The warning on the waiver sheet was very clear: "All photographs taken in this park must be of wholesome nature." I was whispering to Neon, who was signing said waiver on our behalf, that our real purpose for coming was all about getting the naked..when he abruptly shushed me and flashed a disarming smile at the lovely park attendant.
Formalities having done with, all five of us (Neon, Rey, Alain, Doc Mando and myself) proceeded to the orchidarium united in a single purpose: take a picture of the Naked-faced Spiderhunter. We all already had a foretaste of this endeavour when right across from the parking lot we had glimpses of this legendary bird cavorting high up in the narra tree. But now we were spread out trying our very best to blend among the various heliconia patches with hopes that the spiderhunter would award us with its presence.
Patience finally paid off when it alit, not on a heliconia, but on another flowering plant. Where it was partially hidden from our view. Nevertheless, bird photographers never let an opportunity, no matter how daunting, go to waste.
Three hours later all I had to show for my efforts was a full body shot...from below.
Meanwhile, back in Valenzuela, Bulacan, fellow birdnut Edu was texting everybody informing us that the migrant Black-headed Gulls were still in his "backyard". A quick meeting with my confreres resulted in an agreement that we all (except Alain, who will be joining his better half for their anniversary celebration) proceed to Bulacan. And to heck with lunch.
The pangs of hunger and the stress from going through an aggravating traffic situation all dissipated into thin air as Edu welcomed us into the hut overlooking the fishponds (known as Solomon's Place). There before us were literally hundreds of Black-headed Gulls. This time bird photography was as easy as it can get.
Having obligations later that day, Neon and I had to beg off from this pleasant undertaking. Thanking our hosts, we left at around two pm, trying not to think of the road battles set before us. I finally got home at 4:30 after dropping off Neon at the University of the Philippines where he will be joining his children at the Lantern Parade that night.
As I was processing my photographs that evening, I can't help but smile. Not only did we get two lifers that day, naked-faced we came and returned black-headed.