Woody Woodpecker in the house

How many of you have seen a woodpecker before? Growing up, I only knew of woodpeckers in cartoons. Yes, “hello, Woody!” (Woody who? Children, see¬†http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woody_Woodpecker).

Sometime between¬†2003 to 2005, I found one on a tree trunk in Antipolo. “A woodpecker!” It was way up so I couldn’t really see the body markings (if there were any). I just knew that it was a woodpecker because it was pecking/ tapping the trunk.

One time in 2012,¬†or 2013 maybe, the boys were playing basketball while I was “out” birding here in MSC San Gabriel. ¬†I saw a small bird¬†on a tree and it started pecking the trunk. “Woody, is that you?” We have woodpeckers in MSC! I took a video of the bird to document how woodpeckers peck trunks, haha!¬†Later on, with help, I was able to identify the bird as Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker (Dendrocopos maculatus). Tatay Mario calls them “Batoktok.”¬†From what I’ve read, they’re locally referred to as “anluage.” I think the name “anluage” has something to do about carpentry/ wood work (=aluage?).

Please click on the link if you want to see the video of the Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker. Note that the sound that you can hear on the video is not from the bird but from the basketball. https://vimeo.com/52452843

Did you know that there are 6 species of woodpeckers in the Philippines? (1) Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker (2) Sooty Woodpecker (3) Great Slaty Woodpecker (4) White-bellied Woodpecker (5) Greater Flameback and (6) Common Flameback. The first two are endemic (= found only in the Philippines).

Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker (Dendrocopos maculatus) is the smallest of the 6 species found here in the Philippines. It usually measures about 4 to 5.5 inches. It is endemic and common so most likely, you have woodpeckers in your place.¬†I am almost sure that once you’re able to associate the shrill sound they¬†make, you’ll never forget about them. The call is loud, high-pitched and lasts for a few seconds.

Additional note: Dendrocopos = woodcutter, maculatus = spotted

I didn’t see a woodpecker today but I heard one call. That’s enough to make me smile and feel that loving avian¬†presence. I love woodpeckers. ūüėÄ



The Yellow Lep

It was drizzling so I had to head back to the office. On my way to the office, I saw a brightly colored creature fly. “I’ve never seen that bird before. Now, where did it go?” I scanned the¬†branches of the trees¬†and looked for movement but found no such bird.¬†Something yellow caught my eye. Flutterby, I meant, butterfly! There’s a bright yellow butterfly¬†sipping nectar from the white flowers, I thought. Because of my height and the relative position of the lepidopteran, I can only see parts of it. The body is like that of a bumblebee, yellow with black bands. The lepidopteran is dominantly yellow. The basal part of the forewings and the hind wings are yellow with black markings. The top/ upper half of the forewings are mainly black with white ¬†markings.

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Looking closely on a photo I took, I realized that it’s not a butterfly.¬†Check out their antennae, definitely a moth.

I was having a hard time trying to take a picture of¬†the lep when I realized that there’s at least 3 of them. Oh, joy! Pure joy! Like most lepidopterans, they’re hyperactive, fluttering their wings forever (not!).

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I find it hard to sleep whenever I discover a new organism here in MSC San Gabriel. I just have to know their name. As I have not found the time to upload the picture, it was hard to ask for help in identifying the moth.  Google it! Keywords: yellow leopard moth. Bingo!

Why did I include leopard as part of the keywords? Well, I was browsing lepidopteran photos and I saw Phalanta phalanta which has a similar print but a bit orangey. The common name of Phalanta phalanta is Common Leopard.

The moth looks similar to Dysphania subrepleta.

Coucal (Centropus sp.): my favorite bird for 10 years

Do you have a favorite bird, avian species? I do. I love coucals (Centropus sp., locally known as “sabukot”). They’re my favorite.

I heard them first in the UP Arboretum way back in 2002, maybe, but I never really got to see them, not until 10 years later. A coucal has a very distinct call that I never quite forgot about it. My doctor friend finds it funny that I have a favorite bird, a favorite bird for a decade.

I’m pleased to say that I was able to see them and photograph them after 10 years.¬†The pictures aren’t that nice yet but at least I finally managed to take pictures of this very elusive bird. Imagine, it took me 10 years to finally catch a glimpse/ glimpses of this bird. ūüôā I’ve only seen 3 of them at most at a given time . ūüėÄ I’ve heard them numerous times and at various places but I’ve only seen them here in MSC San Gabriel Campus.¬†

Note: The coucal photos were taken last November 2, 2012.¬†I secretly hoped to see/ photograph the coucal the morning I took the pictures above. Before that, I was fortunate to see/ observe/ photograph Brush Cuckoos and a Philippine Hawk-Cuckoo and thought that hey, this week is “The Cuckoos, Malkohas, Coucals Week.” *I hope to see more cuckoos, and coucals and yes, I hope that I will find a malkoha here.:D I’ve never seen a malkoha up to now.

The More, the Merrier

Here we go round the mulberry bush
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush
Here we go round the mulberry bush
So early in the morning

Mulberries!¬†Just when everyone thought mulberry season is over, there is now an abundance of mulberries.¬†We felt bad for the trees after Typhoon Glenda hit the city. The¬†branches were broken and the¬†leaves were crushed (much like what happens when you use your mortar and pestle to get juice out of your leaves). Surprise! After about 2 weeks, the mulberry trees have recovered. They now ¬†have brand new leaves and¬†mulberries in different degrees of ripeness. The children here in San Gabriel, the MSC students, teachers, staff and guests, the MATH-Inic children, they all love mulberries. It’s ¬†a happy sight, a happy food, a super food. ūüôā

How many of you have tried/ tasted mulberries? They’re highly perishable so you probably won’t see them in groceries.

