Thursday, December 15, 2011

Good, Better and Bes

Cynthia's cousin, Voltaire "Bes" Yap, was visiting from California. Being a bird photographer himself, he wanted to take some pictures of the local avifauna. Due to the fickle weather, we thought it prudent to take him somewhere close yet birdy enough. The La Mesa Ecopark was the perfect choice.

Early Wednesday morning we were scouring the mini-forest area hoping to see the Red-bellied Pittas, or the Ashy Ground Thrush, or the Common Emerald Dove, or the Mangrove Blue Flycatcher. One hour later and I was hoping that a bird, just any bird, would appear. "Where have all the birds gone?" I thought to myself as embarrassment slowly crept over my entire being. "Bes came all the way from the U.S. for nothing?" as I furtively glanced at our guest afraid that he will get bored and deeply disappointed. If he was, Bes certainly didn't show it as he gamely took photos of leaves and spider webs and..

I breathed a sigh of relief. 

At around eight in the morning, I suggested that we go the spillway to wait for the White Wagtails. On the way out and out of despair, we took photos of the ubiquitous Brown Shrikes and Yellow-vented Bulbuls just so we can satisfy our craving for a picture of a bird. Moving on, we were stopped on our tracks by a very noisy pair of Black-naped Orioles. Not only were they very vocal, they were photographable (normally not easy with these treetop dwelling creatures). 

They eventually flew but not before we have had our fingers numbed from the constant pressing of our camera's shutters. "That was good!", interjected Bes who in his jubilation treated us to a cup of "taho" (sweetened soft tofu with pearl tapioca).

With bouncy steps we proceeded to the viewing deck next to the spillway where we were greeted by a flock of Little Egrets. In the distance a Common Sandpiper was bobbing its behind rhythmically as if dancing to some latin beat. Not far from it a Grey Wagtail was living up to its name. One hour later and still none of Bes's target birds had shown up. I excused myself and went to the Vermiculture area. There I prayed that I may not be put to shame as I watched every tiny movement in the spillway below. Thirty minutes later and still nothing. Soon Cynthia and her cousin came asking for an update. When I shook my head, Bes informed us that he will be going to the Butterfly area to photograph those tiny colorful flitting insects instead. He had barely gone a few steps when I saw something blue alight on the concrete dike.

"Kingfisher!" I yelled.

"Kingfisher!" Cynthia shouted at her cousin.

Faster than you can say kingfisher (again) Bes was next to me propping up his camera gear. Together we took photographs of the Common Kingfisher and I can see my friend grinning from ear to ear. 

As the little blue bird flew off a couple of black-and-white birds took its place. "White Wagtails!" I whispered as a third bird joined them. "The whole family even!"

What followed was a fast and furious clicking of camera shutters. Eventually the wagtail family flew away. "That was better!" said Bes gushing with excitement.

And we all left happily....ever after. 

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