I have thought about having a blog for quite sometime now, but somehow have never started one. I was not sure what topic to write about and I was not sure if I have what it takes to write a blog. Birding finally answered the first concern. As to the other, well, there's only one way to find out, so here goes...
Once I made the decision, the next question was, what to I call it. After some thinking I settled on The Chiwit Chronicles. Why you ask? Basically, because I wanted the blog to reflect both birding and Coron. "Chiwit" is the Cuyonon name for the Olive-Backed Sunbird (the bird's call sounds like chee-weeet). More importantly, this is what I consider my spark bird. To my non-birder friends, in birding parlance, a spark bird is defined as the bird that got you hooked to birding.
Growing up in a farm in Dipulao, Coron, Palawan, I was literally surrounded with birds. My parents bedroom wall had a painting of a "Tutulyaw" (Black Naped Oriole), painted by my uncle. The actual live Orioles, could be found in the trees surrounding our house. Aside from the Orioles, the trees were teeming with birds of different sizes and colors. Offhand, I can remember, doves and pigeons, crows, egrets, and a few others. On a Duhat tree beside a stream in front of our house, a red-orange Kingfisher would perch regularly. Knowing what I know now, I believe this was probably an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, (alternatively known as Rufous Backed Kingfisher). In my father's ricefield, there was plenty of "Tariwakwak" (White Breasted Waterhen). We (our houseboy and I), would even set snares for them (shame on me... but I was a kid...). We also did this to the "Umbok" (Button Quail?).
Everyday, a hawk or two would be lazily circling overhead. At night, we could hear the Gokgok calling (according to my friend Rommel Cruz, this is the Spotted Wood Owl). Of course, our superstitious househelps always said that the Gokgok was the "mangalok" (I am not sure what the English translation is, but I guess the nearest is witch or maybe vampire, hahaha). Amidst all these birds, the one that always caught my eye was the "chiwit" which would always be in the Balimbing tree beside the window of my parents bedroom. My father had an L-shaped desk in one corner and I would always play with my toy soldiers there. All the while a couple of "chiwits" would be feasting on the balimbing fruit a feet from me. I was so fascinated with their colors that I asked my Lola what kind of birds they were. She told me they were Hummingbirds. And that's what I thought they were until I became a birder and discovered that the correct english name is Olive-Backed Sunbird.
Sometime in 2010, while swimming with my kids in our pool at Darayonan, I was so happy when we saw a male Olive Backed Sunbird perch on a flower nearby. Today, the Olive backed Sunbirds are a regular fixture in our garden at Darayonan Lodge.
The resident male OBS of Darayonan.
Darayonan's female OBS
The purpose of this blog is to entertain, (by relating our adventures and more often than not, misadventures, while birding), and also to educate by creating awareness about birds and the environment that they live in. Hopefully, I will be able to do both and inspire others to take up the hobby (birding and bird photography) and the advocacy (sustainable tourism). Hint: Ella, Luis and Leon.