November has been a cuckoo month for me and I'm definitely not complaining. Each visit to try see the Violet Cuckoo was a lot of fun and spent with different people, including the first attempt when I didn't even see the bird!
This fourth visit to La Mesa to see the Violet Cuckoo yielded awful photos, but I was still very happy. I felt like I was with my people... my tribe. Not meaning to say they were cuckoo like me (well, some of them definitely were! Ang coucal nga ng iba e =P) but it was something else seeing old friends and meeting new ones, all brought together by this awesome pair of birds.
This was the first time I got to observe the female Violet Cuckoo, which is not violet at all. It was still very pretty in its un-violet-ness, with its own mix of colors and barring. I got to enjoy my upgraded binocs and took in all the details of the female cuckoo, which was the first to show itself that morning. It preferred to stay in the branches and shadows of the tree while it fed.
|This was the most common view of the female Violet Cuckoo,|
behind a lot of leaves and branches.
But it came out in the open too, but I chose to use my binocs first and camera second (Sayang naman, bago e), so I wasn't able to get any decent shots.
|Would've been a great shot if I had given more effort ;)|
After a few minutes, the male Violet Cuckoo showed up in all its violet-ness. Like the female, it first chose to stay in the shadows.
|Again, not much effort on my part here...|
Like the female, it would give us out-in-the-open views too! I tried taking some shots but I was more intent in looking through my binocs for that "iridescent chin" the field guide mentioned, a detail I failed to observe the first few times I saw it. I finally saw it that morning! Apir!
|Still not a good shot though...|
At some point, both cuckoos sat near each other, with the male getting all fidgety and the female just keeping still, watching its partners antics. Got some video clips of it here: (Click the gear icon and choose HD. And pardon the noisy rooster in the background and the gerygone's cameo.)
The pair of cuckoos drew a big crowd in the small clearing and some park goers were getting curious about what we were looking at in the tall tree.
As more people started arriving, Jon V., Bob N., Djop T., and our new friend Roger S. headed to the mini-forest to try to see more birds. It was a quiet walk through the trail and with the presence of some bikers speeding through the mini-forest, most of the birds have been flushed away. We did get to see Ashy Thrush, Hooded Pitta, Black-naped Orioles, Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker, Philippine Magpie Robins, and a trio of Philippine Coucals, who were engaged in a teleserye-like display (teleserye analogy brought to you by the human cuckoos in the group.)
We made our way out of the forest and returned to the Violet Cuckoos where more people had arrived to spot them. Rob H. and I signed some copies of the Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of the Philippines that Roger had brought with him. Roger works for the Virginia Zoo and will be having a fundraiser selling the signed copies to help raise funds for Philippine hornbills. =)
|That's Rob, me, and Roger =)|
I had to leave after that, but got delayed by around 30 more minutes goofing around with my friends. On top of a successful twitch for Jon, being around all these human cuckoos really filled my bucket. Imagine laughing about Indian Peafowls turned into giant Zebra Doves and using "coucal" in passive-aggressive friendliness! Such fun to be around birders! =)
Since I wasn't able to get any good shot of the cuckoos, I'm sharing the artwork of the male Violet Cuckoo that Jon V. created after he ticked it off as a lifer. Enjoy! =)