A "Late to the Party" Twitch

It was towards mid-February when photos of a Eurasian Oystercatcher began popping up on my Facebook feed. A lone individual had been spotted in the mudflats of Tanza, Navotas. This was the fourth sighting of this Near Threatened bird in the Philippines which is known to spend the winter months in eastern China and along the western coast of Korea.

The oystercatcher, a wader with a bright orange beak, has been on my "wish to see" list of birds ever since I opened the Kennedy guide but never really thought I'd get a chance to see it in the Philippines. So when the days, then the weeks ticked by with me having no extra time to go see the rare bird, I slowly accepted my fate that I was to dip on this extremely rare chance of seeing it.

But then... I couldn't stand it any longer. 

I'm sure many, if not all birders, know the tugging feeling of a possible lifer just waiting for you to come see it. But alongside that feeling comes the silent dread whispering "It may have already left though..."  Call it the Id and Superego of birding.... the tiny angel and devil on each shoulder each whispering in your ear: "Go for it! You deserve it!" cheers the angel, "It's a migrant! It's probably flying away right now!" sneers the devil.

What the heck. I asked Djop to make arrangements with Alfie of DENR-NCR for the following day I got the itch to twitch the Oystercatcher. Thankfully, Alfie was kind enough to update us on the bird (it was still there!!!) and accommodated us the following day. This was already March 22! More than a month after its first sighting!

Lifer! Photo by Djop

Digibinned by me

After a walk and a short boat ride, I was staring at a mega-lifer: Eurasian Oystercatcher! I breathed out a sigh of relief and literally shed some tears at our successful twitch. I honestly thought with my luck, we weren't going to see it. But there it was! I was still deserving of such success in birding!

It was my first time in the site and was amazed at the waders that were there. A flock of Pied Avocets greeted us when we arrived, as well as some Black-headed Gulls, lots of Pacific Golden Plovers, godwits, egrets, terns and many others foraging in the mudflats and shallows.  

Pied Avocets. Photo by Djop.

Our being on a boat piqued the curiosity of some of my birder friends (come on, guys...) So, for everyone's information, THIS was how far we were from the bird while on the boat:

See the bird? I can, I was there. 
I mean, honestly...

This was the closest we went
so as not to flush the object of our twitch away.

The Oystercatcher stayed unperturbed the whole time we were there observing and photographing it. Yes, a birdwatcher and a bird photographer in a boat to see the bird. It stayed there still nonchalant of us while our little banca was paddled back to the mangrove area to disembark, probably wondering why there were birders gawking at it under the broiling midday sun. 

We left after a few minutes as I was starting to get a migraine from the heat... it was a successful twitch already! As we made our way back to Alfie waiting for us by the mangroves, Djop spotted a "biggish" wader in the shallows. I quickly took a look through my bins, the haze making me more dizzy, whispered "Some knot. Let's go PLEASE!" feeling my brain slowly being fried already.

On the ride back to Quezon City, a quick review of the photos showed it was indeed a Great Knot! 

Great Knot posing for the camera. Photo by Djop.

It turned out to be a great twitchy Wednesday morning off from work (of course, I got my boss's blessing first!) and was back in my work-from-home desk (aka dining table) just after lunch. 

Not bad at all for a last minute twitch for a very obliging vagrant that seems to be enjoying its stay in Manila Bay... it's still here!!!

Thank you, Alfie! Will visit again soon and enjoy all the waders the site has to offer!

Me, Alfie, and Djop

I will celebrate this twitching victory as part of my 13th Birding Birthday tomorrow, April 9! 

Hooray for birds!

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