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!