Friday, December 14, 2007

It's a Bird! The Philippine Duck - Anas luzonica - Hunted and Killed

2007.12.14 Manila, Philippines

It's a Bird! The Philippine Duck - Anas luzonica - Hunted and Killed

The Philippine Duck is a gentle and shy Philippine endemic bird. Just like the Philippine Eagle, it can only be found here in the Philippines. The natural geographic and biological evolution that slowly took place upon millions of years which made this species unique to the Philippines is of such great value. Personally, I consider these birds a national treasure.

Of all the birding trips CJ David made, he hasn't been lucky to spot one to observe and photograph yet. However, these birds are easier to find for some people as I found alarming photos of dead Philippine ducks when friends of mine, a biologist, a birder, and a journalist, all told me separately of this online petition by this gentleman from Negros island named Josef Sagemuller to stop the massacre of our endemic birds!

This is one of the photos I found at the petition site which came from the Web site of the hunters. More disturbing photos of dead birds can be found at the petition site.

Our Philippine Duck is not just endemic. It's in the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) Red list of Threatened Species classified as VU = vulnerable . With an estimated remaining population of less than 10,000.

Our Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, written to conserve and protect wildlife species and their habitats to promote ecological balance and enhance biological diversity, states that the killing of wildlife is illegal.

I hope this killing will stop soon. I want to see these ducks alive, not dead as an extinct stuffed animal in a museum nor as a hunting game. I'd rather shoot toy ducks at the carnival but then again, maybe not.

Thanks to fellow birder and photographer Romy Ocon for sharing his photo of a flying Philippine Duck above, also posted at his blog - More bird photos of Romy Ocon can be found in his photo gallery -


>The IUCN Red List - Philippine duck

>The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of the Philippines

Friday, November 30, 2007

Galaxy Geeks Wanted

CJ David went on an online adventure at GalaxyZoo and found these interesting photographs of a barred spiral galaxy, an irregular spiral galaxy, and two merging spiral galaxies while classifying galaxies and looking at the galleries.

Look at the photo with two merging galaxies: What if our very own Milky Way galaxy start to merge or collide with the Andromeda galaxy? Well, the two are actually on a collision course but it won't happen in 3 billion years as estimated by astronomers.

Anyway, looking at these glorious galaxies that no-one has ever laid eyes on before and help out in their discovery is definitely interesting and fun. And getting a sense of the diversity of galaxies and the vastness of the universe is mind-boggling.

GalaxyZoo is a project composed of astronomers from the University of Oxford, the University of Portsmouth and Johns Hopkins University (USA), and Fingerprint Digital Media of Belfast, which harnesses the power of the Internet - and our brain - to classify a million galaxies.

This project was said to be inspired by the Stardust@home project which began August of 2006, in which NASA invited the public to sort through, using a virtual telescope, dust grains obtained by spacecraft mission to Comet Wild-2. This also reminds me of the Seti@home, a distributed computing project which was opened to Netizens in mid-1999 to help Search for Extra-Terrestial Intelligence by analysing radio telescope data using the processing powers of computers that are connected to the Internet.

GalaxyZoo needs human volunteers because the human brain is much better at recognizing patterns than a computer can. Especially patterns that are unusual, the weird and the wonderful. So join in!

Images for personal and educational use courtesy of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sunset in La Union

2005.09.29-30 San Fernando La Union, Philippines.

CJ David catching the sun before sinking to the horizon at Bali Hai Beach Resort in San Fernando, La Union. Oh, what a beautiful sunset. I can't write anything more, I'll just let the pictures paint the words.

It's a Bird! Pied Triller at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

2004.08.21 Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

So I, CJ David, and me went on an introductory birding trip with Mike Lu, the President of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines along with my sister at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, in Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila.

I saw a number of birds I never thought existed and can be observed here in Manila.

In this photo is a Pied Triller (Lalage Nigra) a resident of the Philippines, 165mm in length, common in trees and open country, gardens in towns, and open scrub, singly or in pairs, in the lowlands.

Playfest with the Mangyan Kids

2005.02.12 Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental, Philippines

CJ David posing for a shot with the Mangyan Kids, who participated in the Palaro sa mga Batang Mangyan (Playfest with the Mangyan Kids) at Talipanan Beach, Puerto Galera, organised by the UP Manila Remontados.

