by Vincent Alinan
Birdwatching is an activity best enjoyed in the company of others, but doing it solo is something I’d recommend other birdwatchers do as well. There is an entirely different and rather unique feel to it. Here is such a trip that I went on and how it turned out.
A month or so after I joined the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, I already had my own field guide and binoculars. I heard about a good birding spot in Nuvali called the Rain Garden Evozone. It’s not too far from where I live, so I decided to go check it out on my own.
Before I even arrived at the actual spot, I saw the Chestnut Munia for the first time. Yes, the former National Bird of the Philippines, the real maya bird that is now sadly being sold illegally as pets in public markets.
Rain Garden Evozone is a rainwater catch basin adjacent to Nuvali’s more-popular manmade lake. Any birder would know that landscape-y features are mostly for swagger, and that real life is found in that seemingly unattractive mixture of water plants, tall grass, and water.
There is a nice viewing platform overlooking the pond with bird illustrations. Little Grebes are an easy find once they come out into the open, and it’s surprising how noisy they call. Other easy finds here are Scaly-breasted Munias and the elusive Clamorous Reed Warbler that have been taunting me for several weeks prior to this trip.
The excitement is quite extraordinary. Just you and all this life in one small plot of land. I sat down for a small snack and some rest, occasionally raising my bins whenever something flew by.
Several other species were seen like the Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker calling and poking at a branch as it swayed in the wind, Spotted Doves and Zebra Doves, Large-billed Crows made low passes overhead, and a White-breasted Woodswallow perched on a branch which allowed me to snap this beautiful photo.
Considering how close this area is to Solenad Malls, it’s easy to see how beautiful our biodiversity is if people only made the effort to look for it and appreciate it.
As I was about to finish, I saw an Olive-backed Sunbird in a flowering tree near the Nuvali Evozone office. I saw a Collared Kingfisher as well, and as I attempted to follow it to take a picture, I saw a Pied Triller. And as I ended this trip, I walked back alongside the manmade lake where the Eurasian Tree Sparrows retook the spotlight as they foraged for scraps and crumbs left over by picnickers.
One last surprise was this Yellow Bittern doing its impression of the Jean-Claude Van Damme’s split.
And with that, the trip was over. After taking all of it in, I must say that regardless of one’s experience, solo birding is something we should do once in a while.
In this point of human history where our attention spans are declining due to excessive gadget use, birdwatching, especially when done solo, will help keep our senses sharp as tacks.
With nobody else to help you ID a bird, you had better do your best observing and taking down field notes before that bird flies away. Pair this solo experience with some good reading and you’re bound to be more confident in identification. Even better is that you might find yourself discovering a good birding spot to share with fellow birdwatchers!
And best of all, you get immersed in nature all on your own. Whether in an urban green space or right in the wilderness, you get reminded of how birds adapt to this ever-changing world built both by man’s wisdom and folly. You get to be in the moment, and that, in its own unique way, keeps us in perspective of why we do what we do.
“I’m constantly on the go, constantly moving, constantly observing my surroundings. And sometimes I have to remind myself, ‘Stop. Slow down. Just let it all come around you.'”Jason Ward, Birds of North America