Chapter 3: "Bittern"-sweet in BK
With the long weekend coming up, I was thinking of going back to LPPCHEA or risking a BK trip in my antique car. Sometime in the afternoon of Friday, Prof. Bert Madrigal posted a photo taken in UP-Diliman of what appeared to be a Flycatcher. He was asking for ID. I sent him a message asking for the exact area where he saw the bird. At about the same time, Dong Gales, my birding-mate at Arroceros posted on FB that they were going to LPPCHEA the following morning. While I was deciding between UP-D and LPPCHEA, Prof. Bert sent me a message asking if I wanted to go with him and Roy de Guzman to BK! Yahoo!!! I immediately secured my visa and once granted confirmed with Prof. Bert.
We set out at 4am - Bert, Roy and me in Bert's car and Jonn Salvador and his brother in Jonn's car. It was raining... which was not a good sign. By the time we reached San Pablo, Laguna, traffic along the highway was crawling. So instead of reaching BK before 7am, we got there almost 8am (or was it past 8?). Cris Ceriban, BK's resident bird whisperer had in fact sent a message to Roy saying that it was raining in BK. But our hopes soared when Dion Pullan, BK's capo di capi tutti, said that two birders got photos of the male Narcissus while having coffee at his restaurant (a few minutes after arriving!).
After a sumptuous and healthy breakfast of Salabat, Tuyo, Veggies, and Brown Rice, we went to the pond where the Von Schrenk's Bittern was a "sure thing". Upon arriving at the pond, the Common Kingfisher was flying around and it entertained us for the next two hours.
The Pond at BK
Shortly before noon, Cris came back to fetch us because he had already seen the female Narcissus. We immediately followed Cris and waited. After a while the female NFC darted but only Bert saw it. I was standing beside him when he bended his knees to get a better look and was soon clicking away. But I couldn't see the bird. I stood beside him and looked at the direction of his lens and nada. Then we waited again. This pattern was repeated several times. At one point Bert saw both the male and female dart into the brush. After about thirty minutes, the female perched in an open vine.
Then it disappeared into the trees and we all headed back to the pond area. When we got there, fellow WBPP birder Deo Hernandez was waiting for us. After "hi's" and "hello's", we all settled to wait for the CKF (which was Deo's target for the day) and the Bittern. A few minutes later, our guide (Cris' brother), pointed to a Cinnamon Bittern perched nearby.
After lunch, we ordered coffee because the previous group got NFC while sipping coffee. (Is it obvious that we were getting desperate?). As soon as we sat down to enjoy our piping hot coffee, Cris emerges from the trees and says he found a Crested Cuckoo (?). So we all rushed and left our coffees behind. And of course by the time we got to where the bird was spotted, it had already left. After some time we trudged back to Dion's restaurant. And after finishing our lukewarm coffee, we headed back to the pond. Cris, who was walking ahead with Roy, saw the Schrenk's Bittern as we were approaching. But it darted away as soon as it sensed us. Never to return for the day.
With a heavy heart, we reluctantly went back to the restaurant where the delicious merienda of Mushroom Burgers and ice cold Raspberry Shake helped ease the disappointment.
Just as we were finishing our meal, the female NFC appeared on the tree beside the restaurant. We lingered hoping that the male would show up. But it never did.
A bittersweet sortie because technically I saw the Narcissus Flycatcher and got a decent photo of it. I could already include it in my lifelist. But I really wanted to see the male... As to the Bittern... bittern luck next time I guess.
I was already worried that it might also take me eight years before I see this bird.