Monday, September 04, 2017

Mist Opportunities

Five in the morning. We were traversing the zigzag road in Tanay. Dense fog covered the area in such a way that I couldn't see beyond a meter in front of us. An hour later as we approached our destination in Infanta, the mist continued to blanket the hillside. Fellow birders were already lined up, waiting, hoping for the sun to break through. The birds were already actively foraging among the trees, but because of the haze, we all missed the opportunity to take some good photos.

Occasionally, and briefly at that, sunlight would pierce through the clouds and that was when we took advantage and tried to shoot at anything that moved. Cynthia was able to get a very active Sulphur-billed Nuthatch.

Eventually, the lighting conditions became more favorable for photography. Once again, my wife and I waited for our target bird, the Flame-breasted Fruit Dove to appear. Our friend, Ronet, also had the same purpose. Hearing the definitive "humm" of the dove, Ronet called us and pointed at something up in a tall tree. "There it is!" he said. For the life of me, I could not find the "red spot" that he was pointing at. Cynthia peeped through her long lens and clicked. Then she showed me the result of her endeavor. A Flame-breasted Fruit Dove. Terribly blurred but showing the reason for its name.

I, on the other hand, just contented myself at taking photos of the Buzzing Flowerpecker.

Our friend, Mon, told us to go to kilometer 103. "Behind the chapel there is a fruiting hagimit tree and the Olive-backed Flowerpecker is there," he said. So we went only to find out that we had to go down a steep, slippery trail to get to the aforementioned place. We decided not to endanger our physical and photographic properties and just took photos of the Pacific Swallow and Grey Wagtail on the hillside across the road.

Grey Wagtail
Pacific Swallow
At kilometer 100, we saw a group of fellow bird photographers camped down in front of another hagimit tree. After about 30 minutes of waiting for the flowerpecker that never showed up, we returned to Km. 95.

Noontime, and only friends Raymond and Carlo remained. This time the sun was already shining brightly. Suddenly a huge wave of mixed flocks came! Finally we added a couple of lifers to our list - the Philippine Fairy Bluebird and the Lemon-throated Leaf Warbler.

Cynthia even got a great shot of the Yellow-bellied Whistler.

At 1 pm, the flock was gone. Cynthia and I agreed to call it day. As we headed to one of our favorite restaurants, I was glad that good things still came out despite a foggy and seemingly ominous start. We finally got to meet in person birders who, until today, were just Facebook friends. We also met those we haven't seen in a long while.

We were thankful for the opportunities to bond with fellow bird enthusiasts and for getting lifers as well. Mist notwithstanding.