Casting a spell?

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Hi,

So a friend tells me he can counter my creatures entering the battlefield, anytime they enter.
I returned a Nether Shadow from the graveyard during upkeep, he then flashes a counter.

I didn't think this was possible?
It's not using the stack right?      
the ability from Nether Shadow is an ability, not a spell
it does use the stack

if he used Trickbind, Voidslime or similar what he did was legal
if he used Counterspell[/C], [c]Cancel or similar it was not
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