Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dumaguete, Day 4 - Way there waders

This was going to be our last day in Dumaguete. But before we leave, there is one more birding foray we will be having with our birding buddies. As had been the case in our earlier sorties, we will be aboard Doc Clemn Macasiano's huge pick-up truck. Joining Cynthia and myself would be Marester, Clemn's better half, Tonji and Sylvia and Nilo Arribas Jr. 

Today our destination was the mangrove forest located in the town of Tanjay. It was a cool breezy morning and the drive along the seaside boulevard was invigorating. While passing by some muddy fields by the road, we noticed some waders and so Clemn decided to pull over to check out what birds can be found here. Tonji and Sylvia saw a Javan Pond Heron still in breeding plumage and positioned themselves to take its photograph. Nilo scanned the fields hoping for some unusual migrant. When I asked him what he was seeing, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "oh, just some common greenshanks, common redshanks, marsh sandpipers, stilts, common sandpipers..."

"Wait, wait, wait," I interrupted. "Did you say, 'marsh sandpipers'?" 

He nodded. 

"Which one?"

"Those with long yellow legs and long dark bills and whitish heads."

I looked and voila! I just ticked another lifer.

And then it rained. Thankfully it was just a short downpour. When it ended we continued on with our journey, stopping once in a while when more Javan Pond Herons were seen along the way.

Finally we reached our destination after negotiating a long and unpaved road. The boardwalk at the mangrove forest was, sad to say, a bit disappointing bird-wise. So we turned our attention to the mudflats across the trail which looked a bit more promising. Promising in the sense that there were birds there. Birds like Little Egrets and an array of waders. The problem was they were just too far away. Sure we can distinguish individual birds through our binoculars, but camera-wise, despite our long lenses, they just appeared to be just a tad larger than specks on our viewers. Simply put, they were waaay over there.

On the plus side, I got two more lifers here: Lesser Sand Plover and Red-necked Stint (and maybe, just maybe, a Greater Sand Plover also).

We were back at the hotel in time for an early lunch. Inasmuch as this will be our last meal in this wonderful city, we decided to splurge. To say that the Sizzling Bulalo and Sizzling Seafood was delicious would be a huge understatement. Add to that a Hawaiian Pork Chop whose taste was so heavenly that it would make you forget your own name. The leche flan for dessert was to die for! As superb as the quality of our lunch was, it was even made more memorable by the people who shared our table with us: to Dr. Clemn & Marester,  our deepest thanks for being our hosts - booking our hotel rooms and taking us to the birding places in Dumaguete; to Tonji and Sylvia, for being our constant birding companions throughout our stay - thank you both for the fun and camaraderie (and thank you, birthday boy Tonji, for the lunch!); to Nilo - although we were together for a short time only, thanks for your expertise and knowledge on local avifauna.

As I terminate this series of Dumaguete stories, let me quote from the Terminator: "I'll be back!"

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