Monday, December 01, 2014

Missed Purple Mystery

The last time we saw it was in April, 2011. We've been to Candaba lots of times since then and we never even had a glimpse of it. "Isn't it a bit mysterious that the once very confiding Purple Swamphens were now nowhere to be seen?" I told my wife. Cynthia couldn't agree more. "It's been more than three years and we missed seeing this bird!" she confirmed.

Saturday we were back at the popular birding site in Pampanga, once again hoping that we would see our long lost target species. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the usual denizens of the wetlands were up and about. A male Pied Bush Chat was shaking off the dews from its feathers.

A Clamorous Reed Warbler was living up to its name climbing to the top of the bush loudly announcing its presence.

As we entered via the "back door" to the marshy area, Black-winged Stilts and Sandpipers (Wood and Marsh) were beginning their foraging for breakfast.

Black-winged Stilt
Wood Sandpiper and Marsh Sandpiper
Of course, this time of the year, the migrant Common Kingfisher was a sure sighting here.

Surprisingly, ducks were scarce. Only a few Philippine and Wandering Whistlings were present. Luckily, there was a single (yes, just one), where there used to be hundreds of them, Tufted Duck. I said, luckily, because this was the first time I was able to take a decent photo of this annual visitor.

The hours passed. The absence of the usual migrating species was saddening. There were some Grey and Purple Herons but they preferred to stay at a distance, with one exception.

Purple Heron
It was nearing 10 am and the blue skies were now slowly being covered by grey clouds. We were already on our way out when Cynthia suggested we linger near the junction of the road from the mayor's house. My wife walked a hundred feet or so and stared at the wetlands before her. I was scanning the edges hoping to see a Black Bittern. "Purple Swamphen!" my partner suddenly yelled. "But it flew away already!" I walked over to where she was and she showed me a photo of our hoped for bird, flying indeed. 

"Maybe it will come back," my wife said assuringly. We switched places. I stayed where we were and she went to look for Black Bitterns. Perhaps it was about half an hour when I saw something purplish emerged from the tall vegetation - but only oh so quickly - returning once again in the deep brushes. I managed to take a few quick shots before it completely disappeared from view. 

When I told Cynthia about my fleeting encounter she was happy that finally we both saw the purple bird that we missed seeing since 2011. A soft drizzle signalled that it was time for us to go. It was amazing that it decided to wait until we both have seen our target bird before the rain started to fall.

1 comment:

Choy Wai Mun said...

I know how it feels. Purple Swamphens are such stunning birds but they are rare in my home state of Penang.