Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Side-trip to "Alligator Lake"

Our view of the mountains from Alligator Lake aka Enchanted Lake
aka Tadlac Lake.

We were under time pressure. Jops needed to be back in Manila after lunch. We spent the most part of our morning dude birding in UPLB and checking out their farm. We had an early lunch before visiting their family friend who lived just outside the UPLB campus. During a snack of warm buko pie and Hawaiian punch, we got to talking about birding and they asked us if we’ve been to Alligator Lake, just by the boundary of Calamba and Los Banos.  Jops and I looked at each other, as if saying "We have time to check that out, right?" They gave us directions to the site, and after Donaire was declared the winner of the boxing fight for that morning, we said our goodbyes and drove to the highway.

After following the directions and asking around a bit, we found ourselves entering what looked like a half-abandoned subdivision full of vacant lots. The roads were cemented and we could see an abandoned house atop a small hill. We drove past the house and further down the road saw a small, well-mantained "mansion." We could also see Laguna de Bay to our left but no sign of any other body of water.

We decided to park near the mansion and that's when we saw it: a placid lake dotted with houses on some portions of its banks.

Our friends told us this was called Tadlac Lake,
which is found in Bgy. Tadlac in Los Banos.

We were soon approached by an elderly man with a bolo (!) but he turned out to be very friendly. His name was Mang Victor and he was technically the caretaker of some portions of the subdivision. We asked if there was any way to access the lake and he pointed us to a small path cutting through one of the vacant lots. Alex, Jops’ cousin, went through first, followed by Jops and then me. Mang Victor followed behind us. The path curved a bit and when I saw the incline of the slope, images of our Bangkong Kahoy climb flashed before me. I knew it was nothing compared to THAT trail, but I still didn’t have the energy to go down the steep path. I stayed put while Jops and Alex disappeared from view, going towards the banks of the lake. 

The incline wasn't so steep, but I wasn't willing to
exert any effort after our adventure in BK Valley =P

I was chatting with Mang Victor about birds he sees in the area when I heard them: pirik pirik! I looked up and saw a small flocks of Blue-tailed Bee-Eaters gliding above me! I called out to Jops below, “Pirik pirik!” and his response was an excited “White-throated Kingfisher!” Before we left the area, we saw two Little Herons fly overhead.

Large drops of rain forced us back onto the road, but it cleared up immediately. We could hear Tawny Grassbirds and Bright-capped Cisticolas along with the Blue-tailed Bee-eaters. As we chatted with Mang Victor,  we learned that the vice mayor plans to have floating restaurants built on the lake. He called the lake “Enchanted Lake” and said that it was the mouth of a volcano. He told us that at certain months he would see lots and lots of white birds flying around over the water catching fish and that there used to be wild ducks in the area. Unfortunately the ducks have all gone because people in the area shoot birds for fun. =( 

Back lit digiscoped picture of a Bright-capped Cisticola.

After sharing part of his life story, we said goodbye to Mang Victor and the lake and the amazing view of the mountains in the background. We think Alligator Lake aka Lake Enchanted is worth going back to when the migration season starts.

Jops and I have our picture taken with Mang Victor.
Oh, we never got to find out why they called it Alligator Lake or Enchanted Lake. Our other birder friends who have visited the site all call it Tadlac Lake =)

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