Birding with new friends, James, Natalie, and kids,
in the LMEP mini-forest

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