Other than a short, half-hearted stint at the U.P. campus last July, Cynthia and I hadn't done serious birding in quite a while. Blame the summer heat and then the torrential rains that followed after that. Thankfully the weekend had a long awaited break in the weather and Saturday was a wonderfully sunny day.
I was so out of it that I couldn't believe I missed the Carmona exit at the SLEX! Two exits later we made a roundabout and finally got to where we intended to go.
We were driving slowly towards Mt. Palay-palay when my wife's sharp ears heard the shrieking voice of the Luzon Hornbill. I stopped the car and we both jumped out with cameras in hand. Soon we were photographing the hornbill family - our first official bird after a long hiatus. The birds then flew to a tree much farther than where we first saw them.
We were about to return to our car when we saw another SUV dislodge its passengers - all three of them carrying cameras with long lenses. "Birders!" I told my wife. As we approached them, two waved at us - they were our friends, Prof. Reuel Aguila and Anthony Balbin. They were guiding a birder from India. We introduced ourselves and we learned that he is Joyjit Ghosh. We told them about the hornbills and they decided to wait and hope that the big-billed birds would fly back.
We moved on and were surprised at the apparent lack of birds. Towards Caylabne Resort just past the junction to the road to Nasugbu, was where we saw the Whiskered Treeswift. A few kilometers later we got the other "regular" of this place - the Philippine Falconet.
Again, the scarcity of birds was quite intriguing: Where were the Elegant Tits? The Coppersmith Barbets? the Philippine Bulbuls? Even the Brahminy Kites were not as plentiful.
Turning back, we saw a familiar sight. "There he Ghosh!" I exclaimed, as we saw our new friend from India, sitting behind their SUV. He put his finger to his lips and motioned us to come quietly, then pointed to a tree beside the road. For the life of me, I couldn't see what it was he was pointing at. Prof. Reuel emerged from his hiding place behind a banana tree and told us that there was a pair of Philippine Green Pigeons there. After straining my eyes, I finally saw one. And then the other flew across the road and landed on another tree. Joyjit chased after it while I just contented myself with the one that stayed behind.
"We told the pigeons to stay because we knew you were coming," Prof. Reuel assured us. In turn we informed them where to find the Treeswift and the Falconet. Once again we parted ways as we planned on exploring the road to the tunnel to Nasugbu. That turned out to be a total dud.
A quick foray inside the Puerto Azul Resort only yielded terribly backlit photos of Asian Glossy Starlings.
I was unbelievably exhausted when we got home a little after twelve noon. I plopped on the bed and instantly fell asleep. Those long, lazy non-birding days definitely took the energy out of my body. We need to do more birding trips. Weather permitting.
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