I donned my brand new binoculars and silently prayed that it would give me some luck. Lucky indeed! On its first day in the field, I saw my first Violet Cuckoo through them!
|Lifer!!! Male Violet Cuckoo|
Not the best of photos but I got superb views!
But let me backtrack a bit...
I got to the park around 7AM and walked as fast as my socks-and-Keens would allow me. That combination is not only an awful fashion faux pas but is also slippery when brisk walking! I got to the area my friends told me the Violet Cuckoo frequents and began my wait. There were already a lot of Yellow-vented Bulbuls feeding among the trees and I was soon surrounded with bird song. The Black-naped Orioles and Olive-backed Sunbirds came out to sing and eat in the surrounding trees. A Coppersmith Barbet made a brief appearance as well as a Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker and a Pied Triller. I tried my best to photograph them but I was very, very rusty and couldn't focus fast enough!
It was already 7:30AM and still no cuckoo. I scanned the trees and saw something fly in! Could it be?! It was a cuckoo! A Rusty-breasted Cuckoo. It stayed long enough for a photograph but never turned its head my way.
|The back view of a Rusty-breasted Cuckoo.|
When it flew off, I walked over to where another birder just arrived and was photographing some birds. I met Sir Nes and found out that he was also looking for the Violet Cuckoo, although he'd already seen it there before. While we were chatting, a Common Kingfisher perched into view, sadly too far to photograph, and a pair of Philippine Coucals flew awkwardly across the lagoon. A couple of Zebra Doves also entertained us for a while.
|A pair of Zebra Doves on a faaaaaaar tree.|
And then it came. A small, dark bird flew in and flitted in the canopy above us... male Violet Cuckoo! I raised my spankin' new bins and took in all its wonderful details: the rich violet color, the barring pattern, the red eye ring, the bright orange bill... awesome! It flew out of view and I looked at Nes, completely dumbstruck and close to tears. I wasn't a jinxed birder. I just got a lifer!
|Although it stayed high up in the canopy, I was able to get great views!|
The cuckoo was still in the branches above us busy foraging for food among the clumps of leaves. It would come into view for a few seconds before returning to forage some more. It perched on an exposed branch but was backlit against the sky making for a horrible photo. And then it disappeared.
|Would've been an awesome photo...|
As if taking turns feeding, the Yellow-vented Bulbuls swooped in. We stayed in the area and waited for the Violet Cuckoo to come back. We were hopeful because the Rusty-breasted Cuckoo returned to the tree.
|This was exactly my view... through all the leaves and branches.|
We were not to be disappointed! The Violet Cuckoo came back, showing the same feeding behavior. The female Violet Cuckoo flew in for a super quick hairy caterpillar meal before flying off to the other side of the lagoon.
Here's a short video of the male Violet Cuckoo. Please watch it in HD otherwise it's all blurry! I have yet to learn to edit videos properly ;)
I said goodbye to Sir Nes and left the park at 9AM. I almost skipped towards the parking area, ecstatic with my successful twitch of an awesome bird and also with my regained confidence in birding.