Thursday, September 30, 2010

Da WOW Experience, Part 2

Day 3 - Hail the King!

Bright and early in the morning of Sept. 23rd, my wife and I quickly got out of bed. The crisp mountain air was rife with the smell of pine trees. Birds were twittering as they greeted the slowly rising sun. Both flowerpecker species (Orange-bellied and Red-keeled) were already busy among the flowers. A Pied Triller was trilling up above us. But this morning we are focused on a single mission: to find and photograph the Sulphur-billed Nuthatch. You might think..okay, that's a reasonable endeavour. Well, not exactly. In the first place I don't even know if that species occur here at Eden Nature Park (no sightings have been made yet, as far as I know). I just thought that inasmuch as there are hectares of pine trees here and since Sulphur-billeds love pine trees, ergo they should abound here. Logically it seemed feasible enough but as any seasoned birder knows, logic sometimes go down the drain when it comes to looking for a specific bird. So armed with hope, no, make that fervent faith, that we sought our target nuthatch. Roaming the pine forest and developing a crick on our necks from constantly looking up, we were about to head to the restaurant for our breakfast when I saw some movement about halfway up the trunk of a tall molave. Raising my binoculars and focusing on that particular spot, my heart stopped. A Sulphur-billed Nuthatch with a caterpillar in its beak! I was incredulous! What self-respecting nuthatch would find prey in a molave tree and not in a pine tree where it should be? Defies logic, don't you think? Nonetheless, it was mission accomplished. We then proceeded to have a leisurely breakfast elated from our unbelievable stroke of luck. 

We were even given a bonus when we we saw and photographed this scruffy looking Black-naped Monarch.

Around 9 am Chito picked us up and brought us to the Philippine Eagle Center. There we were greeted by Dennis Salvador, Executive Director of the Philippine Eagle Foundation, who happens to be Chito's friend as well. At the center we came face to face with the king of Philippine birds, the Philippine Eagle. We can't help but be awed by the majestic look of this bird. Sadly they are critically endangered creatures and we laud the efforts of the Philippine Eagle Foundation in trying to preserve a national treasure.

It was about midmorning and because there were about 7 jeepney loads of school children visiting the center at the time, birding wasn't very fruitful. 

Three in the afternoon and we were at the Insular Waterfront Hotel where the 1st Asian Bird Fair was going to be held. Three pm and our room wasn't ready yet! Considering that their check-in time is two pm, that was a bit exasperating! So we mingled with fellow participants until finally at about 5 pm we were ushered into our room. We barely had time to freshen up and get ready for the welcome dinner hosted by the Davao City government at the Matina Town Center.

Four buses escorted by the local police unloaded the delegates and participants at the Town Center at around 7 pm. Dancers in their native costumes swayed to the beat of drums as the guests started to pour in. Lovely young ladies welcomed us by putting ethnic necklaces on us. Lines were formed to partake of the raw tuna (sashimi) and roasted calf. These were just the appetizers! A sumptuous dinner buffet followed. When everybody had their fill, the welcome ceremonies began. We witnessed a grand pageantry that included native songs and dances, a hip-hop dance exhibition, beauty queens and a fashion show. It was a festive night that made us visitors to Davao feel like kings and queens for a night.

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