Jops and I got to see our 199th and 200th birds last weekend in Candaba!
|Reaching 200 called for cake to be shared with our birder friends!|
We were guiding a group of missionaries from Manila and were scanning a pond with some ducks in it. Birder friend Jasmin was able to spot a male Green-winged Teal sitting quietly close to the reeds at the water's edge. Lifer! It looked tiny compared to the Philippine Ducks swimming about! I was happy to see this one since the male Teal has interesting green markings on its head as illustrated in the Kennedy guide. We didn't realize at that point that we were just one bird short of the 200 mark!
We moved on the other, larger pond on the other side of the road. Linda, who brought along her missionary friends, suddenly asked "Who hasn't seen the Eurasian Coot?" At the name of the bird, I straightened up and fell in line to wait for my turn at her scope. I have been wanting to see this bird! It was a bit far, and initially it looked like a Common Moorhen but it suddenly "faced" me and I could clearly see the white plate on its forehead! Wonderful! I called Jops to have a look too. Lifer again!
We then moved on further down the road and met a group of people who were there just to check out what the Candaba Bird Sanctuary looked like. We offered them a chance to look through our scopes (Jasmin and I overhead them say "There aren't any birds here!" because all they could see were the white egrets!) We showed them the huge flock of ducks and it was nice seeing their amazed reactions. They stayed a while, asking genuinely interested questions about the birds and what bird watching was. After a few minutes, and some picture-taking with us, their group left and we headed further down the road.
By the watch tower, we met up with more birder friends. There was a small group of Tufted Ducks in the nearest pond, but they were flushed away when some men came to clear the area. I was staring at a Long-tailed Shrike in front of me when the light switched on in my head: we have 198 birds in our list and we saw 2 lifers today... 200! "Two hundred na tayo!" I suddenly exclaimed. Jops' eyes widened: we did it! We were able to see 200 birds in under two years of birding! Not bad at all =)
We immediately told our friends and it was great sharing our happiness with them. No need for explanations, just the simple mention of "200" was enough to generate big smiles, celebratory "wows", big congratulations and lots of egging for a blowout to celebrate.
And so we did... with fried chicken =)
Post Script: As I updated my life list in my precious notebooks, I started thinking if I would peg another numerical goal this year. I think not. Honest! Of course I would want to see as many birds as I can (I'll start with Olango before the month ends!) but I will be happy enough filling up my little notebooks with notes and lists from my adventures. =)