Monday, November 7, 2011

When Mariang Makiling Smiled on Us...

The weather forecast predicted heavy rains for that day, but our morning hike up the Mt. Makiling trail was sunny with just a couple of light rain showers. I felt Mariang Makiling, the guardian of the mountain according to Philippine folklore, smiling on us. As the sunlight filtered through the trees, I had to smile back =) 
Cheers, Mariang Makiling! Thank you!

It was raining quite hard when I woke up at 3AM. A text from a friend based in Los Banos informed me that it had been raining the whole day yesterday and it looks like its going to be raining that day too. But, knowing my companions, I was pretty sure we'd still push through with our planned trip to Mt. Makiling. I got up and got ready.

It was almost 7AM when we arrived at the UP Los Banos campus but the sun still wasn't out. We already laid out a Plan B just in case it rained. No more trail if it rained. But it didn't =)

TREES was very quiet but a mixed flock of Stripe-headed Rhabdornis and Coleto flew in for a few minutes and a couple of Balicassiao stopped for a while too. We then started on the trail.

Our party going up the Mt. Makiling trail
This was my third time going up Mt. Makiling. Both times, we had to go back down before reaching the "bukohan" area. Jops and I were determined to reach it this time, providing it wouldn't rain. So, up the trail we went with Jun and Jelaine. I honestly wasn't expecting any lifers. Mt. Makiling can appear quite devoid of birds on some instances and the weather wasn't really ideal for lots of birds. But I kept my fingers crossed.

As we made our way up the mountain, the sun started to come out and I could see patches of sunlight on the trail. Sometimes, the forest would come alive with bird calls. We spotted a mixed flock of Elegant Tit, Philippine Bulbul and a Sulphur-billed Nuthatch --> lifer for Jun! And Jelaine!

Further along the trail, we heard a sharp and very loud call. "Scale Feathered Malkoha!" Jun exclaimed excitedly. After a few minutes, he spotted the bird and pointed our lifer to us! Thanks Jun! Such a fantastic (and kinda strange-looking) bird! The bird stayed a while hopping from one perch to another, preening its feathers along the way. We were even able to show it to a family hiking up the trail! After some time, it flew further back into the trees where we could still hear its calls but could no longer see it. I would definitely want to observe this bird again and again!

Further up the trail, we encountered a couple of light rain showers but not even strong enough for me to take out my umbrella. We finally made it to the bukohan at around 11AM. Third time's a charm! We celebrated our feat with... fresh buko juice! =)

More than any lifers, this bukohan was my target for the morning =P
The walk back down was quick (probably because we were getting hungry) and almost uneventful save for a couple of Crested Serpent Eagles that perched quite near us on two separate instances. We heard the Spotted Wood Kingfishers but weren't able to spot them. We were all wishing for the Philippine Trogons to show, but they didn't show too as well as the Colasisis who chose to just keep flying by.

We reached the parking area past noon and we were all starving. We saw less than 10 species of birds up the trail but I was so grateful for that one special lifer and the fact that it didn't rain! As I got in the car, I looked back at the trail and once again said my thank you to Mariang Makiling. 'Til our next climb =)

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