La Mesa Ecopark (LMEP), July 2021. Birders started to congregate in the LMEP area, waiting for the appearance of a rare Northern Rufous Paradise Flycatcher that was observed a couple of days before. It was undoubtedly the target to behold because it is a difficult bird to find, and that birders could see it in such an accessible birding spot like LMEP made it super desirable! So my dad quickly packed up our things and left for Manila days before. Once we arrived in the LMEP area, we noticed that the area was dark and cloudy, foreshadowing rainfall in a couple of hours.
I was feeling pessimistic about the chances of getting a glimpse of Rufous Paradise, so instead of waiting for the bird to show up, I ventured into the forest to look for other birds. Luckily for this foray, a Spotted Wood Kingfisher and multiple Ashy Thrushes allowed us to photograph them. Spotted Wood Kingfishers and Ashy Thrushes are difficult birds to see out in the open, so even having a chance to see these birds in the same area at the same time was prime time for us birders! The Spotted Wood Kingfisher, in particular, was quite bold, going so close to the photographers and perching on the LMEP wooden chairs to hunt for worms in the area. While the rest of the bird photographers hid and waited for the Spotted Wood Kingfisher, I set out onto the other side of the birding area to photograph the Ashy Thrush.
The rain was slowly seeping in, so I made sure to hide under the shade so as not to get drenched in rainfall. While waiting for a couple of minutes under the tree, an Ashy Thrush suddenly popped up from one of the tree’s roots! This made me excited to photograph the bird because it was completely unaware of my location. The Ashy Thrush then hopped its way on top of a stone right in front of me. It might have been curious to the odd shape residing under the tree. So, I grabbed my camera to set my composition at that moment. I realized that the area got much darker than expected and worse, the rain started to seep in. So I had to resort to lying down on the muddy forest floor with the camera planted directly on the ground, bumping the ISO to 4000, and setting up a much slower 1/80th shutter speed. For bird photographers, that setup would be hell. But in the end, I was triumphant to have a sharp photo of the Ashy Thrush with great background separation.
Photographed by Vinz Pascua
IUCN and DENR Red List: VULNERABLE
Philippine Endemic (Luzon, Mindoro, and Lubang)
La Mesa Ecopark, Quezon City, July 2021
Canon EOS 1DX + Canon EF 600mm F/4L IS II USM + Canon EF 1.4x II Extender
ISO 4000, f/5.6, 1/80, Manual Mode, Spot Metering
Wildlife Photographer, Graphic Designer, and Digital Artist for Haring Ibon. He’s also an active member of the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines (WBPP) since 2020.
Visit www.vinzpascua.com for his photography, art, and design works.