Monday, April 18, 2011

Cuckoo Nuts

It's been a week since we returned to the Philippines and we're still fighting, albeit unsuccessfully, a battle against jet lag. As had been the case in the past week, we woke up at around four last Saturday morning. I so wanted to go to Mt. Palay-palay for some serious birding, but a lingering headache just won't go away. A couple of hours later, the headache subsided significantly but it would be too late to go to Palay-palay to see the birds there, what with the sun already blazing fiercely this early in the morning.

So Cynthia and I opted for Plan B - the good ol' reliable campus of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, a mere 15 minutes away from home. 

Despite being there quite early, we didn't see much. The Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers were quite active though and we spotted several pairs busily searching for food. 

A number of Pied Trillers were also out and would occasionally perch low enough to curiously eye the couple of birders below. 

The Blue Rock Thrush was not at it's usual place near the MSI building and the Coppersmith Barbets were also a no-show. We tried the vicinity of the Main Library but there's wasn't much bird activity there either.

I suggested we try the Beta Way where friend and fellow-birder Maia Tanedo saw an Oriental Cuckoo earlier in the week, hoping we would be just as lucky. Just as we entered the path we were pleasantly surprised to find not just Maia, but also Jops Josef, and brothers Mark Jason and Vj Argallon. And yes, they had the Oriental Cuckoo in their sights. For the next hour or so, we went nuts as we played some sort of a hide-and-seek game with the uncommon bird. It would stay in the dark recesses of an acacia tree and then suddenly would dart off and grab a flying insect in midair, alight on a branch to finish it's meal, wait for another prey and repeat the scenario all over again. Until finally it flew off leaving my wife and I thrilled (did I mention that it was a lifer for us?), energized (despite the stifling summer heat), and happy (for meeting old friends and gaining new ones).

And oh, as a bonus there were at least a couple of Grey-streaked Flycatchers in the area as well that were so oblivious of us as we were (almost) of them.

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