As soon as my wife and I had checked-in into our hotel, the text messaging began. It was fast and furious. The time and place for the rendezvous had quickly been agreed upon. That being settled we indulged in a leisurely lunch with Cynthia's brother, Chito and his family.
Two in the afternoon, we met up with the guy with whom we exchanged text messages earlier. Pete Simpson, a Brit and a birder, then led us to Bucanan Beach. "Plenty of shorebirds here" he declared in his clipped British accent. It was low tide and sure enough there were shorebirds galore. Except they were too far. Soon Pete was calling out species by species. "Oh easy for this chap, he's using a bloody scope!" I thought to myself.
I wanted to go nearer but Pete warned me that the shore was mushy at certain areas and my foot just might get stuck. I was giving this warning some serious thought when a couple of fishermen walked from their boat to where we were. And not one of their four feet was swallowed by the mud. Throwing caution to the wind I lugged my gear (with the big lens, mind you) and sauntered over to where the birds….and bunch of frolicking kids were. Which, of course, resulted in the sudden flight of the shorebirds.
I admit that I am not one of those grampas who enjoy the presence of kids. So with self imposed patience I waited until the kids have had their fun and had moved on to another part of the beach.
The birds, as expected, flew back to the shore albeit more wary than ever. Finally I was able to see and even able to identify the majority of them. Greater Sand Plovers and Kentish Plovers mingled with the Grey-tailed Tattlers and Terek Sandpipers.
There was even a snobbish Whimbrel who preferred to be alone.
One species though that seemed to not mind the presence of humans was the Chinese Egret which was so insouciantly hunting for fish by disturbing the shallow waters with its foot.
At around 4 pm, Chito came to pick us up. We thanked Pete for taking us to this place which was sort of a mixture of the Paranaque Coastal Lagoon (for the trash - though not as many) and Olango (for the shorebirds - though not as many).
It was quite a fruitful first day of birding for us. Sadly the following days were not as good.
Patty Becomes a Teacher ~ by Emma Foster
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