We played different party games with prizes and gave them food and school supplies at the end of the program.

“Mangyan” is a general term that refers to eight (8) ethnolinguistic groups of proto-malay origin that occupies the mountainous region of Mindoro Oriental and Occidental. The Mangyans are the original inhabitants of Mindoro, the seventh largest island in the Philippines. Mangyan population is estimated close to 100,000, about 10 percent of the total population of the island.

More about the Mangyan from the Mangyan Heritage Center.

Some groups of Mangyan have already been interbreeding with Filipino lowlanders. And because of the influx of foreign tourists (who become residents and resort owners as well) to Puerto Galera, some Mangyan kids we interviewd have Japanese, Korean, and Caucasian parents.

Friday, November 16, 2007

What is your Ecological Footprint?

CJ David asks himself :-) "What's my ecological footprint? Do I consume more than our planet Earth can sustain or replenish?"

Let's find out with these simple ecological calculators to give us an idea:


University of British Columbia
Survey for Sustainability and Eco-Footprint Calculator

Ecological footprint is a measure of human consumption of natural resources against planet Earth's ecological capacity to regenerate them. This concept and calculation method was developed by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees.

I calculated with EcologicalFootprint.Org and my score there was 14.8. The sustainable score is 15, so I passed, but I don't think that's enough. I should do more.

So what's your score? And what do you think should we do to lessen or to balance our ecological footprint?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's a Bird! Blue-tailed Bee-eater in La Carlota City

2005.04.21 La Carlota City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

CJ David spotted this Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus) along the higway while driving.

Photograph was taken using a Canon EOS 300D with 80-400mm lens.

This bird, about 290mm in length is a resident of the Philippines fairly common in open country usually associated with water along rivers, marshes and ricefields.

It has a cousin - the Blue-throated Bee-eater which I also encountered in Subic, Zambales and have observed catching an insect on the fly! Wow!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Milky Way Photographed From Mt. Batulao

2004.05.31 Mt. Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas, Philippines

CJ David went on a mountaineering trip to Mt. Batulao. This mountain was an easy trek with interesting rock formations at the peak looking like the ones you would see in a fantasy movie (more about this in another post).

The amazing cloud-free pitch-black sky with all the stars so visible was a huge bonus. I couldn't help but see the patch of the majestic Milky Way filled with colorful stars in the constellation Scorpius and Sagittarius. I shivered at the cold temperature but more because of its beauty.

"I have got to capture this spectacular sight", I thought. And so I grabbed my point-and-shoot digital camera and used its maximum time-exposure setting.

Tada! I was in awe. This was my second heavenly-object photograph which was far much better than the Orion Nebula shot.

I was amazed by this picture of the Milky Way that I thought I had to be in it. Well, here it is:


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stopping By a Tree at Mt. Mariveles

2004.07.03 Mariveles, Bataan, Philippines

CJ David here making sure that this planted tree is holding up along the misty trail to Tarak Ridge in Mt. Mariveles .

Trek done with siblings Doc Francis and Farah, Perla and Jules of UP Manila Remontados, and Gideon of UP Med School.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's a Bird! Pink-necked Green Pigeon in Cadiz City

2005.03.18 Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

CJ David was in the island of Negros doing some documentary work. It was 5-6 AM when I noticed this plump silhouette of a pigeon-looking bird perched on a power cable along a residential area. It was a pigeon indeed as I trained my binoculars to it while slowly changing my orientation to face west to see this bird clearly with the sun behind me.

I grabbed my Canon EOS 300D camera and fixed my Canon 80-400 mm telephoto lens and clicked. Wow! A male Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans). Uncommon in forest and forest patches from lowlands to at least 1000m according to my Bird Guidebook. It was my lucky day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blog Action Day - Downloading Space-Based Solar Power

2007.10.15 Manila, Philippines

Looking back, CJ David thinks that the Internet's origin in ARPANET as a robust, decentralised, redundant communication network using packet switching technology to survive war attacks, which was also in response to the former USSR's launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik during the Cold War, was indeed parallel to this Space-Based Solar Power proposal by the Pentagon's National Security Space Office working with the Space Frontier Foundation to provide cleaner, alternative power over war zones and to eliminate dependence on oil which has to be transported and guarded with difficulty and danger along the supply chain such as in Iraq.

