Time to Pause

I was away from the refuge for 5 months. Almost half a year! Stuff got in the way, like moving house and being in lockdown. I felt a little stressed about being away for so long. Once I was back in the refuge though, I realized that being away for a long time was not such a bad thing. It’s good to step back once in a while. It gives you time to pause and re-evaluate your routines and habits and see if they are still serving you well.

In The Natural Way of Farming the famous Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka tells the story of silkworm farmers in Japan. In the beginning, silkworms were collected in the mountainside and released in the woods. Then the farmers bred new varieties of silkworms. These new varieties were raised indoors. They were watched day and night. Early in the morning, mulberry leaves were collected, washed, dried with a cloth, chopped into strips and fed to the silkworms. The room had to be kept at just the right temperature with heaters when it was too cold and ventilation when it was too hot. The had special tools and baskets for taking care of the silkworms. It was difficult work! In modern times, some farmers tried returning to more natural, less labor intensive methods. When synthetic fibers were developed, silk lost its popularity for a while. When it became popular again most silkworm production became industrialized. Now it is done in factories with conveyor belts, automated temperature control, and artificial feeds.

I can relate with the hard working traditional silkworm farmer with his special tools and desire to innovate and improve his craft. I like to identify a problem, think of a solution, and buy the gadget that I need to implement my solution. I like working with my hands. I am so enamored by gadgets and tools that I have one storage room for tools and another one for cleaning supplies!

I now realize that :

  • some of these problems are not really problems and don’t need solutions
  • your first idea is probably not your best idea
  • if you over think something, your ideas can get away from you and lead you down very involved and complicated paths
  • just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it
  • I don’t have to do everything myself even if I can
  • new innovations are not always better
  • maintaining all the gadgets and cleaning tools takes up a lot of time and effort

It was nice to be at the refuge and feel very relaxed. I felt grateful for the people who work for us. They do a great job keeping things tidy, caring for the horses, and watering the plants. I had no compulsion to pull out weeds myself. I just wanted to walk around with the dogs, look at the plants, take pictures of birds, walk, swim, draw, and paint! And that’s what I did!

The Red Keeled Flowerpeckers were very busy in the aratiles trees in front of the cottage

Red Keeled Flowerpecker in the aratiles tree
Red Keeled Flowerpecker

During my morning walk, two Philippine Collared Doves flew in front of me, landed on a nearby tree, and posed for a bit!

Philippine Collared Dove

I was headed back to the cottage with Momo, Lulu, and Ollie when I decided to check out one of the side paths. I was surprised to see something big perched near the ground. I was even more surprised that the 3 dogs listened to me when I told them to just stay beside me while I crouched down to take photos! The dogs were so well behaved! I was able to take many pictures of the Pied Harrier in a variety of poses!

Click on the the photos to see them full screen.

Here are common birds that are just nice to see!

Brown Shrike, a migrant bird
Lowland White Eye
Pied Fantail

White Eared Brown Doves

I was ready to write off any chances of taking pictures of birds. We were at the refuge with all our photography gear, but I thought that our chances of taking pictures of birds were slim since we were very preoccupied by Lulu, the new addition to our family!

lulu the very cute australian cattle dog puppy
Hello Lulu!

It turns out we had a fun bird photography session after all! We got our first photos and great views of White Eared Brown Dove in our place! I first saw this species in our place in December 2016 in the mango area. I didn’t have a camera at the time. I remember feeling very excited to see it since it’s a bird that is usually found in the forest. It’s a good sign for us to see more forest birds instead of the usual garden birds.

There were two White Eared Brown Doves in the round pen. They were eating the fruits of the Lantana shrub. During the previous week, the Pink Necked Green Pigeons eating the Lantana fruits. I never realized before that Lantana was so popular with birds! I know the flowers attract butterflies, good to know that the birds like it too. In the US they spend a lot of money to remove from pastures it because it is invasive and is toxic to cattle. It is native to Central and South America.

There was also a Spotted Dove that visited the round pen. It’s what first caught my eye and made me check the round pen. When we first saw it, the White Eared Brown was mostly hidden inside the tangles of the shrub. Later on it came out more in the open and then was joined by a second White Eared Brown Dove.

The first bird stayed in the round pen for a long time. It has a visible bald patch on its back. looks like it is molting.

white eared brown dove eating lantana fruit

What a treat to take take pictures without even leaving the veranda. We got to watch the new dog and the new birds at the same time!

New Bird Records, #s 99 and 100!

August was a great month to be at the refuge. We hired people to remove the aroma growing near the cottage. We planted Amugis trees and Leea shrubs. Tonji used the grass cutter to clear the hagonoy that took over the picnic lot after my failed Hagonoy Eradication Project No. 1. We saw lots of butterflies. We started construction on a new and improved horse bathing area and we are converting the old bathing area into storage areas. I’m going to have a super cute garden shed! And most exciting of all, we had two new birds for our Bird List!

Bird # 99

Coleto
Sarcops calvus

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Coleto

Tonji was on the phone when he saw two Coletos fly into the clump of trees in front of the cottage. They stayed for a minute, flew to the Aratiles next to the round pen, then disappeared.

Coletos are forest birds. Their habitat is described as forest, forest edge, and clearings. The pink around their eyes is bare skin! It is a Philippine endemic. We see them most frequently up north in Subic, Zambales.

Bird # 100

Ruddy-breasted Crake
Porzana fusca

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a sketch of the illustration in the Kennedy guide

No picture! Just a sketch and a story! Tonji was driving the car through the mango farm when he saw two adults and a chick crossing in front of him. They would go into the sides of the path and then emerge closer to him! We looked for them on our way home, but they didn’t show up. The next week we returned for a day trip so we could spend time looking for these birds. I think I saw the head of one pop out from the corner of the path as we were about to drive to a new spot. So, maybe I saw our 100th bird.

This bird is described in the Kennedy guide as uncommon. Ok, it really isn’t that common. In 2011, we drove to more than a hundred kilometers just to see this bird. The Kennedy guide also says it is crepuscular and solitary. Perhaps it behaves differently during breeding season.

We welcomed the arrival of the fast-flying migrants that eat up all the flies that multiplied during the rainy season.

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Asian Palm Swift

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Barn Swallow

We had breeding birds. We saw this family while we were waiting for the Ruddy-breasted Crake.

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Spotted Buttonquail

The male takes care of the babies!

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cute chicks

It’s always nice to get good views of these guys.

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Buff Banded Rail

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Black-naped Monarch

And to end the day with an owl on the fence.

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Grass Owl

 

Good night!

The Magic Fence

This bamboo fence is very popular among the birds. We can see it from the veranda of the cottage and we always check to see what’s perched on it.

One day it was Tali, the Pied Harrier. We watched him and admired his full adult male plumage. Earlier in the year he was brown, then in March we saw his black adult feathers coming in. In April, we thought he had migrated and that we wouldn’t see him in full adult plumage. Here he is in July in full male adult plumage!

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After giving us good views Tali flew off. We thought that was the end of the show. Thirty minutes later a Grass Owl flew in and landed on the same spot! Maybe the Grass Owl wanted to see what Tali was looking at.┬áThere’s a path of short grass in front of the fence. It’s a good place to nab a meal.

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The following week the fence was host to these Spotted Doves that decided that bamboo fence was a good spot for sex!

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