Wednesday, January 16

a journey with no destination (part 1)

our impending trip to romblon had been canceled due to unforseen circumstances leaving mel, adri and myself free for a four day weekend. we had planned to return to ginablan to check out our friends from the mangrove sanctuary and to do a waterbird census for the awc. we were miffed by the last minute change of plans but there was a low pressure area hovering near the central philippines which lightened our frustration at our canceled trip- at least we wouldn't be rained out in romblon for a second time!

what to do? what to do?

with no clear agenda in sight, we decided to take a drive south of manila, joined by nicky. thankfully we were welcomed with open arms by good friends who took us in for the weekend.

ixi and mikeli had a sumptuous luncheon and a furry welcoming committee to greet us upon arrival in calamba. after checking out a newly opened hostel in the boy scout reservation at makiling in the afternoon, we dropped by trees lodge for a quick peak at the dead tree.  a lone falconet was perched at its apex and the glossy swiftlet was predictably nesting on the ceiling of the balcony. the forest trail was still closed, a more permanent gate built across the beginning of the trail.

i'm beginning to  suspect that this glossy swftlet nest is a permanent structure!

we then made the most of the dwindling light with a quick drive through the up campus and the surrounding agricultural fields. in one of the newly turned fields we spotted a good company of birds: a family of common moorhens, a pair of buff-banded rails, several white-browed crakes and even a lone slaty-breasted rail (which turned out to be a lifer for mel and ixi).  darting back and forth from the overgrown boundary of the field was a large field mouse, challenging the buff-banded rails, much to their consternation. a yellow bittern would fly across the field more than once.

afterwards, we tried calling in philippine hawk owls at several locations near the residential areas on campus.  as the evening darkness crept in, we still had no owls, and we all piled begrudgingly into the car, ready to call it a day.  barely had we driven a few meters when adri suddenly stepped on the brakes and pointed right above the car: owl!  

owl at 12 o'clock: a bottom-side view
we all got down in the middle of the road and nicky illuminated a pair of very obliging philippine hawk owls with his torch.  we caused quite a commotion, with all the neighborhood dogs barking at us and with the car in the middle of the road, some of the residents came out of their houses and regarded us curiously.  "just looking at some owls," we explained.  upon which most of them shrugged their shoulders and answered: "ah, ok.  those owls are always there," and walked back into their homes. 

one of a very handsome pair of philippine hawk owls

oooooh, how envious i was.  i wonder if i would ever have owls so common and familiar in my backyard!

the owls were very cooperative, staying on even after we had taken several shots, and even after ixi had set-up her tripod and adri his digiscoping equipment (after he had parked the car more appropriately by the side of the road of course!).  we could smell the dinner being cooked wafting from the kitchens around us and our stomachs began to grumble so we decided to pack up and go.

what large yellow eyes you have!

needless to say it was a long dinner and after-dinner, filled with conversation and laughter (and mikeli's freshly squeezed juice!). and we no longer remembered that we had planned to be somewhere else for the weekend.

(to be continued)


  1. Replies
    1. thanks sylvia! they were really friendly!

  2. Phil. hawk owls! hmm. we should spend a night there also. :)

    1. Yes! Why don't you give the owls a go?:)