There are lots of factors why after 5 years of birding I still haven't seen the Frogmouth. One of it being the distance from where I live. Most of the sightings are in the southern provinces of the country and I do not have the luxury of time and budget to travel to those places. So after seeing posts by birder-friends that they have seen the bird in a nearby place, I immediately asked around for any group that is going to twitch it.
After a few text messages and a meet up, a Saturday trip was organized by birder-couple Bob and Cynthia. Days prior to the trip, I was already so excited knowing that I will possibly see the Frogmouth.
Saturday, D-day. Me, Bob, Cynthia, Peter, Vincent and Jayce met up at the usual meeting place of birders in Katipunan Road. 5:30am and our group was off to La Mesa Nature Reserve in the outskirts of Quezon City. It was a short ride to the area and as soon as we arrived, a smiling bespectacled guy approached us and introduced himself to us. He was Kuya Efren, a bird-guide trained by Jops, Maia, Adri and Trinket.
After a few minutes of prepping, we hit the trail in a single file with Kuya Efren leading the group and me sweeping the tail. The trail was alive with bird calls and everywhere you look you could see birds flying from tree to tree and from one branch to another. One minute into the trek the group stopped to check out a lone Grey-streaked Flycatcher and a few Black-naped Orioles. Further ahead were White-breasted Woodswallows, Yellow-vented Bulbuls and Guaiaberos. These stops built up the excitement in seeing our target bird. I even wanted to tell group that we go straight to the site and do the birding as we head back. But hey we're birders, we stop on our tracks when we see birds.
|Birders spots a Guaiabero.|
Kuya Efren signaled that we are near the site and are going to get off the dirt road. He entered a foot path and we followed suit. Just a few steps in and there I saw him smiling, showing the bird to the group. It was difficult to see the bird because it was well-camouflaged but soon enough one by one silently shouted that they have seen the bird. Good for them! Me? I still can't spot the bird. A few twists and turns of the head......LIFER! I saw the Philippine Frogmouth (Batrachostomus septimus microrhynchus)... at last! Adrenaline overload...woohoo!
|The beautiful Philippine Frogmouth on its nest. (photo by Vincent Lao)|
It was perched on a small curved trunk of a tree just a few feet above ground. Perfect for viewing with binoculars or shooting with a camera. The other birders took different positions in taking photos of the beautiful bird. Some were on supine and prone positions, some squatting, and at other times just standing. I kept moving around transferring from one location to another and just to see the froggie in different angles.
|Jayce on prone position|
|Bob on supine position and Vincent kneeling|
Half an hour later and with everyone happy with their lifer we headed back to the information center. We rested for 5 minutes before hitting the trail again. Kuya Efren showed us a Philippine Nightjar. This is not a lifer for me but it was different from the other PNJ's I've seen because it was roosting on the ground perfectly hidden by the dried leaves around it.
We went back to the Info center after taking document shots of the bird, paid the park fees and thanked Kuya Efren for showing us the Philippine Frogmouth. As it was still 9am, the group decided to go to the La Mesa Eco Park which is just a few kilometers from the reserve.
A lifer awaits me...