Boobook Twitch!

I was in denial that I was in a birding slump. I missed birding but I didn't have the drive to go out and bird. And if I did feel like birding, the weather would not cooperate. It took an owl to get me excited again about sneaking in some birding time within a very toxic work week (reviewing my students for their exams!!!) 

Birder friend, Peter T., generously accommodated me to try our luck with a Chocolate Boobook* he had recently spotted in the subdivision where he lived in. Despite being very tired from work, I was quite excited at the possibility of getting a lifer for me! (*There is still some question about the owl's identity, it could possibly be a Northern Boobook!)

We were at the spot a little past 5pm and I joined Peter and friends Tito Bob and Tita Cynthia, who were already waiting for the owl. The afternoon light was quickly fading and the stench from a nearby garbage area rose to envelope us. We waited for an hour, but saw no movement except for some Brown Shrikes. Then, a small truck came to collect the garbage. The truck parked right next to the area where the owl had just been seen and photographed the previous day by Irene and Mike A.! That lessened my hope of seeing the owl in that spot.

As night settled in, Tito Bob and Tita Cynthia said that they were going ahead. Almost as soon as I kissed Tita Cynthia goodbye, a dark shadow flew in to perch on a tall tree. Looking suspiciously like an owl, I shone my flashlight on it and I could clearly see eye shine! The owl!

It quickly flew off again before I would spot it through my binoculars. It landed on a tree nearby and we were able to positively identify it. "Boobook! Boobook!" We brisk-walked in the darkness to the tree and there it was indeed: the Chocolate Boobook!

The one and only decent shot I got of this awesome bird!

It stayed only for a moment before it flew off into the night. I don’t think any of us got great photos that night, but I’m happy that I was able to get an ok photo of the object of our successful twitch! Oh, and I was able to get a short video too! =)

My First Shrike, Whimbrel, Plover...

So, I FINALLY got to see my first Brown Shrike of the season. And while my other birder friends saw their first shrikes in their own backyard or in nearby UP Diliman, I saw mine in the LPPCHEA (Las Pinas- Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area) during a guided trip. Surprisingly, it wasn't even the first migratory bird I saw that morning!

Trying out their bins

As we started the trip, we could see some egrets and terns flying above us. I didn't look at them with my bins yet as I was giving part of the introductory talk to the United Architects of the Philippines – Paranaque Chapter. Behind me, foraging among the garbage was a Whimbrel!

A Whimbrel among the trash...
We saw a total of four Whimbrels on the beach, before the clean-up.
Sad that these migrants end up foraging among so much trash...

I've seen this bird before but never in LPPCHEA. Some seasons ago, it was spotted and photographed by other birders and when I went to see it, it was already gone. So seeing it for the first time in the site was a great way to start the trip for me!

Walking along the beach, a Brown Shrike was spotted but when I asked where, the bird had already flown away. Oh well…

We saw the usual suspects in the area: Black-crowned Night Herons, Little Egrets, a couple of Common Kingfishers, and a fly-by Yellow Bittern. The tide wasn't that low that morning but we saw a few waders on a patch of exposed mudflats. We saw Striated Herons, Little Ringed Plovers, and Pacific Golden Plovers.

Pacific Golden Plover, its beautiful plumage popping out
against the gray mudflats

Black-crowned Night Heron, wide awake that morning

We didn't see much in the inner ponds. There weren't any ducks in the lagoons but we did get sightings of a single flyby Philippine Duck plus a single flyby Rufous Night Heron. BUT! I did get to see my first Brown Shrike of the season! Yay! The migration season has really begun!

Brown Shrike!

As we headed back out to the beach, the clean-up organized by Save Freedom Island Movement and Earth Island Institute was already in full swing. It was nice to see patches of the beach clean and free from garbage, as well as familiar faces in the crowd =)

We ended the trip with a small flock of Asian Glossy Starlings perching near our group. I’m raring to see more migratory birds soon, especially waders! Now, if only my schedule (and the weather) would clear up…

One for the Veggies!

Yes, this blog post isn't about birds, but about vegetables. I haven't really been out birding for a while and honestly, I can't feel the "migration vibe" has started for me since I haven't even seen my first Brown Shrike for the season!

So, as I await my first Brown Shrike sighting, I will indulge and rave about the bayong (native bag or basket) of salad greens I have just picked up this morning.

I love green salad! In a buffet, I look forward to the salad and dressings being offered. Well, that and the meats, and dessert, and if there is brewed coffee ;) But the salad is a must for me. So when Jops and I listened to the talk of Charlene T. of Good Food Community during the recent GIG (Green Is Good) talk, I was determined to order myself some green, leafy vegetables asap!

My very first Salad Pack bayong!

Good Food Community is all about community shared agriculture, connecting consumers as directly as possible to the farmers, allowing them to thrive in a sustainable society.

So, I logged on to their website, placed my order for 4-weeks of salad packs, deposited my payment (BDO or PayPal), picked up my veggies from my chosen hub, and... ate my salad for dinner!

I picked up my bayong in my chosen hub
inside the UP Diliman campus.

Aside from UP Diliman, they have pick-up hubs in Loyola Heights, Katipunan, White Plains, New Manila, San Juan, Kapitolyo, Makati, and Malate (in Sev's Cafe!!!) You can even create your own hub!

I opened my bayong as soon as I got home and was happy to see
a fresh assortment of salad greens! There was a lot inside that bayong!
And I even got arugula!

I chose the Salad Pack which is a mix of salad greens (approximately 500g) but there are also other choices. They have the Bayong Pambahay which is a mix of greens and other vegetables, typically 6-8 types (approximately 3.5kg), and the Juice Pack which is a mix of juicing veggies (makes approximately 1/2 liter of juice.) You can choose to order bayongs for either 4 weeks or 12 weeks.

Looking at my pretty bouquet of salad greens makes me happy =)

I'm very happy I was able to learn about the Good Food Community and that, in my own salad-loving way, I have become a part of it. I did have a yummy, fresh green salad for my dinner tonight. Got a happy tummy and happy heart. Win-win. That's how it should be. =)