That was a bit unexpected so we resorted to plan B - go birding at Irawan Ecopark. Even though we arrived early enough we didn't see the hoped-for birds. They were there alright judging from the calls emanating from the behind the thicket. It's just that they refused to come out in the open despite the gentle coaxing by Irene.
While our friend was hitting the trails searching for the elusive babblers, Cynthia and I stayed by the river to be refreshed from the stifling humidity. It was then that I saw something totally unexpected - a raptor silently gliding overhead. A few quick photos revealed that it was a Crested Serpent Eagle which made it a lifer for us.
We had a superb lunch at Badjao Seaside Restaurant which we consumed way before our designated pick up time of 1:30. We positioned ourselves in front of a tree with tiny orange flowers. I remembered our birding friends Gabs and Ely saying that this particular tree was frequented by the Copper-throated Sunbird - a species in our target list. Although we missed it last year, our expectations were still high that we would be able to see this colorful bird.
A few minutes passed and I saw something dark-colored fly into the flowering tree. Hoping that it was not just the local Pied Fantail who every so often also visits the said tree, I peered through my camera and was elated to discover that I was looking at our sought after lifer. For about an hour the sunbird pair would fly off and then return a few minutes later giving us multiple opportunities to take its photograph (which wasn't easy considering both were very active and preferred the areas with heavy foliage).
Our van arrived promptly at 1:30 but Irene wanted to get more shots of the Copper-throated. I was on the way back to the restaurant to answer the call of nature when I heard some loud screeching noises coming from the mangroves. I followed the source of that noise and saw two Stork-billed Kingfishers having a squabble. I ran back to where my companions were and pointed the bird (only one remained) to them. After I had finished my personal "duty" and emerged from the restaurant, the kingfisher was still there and allowed me to take its picture.
We met up with local guide, Rommel, at around 2:30 pm. As promised he took us to the "new" secret place where a pair of Spotted Wood Owls had been, um, spotted. Cynthia and I had been a bit worried that we might not be able to see this would-be lifer because even though it had been sighted in two different places before - access to those areas had become a little problematic lately. To have a third and even more easily accessible place was a blessing and quite unexpected.
To celebrate this serendipitous encounter, we all headed to Razon's for its delicious, refreshing halo-halo.