But at 4:21AM, I received a text message from Mike saying that the census was cancelled due to the bad weather and impassable roads going to the site. My heart sank... but only a little. Because I was 100% sure that we would still bird that day -- either in Candaba or some other site.
True enough, when Jops, Jun, and I arrived at the Shell gas station along NLEX, most of the AWC volunteers were there discussing "Plan B." After a while, it was decided that most of us will be checking out Barangay Paralaya, which is all concrete roads (so no danger of the non-4x4 vehicles getting stuck) while Christian in his 4x4 SUV would try to go the usual route through the rice fields all the way to the Mayor's house. They would then inform us whether the roads were passable or not.
So, our convoy drove through rain and dark to Paralaya to find all the fields planted with rice, meaning: no birds. Save for egrets that flew in when the drizzle let up, we saw just a handful of the usual suspects in the area.
|Blue-tinted landscape matched the chilly weather in Paralaya.|
We contacted Christian's group and they advised us that the roads were passable, muddy but firm. So, we turned our convoy around to drive towards the Mayor's property. We had to take a detour since the shorter route was impassable to vehicles according to the locals. We arrived at the area and found the road's surface slick with mud, but the road itself wasn't mushy and soft. With tires slipping, our convoy managed to navigate all the way to the house.
|Slippery and thick mud clung to the tires, and later on to our shoes!|
Breathing a sigh of relief that we didn't get stuck, we started to bird. Most of us joined the group to find the warblers that have been recently seen and photographed in the area: Dusky Warbler and Middendorff's Grasshopper Warbler. I was able to see the Dusky Warbler and am very happy I was able to compare it with an Arctic Warbler which was flitting in the same tree. Warbler's are tricky to ID!
|Looking for the skulking warblers|
Some of us went looking for the Middendorff's Grasshopper Warbler but I wanted to test out the new camera Jops gave me: a kick-ass Canon SX50 HS!!! =) So I stayed in the vicinity of the Mayor's house with some friends and was able to practice with a pretty Common Kingfisher, who very kindly perched quite a while allowing me lots of shots.
Other species seen were Purple Herons standing still among the reeds, the usual colony of roosting Black-crowned Night Herons, Wandering Whistling Ducks that would take flight noisily only to land completely hidden in the grass, lots of Common Moorhens, easily flushed Yellow Bitterns, and plump Purple Swamphens. There were also some Whiskered Terns and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters flying around looking for food.
Towards noon, the skies began to darken again and a soft rain fell prompting us birders to pack up, pose for a quick group pic, and drive home lest we get stuck in the muddy road. Even though there weren't much birds and I didn't get to take as much photos as I wanted, I did get a lifer and some awesome photos of the kingfisher =)