Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Coron Trip: Day 3 - Lunch, Lunch, Coke on my Pants (or going over to the Dark-Side)

We were about to have lunch just outside the house of local bird guide Erwin Edonga. The high humidity was causing my pores to spew sweat in quantities I never thought possible. When Erwin handed me the 2-liter bottle of Coke I grabbed it like a lifesaver thrown to a drowning man. As I twisted the cap the contents burst into several streams that would put all the fountains in Rome to shame. A few minutes of this and it finally died down leaving me with a half-empty (or half-full to you optimists out there) bottle of Coca-cola and my t-shirt and pants sopping wet. Note to self: do not open a soda bottle that just came from a bumpy motorcycle ride.

"I think I wet my underpants," I calmly told my wife as I nonchalantly poured my soda into a glass filled with ice cubes.

To her credit she didn't fall off her chair laughing but merely continued enjoying her fried chicken as if we were in a fancy restaurant.

Other than this pitiful (for me) or comedic (to you, i'm sure) circumstance, it was a wonderful day birding-wise. We were at Erwin's place bright and early Wednesday morning. Cynthia and I were amazed at the number of birds that inhabit this place. Blue Paradise Flycatchers and its almost look-alike cousin, the Black-naped Monarch, were already busy hawking for insects close to the ground.

female Blue Paradise Flycatcher
male Black-naped Monarch
While we were trying to photograph these active birds, Erwin, in his patented enthusiastic mode, called our attention to a tiny feathered creature silhouetted in a coconut tree.

"Lovely!" "Lovely!" he interjected while pointing to the tree.

We thought he was just describing the bird he was seeing. Then "ding!" I realized we were now looking at our second lifer of the trip - the Lovely Sunbird. Strange name for a male. The female clothed in drab yellow and brown, interestingly is also called "Lovely Sunbird". Of course, there is a Handsome Sunbird found elsewhere in the Philippines and the name applies to both male and female. And scientists who are responsible for naming birds are supposed to be smart people. Hmmm.

But I digress.

Erwin suggested we explore the Capayas Creek Nature Reserve now owned by our friend, Ramon Quisumbing. I wanted to photograph the three kingfishers that I saw here two years ago, and Erwin assured me that we will see two for sure, and maybe even the third one.

Cynthia decided to stay behind and wait for the furtive Hooded Pitta and Common emerald Dove - her excuse for not wanting to walk up the slippery trails.

The Ruddy Kingfisher was a no-sweat (I was speaking figuratively here inasmuch as I was already literally drenched in perspiration at this point).

The smaller Rufous-backed was a bit of a problem though. Everytime we would see it, it was in an unphotographable spot (too far, behind a leaf or a branch, etc). On our way back, I saw something brown alight on a branch. It would dart off after an insect and then return to its original perch. That is so flycatcher-y, I thought to myself. I was able to take a few photographs of it and looking at the results, I was perplexed. My first guess was that it was just one of them Grey-streaked ones, but somehow, something looks different. We did see two Grey-streaked Flycatchers later and I pointed out to Erwin the apparent differences from what we saw earlier. The Grey-streaked was smaller and the streaks were just too obvious. It was only after Cynthia and I got back home that I was able to properly identify (and confirmed by Desmond Allen) that it was a Dark-sided Flycacther! Lifer number 3 for us. Darth Vader would have been pleased.

It was while I was explaining to Erwin the difference between the two flycatchers that a Rufous-backed Kingfisher came out of nowhere and perched in full view just a few meters away from us!

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I mean where Cynthia was, she apparently had been busy as she was all smiles when we approached her.

"Cuckoo!" she said with a naughty smile.

"So are you!" I retorted.

Then she showed me the bird she photographed.

"A B-b-brush Cuckoo? Here in Coron?" I was incredulous.

I was still trying to assimilate this fact when "Cuckoo!" 

This time it was Erwin pointing to a brown thing perched on a branch.

I got a photograph. When I looked…..

"A Plaintive Cuckoo?"

Now I was going cuckoo in my mind. First there was a Brush and now a Plaintive!? Imagine that!

I was in this cogitative mood when it was announced that it was time for lunch.

And that was when I wet my pants.


Isidro Ortiz said...

Bonitas capturas.Saludos

maiabird said...

Super nice!!! I was smiling the whole time I was reading your blog =) Ang gaganda ng shots! =)