|Lifer #152 - Pheasant-tailed Jacana!|
No, I wasn't dreaming. I was wide awake at 5AM when Jops picked me up for our "Jacana run." Some time back, Fearless Master Guide Alex posted a report of seeing Jacanas from a gas station along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX.) We started talking about sneaking a drive to the place to see these birds for the first time. It took us a while to fit this road trip into our schedule and we finally decided it was going to be this Saturday morning.
Upon waking though, the rain was really pouring and for a brief, sad moment we both considered calling off our adventure. But we decided that we really wanted to see this bird and that if the weather didn't improve (or got worse) at any point along the NLEX, we'd exit and head back home. At least we tried, right?
So, after gassing up and airing our tires, we drove along the expressway in rainy, but definitely not stormy and dangerous, weather. We spotted the gas station before the San Simon exit and parked in front of a restaurant at the rightmost corner of the lot. The rain had slowed to a soft drizzle at this time. The restaurant was still closed (even if its sign said "Open 24 hours") so we walked through a gap between the buildings and found ourselves looking over wetlands. We immediately saw a Purple Heron, Barred Rails and White-browed Crakes. We also saw a Blue-tailed Bee-Eater flying around and returning to the same perch to swallow something it probably caught midair. Cinnamon and Yellow Bitterns were flying in and out of view. Then, we saw these white-winged birds with black bodies. The Jacanas? They would come flying in but upon landing would instantly disappear among the plants! We couldn't be a hundred percent sure!
|The field where we saw the family of Jacanas walking around|
We heard someone walking around in the restaurant and approached him to ask if we could go in just to get better view of the birds. The guy was nice enough to let us in. He ushered us towards the huts which looked out over less water-logged fields and another part of the wetland.
|This was the walkway connecting the kubos which were above ponds with very active hito!|
We showed him the Kennedy Guide picture of the Jacana and he said they have been seeing this bird walking around and pointed to the field. They were wondering if it was a kind of chicken. We scanned the fields and wetlands and saw some Purple Swamphens, lots of Common Moorhens and more White-browed Crakes as well as a Little Grebe swimming, darting and diving in the water. The rain started to fall harder again but we kept looking for the Jacanas. Jops stayed in one kubo overlooking the marsh while I stayed in another kubo overlooking the field.
|Jops in his kubo scanning the wetlands, looking for the Jacanas|
Suddenly, Jops started gesturing for me to go to his kubo! The Jacana was in the field in front of his hut! Under the drizzle, we spotted a Jacana making its way over the plants, our view partially obscured by dangling acacia branches. It was such a wonderful bird to see! I went back to my kubo and immediately saw another Jacana, walking on the left side of the field! I called Jops to my kubo this time so we could both enjoy this better view of the bird. Surprise! It had a chick! As we put down our binoculars, we saw that there was another Jacana walking around the same field. This time, we could clearly see its long pheasant tail, the fantastic golden color on the back of its head and the long, thin toes on its feet. It stuck around long enough for us to order and eat our sisig and liempo! After breakfast, we took time reading the field guide's descriptions, took down field notes, and birded a bit more before we decided to head back home at 9AM.
|Our celebratory breakfast of garlic rice, sisig and liempo|
As we drove back home to Quezon City, we were happy and satisfied with our successful Jacana run. I was out birding in the rain at 6:30AM and back home in my jammies at 10 with a Jacana for a lifer and a big smile on my face. Not bad. Not bad at all.