"We won't leave this place until we see it" was the agreement Peter, Cynthia, and I had that nippy Saturday morning. "This place" was a few meters to the left of the entrance to the Candaba Wetlands Sanctuary. "It" was the Eastern Marsh Harrier.
And it came! A little more than half an hour of waiting and the raptor flew into view! Not only did we see it, we got pictures, too! Not great photos (the skies were brooding grey) but the pictures were good enough for us as it showed unmistakably what we've been waiting for. We let out our breaths as the bird flew away from view.
We agreed to wait some more hoping that the Harrier would make another fly by. My wife, on the other hand, wanted to explore the surroundings to see what else can be photographed. Thirty minutes later, it was Cynthia who yelled "raptor!" as our beloved Harrier once again made a grand entrance. This time, however, the ducks which were still sleeping during its first appearance, were now fully awake and panicked at the sight of a would be predator. Ducks and herons filled the air in frantic flight forcing our Harrier to soar higher and farther away.
By 9:30 am, we all decided to abandon our stake out and just concentrate on photographing the other denizens of the wetlands. Unfortunately, the ducks preferred to stay at some distance preventing us from finding the uncommon Gadwall, female Mallard and the Eurasian Wigeon from among the floating flock.
It was, however, the Yellow Bitterns that were the most common species that day. At every turn we make, there would be one presenting itself.
Fittingly, a Yellow Bittern was the last bird we saw. We were already on our way out when I saw one out in the open, unperturbed by the farmers tilling the soil not that far from it.
The trip around the wetlands yielded the usual inhabitants including the colorful Common Kingfisher and Blue-tailed Bee-eater.
The Columbidae family were well represented by the plentiful Red Turtledoves and Zebra Doves.
From Rallidae were a Barred Rail and and a White-browed Crake.
As we were enjoying a sumptuous lunch later that day at Max's, the conversation went something like...
Peter: "This was the first time we stayed this long in Candaba!"
Cynthia: "Yes, and we had fruitful birding session!"
Me: (not saying much because my mouth was perpetually full).