Up at the crack o'dawn. Sleepy-eyed Cynthia and I filed into Doc Clemn's pick-up. Sitting beside Doc is his lovely wife, Marester. Joining us at the back seat was our birder friend from Singapore, Jimmy Chew. The other vehicle in the caravan was Christian Perez's SUV. With him was his buddy Ruben, Tonji and Sylvia and Ju Lin. Our destination was the Twin Lakes Resort.
Somehow the trip seemed a lot shorter today than when we drove to this place yesterday. Perhaps the difference was that now I am inside the vehicle whereas yesterday along with Tonji and Alex we were shaken - and stirred - at the back of Doc Clemn's pick-up.
We have barely stepped out of our vehicles when a huge raptor flew just a few feet above us. It was "just" a Philippine Crested Eagle. Nothing to get too excited about. We were all lined up at the viewing deck as the morning sun bathed the whole place in glorious light. Flashes of green before us and shouts of "Blue-naped Parrots!" broke the sylvan serenity.
Soon we (and Christian Perez, most especially) were all agog as species after species started flying in towards the trees in front of us. First came the Bar-bellied Cuckooshrikes, followed a bunch of the white-bellied susbspecies of the Balicassiao. Then came the Coletos with their quaint fleshy heads. We were following some cuckooshrikes which we thought at first to be those oh so ordinary bar-bellied types when Sylvia yelled, "White-winged Cuckooshrikes!" Which sent everyone into a euphoric state as this bird was a lifer for all of us.
Then came the calm. The wave of birds had passed and now we had time to indulge in having breakfast (which the hotel had kindly packed for us, thanks to Marester's forethought and arrangement). It was while having breakfast that we noticed some movements within the hibiscus grove surrounding the trash dumpsite behind the pavillion. Sunbirds, most likely, and our primary suspect was Crimson which we saw almost close-up yesterday. So we didn't give that place much concern and instead concentrated on the nearby bamboo clump after we have finished our morning repast.
That bamboo trees hosted a flock of Yellowish White-eyes which was another surprise. What made it more interesting was this particular group had some orange tinge on its lores (something that the Kennedy Guide did not mention regarding the nigrorum subspecies).
Back at the deck, Jack, the tourism representative who just arrived together with Alex Tiongco, Marts Cervero and a Japanese birder, was pointing to a family of Elegant Tits feeding close by.
Meanwhile, at the trail covered with huge stone slabs, Tonji and the Macasianos were getting shots of the Philippine Tailorbird (which Cynthia and I unfortunately missed). When we joined them, they were chasing after another wave of birds that were frolicking in the tree branches just above a pig pen. Here we saw Black-naped Monarchs and Blue-headed Fantails going after the insects attracted to the sty. Lemon-throated Leaf-warblers (a lifer!) joined the White-winged Cuckooshrikes in the feeding frenzy. As in any bird waves, they all eventually moved on and everything was quiet once again. Except for the incessant chirping from those invisible tailorbirds.
Lunch was "tinolang manok" (a kind of chicken stew) which was not exactly my favorite. It was during lunch that all of us once again noticed some activity at the hibiscus area. Paying closer attention, we were all elated to discover that such activities were coming from no other than Flaming Sunbirds! It has been our desire to see this species not only because of its gorgeous beauty but also because it would be another lifer for us. For the next couple of hours we were entertained by these tiny avian jewels that glowed with a whole spectrum of colors shining brightly under the noonday sun.
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