As soon as I saw the waders, I fell in love with the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary!
|The viewdeck =)|
I've been looking forward to this trip for months! When Jops and I, together with my cousins Ena, RS and Gabe and friends Eileen and Dels, reached the Hilton Pier before sunrise... it started to rain. Hard. I kept praying silently for the rain to stop... and after almost 30 minutes of downpour, it did. Out came my smile together with a rainbow =)
|The rainbow beside the Movenpick Hotel buildings as seen from the Hilton pier.|
The boat ride to the Sta. Rosa Pier in Olango Island takes a quick 20 minutes. The waves were quite strong that morning and I almost fell into the water as I was trying to get on our boat! That was the most challenging part of the trip: crossing the narrow "bridge" from the pier to the boat, at a sharp incline, while being tossed around by strong waves!
|Getting on and off the boat was a challenge with the strong waves!|
Upon arriving at the Sta. Rosa pier, we hired two tricycles to take us to the sanctuary and made arrangements for them to pick us up again in the afternoon to bring us back to the port. We registered at the Nature Center, paid the fees and marched on to the view deck to see the waders! Our first bird was an immature Rufous Night-Heron perched just inches from us. It was so accustomed to humans, it does not fly away nor leave the vicinity of the Nature Center. Quite sad to be honest...
|Does not fly away, but squawks at anyone who comes too close...|
We trudged on and saw a solitary Common Sandpiper by the shallows. Onwards and we saw Little Egrets searching for food near the mangroves. The sun was shining sooo bright and the colors around me were simply overwhelming: the white of the sand and the clouds, the green of the mangroves and the blue of the sky!
|The beautiful colors of Olango!|
We stayed a while in the view deck, looking out onto the vast mudflats that the low tide had left exposed. We could already see Little Egrets, Common Greenshanks and Whimbrels! More waders could be seen further out and our guide told us we could walk to get closer views. So, walk we did!
We were surrounded on all sides by wonderful waders!!! Terek Sandpipers, Whimbrels, Eurasian Curlews, Grey Plovers, Kentish Plovers, Rufous-necked Stints AND, my favorites, Bar-tailed Godwits and Chinese Egrets!!! Jops and I spent much time observing the Chinese Egret as it hunted just a few meters from us, walking in this amusing sideways movement just before it would plunge its beak into the sand. I would have wanted to sit on the wet sand and just watch all the bird behavior going on around us! It was amazing!
|Waders galore! Happiness!|
We took a break for lunch and afterwards, Jops and I returned to the view deck for more birding while the rest of our group went back to mainland Cebu. The tide was already coming in but we saw a bit more birds, including Ruddy Turnstones in their beautiful breeding plumage (another highlight of the trip for me!) The birds were now perched on top of the mangrove's roots and on higher areas, and were clumped together in mixed flocks. The larger curlews were farther away and, as it was getting a bit late, Jops and I decided to go back to the view deck and call it a (wonderful) day.
Tired, burnt but happy, we boarded out tricycle to the pier... only to discover with horror that we were short on cash and have left our wallets in Cebu City! We asked our friendly tricycle driver for a discount so we could buy our boat tickets (15 pesos each) and pay the terminal fee (1 peso each) and he kindly agreed with a kind smile... whew! (We sent an SOS to my mom who was in Cebu to pay for our taxi fare!)
We boarded our boat with only ten pesos left in our pockets but with 5 lifers in our list =) Adventure!!!