Response to Lingling Maranan-Claver’s article, The Birds of Bakakeng, Baguio posted June 15, 2016
I remember at one time some 20years ago, I was invited to work on a story of a Philippine Eagle found in Barlig. The excitement was overwhelming and indeed there was an eagle found - by a huntsman. I received its head (bigger than my fist) and a talon as big as my hand. My friend who was then with the old protected areas of the DENR begged me not to publish as it might brew a firestorm from readers. I took photos of its remains and kept my word not to publish. This took me on an affair with birds.But I was not much of a good student.
When I worked with the Pulag protected area, we often encountered quite an array of nocturnal and day birds and since a lot of my forest ranger friends had indepth experiences with ornithologists that conducted studies all over the range. They became my pricelss chest of information about visiting and endemic birds that colored the often pencil grey forest of the Pulag.
I could not recall well, but we often meet up with a blue river bird along the Tawangan river. From my recollection, it forages late in the day - creeping (I do not know how it does it) but for its small size, it rushes up and about the river rocks .. often into the waterline and then up to surface again. Not even minding our ignorant ogling. The limitations of film and lens then kept my camera from capturing such a scene in a dusky light.
Oh, and the crows... At the time the Ambuklao road was still a bumpy and dusty thoroughout the way, often we encounter crows in droves (my first time to see such big agruppation of uwaks) wacking through the mounds of cow dung littered all about. But they do prey on small animals and peck into the pine bark. Like their smaller cousins, they also mimic other sounds (even a putovendor's airhorn). In my time in the Bicol coconut ranges, a young aeta pupil had a crow for a pet which follows him to school and hops around the play yard during the morning recess - very accustomed to the rush of children.
Birds are said to be indicator species. A metric of how healthy our environment is. When Ambuclao was paved, gone are the nocturnal frogmouth that jolt you to a hard stop to keep you from running them over as they roost comfy on the soft road dust on a wee dawn.
Our province has its own count by large of endemic birds and of course the annual migration of intercon flyers pass through our homes. And quite a number of these (according to an ornithologist I met once) are deciding to reside here. In a popular travellers' pit stop along ambuklao is a restaurant where swifts have built their mudhouses like hornet hives - unmindful of the human biz buzzing beneath. Sparrows raid untended food amongst the tables at the Baguio Country Club veranda.
Mercedes Dulawan Barangay Imelda Marcos Highway Mon 20th June 2016
Thank you for this article very inspiring indeed like the one written by Lingling Claver. I am so happy about the different birdsongs that greet me each day in my own place. I am glad I have enough trees where the birds can play feed on and whose branches they perch on to call their mates. Yes I do believe Linglngi when she said there s hope for Baguio after all.
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