As we entered Nabasan trail, one of the favorite birding spots in Subic Bay, Cynthia was all agog as she saw a pair of White-bellied Woodpeckers (a lifer for us!) out in the open. As she was shooting furiously from the window of our vehicle, I gingerly got out of the driver's seat (the "away" side from the birds) crept behind the car and opened the trunk. As soon as I pulled out my camera gear, the woodpeckers flew away.
That pretty much summed up my experience that early morning. Birds were practically everywhere but every time I focus my camera on them, they would, without exception, all fly away. My wife noticing the undeniable frustrated look on my face suggested that we go to Cubi Point instead where the bee-eater colonies were. I, of course, agreed. I mean birding that area could never get worse than our experience here at Nabasan trail.
We were on the way to Cubi, when suddenly Cynthia yelled "stop!" We have birded together long enough for me to know that when she does that, there must be a bird nearby that caught her keen eyesight. I quickly parked the car, got out and started assembling my gear. Cynthia, on the other hand, was already busy taking pictures of a Blue-naped Parrot perched on a bare tree. I plunked my tripod in front of that tree and for the next hour or so was treated to an array of birdlife including a few surprises, such as a Bar-bellied Cuckoo Shrike and an Asian Glossy Starling. Oh, and there were bee-eaters, as well. Unlike Nabasan trail which is surrounded by forest, this place was quite open, with only a few trees on either side of the road. Somehow I found it ironic that we have photographed more birds here than in a heavily forested area.
At Cubi, the bee-eaters were plentiful. Although their nesting season was already over, many still remained here to enjoy the bounty of flying insects. Keeping the bee-eaters company were White-breasted Wood Swallows.
After lunch, we decided to return to Nabasan trail, hoping that our luck would change for the better. As soon as we entered the trail, it began to rain. I did a quick turn around and on the way out, we settled for taking photos of a White-throated Kingfisher seemingly upset at the falling raindrops.
It was already pouring hard when we left for home. We got a lifer and some good shots of quite a number of birds but we also had a frustrating time early in the day. Summing up our birding at Subic, allow me to borrow a Dickensian theme: it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.