Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Si Maganda at si Malakas

About a month and a half ago, photos of a nesting Philippine Hawk Eagle, (PHE), were posted in Facebook.  According to the post, the photos were taken at a secret location somewhere in Antipolo.  The location is purposely withheld because photographing nests is a sensitive matter. If disturbed there is a big chance that the parent bird might abandon the nest, and thereby killing the eggs or chicks.  One can even read accounts where a chick or chicks were taken out of the nest by some bird photographers just so they can take a good photo. 

Over the course of almost three years of birding, I have encountered, (and photographed), nests on several occasions but always from a safe distance. Even in our own garden at Darayonan, I have seen the nests of the Scaly-breasted Munia and White-bellied Munia, literally two meters from where people are (staff and guests).  The rafters of our own bar are a favorite nesting place of Eurasian Tree Sparrows and farther up in the roofs, Asian Glossy Starlings. But since they are not bothered or harmed, the "nestings" are successful. 

But I digress.  Back to this particular Eagle in Antipolo.  I was on a birding sortie in Bulakan last March 28 when I got an invitation to visit the Eagle site that afternoon.  It turned out that the site was inside a gated subdivision and one needed the permission to enter. But since I was still with my Spanish birder guests, I declined. However, I made a mental note to visit the site after I come back from my Coron trip.   

On April 15, a friend and fellow birdnut, Jovic Ferrer, went to Antipolo to photograph the PHE.  When he got there, he found out that the nest had been poached and the baby eagle is gone.  He immediately called WBPP VP Alian Pascua who told him to report the incident to the barangay. This prompted a search and rescue mission that involved the DENR, the City Goverment of Antipolo and the community. The story of this amazing saga was even aired at CNN Philippines. Here is the link on CNN's site:

http://cnnphilippines.com/videos/2015/04/27/Saving-the-Philippine-Eagle.html#.VT4XhQVEd-m.facebook

When the chick was recovered, it was named "Maganda"... (meaning Beautiful or Good Looking)...

On May 5, I visited the site and was rewarded by seeing "Maganda". Here are some of the photos I took. (note: all photos were taken from the road where my car was parked). 

My first view of Maganda was from down a slope so I was looking up the nest which was very high up on a very tall tree.  All I could see was a small cute head peeping out.

I then went to another vantage point where the view of the nest is more or less eye-level. 

I heard a screeching call and without much ado, an adult eagle perched on one of the branches. It moved about a bit and kept making sounds.  I assumed that it was the mother.  Perhaps it was telling the baby to get up from bed (?), hehehe.

Mama eagle.  I am calling her "Malakas" because to me, she is the epitome of strength.

Whatever she was saying seemed to have worked. During the first hour that I was there, the chick hardly stood up.  It was hunched on the nest and all I could see was its back. There would be some occasional movements but that was it.  When the parent bird arrived, and making some noise, the baby eagle  to stood up, (a bit ungainly), walked around a bit, and even flapped its wings. (kinda reminds me of my kids who are always lazy to get up from bed on weekends...hehehe).

Standing up...

Walking around...

Doing some stretching and flapping of the wings...

I was hoping that the adult eagle would perch on an open branch so I could get a photo but it perched on another tree that was partially blocked by other trees. Meanwhile, I just kept observing the nest through a small gap in the myriad of twigs, branches and leaves. The baby eagle seemed to move about more confidently. Probably due to the presence of the mommy...

Maganda talaga siya (He/she is really good-looking)...

I was already going back to my car when I happened to glance at the nest and saw that the mother was already there.  I immediately, (but carefully), walked back to the spot where there was a gap in the twigs, set down the tripod and fired away.  What was interesting was the adult eagle started taking things from the nest and throwing them away. I suppose this was her way of keeping the nest clean. Soon the baby eagle started to help (in a clumsy sort of way)...

Mama and baby doing housekeeping

After a few more minutes, I packed up my gear and drove away, grateful that I was able to witness such an amazing sight.  Grateful also that Jovic took time to report the poaching and that the Antipolo City Government (through Mr. Robert Nacianceno, also a birder), the DENR, and the community (Ptr Don Mackay and the surrounding settlements), all worked to save the chick and reunite it with its mother.  Truly an effort worth praising and celebrating.  Bravo! Mabuhay!

Last, but certainly not the least, I would like to thank Atty. Ramon Quisumbing for facilitating my visit.


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