Friday, April 3, 2015

Luis and the Two Kings

Sharing one's hobby with a loved one is always a special experience. Seeing photos of a cousin with his two sons on a golf course, or hearing a friend whose kids are also into shooting (guns), is something that I want to experience.  

I am a person with a few hobbies. I don't play golf, I am neither into cars, nor guns, scuba diving, or spear fishing.  Outside of bird photography, which is a fairly recent development, my free time has largely been spent with my family, A trip to the beach, a movie, bowling, or a board game are usually enough for us. Aside from these, a good book, or facebook, and of course, sleep, helps pass the time. 

Then the birding bug bit me... 

Since I started in 2012, I have always dreamed, wished, pined, hoped, and prayed, that my kids, (or at least one of them), would share this passion with me. My eldest, Raphaella, dabbles in photography, but knowing how afraid she is of chickens, (chickens, mind you!), I knew there was no way I was going to convince her to traipse into the forest at dawn in search of birds. So that left the two boys, Luis and Leon. 

Sometime in October 2012, my youngest son, Leon, agreed to go birding with me in Coron.  He seemed excited and even had a notebook and pen to list the species he expected to see.  When we got to Coron, I decided to bring him to an area we call the "boulevard".  It is actually a reclaimed area that was intended for seaside boulevard but somehow the project got delayed when a new governor took over.  More importantly, a couple of weeks earlier, Bob and Cynthia Kaufman, saw several waterbirds in the area. I thought that being in town and in the open would be a good "baptism of fire" to Leon.  Alas, except for a couple of plovers, there were no birds.  Thus endeth Leon's interest in birding. 

Later that year, I joined a WBCP-Columbia trip to Balanga, Bataan.  Luis, my elder son, tagged along.  Here he is (3rd from left in a blue-green t-shirt):

He also joined me in Candaba a month later (Dec. 26, 2013), but to say that he has been "converted" (to birding), is a big understatement.

Last Tuesday afternoon, birder friend, Capt. Floyd Bermejo, posted a photo of two Rufous-backed Kingfishers in one frame, taken in Capayas, last March 18. So, Wednesday morning, I decided to go to Capayas with the hope of being able to do the same.  To my delight, Luis, went with me. As usual, I had my SLR with tele-zoom.  Luis had my back-up cam, an SX50.  We also had a pair of bins.

We were at the treehouse hide at 7:00 am and it was relatively quiet.  But pretty soon a male Blue Paradise Flycatcher perched on a kakawate tree. Sharing a photo that Luis took with the SX50.  (note:  all bird photos in this blog entry were taken by Luis in jpeg format and auto-mode with some cropping and brightness/contrast adjustments done by me).

Blue Paradise Flycatcher (male)

Blue Paradise Flycatcher (male). I think this is his best shot of the morning.

A couple of minutes later, I spotted our first "king", the most shy of the three kings, the Ruddy Kingfisher, perched on a low branch and  hidden in the underbrush.  This is the bird that several birders had a hard time looking for a couple of weeks ago. The bird that Capt. Floyd, had to search at the foot of Mt. Tundarala, and then crawl in order to get a good shot. But he is here now, about 10 meters from where we were. Such is the joy of birding, you never know what will show up.

Ruddy Kingfisher

While I was shooting the Ruddy with my SLR, I noticed Luis shift his focus to something higher.  It was a Hair-crested Drongo, Chichibiao in Cuyonon. Another Cuyonon name for it is Tambeliligaw.

Hair-crested Drongo

Then I noticed, another bird on the creek bed and I pointed it out to Luis.  He managed to get only one shot, and a good one too! Ashy Drongo, Salang-ikog in Cuyonon.

Ashy Drongo

After that, there was a lull of a few minutes before Erwin, said, Rufous.  And true enough when we went to the other window, the Rufous-backed Kingfisher was there, the second "king" of the day.  I managed a few shots then the bird flew away.  We then went to a spot that is closer and waited undercover. Soon, the bird came back and we managed several close captures.

Rufous-backed Kingfisher

We were shooting the RBKF side by side when I noticed Luis shift target again and I asked, "what are you shooting at?" He answered, Lizard.  It turned out he saw a lizard, frog and even a small snake on the opposite bank. I don't particularly like reptiles, especially snakes (ugh!), but who am I to question the photographer. Sharing two of his Lizard photos.  


Lizard, would appreciate help on the ID.

Soon, it was time to go.  But after we had packed our stuff, the Ruddy made another appearance. Luis managed one decent shot before the bird flew downstream.

Ruddy Kingfisher

Luis wanted to see the Blue-eared Kingfisher, but unfortunately the third king did not make an appearance.  Reason to go back...

Unfortunatelt, we may not have time to go back on this trip anymore because Luis' cousins are arriving and we have to play host to them.  But thank you Luis for birding with me for a couple of hours!  Hoping for more chances in the future...


  1. WOW! Ang galing ni Luis!!! =) I can feel a father's pride reading your post =) Hope to see both of you in action soon! =)

  2. Siyempre! Thanks! Bird with you soon...

  3. Luis's photos are quite good. Well done to him and you.