Haribon members share Malaysian bird race journey at HMU

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Self-confessed rookie bird watchers Liselle Santos and April Enriquez did not anticipate the adventure they were embarking on when they signed up for a bird race Haribon offered to members.

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“We just knew we were going to Malaysia, and that it was a bird race – I did not even know what a bird race meant!” Liselle shared during the Haribon Meets U! (HMU) event, a monthly intimate gathering of Haribon members to share experiences, exchange ideas, and connect with fellow members.

In February, Liselle and April joined the annual Frasier’s Hill International Bird Race held at the Pahang Hill Resort in Malaysia. The 30-year bird-watching event is one of the most anticipated by avian lovers around the world. Liselle and April were among the 10,000 participants, including those coming from Canada, South Africa, France, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and neighboring countries.

While Liselle and April are long-time Haribon members, both admit to be “amateurs” in bird-watching. April even confessed having initial qualms about joining the event.

“We were amidst seasoned bird-watchers. Most of them were sporting sophisticated cameras; I carried one and it was 7 kilos heavy! I, on the other hand, only had a point and shoot camera,” she shared.

Liselle interjected, “But Haribon told us before we left for Malaysia, ‘just have fun!’ So that’s what we did. We decided that we are there to learn and have fun. And you know what? We did!”

Liselle and April relived their bird race experience to their fellow members who attended the HMU. Animatedly, they shared anecdotes, some funny and amusing to the delight of their peers.

“Lumilipad lang yung mga birds literally sa harap mo,” April recalls. The best part, they both conceded, was being able to identify the names of the exotic birds they spotted.

“We were able to identify 32 birds! For beginners, that’s not bad at all!” Liselle chimed.

However, though mostly comprised of seasoned bird-watchers, April and Liselle witnessed some unethical practices by some of the participants.

“Some of the competitive ones shooed the birds by making loud sounds. They drove away the birds after sighting them so that no other bird-watcher can spot them,” April lamented.

Haribon manager for resource and development Arlie Endonila then explained the harm these could cause the birds. “These undue practices like bird-calling and feeding alters the natural habits of birds and could pose risks and dangers to them,” she said.

Liselle and April encouraged their fellow members to actively participate in Haribon’s activities to make the most of their membership and appreciate even more what nature has to offer.

MIKHAELA DE LEON/HARIBON FOUNDATION

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