It is not easy to work with nature, as one’s expectation rarely happens in real life. There are just too many mistery with it that our primitive brain cant predict up until now. We still cant find away to predict when an earthquake will gonna happen, where the next aurora will show up, or where does that f**** birds go when we brought an important client to see them.
I was scanning the paddyfield from the car when we spotted a bare, conspicious tree in the middle of it. It is the favorite perching spot of a Javan Kingfisher that I have been watching since the first time I came to Yogyakarta. Usually he (as i assumed it as male) will just stay there for the whole morning, sitting quietly with beak pointed down, ready to dive and catch every unfortunate small invertebrates below. However, today it wasnt there–and so does 2 other kingfishers in the area that we tried to find before. It wouldnt be a problem only if I didnt brought an important client with me, a birder and tourism scholar from Malaysia who promised to bring more friend if I managed to show him some good bird today.
With a very carefull word selection, I said to him that maybe we have a better chance to find the kingfisher in the next stop. I also explained that this is the best place to find the kingfisher and I know it very well since I live here. I know it is not a good way to say “this bird used to be here, i saw it last week” to a client, but after 30 minutes of wandering aimlessly in the paddyfield, at least I need to say something.
Luckily, he understand the problem. “I know, just like people said. Its always there, but when you brought me along it suddenly disappear!” he said with a huge smile, a very important OK sign for me to continue the trip.
The unfortunate event didnt stop there. When we arrived at Merapi National Park, my client was very excited to see Pink-headed Fruit Dove–an Indonesian endemic and one of the most-after specialty here. It wasnt very easy to find this secretive bird in another area, but it is quiet common in Merapi as long as you know where to find. We have a very specific trail where there are a high chance we can find this bird and watch it from close distance, and I did find it in almost every single trip. But as you can guess from the title, that stupid bird doesnt show up for even a feather (actually we saw it flying, but my client doesnt count it out).
“It is either we are extremely unlucky or they are already gone last week for some reason,” I said to him. “But that’s the nature.. it is always full of uncertainty.”
At the end we didn’t see much special birds, but we did see some (fairly easy) endemics such as Javan Fulvetta and Yellow-throated Hanging Parrot. But still, it wasn’t a really great day when we missed out the they specialty here!
Just a week after this cursed trip, I came to the very same spot to make sure if the birds are really gone. Guess what? I came to the kingfisher slot and he was still not there, only to find him on a newer favorite perching spot only a couple meters away–and with a female!! (and he always stay on that spot for weeks!). The Pink-headed Fruit Dove showed up at the exact route were walking that unfortunate week, and at the end I saw (and took picture of) at least 4 different bird at one single spot!
So, at the end it was still the matter of fortune. Sure it is important for us to find out the place with highest to find a particular bird and show it to our client, but the last result are still vogue–there is no 100 percent guarantee that it will be there at the right place and the right time. There, I realized that we the humans are just a bunch of weak creature, trying to live under the nature’s uncertainty.