Monday, October 20, 2014

If it should rain, we'll let it

"It's raining, are we still good to go?" I texted our friend, Bong.

"We're already on our way!" he texted back.

(Actually, even the night before we had already set our minds on going through our plan, weather conditions notwithstanding. If it should rain, we'll let it, because we were in the mood for birding.) 

My wife and I quickly loaded our gear in the car and drove off. Our destination: Candaba. Yes, Candaba, despite the pouring rain. For sure we will just use the concrete road that runs alongside the wetlands. To try the trails towards the interior would be short of suicidal and a guarantee that our vehicles would be stuck in the mucky ground.

Of course, we didn't expect to see a lot of birds. Not in this kind of rainy weather. We found a makeshift shed beside the road so Bong brought his gear there and was able to get a shot of a Common Kingfisher. When we joined him the kingfisher had gone and what was left was a forlorn and very wet Brown Shrike. Out of respect to its situation we did not bother taking its picture. 

Cynthia and I decided to drive ahead with the hope that we might see some rails - Barred and Buff-banded - along the way. Well, not a single rail showed up. In their place were White-breasted Waterhens, plenty of them, and each one as skittish as a mouse in a house full of cats. It's the rain, we rationalized.

However, for some birds, rain wasn't a deterrent and I was able to get a photo of an Intermediate Egret in flight while Cynthia was lucky enough to capture a female Pied Bush Chat.


Intermediate Egret
female Pied Bush Chat
As we continued on, my wife spotted some activity below us. True enough there were a bunch of waders! Black-winged Stilts, Wood Sandpipers, Long-toed Stints, Marsh Sandpipers and even a Common Greenshank were unmindful of the downpour and were busy foraging in the shallow waters.


Black-winged Stilt
Wood Sandpipers
Long-toed Stint

Marsh Sandpiper
Common Greenshank
On the road, among the scads of Eurasian Tree Sparrows, were a pair of Red Turtledoves also oblivious to the falling rain.



A little after nine in the morning, the rain abated and eventually ceased. That was when the Purple Herons became more active.



I was once again taking shots at the Stilts when Bong called my attention and pointed at something between us. "Long-tailed Shrike!" he informed me. I walked to where he was standing and saw the shrike - which suddenly took off and perched on stick closer to us!



My wife, on the other hand, was photographing something - a dark spot amid the raindrop-covered grass. "Snipe," she said, showing me a sleeping bird. I took a few token shots not really wanting an image of a bird whose long billed was tucked in its wing. But Cynthia was the more persistent type. A few minutes later she showed me a wide awake snipe, its bill very prominently displayed. As had been my lot, it was gone when I returned to where it was last seen by my wife.



At ten, Bong begged off because he had some family matters to attend to. Cynthia and I lingered for a short while, patiently going after those jumpy waterhens that would scamper into the bush as soon as we got to about a kilometer from them. Patience paid off and we finally got a more cooperative one.



That was the signal that we can now go home triumphantly. But first a celebratory lunch at the land of the golden arches awaits us.