I always add cream to my coffee. As a matter of fact, the creamier the better for me. Will I ever drink java sans that dairy product? Most likely not. Then how far will I go just to complete my morning joe? Good question. Especially when applied to birding. I may be stretching the analogy a bit, but let me explain: How much risk am I willing to take just to add a species to my life list?
That situation actually happened last Saturday. The three of us (me, my wife, and our friend, Peter) went to Infanta to look for a particular lifer - the Cream-breasted Fruit Dove. We already knew that there would be some difficulty accessing the site where the said dove was nesting.
When we arrived at the Sierra Farm Cabin, the resident guide showed us the "trail" we had to traverse to get good views of our target bird. It was challenging to put it simply. While we were mulling over our situation, another friend, Chin, who was there before us, decided to give it a go. As we watched them negotiate the dangerous path, Cynthia and I offered a silent prayer to protect both Chin and Hanny, the guide. We gasped as our friend slipped a bit. It was then that all three of us agreed not to risk our life or limb just so we can have cream on our proverbial coffee. Later that day when we returned to Sierra Farm we once again met Chin who had just ended his vigil for the Fruit Dove. "Three hours of waiting, and I got nothing!" he said frustratingly. We were thankful that we made the right decision.
We also asked Hanny about the chances of seeing the Philippine Dwarf Kingfisher. He said the trail going down towards the creek was even worse. There will be times that we would have to negotiate a 90 degree slope. 90 degrees! That's completely vertical!
Our Infanta sortie was not a complete disaster though. Not that far from the Cream-breasted Fruit Dove's nest was another similar species which was also nesting. Thankfully, that place was more accessible. Unfortunately, the nest was only partially visible and we only got documentary photos of the Yellow-breasted Fruit Dove.
The usual places along the road were surprisingly devoid of birds. Luckily for us the area near the veranda of Sierra Farm Cabin was productive, birdwise. It was there that an Elegant Tit was so bold that it came to about a meter away from us.
While taking a break, I spotted a raptor flying overhead. A Crested Honey Buzzard obliged us for a few minutes before disappearing from view.
After the break, we returned to the veranda. While Peter was taking photos of his lifer, the Olive-backed Flowerpecker, a Philippine Fairy Bluebird posed for me.
Yellowish White-eyes cavorted in the branches of a pine tree.
We had lunch at "The Hulk" lodge and restaurant hoping to see and maybe get closer looks at the Rufous Hornbills we saw last week. Sadly not a single one showed up.
As we travelled back home we were obstructed by a kilometer long convoy of some politicians' supporters. While waiting for an opportunity to overtake them, my mind was filled with thoughts of "maybe I should try having coffee with no cream".