It was deja vu in the Frenchiest sense of the phrase. Cynthia and I were enjoying spam sandwiches during our lunch break. Like yesterday Coke was the drink of choice. This time I was uber careful in removing the bottle cap - the unwelcome drenching of my clothes from the previous day's mistake still fresh on my mind. Not having any table for our food, my wife decided to place her soda-filled glass on the chair I was sitting on. I have been duly warned, of course, so my movements were down to a minimum.
It was Erwin pointing at the Lovely Sunbird that had just alit on the hibiscus plant not more than 3 meters away from us. Cynthia, in her eagerness to take a shot at the tiny bird before it flies away, grabbed her camera and stood up. In so doing she bumped into my chair toppling the soda-filled glass.
"You made me wet my pants" I told her almost tearfully.
"Sorry! Sorry!" she murmured as she kept pressing her camera's shutter.
"Lovely!" "Lovely!" Erwin was almost begging me to take the picture of the sunbird.
So with my behind dripping and harboring some not so pleasant thoughts at my birding companions I positioned myself behind my camera (which was mounted on a tripod) and clicked away.
Just like yesterday, our day started off quite pleasantly. Erwin took us to a place called Dipulao. We stayed at an area where they make hollow blocks. A river runs through here and a creek borders its premises.
We were assured that the kingfishers that frequent this place were so used to human presence that they would perch quite close. Boy, they were not kidding! In typical Erwin fashion, he was soon shouting, "Orange!" "Orange!" The Rufous-backed displayed its brilliant plumage as we happily took its picture.
Then, "Blue!" "Blue!" At first it was perched at quite a distance from us, but after a while as if summoned by some higher power, it flew to within a few meters from where we were standing.
"Grey!" "Grey!" This time it was me as I pointed at the Grey Wagtail posing from a pole practically begging for its picture to be taken. To which we happily obliged.
We even had those "oooh" moments when a Stork-billed Kingfisher flew right by us and we were just too amazed that we weren't able to do anything photography-wise. Too bad it didn't land at all.
Back at Erwin's neck of the woods, he suggested that we do a tour of the area surrounding the Capayas Creek Nature Reserve to try and look for the Flamebacks and the Racket-tails, my target birds for this day. Once again, Cynthia opted to sit this one out. Erwin and I haven't gone that far when I saw a largish grey bird.
"Black-bellied Cuckoo Shrike!" I exclaimed. My guide seemed to be perplexed and kept asking what bird it was despite my repeated and detailed explanations. He seemed to have forgotten that we saw the same species at almost the very same spot two years ago.
The tour was a dud as we failed to see the birds on my wanted list.
It was after that wet lunch experience that things got better. (was it because of the Coke?) The guava tree next to the hibiscus plant was teeming with Palawan Flowerpeckers and Ashy-fronted Bulbuls.
A little later, Erwin's sharp ears detected the screeches of the Blue-headed Racket-tails and his super sharp eyes eventually found them. Problem was they were just too far and too hidden among the leaves. Did I mention that they were almost always backlit? Nevertheless, a lifer is a lifer and I have to document it photographically.
Happy that I finally had my two Blues, we decided to call it a day at around 3pm.
After resting a bit, Cynthia and I put on our tourist caps and explored the area called "the boulevard". When we first arrived here in Coron, I checked out the roof deck of the place where we were staying. From there I could see the waterfront and noticed some terns flying by. Today I wanted to satisfy my curiosity if there were really birds in that area. Since we are on a "tourist" mode I just brought my short lens (20-135mm). Big mistake!
By the boulevard were some patches of water perhaps created by the recent rains. As we approached these, I saw birds! There were the terns, of course, probably Whiskereds, but there were also shorebirds! Two Black-winged Stilts were among the various peeps that I figured were Plovers - Kentish, perhaps. Not having a long lens or even a pair of binoculars with us, we were frustrated.
The sun slowly descended the skies painting the shores with a warm reddish glow. I turned to my wife and looked at her eyes with the same warmth that enveloped us on that golden hour.
"We'll be back." I half-whispered in her ear.