Quince Dias...fifteen days... when I was a kid, I asked my uncle Nonong (Neri), where was this place and why it was called Quince Dias. He told me it was a far away place. So far that it took fifteen days to get there. It was obviously an exaggeration but because the road was so bad (in the 60's to the early 70's), that it took a long time to get there. And only 6x6 army surplus trucks can make the trip. Today, it takes twenty-minutes from the outskirts of the Poblacion to Quince Dias - ten minutes up to the beginning of the dirt road that leads to the aforementioned sitio and another ten minutes to travel the half a kilometer dirt road from the highway to the river, which is where we bird.
I have been to Quince Dias for birding three times - twice in March 2013 and once in August 2014. Not that many species seen but our friend, and fellow Birdwatch Coron member, Michell de Guia, who has a property and a house, in the area, has seen quite a number of species. I was going with Hilbert Enriquez, another Birdwatch Coron member.
The last time we were at Quince Dias, we saw a Palawan Hornbill from afar. I was hoping to be able to get a good shot of this bird. And along the river, the Stork-billed and Common Kingfishers were "regulars" so I was hoping to photograph them too. This is also the place where I first saw a female Blue Rock Thrush.
Michell was waiting for us and as soon as we got out of Hilbert's pick-up, she said that the Kilit has been circling around for the past hour. After a few minutes, we did see a three Blue-headed Racquet Tailed Parrots do a flyby. But they did not perch. So no photos. We trekked towards the river. Along the way we heard a peculiar bird call but none of us can ID it. When we got to the spot where we saw the Hornbill last August, we stopped and scanned the trees. Michel commented that she has not seen the Kalaw lately. I saw a grayish bird fly and perch in a nearby branch. Hilbert and I began clicking. My initial ID was Plaintive Cuckoo. It has since been confirmed as such. Lifer for Hilbert and Michell, I think.
We trudged to the river. Saw another Kilit flying by. But still no photo opportunities. We had to cross the river so I had no choice but to submerge my shoes (%$#@). But after walking for about 200 meters, we saw a blur of blue dart from one bush near us to another farther upstream. We were walking towards it when a Grey Wagtail flew by and landed about twenty meters behind us. I tried stalking it but it was very skittish and never really settled down.
I went back to where Michell and Hilbert were standing. A couple of Slender-billed Crows started calling loudly. No wonder, the Cuyonon name for this bird is "Gak-gak" (aside from the more popular uwak). Perhaps because there were not many birds, Hilbert started shooting a noisy Chiwit, (Olive-backed Sunbird) and then the Gakgak. While waiting for him to finish shooting the Crow, a Cattle Egret flew overhead. I was not planing to shoot it but when I saw it heading straight for us, I made a last minute decision to do so. I had just enough time to aim my camera and get off two shots.
After a few more minutes, we saw a blur of blue perch on a bush on the opposite bank. We froze, for fear of scaring the bird and started shooting from where we stood. We were only able to get a few distant captures. Sharing one of the better ones. This is a cropped photo and by no means near the image quality of the recent captures in LMEP and Candaba featuring tack sharp images with perfectly creamy bokeh. But this will have to do for me - for now.
After the Common Kingfisher left, we headed back towards Michell's house. Along the way, we saw a raptor circling in the air. From some of my poor quality shots (due to the distance), the bird was later identified as a Crested Goshawk.
While resting on a bench, we saw a bird with blue-green feathers perch on a nearby tree. Hilbert was on the phone so I quietly made my way to said three. When I was near, two Blue-headed Racquet Tailed Parrots flew off and perched on another tree. Through a small gap, I saw that one perched in an open branch but I had no shot. So I inched closer but the ever elusive Kilit again flew away. They must have sensed me approaching. I saw one perch on a distant open branch and I took some docu shots but nothing worth sharing. I stayed crouched where I was, hoping they would come back to the tree near me. But they never did. Since Hilbert, and I, had a 10am meeting in town, I decided to go back. I saw Michell calling out to me saying Kilit and pointing to a big tree across the street. I did see a couple of birds. Suddenly four birds - three Kilit and one Ashy Drongo took off and perched on another tree. I wanted to use a tripod but I left mine at the pick-up so I had to shoot handheld for fear that if I go get the tripod, the birds will fly away.
Sharing a photo of two male Blue-headed Racquet Tailed Parrots.
Blue-headed Racquet-tailed Parrots (male). Kilit in our Cuyonon dialect. The bird that we hope someday will be declared as Coron's Municipal Bird.
The Kilits did not stay very long. I was hoping that the female, who was perched on a much lower branch, would move up so I can get them all in one frame but it never did. After just a few minutes, the three BHRT's flew off into the forest. Needless to say, I was a very very happy birder that morning.
And I am guessing, that this will not be my last trip to Quince Dias...bad roads notwithstanding.