Rendezvous with Rota’s feathered friends

Down a twisting, dusty coral road on top of a sheer limestone cliffs on this island is one place I have been wanting to see for the past three years — the I’Chenchon Wildlife Reserve, more popularly known as the Rota Bird Sanctuary.

Photos by Raquel C. BagnolI heard a trip to Rota is never complete without a visit to its bird sanctuary, a designated wildlife conservation area. So, there I was finally one day last week, trying to capture everything as I stood mesmerized at the breathtaking view of the cliff from my perch on the lookout.

Unmindful of the scorching heat of the noonday sun, I ventured far down the end of the cemented steps, stopping every now and then to snap some photos.

The place was silent, save for the crashing of the waves on the rocks below.

If you look way down from the lookout, you will notice white objects scattered all over the thick greenery — so many of them in fact and I discovered those white objects where hundreds and hundreds of seabirds nesting.

I was nothing close to a professional photographer but I vowed to bring home some pictures.  After some minutes, hope of capturing those beautiful birds in my lens was almost gone as I was only armed with a 70-300mm lens for my Canon. Suddenly, out of the blue, one big bird seemed to sense my frustration and started flying toward where I and my two companions Doc Manny from Guam and agriculturist Ali were standing.

The bird slowed and stooped so low in a teasing manner, flew up and away and returned for another showdown. I was unprepared but I was able to press the shutter a few times with my camera before the bird finally decided enough was enough.

I was speechless with awe and would have wanted to stay longer but we were pressed for time. I had to be content with what few photos I got, promising to return if I get the chance.

I was told the best time to be at the bird sanctuary is before sunrise when the birds fly out to scout for food, or at sunset when they return. I got another quick chance to return to the bird sanctuary before I left for Saipan last Saturday which almost made me miss the plane.

The next time I get a chance to visit this ruggedly beautiful island, I will give anything to watch the birds either before they leave or when they return. Maybe by then, I will be equipped with better photography gadgets and enough know-how in capturing those lovely birds on camera.

This article is first published Here. For more photos please check out my facebook page HERE

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