The grounds of the University of the Philippines were not that birdy Saturday morning. Except for Brown Shrikes. It seemed like each time we turned a corner there would be a BS.
Our birding trip to U.P. was a last minute decision. The night before we were warned by our friend, Bong, that there would be an ACET (Ateneo College Entrance Test) on Saturday morning. That would trigger a humongous traffic jam along Katipunan Avenue, he said. Now using Katipunan would be the shortest route from our home to U.P. Not wanting to go through the misery of being part of an impromptu parking lot, I gave up on the idea of going birding on Saturday.
As fate would have it, my wife and I both woke up at 5 am Saturday morning.
"If we leave before six we could probably beat the onslaught of cars taking test-takers to the Ateneo campus" Cynthia said in a most encouraging way.
That definitely sounded like a good idea to me. We quickly did our morning ablutions and were out of the house at 5:45 am. As we neared Ateneo University we could see the rows of vehicles filling up all but one lane of the north-bound Katipunan Avenue. To the credit of the traffic controllers, those of us non-Ateneo goers were able to squeeze through the single lane without much high-blood-pressure-inducing delay.
Then came the encounters with the multitude of Brown Shrikes - most of whom were basking in the early morning sun.
Our meanderings brought some nice surprises though. A pair of Large-billed Crows passed by and one of them perched on a not too high branch in front of us.
The biggest surprise was an adult and immature Barred Rail searching for food just behind the Vargas Museum. This was the first time we saw this species in the university's premises. Both were a bit skittish though. Luckily, Cynthia was able to get a photo of the adult.
Nine in the morning and we were feeling the pangs of hunger. We debated on where to have our breakfast, taking into consideration the possibility that the traffic jam along Katipunan Avenue still have not subsided at this hour. All the restaurants that we have considered, unfortunately, would require us to pass through that dreaded route. After praying about it we left U.P.
There was absolutely no problem negotiating Katipunan! Not only that, there was even an available parking space in front of Banapple - one of the restaurants we have considered - which in itself was another miracle!
Our breakfast was sumptuous and my cafe mocha was heavenly! And that is no BS.
Manila idylls: Terns and Gulls of the Pasig River
17 hours ago