It was the first time I really felt frustrated with the lack of birds. My companions and I were in the La Mesa Ecopark for some post-Christmas birding and I was hoping for the best. The park wasn't so full and the trails were almost deserted except for us and the occasional passerby. But all we saw after a couple of hours birding were Black-naped Orioles and Brown Shrikes. Good thing we saw an Osprey in flight on our way into the trail.
We moved further into the trail hoping to see the Red-bellied or Hooded Pittas, but the surroundings were so quiet. A light rain would fall in intervals, alternating with songs from unseen Golden-bellied Flyeaters and yes, more Orioles. Good thing the Ashy Ground-Thrushes were a bit active that morning or else I would have felt really down.
We rounded the trail without seeing any additional birds. No Mangrove Blue Flycatchers. No Tailorbirds. No Crakes. No Pittas. Not even a Yellow-vented Bulbul! I was really beginning to feel sad. I decided to take our birder friend, Tinggay's advice to actually talk to the birds. I did (quietly.) I talked to the Red-bellied Pittas hiding in the brush to show themselves even for a few seconds. They didn't.
By this time, I was feeling really sad already so when it was suggested that we leave the trail to bird somewhere else in the park, I just pouted and followed my fellow birders as they started walking out the trail. There wouldn't be any more birds this morning.
It was then when a bird decided to teach me a lesson: no matter how frustrating and hopeless a situation may seem, God has something much, much better in store for you.
Walking out the trail, I saw what looked like a gigantic wader atop a fallen log. It flew off into the trees as soon as we stopped to take a better look. We followed it and saw a huge bird foraging on the ground. It was speckled... the spots looking like burnt fish scales. That's when it hit, we were actually looking at a Scaly Ground-Thrush (White's Thrush).
It was very easily flushed, flying off even when we were standing really still. I wasn't able to take a docu shot of my lifer before it flew away. Along the trail, we bumped into Bram and Kath. While we were waiting and scanning the area for the larger thrush, Bram saw a Red-bellied Pitta who apparently decided to answer my request earlier that morning and posed for their cameras.
I guess talking to the birds really helps. I started talking to the Scaly Ground-Thrush (White's Thrush), this time asking permission for us to photograph it. We saw it one last time, perched a few meters above the ground, before we finally headed out the park.
Thank you, Scaly Ground-Thrush, for teaching me the lesson I needed to learn the most =)