Last Friday at noon, Jops and I were driving to Concepcion, Tarlac to attend the wedding of our friends Adri and Trinket. We met up with other birder friends at the church and stood witness as two of the nicest people we know tied the knot.
|The Wedding: Trinket and Adri tie the knot! =)|
A fun reception followed where guests were treated to a Kapampangan buffet, fun games, and a wonderful brass band playing in the background. Of course, the company of birders made the evening even more fun!
At around 10, we said our goodbyes and Jops and I headed to Tarlac City to spend the night there. We haven't been to the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag before and we planned to drive there the following day.
We were up and on the road early Saturday morning. The drive to Manaoag, Pangasinan was an easy one, save for some roadworks and busy town centers. We arrived at the church a little past 9am (it took us less than two hours from Tarlac City.) The place was very nice and well laid out. Behind the church was a rosary garden, a candle gallery, a museum, and a veneration area where you can pray and touch the clothing of the Lady of Manaoag.
|The Lady: The altar of the church.|
Our Lady of Manaoag is in the center of the altar.
There was a wedding and funerals while we were there.
|A portion of the candle gallery.|
We lit some candles, offered special intentions, visited the veneration room, and heard mass. On our way out, we heard a bird calling atop an acacia tree. We looked upwards which got some of the people around us interested. Mostly kids, they all joined us in the search of the bird. One of them pointed it out to us, "Ayun o, yung itim!" ("There, the black one!") We all focused to an Asian Glossy Starling calling from directly above us. Another one was perched closer and Jops was able to take some shots and show the photos to the kids. They were so curious and amazed when they saw the bird up close with its beady, red eyes! We gave them some bird stickers before we left, and we were pleased to see them sharing them with huge smiles on their faces. =)
We decided to take a road trip further into Pangasinan and found ourselves in Bgy. Bonuan Gueset in Dagupan City. Jops took me to Matutina's restaurant for lunch and we had the best buttered squid ever! After our scrumptious lunch, we decided to check out the beach just in front of the restaurant. As we prepared our gear, we were approached by curious locals and we asked them about birds they see in their area. We found a bird to show them and even some staff from the restaurant came out to look through the scope.
|Even the cook from the restaurant came out to see what we were doing!|
|They all had huge smiles on their faces since they were looking at...|
|THIS macho Brown Shrike through the scope!|
When the shrike flew off, we headed to the beach hoping for some waders but it was just too hot (and busy with swimmers.) After spotting some white-eyes on a coconut tree, we said goodbye to Bonuan and started the long drive back home. We were hoping to come across some fishponds teeming with birds but we didn't see much. We did see a Brahminy Kite with a fish dangling from its talons! The raptor would take bites from its still-wriggling prey while three terns chased it around... all this action in the air!
|Digi-binned photo of the kite as it flew away with its catch.|
After all that excitement, we finally drove straight to our last target for the weekend: Candaba to twitch the recently sighted Common Shelduck. We didn't realize that we had gotten so far! We found ourselves racing against the setting sun. Every hump, slow tricycle, dog, and chicken blocking our way cost us precious minutes of sunlight.
We arrived at the site just as the sun was setting. No more waders in the immediate rice paddies but there were some ducks further out. We (almost frantically) scanned the flock and saw a distinct, white bird among the Philippine Ducks, its head nestled under its wing. The Common Shelduck!
|The Sleeping Lifer:|
The clearest digiscoped photo of the Common Shelduck
in the dwindling sunlight.
It would occasionally lift its head to look around, showing its red-orange bill, then return to its sleeping position again. We were given enough time before night settled in to observe the stark contrast of its brown breast band against the whiteness of its body and the orange color of the beak when it would raise its head. After a few minutes, the sun had completely set and a crescent moon took its place above us. We packed away, happy with our twitch, and grateful for the great weekend we had. =)
|Jops and I racing against the setting sun to see the object of our twitch =)|
|Two very happy twitchers =)|
|Dusk at Candaba|