IN PHOTOS: How an eye surgeon opened the Philippines’ endemic world amid a coronavirus pandemic

HSBC Philippines
Philippines endemic wildlife
Emblematic – That’s how the Philippine Eagle is described in the announcement of Desmond Allen’s Birds of the Philippines due mid-July 2020 – Miguel David De Leon. All photos from Miguel David De Leon

Colorful photos of the Philippines’ endemic wildlife are being enjoyed by the world under lockdown as eye surgeon Dr. Miguel David De Leon publicly shared his posts on Facebook.

The eye doctor and field biologist from the Robert S. Kennedy Bird Conservancy has been taking photographs of birds near his post in Mindanao and sharing these to the public.

Luzon and several areas in the Philippines have been under lockdown since mid-March 2020, with a number of areas transitioning to ECQ, MECQ, and GCQ since mid-May.

Dr. De Leon shared with Good News Pilipinas on May 11, 2020, that he “made my Facebook posts public during ECQ to give people some diversion.”

De Leon had recently revealed the first photograph in 130 years of the fledgling of the South Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx mindanensis), a rare small forest kingfisher found only in Mindanao.

Dr. Miguel David de Leon captures on camera the rare South Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx mindanensis). Photo courtesy of Miguel David De Leon.

Good News Pilipinas was given permission by Miguel David De Leon to publish his photographs before he reverts to private posting when the community quarantine is lifted. We share some of these images and his words with you to join Dr. De Leon’s mission to help ease your minds during these difficult times.

Hooded Pita

“The Hooded Pitta (Pitta sordida) is largely a ground bird. It can be rather shy and evasive, preferring to stay in the darker forest understorey.

But the forest floor must be so hot and dry for this individual to cool down, bathe and dry itself in the open. Thereafter, it hopped around and perched on a bamboo branch to launch itself over the fence and back to the forest.

Those who have been to the House of Rustling Leaves would know where this is.”

Short-billed Brown-Dove

“Two of the birds in this photographic study have white “highlights.” Previously, I’ve only seen the abnormality twice. Once, when I was little and the other, fairly recently in Bohol. Both kept as pets. These are, of course, all in the wild.

The other photos are of normal birds. It is not just the feathers but also the irides of the species that are iridescent.”

Philippine Drongo-Cuckoo

“Endemic to the Philippines, this bird is rather shy though not exactly secretive. Its call is very loud as if its syrinx had a built-in amplifier.”

Philippine Cuckoo-Dove

“The Philippine Cuckoo-Dove is an over-all brown-colored dove with very colorful irides. The scientific name Macropygia tenuirostris roughly translates to large-tailed, thin-billed dove.

In places where it is hunted, it has become shy and evasive. Otherwise, it can be seen along roadsides, on the ground or perched on trees and can be approached to about 10 meters.”

Slaty-legged Crake

“Uncommon, secretive.
The highly elusive slaty-legged crake (Rallina eurizonoides) photographed by MiguelDavid De Leon in the Philippines.”

Black-faced Coucal

“Endemic to Mindanao. Uncommon, rarely on the ground, difficult to see.”

Miguel David De Leon dedicated this photograph of a bird in its nest to COVID-19 patients and non-patients.

“Patients with various needs struggle with loneliness and isolation during these times. When they say they long for the touch, voice and closeness of loved ones and their medical team, our hearts are crushed.

“For those stricken with COVID-19, we will continue to care for you with all our heart and all our might. And for our non-COVID patients, we will give you no less.

“While PPEs and other quarantine measures physically separate us, we are here. We see you. We share in your deepest prayers for healing. We are right here by your side. Always been, always will be.”

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to Miguel David De Leon for sharing his beautiful photos to lift the darkness off the world during these difficult times of a global public health emergency due to the coronavirus disease.

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Aurora Quadra-Balibay
Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.