I went to La Mesa Ecopark last November 3rd hoping to see four birds which were seen and photographed there in the previous two weeks. These were the female Violet Cuckoo, a Grey-faced Buzzard, the Oriental Honey Buzzard and a Black Bittern. While staking out the Cuckoo, I learned that the day before, Anthony Balbin, LMEP's resident birder was able to photograph the male Violet Cuckoo also within the park. Unfortunately, I didn't see any of these birds that day. Zilch!
To my chagrin, two other bird photographers, Nes Santiago and Virgilio Gales posted photos of the male Violet Cuckoo, a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo and the Grey-faced Buzzard - all taken at LMEP that very same day.
Maia Tanedo, another birder friend went to LMEP on November 4th and along with Nes Santiago, was also able to see and photograph the two Cuckoos.
I finally got a chance to go back to LMEP on the morning of November 6th. I dropped my son Leon at his school in Katipunan and was at the Ecopark by 7:25am. And discovered that I failed to bring my tripod. Wonderful.
After getting out of the car, I made a quick pass at the spillway to see if there are any signs of the buzzard. But there was no activity except for some Yellow-vented Bulbuls so I proceeded to the spot of the male Violet Cuckoo. As soon as I got to the pond area, I saw the Common Kingfisher on the now familiar bamboo perch. I took a few shots, handheld while leaning on a palm tree. Looking at my shots through the LCD screen, I again cursed myself for forgetting my tripod. Grrr...
I looked up at the Balete tree and saw a Zebra Dove way up and a few Yellow-vented Bulbuls darting about. Then my eyes landed on a darkish bird about a foot from the dove. Male Violet Cuckoo! Aim, shoot, bird moves to another branch, shoot some more, bird moves again, partially hidden. Alas all my shots were backlit and the bird is one dark silhouette. The next few minutes was spent trying to shoot through a small gap in the leaves, handheld, and straining my neck in the process. None of my shots are tack sharp since all were handheld and I do not have the steady hands of Anthony Balbin and Jonet Carpio.
Here are some of the better photos of the male Violet Cuckoo:
Violet Cuckoo,lifer # 40 for the year, #233 overall.
The rich violet plumage of this bird is so pretty, I wish I had a closer photo (with a tripod!). But nevertheless, I am happy with the docu shots that I got.
By 8:30am, the Violet was gone so I decided to go back to the spillway to look for the Grey-faced Buzzard. I gave myself until 10:30am.
But the spillway was quiet aside from the Bulbuls, Brown Shrikes and some Black-naped Orioles. I borrowed the mono-bloc chair of the guard and sat down but continued to scan the trees for the raptor but nada. After a while I decided to walk to the tree where the female Violet Cuckoo was previously spotted. There I met fellow birder Conrad Olayres who was also looking for the same birds. After about an hour and a half, we saw it circling in the air but on the other side of the line of trees &%#@.
I was about to leave, (it was 10:28 in my watch) when I decided to scan the trees once more with my bins. I saw some movement on a relatively low branch and blurted it to Conrad. Aimed my camera and pressed the shutter. Grey-faced Buzzard.
Sharing a couple of not so sharp photos of the Grey-faced Buzzard.
Grey-faced Buzzard, lifer #41 for the year; #234th overall.
It was already time for me to go (I had to drive for my mother and then accompany Lorna, my wife to Kawit), so I bade Conrad good bye and walked to my car and said a silent prayer of thanks to our Lord and my guardian angel for my two lifers.