Saturday, November 20

giving in to the twitch

admittedly, adri and i had been resisting the urge to twitch for quite a while now.  we passed up on the blue and white flycatchers at palay palay a couple of years back, a nesting besra at makiling, and we made no effort to pass by candaba for the grey-headed lapwing, mallard, spot-billed duck or even the record-breaking taiga bean goose early this year (in spite of the fact that candaba could be en route to subic, our fave birding spot in the vicinity of metro manila). all would-be lifers, but... we were just too proud (or maybe lazy) to give in to the twitch.

there had been recent reports however of a ferruginous flycatcher in up diliman, and we could not ignore something which was so close by, and, according to reports, seemed like a guarantee (of course there is no such thing as a guarantee in birding... except maybe the eurasian tree sparrow).

harry potter had us up til almost 1 am, but the next day, promptly at 730am, we were at the reported spot.  wondering how we would find such a tiny bird, i stepped out of the car to have a look around when one of the construction workers asked me if i was looking for the bird. it seems that the bird photographers have made it famous!  i was told that it was right there behind the fence and adri and i were invited to come in just as jops and maia (wbcpers) had driven up to park behind us.

once inside, the worker pointed out the non-descript brownish-red bird perched not 3 meters away from where we were standing.  he said that they had been seeing it for several weeks now, since october.  as i showed him and another worker the picture of the bird in the bird guide and explained that it had come all the way from mainland asia to spend the cold months here in our wonderfully warm country,  the older man mentioned "eh grasya pala ang ibon na yan eh. siguro kahit kalahating kilong lamok at langaw kinakain nyan araw araw" (that bird must be a blessing.  it probably eats half a kilo of mosquitoes and flies every day). it was a pleasant surprise to hear their appreciation for the bird which lived right beside their make shift shanties. they probably thought it strange that so many people would actually come to see this little brown job.

the ferruginous flycatcher: a rare migrant

the ferruginous flycatcher is described by kennedy as a rare migrant and "not shy".  definitely not shy at all!  it perched nearby and surprised us by hawking for insects not an arms length away (literally).  we were joking that we should hold out a finger in case it decided to perch in mid-flight. i guess it takes it name from it rusty brown color (or in birding colors "rufous").  its white eyering and round dark eyes reminded me of japanese anime characters... definitely a cutie.  we stood patiently watching it for over an hour, briefly distracted by other birds flitting in the acacia branches high above our heads. gerygones, several arctic warblers, white-eyes, even an immature brush cuckoo!

an immature brush cuckoo flitted about silently above us

eventually adri got a good photo and we decided to go back home (for breakfast!). i have it in my head that i could actually check on this guy everyday to or from school if i wanted too!  as long as it stays that is.

with the almost non-effort we gave to finding this lifer, i must say that this is our most satisfying twitch to date.

(thanks to adri for the photos!)

for the non-birders, here's an excerpt from Birdwatching for Dummies (which i got at book sale for a mere 45 pesos!) written by Bill of the Birds:
"Listing has become an obsession with some bird watchers.  They live for the chance to add a bird to any of their various lists... In Great Britain, listers are called twitchers because of the uncontrollable twitching that takes over their bodies at the prospect of adding a new bird to the list.  Listers and twitchers take themselves very seriously, which is good because if they didn't, who would?"