by Tinggay Cinco
Being true to the WBCP’s motto of “Fun, Science, and Camaraderie,” each of the members have a responsibility of reporting bird sightings in the Philippines. Representing Records Committee Chair Arne Jensen, a report for the committee’s activities from 2017-2018 was presented to the general assembly. After the “Fun and Camaraderie” among the club members, this is the “Science” part of birdwatching.
The Records Committee is composed of two entities. The Records Committee as a body develops and maintains the database of records of the WBCP based on the updated checklist of Philippine Birds. The Rarities Committee on the other hand is a separate group which assesses then approves species (especially rare sightings) observed by the WBCP members and other persons or organization beyond the current list for future publication.
Records Committee Members as of 2018
Chairperson: Arne Jensen
Secretray: Kitty Arce
eBird Coordinator: Christian Perez
eBird Reviewer: Desmond Allen
eBird Hotspot Reviewer: Jun Osano
Annual WBCP Wild Bird Report: George Inocencio
WBCP Checklist of the Birds of the Philippines: Willem van de Ven
Data Encorder: Cristina Cinco
Other Members: Michael Lu, JC Gonzalez, Rob Hutchinson
Rarities Committee Members: Arne Jensen, Desmond Allen, Rob Hutchinson.
Rarities Secretary: Christian Perez
Non-Records Committee members: Adrian Constantino, Geoff Dobbs
The primary duty of the Records Committee is to record and update all bird sightings reported in the Philippines and the publication of its checklist in the WBCP website. For the year 2018-2019 these are the highlights of the Records Committee:
The publication of the 2016 records of the Wild Birds in the Philippines. The annual bird records in 2017 are still in review since the data has expanded to more than 50,000 entries representing the records of 529 avian species.
The Checklist of the Wild Bird in the Philippines for 2019. The 2019 Checklist was completed with pure voluntary work after the analysis of thousands of data entries. The official WBCP record of bird species in the Philippines released in July 2019 are as follows:
- 700 total bird species (an increase of 5 species from 2018)
- 253 endemic or near endemic species or 36% of the entire bird list
- 652 resident subspecies
- 5 new country records (4 species since 2018 and 1 since 2013)
The identification of 515 geographical hotspots in the Philippines. The review of these locations was finally completed. The effort was done to ensure the accuracy of the location and conform to operational standards. These hotspots are now currently being used in eBird.
With regards to the Rarities Committee, the team was able to instantly review and approve all rare records of bird sightings since its reorganization in 2013. Currently the committee is also in the process of going over the records of Philippine birds since the publication of “A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines by R. Kennedy et al” in 2000. The great task of reassessment is being undertaken by the new Rarities Committee Secretary Christian Perez.
In spite of the Records Committee’s accomplishment, there is still much work to be undertaken.
The committee has a limited capacity to review all the data with an increasing backlog to finalize the annual reports for 2017 and 2018. At the moment, data sourced outside of eBird has been suspended limiting the capacity only from this site. There are constraints in the annual review of data, since only rare sightings approved by the Rarities Committee can be included in the annual report. As the records keeper of bird sightings in the country, it is still one of the Records Committee’s ambition to eventually publish the WBCP Check List of Philippine Birds as a science paper. With the enormous volume of data being received, the Records Committee hopes for more members to volunteer and be a part of this ambitious endeavor.
COMPARATIVE STUDY OF OBSERVATIONS SUBMITTED
|No. of Observers||122||147||178||205|
***Table reflecting the more than 200% increase in observations reported from the WBCP data system to its shifting to the eBird. The number of observers too have more than doubled to 59% as locations for birding sites in the provinces have increased by 79%.
Over the years there has been a steady increase of observers reporting to eBird since the WBCP shifted to this method in 2015. Upon the completion of the 2016 data, the three (3) most popular birds reported were the Little Egret, which topped the list with a count of 19,768. Coming in second was the Eurasian Tree Sparrow at 17,131. While the Eastern Cattle Egret came in third at 11,238.
Top 30 Birds Observed from eBird in 2016
The Records Committee remains faithful to the mission of the WBCP of being the primary resource for information and records of species in the Philippines. With the continued support, the Records Committee will maintain its position as the records keeper of bird sightings in the country. A sense of pride to everyone that over the years the Philippine bird list is still dynamically evolving. As the presence of birds are indicative of a healthy environment, quoting Arne Jensen, Records Committee Chair and one of the WBCP’s founding members: “What’s good for birds , is good for people.”