Wednesday, September 07, 2011

MMM, Good!

Back in the 1930s, Campbell's first came into the market with their Chicken Noodle Soup. Since then it had become the proverbial "comfort food" for people who were not feeling well or those who were suffering from dour moods. Their slogan was "Mmm mm good!"

Dour moods were what we were beginning to have on that hot and humid Tuesday morning. Despite the precise instructions from Maia, Jops and Adri, we still could not locate the area where they all saw the Ashy Ground Thrush. I have already mentioned in my earlier blog how I was a complete dud when it comes to finding directions. Left to myself, even with the aid of the most accurate map, I would still be lost. The purple ribbon that Jops tied to a tree as a "signpost" I'm sure would benefit any normal birder looking for that thrush. But not to me. No, sir.  Not with where-the-heck-is-east? Bob trying to get a reckoning.

We were getting worried because Cynthia and I had an appointment in Greenhills at 11 am. Considering that we still needed to stop by our home to ditch our camera equipment and get rid of the stink emanating from our sweaty bodies, our time was definitely running out. Fast. 

At times like these, we pray. We had barely said our "amens" when we were greeted by three birding friends and fellow Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) co-members, Mel (Tan), Mai (Yangco) and Mark Jason (Villa). We were pouring out our grief and sorrow at not having seen any of the birds we were hoping to see, when Mai exclaimed, "There it is!" What followed was a frenzied chase of the Ashy Ground Thrush which was moving quickly within the dark understory. We all gave a collective gasp when an alley cat came running in and gave our prized bird a predatory chase. Thankfully it was able to fly away from the feline danger. After a frantic search we could not locate the Thrush anymore. Visions of a cat with a bird in its mouth emerging from the bushes haunted our imaginations for a while.

It was then that a family of Mangrove Blue Flycatchers flew noisily by. They even stopped briefly and allowed us some pretty good looks. We moved on when the flycatchers continued with their journey. Rounding the trail, Mai once again pointed to a brown thing probing the wet ground with its beak. We inched closer. When it moved, we moved. We stopped when it stopped. And took pictures. Sometimes the Thrush would pause just a couple of meters away, eyeing us as we were all eyeing it. As I paused between the Ashy Ground Thrush's poses, Mel pointed to a group of Grey-backed Tailorbirds who announced their presence by their seemingly incessant twittering. Even if I wasn't able to photograph these tiny birds, it was still a thrill to finally see them. What with my frustrations  over them just last month.

In a span of maybe an hour, the trio of Ms were able to help us tick off three more lifers. Mel, Mai and Mark, you guys have been our Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup that morning. The comfort food for our gloomy demeanor. MMM, Good!

As a bonus, after we have bade our three friends goodbye, Cynthia and I saw, on our way out, a White-eared Brown Dove perched at eye level less than 8 meters away!

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