I haven't really been able to go birding since early December. So last January 21st, when I finished most of my paperwork, I made a quick decision to do a quick birding trip. I wanted to go to the Yulo King Ranch (the area near the airport in Coron), but since it was already past four o'clock in the afternoon I was hesitant, (YKR was 23 km away, usually a 30 minute drive). But the desire to see some raptors and the Palawan Hornbill won out so I decided to go for it. I said a silent prayer asking for the Palawan Hornbill.
A short note about the Hornbill before I proceed. It has been one of my target birds ever since I started this hobby. I first saw it in July 2014 at YKR (read about it here: http://chiwitchronicles.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-palawan-hornbill.html). I have searched for them many times since then and saw them once but unfortunately, no photos. But our driver has seen them a couple of times in the same area. My friend Ichay Bulaong also saw them recently while she was biking in the area.
As I approached the place last Thursday, I slowed down and began scanning the trees. I saw a bit of white on a far away tree, stopped the van, and decided to take a shot, (I forgot my bins). Lo and behold, it was a Palawan Hornbill. I immediately turned off the engine, engaged the handbrake, braced the lens on the car door, and fired away. I was so thrilled when after a couple of minutes, another bird appeared. Here are some of images I was able to create:
Then both birds perched close enough to fit in one frame.
Mr. and Mrs. Hornbill
After a couple of shots, one of the birds moved to another tree that was hidden from my view. I moved the van forward. The bird was nearer but backlit and all I got was a silhouette. Then it went back to the first tree. I had to back up the van to see them again.
Then one flew away, and the other immediately followed.
They perched on a tree beside the road (on my right), but hidden. I slowly get out of the van and look for a an opening in the leaves and branches but couldn't really find any. The light was also bad. I did manage a few shots but not really that good.
The birds flew away after just a short while and went to nearby forest. From the first two times that I saw them, I noticed that they are very skittish. Others who saw them say the same thing. Maybe they are wary of humans.
I waited awhile hoping that they would come back but they did not so I drove on. Near the airport, I saw a Barn Swallow perched on a wire.
Driving on, I saw a Spotted Dove perched on a pole in the distance.
As I neared the area of a small hill where the former Australian ranch manager used to live, I saw several egrets beside some horses.
Eastern Cattle Egret. Or is it a Horse Egret?
A few meters away, a couple of birds flew across the road and one perched on a tree near enough for me to get a shot.
The sun was starting to set on my right when I saw this Spotted Dove perched on another bare tree. Why couldn't all birds behave like this?
It was starting to get dark so I headed back to town. My last stop was another bare tree that I knew (from previous trips), was a place where Bee Eaters spend the night. I was hoping to reach it while the light was still good. But the light was not good anymore. It was a pity because there were so many of them in that tree.
Blue-throated Bee Eaters (photo brightened)
When I got back to the van, a flock of smallish birds suddenly took flight from one of the trees. I pointed my camera at them and pressed the shutter, all the while knowing that the shots will probably not come out nice due to the poor lighting. At the time I was shooting, I thought there were just Starlings but I found out later that they were Bee Eaters!
A flock of Bee Eaters in flight
And just like that, it was time to go. I hurried back to town because I had a diner appointment at 6:30pm (and it was already 6:10).
Thank you Lord for the Kalaws (Hornbills) which I learned only yesterday, are called TALUSI in Cuyonon! Another addition to my Cuyonon bird dictionary.