Of Birds, Blogs, and Cybercrimes

Who knew blogging about birdwatching could be so... controversial!

I started blogging early 2000s using the now defunct Multiply site. I used to write about my travels, food adventures, and movies I've watched. As a new birder in 2010, I was a fan and follower of my good friend Trinket's Multiply blog and learned a lot about birding through her well-written posts. She has since migrated to her new site Breathing Space. I also followed and learned from Tito Bob's very informative blog, Two Birders To Go, and looked forward to reading about his next birding adventure with Tita Cynthia. Even my friend Mark was blogging at that time. When Multiply closed shop in 2013 I was already a birdwatcher and, inspired by my friends' blogs, have started my own. This one! I'd like to think I've also influenced other birder friends to start their own blogs to document and share their birding adventures. 

I do love writing! And I think I can say that I am fairly good with words, a trait that has been thrown in my face for reasons you cannot possibly imagine. But here I am now, still writing and loving it even more. 

For me, blogging serves two purposes: first, as my personal journal to document and remember birding trips and other events, and second, as a way of sharing these stories with friends and other birders who might learn a thing or two, just like me when I was starting out. I am and have always been careful with what I write, both in terms of content and grammar.

Ahhh grammar. I am far from being a perfect writer and I make typographical errors here and there. That's why I am very grateful for friends who message me to point these errors out so I can correct them. Thank you! You know who you are. Personally, I think 5 or more typo errors and grammatical mistakes consistently made across many posts in a single blog just make for lousy writing, not to mention migraine-inducing. If I have to reread a sentence more than two times just to figure out what the writer wants to say and if I need to consult someone else to try to understand and even they come out clueless, all the while mentally correcting so many spelling errors...well, why bother with a torturous experience anyway. 

For content, I've written about birding in different places, successful twitches, and failed attempts at finding a bird. I don't assume that many people read my blog (just family and friends) and I continue to write as if writing in a journal. The characters in each post are real people with whom I've shared adventures with. I'm actually quite surprised that there are people who read my blog just to check if they are mentioned and then react oh so violently when they fail to find their names since, just like in real life, they played no part in my own personal experience. It's like Mr. Zuckerberg expecting (and demanding!) to be credited every single time "Facebook" is mentioned. Thank goodness he isn't an egomaniac! 

Which brings me now to cybercrimes over personal blogs and oral defamation over superfluous expectations. In today's day and age of freedom of speech on social media and the power wielded by a single screenshot, one really must be careful about what he or she posts even on personal pages. Name-calling, false accusations, and slander disguised in subtext are all punishable cybercrimes and yes, the same style using screenshots to discredit someone can be used as evidence when the poisonous post is taken a screenshot of too! No matter if you delete it because, ooops, as you "screenshotted" me to warn people about my credibility, my friends "screenshotted" your horribly written personal attack and now... we have evidence. 

After all of this, I know I can still sleep soundly knowing that I have always spoken and written the truth, this post included. And now, an even bigger truth is coming out, the ugly truth that beneath the white porcelain exterior gurgles something toxic and foul riddled with delusions of grandeur and an overinflated ego.

Hello? NBI Cybercrime Unit? Si TaƱedo 'to. 

A Cotton Pygmy Lifer

My blog has been “sleeping” since April 2020. I have honestly had nothing much to write about in terms of birding what with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on. I was quite lucky to have gone birding in LPPCHEA in January 2020 before the lockdowns and community quarantines and rightly so, my first official foray back into birding was a year after that, still in LPPCHEA for the 2021 Asian Waterbird Census.

After the AWC, it seemed as if I wouldn’t be out birding anytime again soon. Until we got word of a rare migrant making an appearance in a gas station along the North Luzon Expressway. Thanks to the thoughtfulness of Erickson T., remembering me say before that I wished to see the Cotton Pygmy Goose, he messaged me and Djop alerting us to the sighting.

It was like the long-stagnant birding part of me was electrocuted awake by the message! Scanning social media posts of friends, I saw Trinket’s post of the Cotton Pygmy Goose and immediately messaged her and Adri. Djop and I started planning our twitch.

I must admit that I was 50% raring to go and 50% unwilling to leave my baby to go find a bird. The more than a year quarantine had almost cemented me in my mama bear cave that it was quite a mental struggle to go back to my old twitching ways. I was just beginning to go back to my old work schedule and now one of my most wanted birds shows up!

After some gentle debating and nudging me to go out and be my old self again, Djop was able to convince me to go twitch that goose!

The Total gas station was only about 40 minutes from our house so it was an easy drive early Sunday morning. We got to the spot at 6:30am and met up with Sir Roy. We found some birders scanning the distant pond for the bird and said hello. We setup in our area and started scanning as well. 

Sunrise over TOTAL Gas Station

It was refreshing being out again and feeling like my old birder self. The familiar feelings of excitement and fear (yes, fear of dipping on a target bird is REAL) started coming full force when I glanced at my watch and saw it was already 7 o’clock.

I was starting to get agitated and wanted to drive back home to Elias already when Djop found it. At 7:15am, I was staring at a Cotton Pygmy Goose

Photo by Djop

Last seen in the Philippines more than 40 years ago, here it was in front of me. It swam with the many Common Moorhens in the pond, paddling this way and that but it was unmistakable once you see it: smallish, white with a black eye stripe, cute.

New normal in birding as well! Masks on!

It was flushed away together will the other birds in the pond when a man on a small boat started paddling in the middle of the pond. In classic twitch style, we packed up and left, having successfully seen the bird. We were back home by 8:45am yay! It was good to feel like my old self again, and I’m learning to mold it to my new roles. Fun times ahead.

The Cotton Pygmy Goose made up for my “bird-less” 2020 and I’m taking it as a good omen for 2021.

*Thank you again, Erickson! I owe you pygmy goose levels!

My digiscoped photo of my lifer!
Dedicated to Erickson for alerting us!