Friday, May 9, 2014

Bird Watching

2011 - 44553

The day before this activity, my friends and I did not really know what to expect. The few things we know is just that we are to bring umbrellas and caps for protection and that we are going outside of the auditorium for some fieldwork. I liked the idea in a way that we can go away with the usual lecture type of class and try exploring the environment, but I also had second thoughts about it because of the hot weather outside the very comfortable auditorium.

It is of great privilege that the Chairman of STS was the guest speaker that day. It was also a good thing that he started the activity by getting us familiar with what we are going to do. UP Diliman is one of the center of bird diversity in the Philippines, especially given that it is located in an urban area. There are around 50 to 80 species of birds that could be seen in the campus. He showed some photos of the bird species that are within the UP Diliman campus, both the migratory and the resident species. Professional photographers really do visit the campus for some bird watching and bird photography. He even told us that bird photography is quite a good income-generating hobby. Bird photos, of course of high quality, are paid at a minimum of $100 and could reach a thousand gran depending on the shots to be for sale.

He then explained to us how they were able to get the sample population of the birds in the campus. According to him, they utilized the method of random walking. Random walking is literally walking randomly in an assigned area. He gave an example of walking around an area of 20 hectares within 20 minutes. During the course of walking, the person should jot down notes of what birds or bird species he was able to see along with the time of the day that he saw them. Early in the morning, around 6am, is the preferred time of doing this because this is the time of the day when birds are more active. He also said that birds are more likely easy to observe because they are diurnal, meaning they are active during the morning, unlike other animals which are nocturnal, or active during night. They did the random walking repeatedly in a systematic way for more than a year, so as to make their study valid.

It was not a good time for us to do the activity because it was already 10 o'clock in the morning and the birds are not that active; they are likely to be in tree canopies to get some shade during the time we went out. However, we still tried our luck. We went around the campus, from the CS building going around the Chemistry and Math buildings. It was really hot and it became a bit of a hindrance during the observation. We got a little bit frustrated because the first 5 birds that we saw were maya or internationally known as the Eurasian Tree Sparrow. After quite some time, our group decided to go back and the time for observation was consumed already. As we were walking back to the CS building, we were able to see two or three shrikes. It was a common bird species in the campus, yet its tail really fascinated me. Then, we reached the CS building, and surprisingly we spotted a bird that is predominantly yellow in color. It could be a lowland white-eye or a yellow-vented bulbul, but we were not sure of it because the bird was quite on top of the trees and got a little bit of visual blocking because of the other trees' leaves and branches. We even called it the Adarna, from the famous epic written during the Spanish era in the Philippines about a magical bird.

The activity was a good one, even though it was hot outside. I was able to realize that birds are not just there for no reason at all. They could serve as a measure of how healthy the environment is. The more species of birds seen around the campus means that the environment is conducive to live in for them. Birds are very important characters in our ecosystem, just like any character in it. If one gets wiped off from the link, there is a possibility that the entire system would change. We should preserve our environment not only for our benefit, but also for the animals as well. Our planet is not only meant for humans to live in, but is also meant to be inhabited by other living creatures, equally deserving of the planet Earth.

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