I do not normally go out of my way to chase birds. Of course if there is a sighting of a rare migrant or a bird that I still have not seen, I will normally go and try to see and photograph it. But if I come back empty handed, I do not lose sleep over it. I just shrug my shoulders and move on. Until I became aware of the Narcissus Flycatcher (NFC).
Reports of sightings in Bangkong Kahoy and Camp John Hay and generated a buzz in the Manila birding community. Being nearer, WBPP denizens began trooping to BK. Others were planning Baguio trips for the "Undas" long weekend. Soon photos of this beautiful black and yellow bird began flooding facebook and drawing ooohs and aaahs (actually more like "wow" and "ganda"). And stories on how long they have waited to catch this bird surfaced. Bong Nabong waited 8 long years! Maia Tanedo, 5 years (or was it 6)?, Bob Kaufman, also 5 years that he even made a video (with Adolf Hitler as his guest star) of his frustrations with this bird, etc. However, instead of being discouraged, it just got me more hooked in the "Narci" fever.
Chapter 1: Zero in Arroceros
I started to seriously consider the Hunt for Narci on Friday, October 21. My problem was my ancient car is probably not fit for BK and Baguio was too far (I didn't have two days to take off). I had earlier posted a question in FB (WBPP and in Tropang Birders), asking who was going up to BK but there were no responses. As I was debating, Dan posted a photo of the male NFC taken that afternoon (Oct 21) at LPPCHEA! My hopes jumped and I began planning my trip for either Saturday or Sunday. But disaster struck when I had a really bad vertigo attack on Saturday morning which confined me in bed for most of the day. That night, still feeling woozy, I saw an FB post by Joselito Arceta and Ed Gapal posted a photo of the male NFC taken that afternoon at Arocerros Forest Park! Boom! I knew that's in Manila. My fingers trembled with excitement as I googled the location of Arocerros Park while chatting with Dong Gales and arranging our trip the following morning.
Still feeling a bit woozy, I decided to take Grab the following morning. I met Dong at the park gate and spent the next four hours looking at...nothing! All we saw were a couple of Brown Shrikes, a few Zebra Doves, some Arctic Warblers, some Yellow-vented Bulbuls, one Collared Kingfisher, a couple of Crows (!), several Terns and Egrets diving in Pasig River and of course the ever present ETS!
By 11am, I gave up. Sa madaling salita, umuwi kaming luhaan...
In the meantime, people who went to BK were posting beautiful photos...