Anyway, if you have access to mulberries, you can try eating them straight from the tree. That’s¬†the best way to get your dose of mulberry, in my opinion at least. You can also make jam, jelly, and syrup out of mulberries. You can¬†juice them, too. ūüôā So far, we’ve only tried eating them fresh and juicing them.

So, yes, my no. 1 source of antioxidants these days are mulberries.

Happy Mulberry Season! ūüôā

Note: Mulberries are not berries, botanically speaking.¬†I believe they are multiple fruits. It means that a mulberry fruit developed from an inflorescence, from many ovaries of many flowers.¬†ūüėÄ

Moth Talk

I’m not a mother, not yet, but I am a moth-er.

I must admit, I didn’t really like moths at first. After we moved to San Gabriel, I started seeing more of our animal friends. I found lots of birds. Well, I heard lots of birds chirping and making music. I also found lots of butterflies fluttering in the garden. Lepidopterans, whoopee!

Someone told me that I should join Project Noah and post my wildlife photos, and so I did. There were times that I actively looked for birds, butterflies and moths. There were days when leps just decide to pay me a visit.

I tried to photograph even the tiniest and ugliest of all moths because I really wanted to add more spottings. Not all moths are ugly though. Some are, in fact, big and pretty. Some are small and colorful. Some are  just beautiful.

Most of my favorite leps are actually moths and not butterflies. Last 2012, I even made a photo collage that says 12 moths of 2012.

Moths of MSC Institute of Technology

The biggest moth I’ve seen in MSC is a Samia sp., though a former student¬†has spotted an Attacus sp. a few years back. ¬†Have you seen a Samia sp.? The one that I saw has a wing span of about 5.5 to 6 inches. That is definitely one big moth.

I also find the lichen moth (Xanthetis luzonica syn. Cyme luzonica)¬†very pretty. (That’s the tiny yellow moth with black markings on my 12 Moths of 2012, the one on the bottom left corner.)¬†Another tiny moth that I like is the wasp moth (Amata sp.).

My all time favorite moth is a green geometrid moth, Berta chrysolineata. I still remember the day I spotted that. <3

One Christmas day, I saw a glittery gold moth. It was Christmas perfect.

I also like Neogurelca hyas because it looks odd. Some tiger moths have those lovely feather-like antennae. They beat butterflies for prettiness.

I love moths.

Enjoy a Refreshing Cup of Lemongrass Tea

Hola! I hope you’re all well. I know a lot of us are not ¬†loving the weather right now.

Brew your own lemongrass tea.
Brew your own lemongrass tea.

Brighten up your day, relax and enjoy a good cup of tea. Lemongrass is packed with vitamins and minerals.

Brew your own cup of lemongrass tea.

1) Chop some lemongrass leaves.

2) Add boiling water.

3) Steep for 5 to 10 minutes.

4) Strain.

5) Enjoy your cup of tea.

Drink it hot or cold. Hot lemongrass tea is perfect for rainy days. Add ice to your cup of tea when the weather gets warm.

You don’t have lemongrass in your home? We have lots in MSC San Gabriel Campus. Ask Tatay Mario for some.

Have a great weekend. Enjoy your cup of tea!

*Note: Lemongrass tea may not be suitable for pregnant women, very young children, and people on medication.

The fairest of them all

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”

You can borrow books for all ages at Silid Booklatan.

Silid Booklatan and the white rabbit
Silid Booklatan and the white rabbit

See that rabbit there? Say hello to our resident white rabbit, White.

Our resident white rabbit ...  white as snow
Our resident white rabbit … white as snow

Yes, how unimaginative! But it is white, white as snow.:) So, who’s the fairest of them all? White! ūüôā

Happy Thursday to you all from the rabbits of MSC San Gabriel. ūüôā

Plant life after GlendaPH

San Pablo City is largely agricultural. Coconut, rambutan and lanzones are three of the most common source of livelihood here in San Pablo City. It seems that everyone has a nyugan (coconut plantation) or a farm lot with rambutan and lanzones.

Rambutan and lanzones season is around August to September. Yield was low for the past years, however, because of climate change and the devastation caused by typhoon Milenyo (2006). We barely got to eat rambutan and lanzones for years.

Last year, rambutan harvest was fairly good. There was maybe an overabundance of rambutan that prices dropped to PhP20/ kg or maybe even lower (as low as PhP10 or even PhP5?). We opted to share most of the harvest to friends and relatives. There was more than enough for everyone, each MSC student even got to bring home a bagful of rambutan.

The first harvest of rambutan in MSC San Gabriel campus was scheduled last Saturday, July 19. But then there came typhoon Glenda and a number of trees were uprooted – 2 santol trees, a chico tree, an Indian mango tree, a guava tree, a macopa tree, papaya and banana trees and rambutan trees.

a rambutan tree in the secret garden after typhoon GlendaPH hit San Pablo City
a rambutan tree in the secret garden after typhoon GlendaPH hit San Pablo City

It is saddening but I’m just glad that we’re all ok. Our students, staff and teachers are all ok. Six out of the 6 rabbits are all ok.

And look! We still had enough rambutan to share to our teachers and students.

high school students feasting on rambutan after GlendaPH
high school students feasting on rambutan after GlendaPH

Teachers and staff also got to bring home durian.:)

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The “atis¬†trees” made it. They’re quite small yet that it may not be even proper to refer to¬†them as trees. We were able to harvest 13(?) atis fruits.

Photo taken last June 23, 2014.
Photo taken last June 23, 2014.

The end for now. I will try to write about the animal life after GlendaPH and the dragonfruit next time.


Typhoon Glenda (international name: Rammasun = “God of Thunder”), ¬†is probably the strongest typhoon to hit San Pablo City.

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