Here we have another defense-driven technology which I see will evolve to provide clean, renewable, alternative power to the world. This is a good proposal as it addresses America's better military defense (or shall we say America's military offensive?) while using the sun as a source of power lessening C02 emmissions.

Some experts also foresee wars breaking out due to oil, water and many other shortages brought about by climate change. And that this proposal would supply the power needed to avert (or worsen?) such wars. Well, the use of renewable energy would lessen C02 emmissions and avert climate change and resulting foreseen wars in the first place.

Should a green energy proposal must have a militrary slant to it to merit commitment from the Bush administration?

I don't care, wars by maniacs will soon be obsolete. Our defense against global warming and climate change is the war we are fighting. Climate change is a clear and present danger. We don't need to see missiles flying to realise that. Make no mistake about it.

So beam it down Scotty. I wanna download some power. Read on.

Report Urges U.S. to Pursue Space-Based Solar Power
2007.10.12 Washington, US

A Pentagon-chartered report urges the United States to take the lead in developing space platforms capable of capturing sunlight and beaming electrical power to Earth.

Space-based solar power, according to the report, has the potential to help the United States stave off climate change and avoid future conflicts over oil by harnessing the Sun's power to provide an essentially inexhaustible supply of clean energy.

Space Based Solar Power Fuels Vision of Global Energy Security
2007.09.19 BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado

The deployment of space platforms that capture sunlight for beaming down electrical power to Earth is under review by the Pentagon, as a way to offer global energy and security benefits – including the prospect of short-circuiting future resource wars between increasingly energy-starved nations.
A proposal is being vetted by U.S. military space strategists that 10 percent of the U.S. baseload of energy by 2050, perhaps sooner, could be produced by space based solar power (SBSP). Furthermore, a demonstration of the concept is being eyed to occur within the next five to seven years.

Pentagon Looks to the Internet Community for Space Solar Power Study
2007.07.25 BOSTON

A Pentagon office is taking advantage of the collaborative nature of the Internet as it studies potential applications for space-based solar power, according to one of the officials leading the effort.

The effort marks the first time the National Security Space Office (NSSO) has conducted a study that relies heavily on Internet collaboration, according to Air Force Col. (select) M.V. "Coyote" Smith, chief of the NSSO's future concepts division. Smith is the director of the study, which began in late April.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Gore and U.N. Panel Win Peace Prize for Climate Work

2007.10.12 Oslo, Norway

The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Al Gore and to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a network of scientists led by Mr. Rajendra Pachauri.

The Nobel Peace Prize
The Alliance for Climate Protection
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I Shot the Orion Nebula

2003.02.01 Noveleta, Cavite, Philippines

Yes, this is the Orion Nebula (or the M42 or NGC 1976) in the constellation Orion.

This was CJ David's first deep-sky object photograph. I was surprised to see this photo when I claimed the pictures from the photolab. This was just a test shot. I even forgot about it. I wasn't really expecting anything good or anything visible to come out of it.

Telescope night-sky photography, especially when shooting deep-sky objects, normally requires: higher ISO to capture light better; a camera-to-telescope adapter/mount and an altitude-azimuth mount so that the telescope and the camera stay focused on the object during long time exposures as heavenly bodies move across the sky due to the Earth's rotation.

How did I do it? With my Minolta 35mm SLR camera, I peeped through the eyepiece of, most probably Engr. Milo Dacanay's new reflecting Newtonian-Dobsonian telescope. I held the camera steady for about 10 to 25 seconds, with its shutter speed set to B, then clicked it.

This shot was taken using only an ISO-400 Kodak S-Gold film with f/3.5 and a 10 to 25-second exposure. The speed of the film and the time exposure wasn't enough to show sharp details of the object but I was relatively astronomically pleased by the result.

This happened during one of the Out-Of-Town Observation Session (OOTOS) of the Philippine Astronomical SocietyHeld in Coastal Bay City, Noveleta, Cavite last February 1st 2003.