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A hunter is caught in the act by a sharp-eyed and quick acting bird photographer

photo by Fred Serrano

by Fred Serrano

I was at the usual waiting spot in UP Los Baños trying to get closer pictures of a pair of Greater Painted Snipes. They were hesitant to come out of the rice canopy. While I was waiting, I spotted this very familiar looking guy. I had posted his pictures before, scooting away with rifle and paraphernalia, dressed in a barangay tanod shirt no less. Was he a hunter? He seemed to know very little of birds.  If he was really hunting for food, why was he ignoring the rails of various kinds that continued to preen or shake off water from their feathers right on the dikes, bunds and grassy roads back of the agri park? Then he raised his rifle, a compressed air gun, and fired off a few shots. This guy was shooting small birds for fun! I squeezed off a burst of shots myself, capturing a few pictures.

photo by Fred Serrano

I raced to the guardhouse and requested the security staff there to notify University police about the poacher’s presence and location. I could hear him discharging more shots, now from inside the wooded area of agri park. Two men from the University police arrived within 5 minutes and I directed them to the location of the poacher. The police were not slow-footed either, as they followed me quickly through the tall grass and thickets and the muddy road. The shooter was cornered in a small clearing near the irrigation tubes.

When he was confronted, he admitted that he was just shooting birds for fun (katuwaan lang) and had in fact not hit any bird yet. He started pleading to be released, name-dropping his employer (a retired university professor) who has a house nearby. He even said this was his first time, although his equipment indicated otherwise. I told him he should choose another pastime and he could actually be in trouble. He could be jailed under the law if show his picture taken in the area months back – in his barangay tanod uniform and rifle.  The police brought him to University police headquarters to be processed. By the time it was over, my snipes had retreated inside the canopy for the night.

I wish to commend the university police for acting with dispatch. Without knowing the person, his exact weapon or weapons, and predisposition, they did bravely apprehend the offender. I was prepared to blind him with my not so benign green laser if he even tried to lift and level his rifle! Next time, I hope we bag those rich brats playing soldiers shooting against their fantasy army of pipits and munias. Cowards!

It is apparent that these guys time their incursions when the police patrols are over or in other areas. The police are stretched thin and we cannot blame them. But they did respond very fast, so notifying the authorities is important and always effective.

slaty-breasted rails
Photos by Fred Serrano


  1. Ned

    While I detest sport hunting, it certainly isn’t very sporting to use a scope when hunting… even among hunters there are rules… scopes are a no-no!

  2. segfredo r. serrano

    well, ned, consider this: i once accosted three people in their suv right inside the uplb agri park. they wore camouflage gear, had scopes on what is judge to be real hunting rifles with magazines that look like those that load cal. 22 lr. i saw one with a laser attachment! worse, these cowards were also shooting small birds for fun …. and all from inside the comfort of their suv! my only regret was that i was not able to get their pictures or the picture of their vehicle and plate number. since then, i see to it that i take the incriminating pictures first before informing police or if unable to, personally accost the offenders.

    fred s

  3. juan

    hello Mr Lu and Josef Sagemuller,
    obviously, this is a HATE campaign. you STOLE our pictures, POST it to a website where we cannot REBUT, and worst LIED!
    i remember a time when a member of the Bird Watching Community ask this forum not to post picture taken by Mr. Romy Ocon – AND WE OBLIDGED, WE EVEN APOLOGIZED. i also remember getting a message from the Secretary to the Mayor, informing US that Swamplands in Candava is already a Sanctuary….we gladly informed others and thanked the people behind this.
    i will not take this sitting down….worst thing a environmentalist can do is HATE CAMPAIGN. is this your cause?….buti pa ang Gawad Kalinga and Bantay Bata, because they help people and alleviate poverty in the Philippines. how about you?….why not touch on CARP in Negros to help LANDLESS PEOPLE or stop CANE BURNING..this is obviously a violation of Sen. Gringo Honasan: CLEAN AIR ACT!….PURO LANG NAMAN SIGURO SOSYALAN ANG SA INYO (PURELY ARISTOCRATS)

    I DONT SEE POOR PEOPLE DO BIRD WATCHING (THEY CANT EVEN BUY RICE, MUCH MORE A LEIKA BINOS)While most bird watchers are happy with a reasonably priced Hahn 8 x 42 binoculars, the serious birders prefer Leica or even Swarovski bins which cost between $1,500 and $ 2,500. SHIT! THIS CAN FEED A BARANGAY IN NEGROS

    Another toy is the spotting scope and tripod which cost around $1,000. A telescope is a steadier instrument that allows a birder to see a bird, say, the Colasisi up close.

    The Colasisi is the smallest Philippine parrot with bright green feathers, a red head and rump.

    There’s also “digiscoping” or taking photographs of your favorite bird using a digital camera and the scope as a telephoto lens. This is how most of the pictures on this page were taken.

    MANILA, Philippines—Birders or bird watchers are a strange lot. They hike through forests, trudge on landfills, and stroll in cemeteries armed with bins (binoculars), water and crackers. Moving slowly, they look for birds.
    Birdwatchers hike through forest, trudge on landfills, and stroll through cemeteries
    “Birdwatchers hike through forest, trudge on landfills,
    and stroll through cemeteries”
    They wear light clothing, sensible shoes and hats. The wiser ones slather sun block all over their bodies.
    They bring a field guide, a little book with loads of information on birds with corresponding pictures. Highly recommended but increasingly difficult to find is “The Guide to the Birds of the Philippines,” by Robert S. Kennedy et. al., published by Oxford Press.
    This is how birders do it: They see a bird (with the naked eye or with bins), they identify it, and they write it in their journal. If they can’t identify the bird, they look it up in the field guide. If it’s not there, they make notes, a rough sketch of the bird or even take a picture for future reference.
    Beginners usually go with seasoned birders, or if they can afford it, hire a guide. Ironically enough, the renowned bird guide in the Philippines is British and his clients are foreign bird watchers.

    • Josef S.

      Well Mr. Juan, I have a very good idea of who you are and the axe that you have to grind. “Strolling through cemeteries”, is this some thinly veiled threat to Mr. Mike Lu and myself? So, to quote Disney’s Frozen…”Let it Go”… because a) you aren’t making much sense b) you are clearly in the wrong trying to defend a position which is pretty much as pointless as a house built on sand. Good day Sir.

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