Monday, November 12, 2012

Davao Trip: Day 3 - Eden, and then…..

It was because of the heavy downpour last night that we had to cancel our date with Pete Simpson for this morning. The original plan was to meet up with him at the Eden Nature Resort's gate and from there climb up the trail to where the Whiskered Flowerpeckers play. Last night's deluge made that steep trail the slide center of Davao. Concerned about the safety of our cameras - not to mention our antiquated bodies - we called off our appointment with Pete with heavy hearts. 

Surprisingly, the morning was sunny and bright! After a buffet breakfast, we birded the area around our cottage which was dotted with extremely tall trees. Once again, all we saw were Yellow-vented Bulbuls. I was already at the point of exasperation but my more patient spouse kept searching for some movement in the canopies. Finally she saw a flock flew in. Everett's White-eyes! This was our primary target species here at Eden Resort. As in any white-eye flock, the feeding group was frenzied in their movements.

Eventually the white-eyes moved on. I wondered why this flock was composed only of Everett's White-eyes. Normally a flock moving through the forest would have several species symbiotically feeding together. I half expected Sulfur-billed Nuthatches, Orange-bellied Flowerpeckers, maybe some kind of flycatchers or fantails to join them. That wasn't the case here.

Once again there was silence. Long, frustrating silence. There would be some movement…we would look….and it would just either be another Yellow-vented Bulbul or a bullying Brown Shrike. Are we in a forest in Mindanao? I kept asking myself because it certainly doesn't feel that way.

Another movement. I looked and was somewhat relieved to notice the bars on its breast. Finally, not a Bulbul or a Shrike. A female Violet Cuckoo was definitely a surprise. Problem was it was too far up for me to get a decent shot. 

Another problem that I encountered were the gnats! Those tiny flying insects must have had a convention that morning and agreed in toto to attack my eyes. Each time I removed my face from the viewfinder of my camera, wham! a gnat would smack into my eye. Then another. And another! You could almost hear the shouts of "banzai!" as they would zoom then slam into my organs of sight. So for the most part I had my eyes closed. Of course birdwatching wouldn't be what it was if the "watching" part wasn't there. Even worse was that I am slightly hearing impaired and therefore could not even listen for birds. To partially solve this nuisance, I covered my eyes with my hands and peered through the tiny gaps to look for birds. If I find a photographable one, I would paste my right eye to the viewfinder and close my left, then take pictures. After that it was a race on which gets to my eyes first, my hands or those pesky gnats.

As we returned to our cottage, I again saw the little brown bird that was perched on a tall fern frond yesterday. I couldn't make a proper identification then because it was rather dim (it was drizzling yesterday, remember?). Now that the skies were clear, I was quite sure that this was a Grey-streaked Flycatcher. 

Eleven in the morning and check-out time. We headed back into the city and stayed at the Court View Hotel (the same place we stayed at on our first day). As we were finishing lunch and thinking of a birding place to go to afterwards, we received an unpleasant news. It was so heart-breaking that Cynthia and I both agreed to just stay in our room that afternoon to mull over things and fight the depressing feeling that was overcoming us.

I got sick that night. High fever coupled with a sore throat made sleeping almost an unachievable task. The following morning we dismissed anew any plans to go birding. We ate breakfast just because we had to. Our flight back to Manila was scheduled for 1:35 that afternoon. When we got to the airport at around 11:30 am, we were advised that the flight had been delayed indefinitely. Dismay added to my already weak physical state. At last at 4:05 pm we were off. Everything was a just blur to me since then.

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