Our last newsletter consisted of mostly disconnected subjects, and so does this one. We held some of this information in order to keep the previous letter to a reasonable length, as well as to await photographs that had been taken by another person.
On February 27 we attended the first birthday party of Jemarie, daughter of Jesse and Mabel. Jesse recently assumed the position of Commander of the Ground Zero security crew here on the island. We had anticipated a small party at our friend Ron’s, only to be surprised by a very large celebration. Jemarie has to wait another three years to actually experience her first birthday, because, as you may now have guessed, she was born on February 29. Doesn’t keep her from being a year old, though, does it?
One of the party attendees was Pol Curado, a long-time tour guide for Sun Cruises. Some of you might have ridden on his tranvia when you visited Corregidor. Pol had not been looking well recently, although he always seemed in good spirits. At the party, he especially seemed to enjoy Steve doing his best to sing “Gintong Araw” (Golden Day) in Tagalog, following along on the karaoke machine. But the next morning Ron sent us a text saying that “Mang Pol” had been found dead in his row house. (“Mang” is the Tagalog term of respect used for older men.) Pol was found sitting in a chair, and, from the expression on his face, appeared to pass peacefully. His wife preceded him in death, passing just before Christmas a couple years ago.
Many of you have commented about the eagles that we have been watching for the past month or more. The first time we saw them there were only the two adults. A few visits later we spotted the nest and were delighted to see one egg – a couple days later there were two eggs. The next visit we observed one eaglet and one egg, and a couple days afterwards there were two eaglets. We made quick visits every two or three days and were saddened when one of the eaglets was no longer in the nest. Marcia always thought that one looked stronger than the other, although we have no way of knowing for sure what happened to the missing baby.
For the next two weeks we watched the single eaglet grow, and it was so exciting. Every time we arrived the mother was in the nest, and when she’d spot us she’d take off and circle around. Her mate would join her from his look-out perch, and they would keep their distance, wary and watchful but not acting threatened by our presence high above their aerie. On Sunday the baby was active and looking very healthy. To our shock, on Tuesday the nest was empty. We can only speculate about what happened to the eaglet. Possibly it was snatched by one of the many Brahminy kites on the island. Perhaps it was spooked by one of the low-flying aircraft that passed over the island. In any case, the parents appear to be staying around, and we hope that they will produce a second set of eggs with a happier outcome.
For our fellow bird enthusiasts we’re including several photos that Marcia recently took, including an adult sea-eagle, a soaring Brahminy Kite, a Pied Fantail (well camouflaged in the center of the picture), an Asian Glossy Starling, and a pair of Pink-necked Green-pigeons who were kind enough to hold that pose long enough for several shots. The Pied Fantail and the Pink-necked Green-pigeon are perched in Taluto Trees, of which there are very many in bloom now around the island. You can see the many round green blossoms which open into star-shaped bells and are much loved by fruit bats, butterflies, birds, and bees. Some of these were taken in poor lighting, not the ideal sun angle, but being a very-amateur bird photographer, she was pleased to capture what she did. Most of the birds on the island are very shy, often hard to spot at all even with our high-power binoculars, and even harder to photograph. We’ve been gradually expanding our list of those we can ID by call/song, but would benefit greatly from a CD with both photo and song for our more common birds – if such exists.