Monday, September 28, 2015

The Road to Dissatisfaction

How would you feel if after a birding trip you discovered that none of the pictures you've taken made the grade. Such a heartache happened last Saturday. One groan after another came from from my mouth as I viewed the results of my photographic endeavors one by one. Times like this that I go into deep introspection. Where have I gone wrong? The only acceptable excuse I could come up with was that my heart was not really in it when my wife and I made this trip.

A couple of birding buddies told me sometime in July while we were at the La Mesa Ecopark that there was a place along the Marikina-Infanta road that teems with birds. Last Saturday, Cynthia and I thought it was time to "case the joint".  From what we learned, traffic - a daily abomination in MetroManila - was quite light in this area. That, of course, is a huge incentive. We've never driven here before so I intentionally lowered my expectations despite our friends' stories. Forty kilometers later and all we've seen were Shrikes - both the local Long-tailed and the migrant Brown. Despicable photos anyone?

Brown Shrike
Long-tailed Shrike
Then there was the White-throated Kingfisher that sat passively on a branch. Yet despite such photographic opportunity, the results were still way below par.

Oh, there were Barred Rails on the roadside but they would scamper off even before I could park our car on the grassy shoulder. I even spotted a surprisingly cooperative Plain Bush Hen and resulted in yet another blurred image.

After a hearty breakfast at Cafe Katerina, our luck turned a tad for the better - if you could call it that - when we saw a Pygmy Flowerpecker foraging on the berries across the road from where we were parked. Tiny, active, distant - factors that contributed to another groan inducing photo.

Near the 94 km post, instead of the mixed flock of mountain birds that were supposed to be gorging at the purple berries here, what we witnessed was a gathering of mountain bikers congregating on the feeding station known as Jariel's Peak.

The return trip home was even worse because we did not see any birds at all except a crowd of swallows perched on an electric wire.

Now comes the rationalization: I believe we came in too late. It was already past seven when we got to the mountainous (and supposedly birdy) part of the road. The purple berry tree was no longer fruiting. I did not bring my tripod - essential if using the Tamron lens, which I was.

We will for sure try this road again. Maybe not soon, but we will. When we do, we will consider all the rationalizations I mentioned above. Hopefully the results will not be unsatisfactory.

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