Sunday, December 23, 2012

Butastur of Hope Shone Above

It was a humdrum birding for the three of us Saturday morning. None of the expected wave of mixed flocks came to the trees in front of the deck. This was the first time that it happened. Or didn't happen. I had my mind set on getting more, and hopefully even better, shots of the Citrine Canary Flycatchers, Blue-headed Fantails, Elegant Tits and Sulfur-billed Nuthatches. But none came.

We had just finished an invigorating breakfast at Bangkong Kahoy (Wooden Bench) Resort. We were pumped up having overcome the effects of waking up in the wee, small hours of the morning. Sadly the caffeine-induced excitement slowly faded as the day wore on. 

Sure, there were moments when some birds showed up. Especially for our friend, Peter, who got his first ever Rough-crested Malkoha, perched on a branch way down the wooded glen. A pair of Philippine Coucals and a flock of Balicassiaos also made brief appearances. From a distance we caught a glimpse of a soaring Besra.

We reluctantly gave up on the birds we were hoping to see and decided to roam the premises. The only species kind enough to give us photographic opportunities was a White-throated Kingfisher.

To cover more grounds we three decided to split up. Cynthia went ahead and stayed at the lawn next to Ramon Quisumbing's hotel. I saw some Scaly-breasted Munias and decided to stalk them. Peter remained behind and while looking at some White-breasted Wood Swallows got rewarded with another lifer - a Coppersmith Barbet.

It was while we were on our own individual pursuits that the "star" shone above us. Little did we know then that it was the gift that we needed to allay the discouragements we felt at that time. I was about to take a shot at a pair of Munias when a raptor flew overhead. Instinctively I took several shots. Later on when Peter and I joined my wife at the hotel, I was so glad that they too were able to get pictures of that very same bird of prey. I dismissed it then as just the Besra we saw earlier. That night after processing our photographs, I noticed that the "Besra" does not look like one. I consulted Desmond Allen. As soon as he had provided the identification I immediately relayed the information to my wife. Shouts of "Yes!" and accompanying high fives reflected the fact that we have just gotten another lifer: Grey-faced Buzzard, Butastur indicus. I PMed Peter of the good news. He replied back, "We are very lucky!"

Sometimes we don't realize our blessings right away. We often remain focused on our problems and discouragements that we fail to notice the hope shining before us. Just as it was some two thousand years ago when shepherds saw a star. They followed the star and saw a baby lying on a manger. They didn't know then that the star led them to what they were hoping for. Then there were the wise men who travelled hundreds of miles because they saw a star shining in the east. There were times when they were discouraged and seemed to have lost their way. But they knew that as long as they follow that star they will find what they were looking for - the answer to all their questions.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas everyone!

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