“Open your ears and listen… Only if you truly listen can you hear our feathered friends speaking.”
I recall waking up at a time when not even the first streak of sunlight had pierced the sky. The temperature in my room matched the chilly weather outside. Because of the cold weather, I thought that the sky would pour down and ruin today’s event. However, I still got up, prepared myself and went off to where my friends and I would meet.
On the way to the meeting point, my companions and I were feeling a bit sleepy since the first sign of daylight had not even woken up. We were told to wait for a champion that was coming from another island who was knowledgeable of the event we were participating in today. When we got there, we met a young, bubbly, and optimistic woman. She was holding four powerful lenses that allowed one to see objects from a great distance. This was who our teachers were talking about the previous day. An expert in the field of birds. In the birding community, they call them “birders”.
When we got closer to her, she made a hand gesture with her pointer facing the sky and close to her lips. We all knew what it meant. Being too loud disturbs the environment and wildlife that are close by. She then gave the go signal to follow her on today’s adventure.
The birder led us into a gray colored forest. While we walked on to this cobblestoned walkway, out of nowhere she whispers in our direction, “This is our first stop.” We were surprised by this, since there was no way for us to see any birds. She noticed our frustrations, and said quietly, “Open your ears and listen.” We did as we were told, and we took a pause. A few seconds later, we began hearing the noise from the trees. The sound of rustling, cracking, and squeaking caught our attention. Seeing our faces, she whispered, “Only if you truly listen can you hear our feathered friends speaking. I know you guys can do it.”
With those words of encouragement, we gave it another try. Seconds later, we no longer heard noise. We were listening to whispers and murmurs. While this was happening, the first light of day began to pierce through the forest. From what we thought was just a gray colored forest, became a vibrant array of colors that were coming from above the trees. The colors of the birds that we saw were a sight to behold. Bright colors of blue and white coming from a species known as the “Blue Paradise Flycatcher” and the “White Collared Kingfisher”. We continued looking around, and what we thought were yellow and green leaves moving, were birds called “Common Iora” and “Olive-backed Sunbirds”. These were only a few species we found in the area. What felt like only a few seconds, became an hour of admiration of birds. The birder then snapped us out of our dreamy state saying, “You guys, we have a lot more stops today.” Hearing that, we could not contain our excitement. One of us was about to scream their lungs out. Thankfully, one of our friends was able to keep them in check by showing the same sign that the birder showed us when we first met her. Everyone giggled as we began walking to our next stop.
Throughout the day, we were enthralled by the variety of species of birds we saw at every place. The group ended the day where we first met up. We thanked the birder for her time and for sharing her expertise with us. She replied with a smile, “It is part of my job to educate and share my knowledge with others, especially to the next generation. It was a pleasure to spend my day with you guys.” Before parting ways, the birder asked us to promise, that even when we aren’t with her, that we will practice responsible bird watching. We all whispered to her saying, “Yes, we promise.”
On May 13, 2023, Global Big Day, my friends and I promised to protect the birds that we saw and the environment they were in. With the help of the Sustainability Officer and birder from Ten Knots Group, we started the first ever El Nido Birders Club.
What do you think?