Monday, April 28, 2014

Two Tings We Know

Cynthia and I joined our friends Peter Ting and Alex Ting (who are not related to each other) on a trip to Bangkong Kahoy along the slopes of the majestic Mt. Banahaw.

Things did not augur well - the inefficiency of the staff of Jollibee's at SLEX where we had our breakfast delayed our arrival at our destination. So much so that we missed the mixed flock wave that passes by the balcony of the house of our friend, Ramon Quisumbing. Together with fellow bird photographer Prof. Reuel Aguila, who joined us there, we waited for another hour hoping another wave would come, but that didn't happen. Our guide, Cris, suggested we go to site where the uncommon skulker, the White-browed Shortwing makes it appearance.

After a strenuous (at least to my wife and I) 15-minute hike we arrived at the place. Inasmuch as the area that the shortwing frequents was quite limited in space, Cris suggested that we divide into two groups. While waiting for the first group to return, the other group can wait for the adult Sooty Woodpecker to visit its nest, was the agreed upon plan. Prof. Reuel and Alex went first. Peter, Cynthia and I kept a close watch at the dead tree where the nest was. About ten minutes later, Cris, Alex and Reuel returned with big smiles on their faces.

"We got it as soon as we got settled in" Alex told us.

Excitedly, the three of us, along with Cris, hurried to the place. Our guide instructed us where to place our cameras and pointed at the spot where the furtive bird was likely to appear. We didn't have to wait very long. Soon the dark colored Shortwing showed up. With overcast skies and dim surroundings, the tiny bird blended so well with its environment that we had a hard time adjusting our camera settings. A couple of minutes and the bird went into hiding again.

"Just wait a little bit more because it will return," Cris assured us.

Sure enough, the female Shortwing repeated its earlier routine. We were now ready and got some good shots of our newest lifer.

We returned to where our friends were waiting for the Sooty Woodpecker. We were comparing our shots of the White-browed Shortwing when I saw something black land at the dead tree where the woodpecker nest was. What followed was a shooting frenzy as the adult female slowly crept to the nest and then proceeded to clean the mess of its offsprings - by swallowing the debris!

When the adult flew off we went to our next target - the nesting Besra. The nest was at some distance and partially covered by the forest. Our presence never posed any threat to the female raptor who was standing over her four cute chicks.

After a sumptuous lunch at Dion's restaurant, we returned to Ramon's balcony, once again hoping that a mixed flock would pass by. A Mountain White-eye made a very quick stop over and a more cooperative Yellowish White-eye posed for a few minutes.

Then rain fell. Hard. For more than an hour. We anticipated that the birds would come out after the downpour but only a Philippine Coucal did and it was at such a far distance it might as well have been on the moon.

Cynthia wandered along the driveway. When she rejoined us later she showed me a photo of a bird she couldn't ID. The image was quite small and I had a hard time figuring out what species it was. It was Cris who confirmed my suspicion that it was a Bicolored Flowerpecker - a lifer for us!

Four in the afternoon and the hoped for mixed flock never came. It was time to go. We thanked Cris for his diligence in showing us where our target birds were. We then said goodbye to Prof. Reuel who will remain at Bangkong Kahoy with his Creative Writing seminar group.

It was a fun and exciting day with my wife and I getting two lifers (more for our two friends) and a great time with the two Tings we know.

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