Wednesday, October 27

sablayan tales: the one that didn't get away

nothing was going as i expected, birding-wise.  we had spent the last 4 rainy, rainy days in the siburan sub-colony of the sablayan penal colony and farm hiking up hills (with me avoiding the dreaded limatik), trudging through mud and water-logged lake shore, rivers and streams, clambering up rocky trails, sitting helplessly in huts while the rain poured. "nicky, no birds!" i could hear mr. stone's famous one-liner echoing in my head.  but this time it was true!  sigh.

it was our last night.  so far, i had "only" seen the mindoro tarictic, and possible splits philippine coucal mindorensis and philippine bulbul mindorensis.  other lifers where the black-bibbed cuckoo shrike, pechora pipit and blue-crowned racquet-tail.  the black-hooded coucal was driving me crazy with its constant calling but invisible presence.  the mindoro bleeding-heart... just that one picture that seemed to be plastered everywhere in mindoro, including the guesthouse wall behind the dining room table. the scarlet-collared flowerpecker... nothing.  i was happy to see other birds of course, plus a plethora of butterflies, but i just wanted more!

this was really our last go at it.  the only evening it wasn't raining.  the target: philippine hawk-owl mindorensis.  definitely a future split.  it sounds really different, it looks really different.  nicky chose our location, adri and i kept our fingers crossed and our guides curiously regarded our owling mode.

success!  this has got to be the nicest pairs of owls i've encountered (and we are probably the only humans they've observed so closely)!  and as with other wonderful birding moments, time seemed to dilate and we savored every moment.  the pair of owls were easily illuminated by the flashlight, flitting from branch to branch.

you win some you lose some.  i suppose it could've been worse, birding in the wake of a typhoon which devastated northern luzon.

but that one bird can make the difference and make your trip worthwhile.

see more pictures of our adventures here: