Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Tricycle Ride to a Birding Hotspot

Boarding the outrigger boats at Mactan for the trip to Olango Island.

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.

Tricycles waiting on the Olango Island wharf.

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.
A tricked-out tricycle.

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..

After a tricycle ride of 15 minutes or so, we arrived at the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary. We had a short orientation and then were escorted out to the main blind (called a "hide" by my British birding companions).
Entering the main blind/hide at the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary.

View from the hide, looking toward the ocean.

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.
Gray-tailed tattler. This bird came obligingly close to us in the blind. This is a digiscoped shot.

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.

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At 6:44 PM, Blogger Susan Gets Native said...

Wow, Bill. You could give the Hell's Angels a ride for their money.
Was it hard to maintain your machismo as you trundled off to bird on a...tricycle?

At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Nancy Ortiz said...

Tune in tomorrow? Oh, jeez. You got me hooked, of course. But, about the tricycle I am not so interested as in the birds. Therefore, I bid you adieu. You better have something good tomorrow. I mean, until tomorrow and the next episode.


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