A Tricycle Ride to a Birding Hotspot
At the end of our second day in the Philippines (but just my first full day) we flew to the island of Cebu and spent the night there. The next morning we drove to Mactan and boarded outrigger boats for the short journey to Olango Island. On Olango we were going to be transported to one of the Philippines' finest shorebird-watching spots, the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary.
The short boat ride was pleasant, but we could already feel the power of the South Pacific sun. Bottles of sunscreen went around and wide-brimmed hats were pulled out. As we drew close to the wharf on Olango Island, we could see our transportation waiting for us: a fleet of a dozen or more motorcycles with attached, enclosed sidecars. These are called "tricycles" by the Filipinos. As we disembarked with all of our birding gear, looking more like an invading army than a pack of avid birders, we each chose a tricycle and loaded ourselves and our gear aboard.
I hesitated a moment, taking photos of some of the fancier tricycles and my travel companions grabbed all the well-maintained vehicles.
I was left to get into one that was called Shazam, but might have more accurately been named Rustbucket Tailbone-breaker. But this was an adventure, and there was birding ahead, so I chuckled to myself, slipped my waistpack under my bum and off we went.
Here's a short video of my first tricycle ride:
It would have been a long walk to the sanctuary..
In front of us stretched a thousand yards of sand and mudflat. It was low tide and the birds were seen in the heat-hazy distance foraging, running, and moving about. This was scope work, but we'd come prepared for that.
In seconds bird names were called out inside the blind: gray-tailed tattler, ruddy turnstone, whimbrel, little ringed-plover. Then it was my turn to spot a new shorebird. It was a lifer for me—a bird I'd always wanted to see. And I found it for myself!
I'll resume the story here tomorrow.