Thursday, April 26, 2012

My first time at Bird Watching

And it had to be on the fringes of Balanga Bataan Philippines!

As said in the previous story, I went with a group of birders just to get a feel on what it is they do and how. Their itinerary this time was in the Bataan-Zambales corridor, and being in the area, I took the opportunity. Hmm, what a different kind of activity!

It starts with some briefing on the itinerary. Maps, terrains and many other things about the area are discussed. Then its a go! The group convoys to the place until the “guide” declares where everyone should stop and park their vehicles. I did wonder why everyone seemed to be sporting wide-brimmed hats but easily realized why. Most of the time, they have to sit it out in the open and under the scorching rays of the sun.

And of the about 25 of us, only me, myself and I was wearing a white tee! Most were browns and dark greens, so I asked if they have some kind of a uniform for identity being bird watchers. Aruuu! I got educated that the shirt-color is for them to avoid being easily detected by those wild birds that quickly take flight when they see threatening unnatural shapes and colors. Golly! I asked if I should go change into some darker outfit and was advised there was no need this time.

Out in the fields near some marshes, fish ponds and rice paddies, I was kindly requested to stop smoking. So I asked if that also scares them birds away. The answer was not really, but my smoke could get in the way of their binoculars and cameras zooming in at those birds in the distance hehe. Plus, my cigarette butt could ignite the dried grass and leaves to start some kind of a bush fire – then that heavier smoke would really drive the birds away. Gosh again hehe!

Binoculars? Well yes, I think that is the most important equipment they bring as birders. Some even have 2 or 3 in their cars, of different makes or capabilities, which fortunately for me, there were many to choose from and borrow! Cameras? Ah yes, together with videocams, this is probably the next most important gadget they bring as birders. I asked why, thinking in the area of ’they are required to document what they saw’ and submit it to some central club repository. Another friend said not really, they just do it to document the most memorable sightings they had.

Hah, in of all of us, I was the only one who happily and merrily strutted around with a handy point-and-shoot camera. Everyone else lugged bulky DSLRs, tripods and changeable lenses – some were as long as my arms or rims about as wide as my face! Quite a serious activity eh?! I wonder, if I declared a holdup and confiscated all those gadgets they brought, hmm, total value could easily reach the equivalent of 7 brand new cars, I think!

Oist, bird watching is also probably the most quiet sport or recreational activity aside from chess. Not that these folks are not talkative. Most of them are my friends, therefore they are! But when they do go birding, they suddenly become what I call a “whispering group”. Eat your hearts out most holy reverends and your honors, birders also have that automatic unwritten law to switch cellular phones to silent mode. C'mon, even that cough or sneeze have to be most often stifled! Oh ha! And I thought that only happens at churches or halls of justice!

Oh, them birds, while not easy to spot and follow, even with binoculars or zoomed lenses, are actually quite a nice thing to view. Some are fond of running with their own two lanky feet and they do run mighty fast without yet even taking to wings. Some can dive down that fast and splash unto the waters yet just as easily come back up to fly again – usually already with a fish in its beck as a prized-catch! Yeah, air to water and water to air! Missile-like precision!

The exciting part about this bird watching thing is you get to play things you do elsewhere. Like sometimes, as if you were in some kind of a war-games, hiding in the bushes with a wait-and-see attitude. Otherwise those birds won’t come any nearer. Sometimes you have to stay still doing nothing, like a fisherman waiting for a bite in his line. Your camera has to be ready though, fingers and hands must be quick to action when needed. And for entertainment value, you at times need to make noises or even shout loud so them birds would fly and scatter away in air for you to get your desired camera or video shot! But most of the time, its ’silence please’!

Hmm, this bird-watching thing is kind of interesting especially that we have an archipelago for a country. I did share with the group what I have seen that might interest them, like at places in Samar, Palawan, Surigao, Masbate and many other islands.  But I think this sport is not (yet) a thing I may want to do regularly. The gadgets are expensive hehe! Even those books they tote around with all the illustrations and descriptions of birds have glossy pages and hardbound covers. Must also be worth a savings!

I will watch the other birds for the mean time!


  1. I really love bird watching in Philippines, aside from the good whether condition, The birds are really worth watching.

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  2. I do really love watching the birds, especially when they make some information when they are flying all together. They are good and nice to watch. See more bird watching Philippines