Monday, 19 August 2013 15:10
Today I changed the columnhead photo to that of an Australian Black Eagle, shot by Bim Quemado from a 10-meter distance, using a D700 camera (500mm, F5.6, handheld) in 2010, at Cooleman Ridge Nature Reserve in Canberra, at the Australian Capital Territory. It was in Australia that my fascination for birds began in 2010. My first week of residence at The University of Sydney’s Wesley House provided me an ambiance of living in the Halls of Hogwart. Imagine then my room and windows so much like that of the chambers in the Harry Potter series. I used to open my windows when I heard the sound of birds, and they just varied in class, colors and sizes. Then I started taking photos of those fascinating animals that could do what I literally could not: fly.
My early attempts to build friendships with Philippine-based birdwatchers were not met with much enthusiasm. Most birdwatchers probably saw me first as a journalist who would just mess up their peaceful rendezvous with nature and the world of avifauna. But I was actually the fledgling, and on my own, I began studying the science of ornithology, and linked up with more helpful ornithologists and birdwatchers offshore who were enthusiastic to actually have another interested learner on the science. These days, I am working on a book with Bim Quemado, whose interests in bird photography just perfectly complemented my writing concerns to a T. Hopefully, this book, Birds in Sulu, will be among those that will blend scientific research and creative sociolinguistic documentation. (It should be off the press in a year’s time though, for personal reasons.)
Philippine birds contribute significantly to the world’s avifauna. Chandler and Couzens (2008) cite the Philippine Eagle as among the 100 birds in the world that a birdwatcher of any nationality must see in his lifetime. It is also recorded in Walter’s (2011) listing of endangered birds in the world. Lederer (2007) however mentions only one bird in the Philippines that is highly endangered, and that is the Sulu hornbill.
Philippine-based Danish ornithologist Arne Jensen, co-founder of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, in a personal communication with this writer expressed his concern over the plight of the Sulu Hornbill. “Every individual (Anthracoceros montani) counts,” he said, as he elaborated that “there are fewer of this species than the Philippine Eagle.”
My concern also as a journalist is the marginalized reporting of environment issues, and foremost among which is endangered birds that are endemic to the Philippines. A series on avifauna reporting would wishfully perk up more interests not only from hobbyists and birdwatchers, but hopefully from the DENR which is supposedly the state arm to pursue similar stuff.
And what makes this issue so timely is the forthcoming 2013 National Bird Festival which will be in Zamboanga City come October. Director Mary June Bugante, regional director of the Department of Tourism 9, has been supportive though of the project, inspiring me thus. And I think I should take off again. As I often state back in my Ateneo days, “Fly high like the Blue Eagle.” (Frencie Carreon, La Chica Viajera, for Zamboanga Today)
By Frencie L. Carreon
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