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Birder Profiles: Q&A with Records Committee and Execom Members

by Ruth Francisco

AJ, ecologist, ornithologist
Born in Denmark, raised in Copenhagen

Christian, retiree
Born and raised in France

Gina, looking for a job or business
Born and raised in Bacolod City

Willem, conservation biologist
from Someren, Netherlands


Childhood Dream Job

AJ: Zookeeper
Christian: Air pilot
Gina: Ballerina (‘till I realized I had absolutely no rhythm)
Willem: Carpenter or pilot

Favorite Filipino street food/local dish

AJ: Pork adobo
Christian: Kare-kare
Gina: I have many favorites, but kare-kare is for all time
Willem: Pork bbq

Other hobby(ies)

Christian: collecting antique maps
Gina: cooking, sewing, gardening
Willem: reading

What prompted me to try birding

AJ: Curiosity
Christian: Love of nature, then spark bird in 2008: Black-naped Oriole
Gina: Mike. Three years after meeting at a Toastmasters™ club, I bumped into Mike again, and he reminded me about my promise to join the club. So I did.
Willem: I was bullied into it by Nikdye 😀

Most memorable birding adventure

AJ: Big owls like Snowy Owl and Great Grey Owl when I was 10 and 16
Christian: Babuyan Islands in 2010 to see the Calayan Rail
Gina: The first time I went on a club trip to Candaba. David Celdran was also filming us. I saw how dedicated some members were, ignoring the delicious breakfast being served to show the birds to our guests. I was focused on the breakfast, which featured still-warm carabao milk!
Willem: So many to choose from! First Subic trip was Epic, Tubbataha was awesome, PICOP and Compostela Valley was exhausting but rewarding…

Most wanted bird or birding site

Christian: Spoon-billed Sandpiper
Gina: Zamboanga—aiming to see the Black-faced Coucal, Cabusao—Black-faced Spoonbill.
Willem: All Hornbills, still have a number of them on the list

I consider myself as a…

AJ: Serious birder
Christian: Twitcher
Gina: Lazy, let-the-birds-come-to-me birder
Willem: Serious birder

Personal view on using bird calls/playback for birding

AJ: With a purpose that respect the individual birds well-beings
Christian: Not opposed to it if used in moderation
Gina: Playback should be deployed very carefully. Play a call, then wait for a response. If no response, play one more time. If no response, THE TARGET ISN’T THERE. Give it up.
Willem: I don’t use it, but if I’m on a serious trip I don’t mind if the guide uses it sparingly and responsibly

Top 3 things I’d like to accomplish if I were appointed as a temporary environment secretary with a 90-day term

AJ: 1. Policies protecting tidal flats against fishpond conversation and mangrove planting, moratorium against reclamation of important areas
Christian: Make Candaba an officially protected nature reserve; and strongly enforce poaching and hunting laws nationwide. I know it’s only 2 things, but that’s all I can do in 90 days!
Gina: 1. Get the world’s bazillionaires to fund the VRP (Velociraptor Restoration Program) to return velociraptors to the wild all over the world. Let the hunters be the hunted for a change. 2. Get the world’s maddest scientists to create Omndroids (from The Incredibles) programmed to enforce RA9147. 3. Turn plastic factories into natural history museum. Sorry. When it comes to the environment, I just can’t be witty or un-serious. 🙁
Willem: 1. Trying not to get killed because of my below outrageously environmental decisions; 2. Mandatory birdwatching and environment lecture for everyone; 3. Swap all forest wardens with all MMDA personnel (both forests and Manila will thrive)

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