Thursday, March 27, 2014

Attention to Detail

Being a birdwatcher, I have gotten used to paying attention to details. Often, I am awed at the amount of details on a bird: its color, its spots, its barring. I've also learned to pay closer attention to the not-so-obvious details: its eyebrow, its eye ring, its wing bar. All this I have come to appreciate when birding.

Different birds with different details: colors, spots, barring!

This appreciation has escalated a hundredfold on my last birding trip in Calatagan, Batangas. Aside from the birds, I came to appreciate the flowers, trees, and the overwhelming attention to detail of our hostess.

I went with fellow birders Anna, Manny, Trinket, Anthony, and Lanie to Hacienda Balabatican in Calatagan for a weekend to survey the birds in the property. We arrived way past dinner time but were still welcomed with a very fine dinner table setting indicating they prepared a full dinner for us.

Our dining room for that weekend =)

I loved all the details of the dinner table: from the water and wine goblets to the plate charger! Dinner was awesome (loved the beef and mushroom!) and I knew we were going to have one of the most pampered birding trips ever =)

The boys and girls were housed in two separate houses and Trinket and I shared a room. Oh, what a room it was! Again, the attention to detail (and the attention Trinket and I gave all the details!) was overwhelming. Even the bathrooms were prepared so that guests would not be in need of anything that wasn't there already. Forgot your toothbrush? There's one prepared for you. Feel a bit sick? There's a well-stocked medicine basket complete with instructions. No soap? There are four freshly opened bars to choose from.

This was the bedroom Trinket and I shared.
We picked the room with the smaller beds =)

We woke up refreshed from our canopied beds the following day, ready to bird in the estate. We planned to bird until around 9AM and come back to have breakfast. We weren't able to do that and we ended up birding until around 11!

We made our way around the man-made lake just as the sun was rising
Some Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers perched
low and very close to us
Waiting for the noisy Clamorous Reed Warbler to show
(It didn't...)
But a Philippine Coucal made a brief appearance among the mangroves

We explored more than half the property that morning. There were areas that were more bird-y than others and we even saw some very active Black-naped Monarchs in one spot. Coppersmith Barbets and Collared Kingfishers would be our background music almost the entire time we were birding!

Aside from the bird calls, I loved the colors we were birding in!

Towards mid-morning, Trinket spotted a mistletoe in full bloom! It was the first time I actually saw the flowers of a mistletoe. They looked so unique! I didn't expect their flowers to look like this:


Mistletoe in bloom! Upon closer inspection, they look like matchsticks!

By this time, it was getting quite hot and we decided to move along. Moving past the mistletoe, we spotted a pair of White-breasted Woodswallows perched on a dead tree. They started spreading their wings as if flying, but not leaving their perch. It was as if they were pretending to fly!



In this area we spotted a kalumpang tree, its branches laden with fruits that have burst open. I learned that the fruits have a quite pungent smell, but this one didn't smell at all. Probably because the fruits were all dried up. We also saw a Paddyfield Pipit perched on a low branch of the kalumpang.


Open fruit of the kalumpang tree

Taking a break in the shade

The bird activity started getting slower as the day got hotter but we had lots to see! There were lots of amazing trees in the property and it was interesting to see successful strangler figs and the now-hollow host tree.

Strangler fig success story
This would be a gorgeous inspiration for bonsai =)


We arrived at the houses at 11AM and were still served breakfast. We were reminded that lunch would be served at 1! We took that time to rest from the heat and from all the walking. Lunch was to be served near the pool area and we walked there for another feast for the senses!

A gorgeous view for lunch!

We took a short "siesta" after lunch before heading out to explore the rest of the estate in the afternoon. The kingfishers and barbets weren't as noisy as earlier in the morning but we did see a number of birds. We also heard Asian Koels calling as the sun started to set.




As we approached the lake where we started in the morning, we saw that tents and lounge chairs had been setup for what was supposed to be our afternoon snack! Unfortunately, we were too late for that as dinner time was approaching. That didn't stop us from enjoying the seats as well as the view of the setting sun of over the lake. Once more, our hostess's attention to detail overwhelmed us =)

Tents and lounge chairs for the tired birders!
The lake

So, we kicked off our shoes and relaxed in those comfortable chairs. It was a weekend well-spent with great company. I enjoyed all the details that surrounded us: our beautiful accommodations, the trees, the landscape, and of course, the birds =)


1 comment:

  1. Super blog post Maia! I agree on how birding has opened my eyes to more than just the birds!

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