The three of us exchanged glances. Each one trying to detect some glimmer of hope, an encouraging look from the other. It has been an hour that we have been standing here, eyes flicking to every tiny movement in the trees before us. The pounding noises echoing from the construction nearby not affecting our concentration. However, our expectations were fading with each passing minute. Our glumness enhanced by the ever constant roar of rolling thunder. Dark clouds veiled the afternoon sun.
What made this vigil even more agonizing was that this scene was a rerun of our experiences that morning. Three hours of waiting for a bird that never as much as showed a single feather to three searchers. Add to this the fact that this particular reddish migrant showed itself with maddening ease to others who sought it.
For me and my wife, Cynthia, this was fast becoming a reprise of our heart-breaking un-encounter with the Spotted Wood Kingfisher in Dumaguete. Now this immature Ruddy Kingfisher dares play this taunting game with us. Not that it is a must-see for Cynthia and myself - we have seen it's brightly colored conspecific Palawan counterpart. And got pretty good pictures even.
The skies have started to darken and as the minute hand of my watch approached the hour of four, I sighed, looked up for the umpteenth time at the trees - and noticed a movement! A movement that promised a revival of sagging expectations. With trembling hands, I grabbed my binoculars. "Spotted Wood Kingfisher!" I exclaimed. A fresh shot of vitality brightened the faces of my despondent confreres.
For the next hour-and-a-half, we dwelt in a dream-like photography session with this colorful bird. Our friend and host, Jv Noriega, a noted movie and TV director, was in his element - getting pictures and videos from every conceivable angle and posture. Who needs an unpredictable diva when the real superstar was modeling before us to our very heart's content.
To us, Ruddy became an ex-celebrity. That mark of distinction now belongs to our beloved Spot.