After crossing the river for four times and after walking above grasses and shrubs wet with dew drops under the golden rays of a rising sun for many minutes at the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm Colony, we came to the forest edge of Pasugui Subprison and first saw the Mindoro Tarictic Hornbills before the tall trees that welcomed us, but they immediately flew away depriving us of good shots. Then we came searching for the Mindoro Bleedingheart which was seen separately by our prinson guides Eddie Sarmiento and Marcelino Balaguer, but not seen by any of us, adding to our dismay and frustration. The other prison porter Rey Corre was not also able to see it. We were later awarded with the day’s catch when lots of SCARLET-COLLARED FLOWERPECKER came feeding on a fruiting tree near the river, right after we came out from dense area of the bleedingheart.
The Mindoro endemic species is listed as endagered (classified as “vulnerable” by IUCN), yet we see lots of them in close range. Their small declining population in such a small territory may perhaps have contributed to their listing as vulnerable. Yet, maybe the restricted penal colony is helping in their protection and conservation.
For more than three hours, these flowerpeckers came in and out and feed on the trees along the river and we spent relaxing times photographing them.WBPP Fellows Ven Rojas and Keith Sundiang even had the time to bathe in the cold river, while WBPP Fellow Jude Sanchez strolled around and took naps, and we continued shooting even after devouring our adobo lunch cooked by the wife of one of our prison guides.
SCARLET-COLLARED FLOWERPECKER, Philippine and Mindoro Island Endemic, at Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, July 2013… 1/200, f/5.6, iso400, Partial Metering, Aperture Priority Mode EV+4/3… Canon EOS 7D + EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM + Kenko 2X Teleconverter + Benro GH-2 Gimbal Head and Tripod… Photography Technique: Natural History, no major changes made in the photograph. 90% Crop (Enlarged by 10%), almost full frame.
Thanks to Kaakbay Officer Homer Silva for all the preparations, and to his brother-in-law Ricardo Carding Casungcad, the former OIC and current head of the Therapeutic Department, and current OIC Adolfo Tandoc Jr., for allowing us and providing us guides. Thanks also to our guides and porters, who were fortunate to be trained/exposed to birding by Haribon and other environmental NGOs and local and foreign birders, while within the confines of the prison colony and while serving their life sentences. We are finally thankful to Fr. Fernando Suarez who invited us to visit Ilin Island where we came from before proceeding to Sablayan. It was his invitation that made possible our birding in Occidental Mindoro.