I haven't had much time to really go birding especially in Metro Manila or the nearby sites. My last Luzon sortie was in February when I went to DRT in Bulacan to go and look for the White-browed Shama. Sometime in early September, several Metro Manila based birders started posting photos taken at Bangkong Kahoy Valley in Dolores, Quezon. Foremost among these were the Luzon Sunbird (previously called the Metallic-winged Sunbird), the Bundok Flycatcher (previously called the Snowy-browed Flycatcher) and the Mountain Tailorbird. All of these would be lifers for me. Also included in the photos were BK regulars like the Citrine Canary Flycatcher, Elegant Tit, and Turquoise Flycatcher, among others.
With September 12 being declared a holiday, it meant that the weekend of Sept 10-12 was a long one. A big group of WBPP birders was planning to go on the 10th (which was a Saturday), but I couldn't go with them due to a previous commitment. So I started asking around if there were people I could hitch with on Sunday, Sept 11th or Monday Sept 12th. There were none. So I started organizing a trip. One good thing with WBPP is that it is never difficult to organize a sortie. Soon there were plenty of birders who wanted to go. In the end we were fourteen (!!!) in all - Anthony Balbin, Jonathan Tabisaura, Maia Tanedo, Arnel Macariola, Caloy Pangilinan, Lhem Dacuycoy, Gilbert & Wilma Go, Conrad Olayres, Pastor Dave (sorry don't recall your last name sir), Nes Santiago, Ed and Bong (sorry guys, cannot remember your last names also) and myself. We were joined in BK by Deo Hermosa so we were fifteen bird photographers in all. Needless to say it was a large (and rather noisy) group. Ten members of the party belonged to the group Tropang Birders and many of them are relatively new to birding and some would be making their first trip to BK Valley. It was also my first time to bird with many of them.
We all met up in the Shell station near Tiendesitas and soon we were off. We stopped for a short breakfast at a McDo along Slex. We were at BK around 6:30am. And after a quick trip to the restroom, we all took out our bags and began assembling our gear. Before long, Maia had her bins out and was scanning the trees. Just goes to show who was the most veteran among all of us. :-)
Maia scanning the nearby trees
Soon we were off. Photo courtesy of Caloy Pangilinan.
Ang mahiwagang cooler ni Jonathan :-)
Upon reaching the birding area, Cris, BK's resident bird whisperer, divided us into groups. One group of five went to wait for the Luzon Sunbird, another group of four went looking for the White-browed Shortwing, and the rest went to the fruiting Lipa tree. Since the Sunbird was my main target, I went with this group.
We set up our tripods and waited...and waited...and waited...
Photo courtesy of Caloy Pangilinan
Soon the Shortwing group, which included Caloy and Lhem, joined us (that's why we have these photos of us waiting). Others in our group went to take their place in the Shortwing area. But since I already had shots of it, I decided to stay and wait for the Sunbird.
A photo of me and Caloy. We share a common friend, a certain Mr. Sonny Torre :-)
A stolen shot by Mr. Caloy P., Maraming Salamat partner.
We moved to another location on the other side of this hut. To prepare for the coming of the sunbird, I began taking photos of the likely perches. Soon I had plenty of shots of the flowers. Here's two of them.
And one with a butterfly...
While waiting, some Elegant Tits, a Turquoise Flycatcher and a Pygmy Flowerpecker showed up. Unfortunately, I was not really able to get good shots. Maybe it was "birding rust" from too little biridng, if there is such a phenomena.
The Tailor Bird and the Bundok Flycatcher both made brief appearances, if you can call hiding behind leaves and branches, an appearance.
During our long periods of waiting, we were entertained by a horse tethered nearby and by the very jolly Lhem. We also enjoyed the yummy peanut butter cookies brought by Maia.
Here is the jolly Lhem Dakuykoy with his controversial lime green scarf. Photo courtesy of Caloy P.
The Sunbird finally came out at almost 11am. And soon almost all had good shots except me and Maia. The one time that it perched on top of a flower in front of me, my camera didn't focus. Haaay! I was beginning to think that I will go home empty handed. So we waited again. By this time almost all the fifteen birders plus four or five guides, have congregated at the Sunbird site. So despite efforts to keep everybody quiet, it was an impossible task. It was probably the noisiest (and jolliest), birding sortie I have been a part of (hahaha). In previous trips, we joke a lot while shooting (quietly, if I may add), but the Sept 12 trip was another level of noise altogether. Hahaha.
When the Sunbird appeared again, I was at the front of the group and made made sure I got shots. At one point I even removed the camera from the tripod and risked shooting handheld because the bird was in constant motion. Here are some of he images I was able to create.
The Luzon Sunbird, Lifer #253.
The group photo after everyone had taken a photo of the Luzon Sunbird.
Band of Brothers (and sisters)... photo courtesy of Lhem D.
After this, Maia and I left the group and went to the fruiting, Lipa tree. But since it was already almost noon and the fruits were almost gone, we did not see any birds. A few minutes later, one of the guides called us to head back for lunch. So we trekked for about fifteen minutes to Dion's Restaurant. Soon after we sat down, it rained for about an hour and a half.
We headed out again at around 2pm. I was able to photograph a Pygmy Flowerpecker near Ramon Quisumbing's driveway.
By 3pm, it started to rain again and when it stopped one hour later, we decided to pack up and call it a day.
Not many birds by BK standards but I went home very happy because I got my target bird. And of course it was fun to bird with old friends (Maia, Anthony, Conrad, Nes, and Deo), and new ones (Jonathan, Caloy, Arnel, Lhem, Pastor Dave, Ed, Bong, and Gilbert and Wilma).
Looking forward to the next sortie with the Tropang Birders...