Two times I went to La Mesa Ecopark to look for the Luzon Hawk-Owl. Both times I failed. That was on a Tuesday and a Saturday. Then on Sunday afternoon fellow bird photographer Jonn Salvador posted a shot of the said species in Facebook. I immediately texted local bird expert, Anthony Balbin, asking him if the owl was still there. Yes, he texted back. It was 4 in the afternoon. I quickly consulted the Waze app to see how long it will take to get to the Ecopark. About 50 minutes it said. Without even bothering to put on our birding shoes, Cynthia and I jumped to our car and rushed to the park. An hour later we were at the mini-forest. Soon Anthony came and showed us where our target bird was perched. It was farther up now than where it had been previously sighted. The skies were gloomy, dusk was fast approaching, and the Hawk-Owl was beneath a huge palm leaf. Not the best circumstances for good photography. Nevertheless, we tried. Then the owl turned its face away from us. Prof. Reuel Aguila, who also joined us, and I, tried to negotiate the incline so we could get better views. Finally a tiny opening in the foliage allowed us to photograph our lifer at an angle we had hoped for. I quickly reviewed the results of my endeavor and was glad that at least a couple of shots were acceptable.
Satisfied that we had accomplished our mission we joined our birder friends who were hanging out at Mang Jose's restaurant. We heartily thanked Jonn and Anthony without whom we would not have been successful in getting our first lifer of the year. I told our friends Wins Tornado, Ed Santos, Gilbert and Wilma Go, Albert Tamayo, and Jonn, Prof. Reuel and Anthony of my two earlier unsuccessful efforts at finding the owl. But the third time's always a charm, I said smilingly.
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