Sometimes blessings come when you least expect it.
We were at the La Mesa Ecopark Thursday morning to help a visiting Malaysian birder Weefar Wee and his wife find and photograph the resident Red-bellied Pitta.
Cynthia and I arrived while the lazy sun still hasn't fully risen from the horizon. The very first bird we saw was of course, the Red-bellied Pitta! Inasmuch as we had not seen this bird here for quite sometime now, this sighting definitely augured well.
However, when Weefar Wee and company (Mrs. Wee, Irene, Bram and Kath) arrived about an hour later, there were no more Pittas to be seen.
We spread out to cover more ground. Our diligent search yielded nothing but oh-those-so-very- common Ashy Thrushes. It was a lifer for Weefar so we were relieved from our worries that the morning might end in total disappointment.
Then Bram announced that he spotted the Scaly (now known as White's) Thrush. My heart beat faster. My wife and I have missed this rare skulker three times in a row already. Now there seemed to be hope. As soon as we reached the place where Bram saw the bird it was gone. He and Irene tried to follow it inside the undergrowth but failed to relocate the elusive thrush.
"Were you able to see it?" I asked Irene.
She nodded vigorously.
She shook her head. "It was too dark and the bird was too fast" she reasoned.
Failed four times in a row! My heart had already been calloused by the previous three misses that I merely shrugged this one. No use crying over milk that had been spilled so many times.
It was Bram once again who found the Red-bellied Pitta for Weefar. As had been our lot, by the time Cynthia and I got to where it was, it was no longer there. Nevertheless we were so happy for our guest. He was grinning from ear to ear as he showed the photo of the Pitta that was one of his main purposes for visiting the Philippines.
When the excitement at our friend's success died down a bit, Irene, Bram and Kath excused themselves.
"We'll look for for the Scaly Thrush again," they declared.
"Let's go with them," I told my wife.
"What for?" was her terse reply.
I knew that she did not want me to suffer another heartbreak considering our past experiences with this phantom of a bird. But somehow something spurred me on. As I rounded the trail to follow the searching trio I decided to look at the place where the Ashy Thrush loved to display. On the mossy root of a tall tree there stood a Thrush. This one looked paler and bigger though. I raised my camera to my eyes and immediately my finger began pressing on the shutter repeatedly.
I paused momentarily to beckon at my other companions but by the time they arrived the Scaly aka White's Thrush was gone. I showed the images to Cynthia. She hugged me and we both uttered a quick prayer of thanksgiving.
It was time for a celebratory lunch.