Bird Club of the Philippines was established in July 2003 to promote bird watching
as a hobby and the responsible enjoyment of nature.
CLUB IS FLEDGED
events culminating in the creation of the Wild Bird Club
of the Philippines started on 9 January 2003 with the launch
by a handful of Metro Manila-based amateur weekend birdwatchers
of Birdwatch Philippines, an internet-based community for
sharing information, observations and planning joint activities.
a fledgling taking its first flight, e-group members enthusiastically
explored potential bird sites, eagerly added to the growing
bird list and recruited new members along the way. In a
short time, the Birdwatch Philippines e-group attracted
a lively mix of correspondents, including professional scientists,
amateur naturalists, students and outdoor enthusiasts. Its
activities also attracted attention from leading newspapers
and respected television programs.
June, a survey undertaken among e-group correspondents resulted
strongly in favor of the establishment of a formal society.
Incorporation at Manila Zoo.
Front row L-R: Mike Lu, Kitty Arce, Lala Espanola,
Ned Liuag, Tina Alejandro.
Back row L-R: James McCarthy, Drew Galano, Jon Villasper,
An interim executive committee was organized to foresee the
day-to-day operations of the club with Mike Lu (President), Ned
Liuag (Vice-President), Kitty Arce (Secretary), James McCarthy
(Treasurer), & Jon Villasper. Other co-founders of the club are
Tina Alejandro, Mads Bajarias Jr., Ricky de Castro, Lala Espanola,
Lu-Ann Fuentes, Arne Jensen.
first year proved a busy time for the Club. We made an initial investment consisting
of 10 pairs of 8 x 40 binoculars, which were immediately put to use during monthly
guided bird walks. Later in the year, we added a Bushnell spotting scope to our
inventory. The spotting scope donated by Canadian birder Todd Pepper multiplied
our capability to locate and accurately identify our feathered subjects.
Book launch of the Guide to Birds of the Phils at
the National Museum with Dr. Bob Kennedy
Seated: Dr Bob Kennedy and daughter
Standing L-R: Mike Lu, Sean Co, Mark Villa, Nilo
Arribas, Lala Espanola, Genevieve Broad, Jon Villasper and
weekend bird walks proved popular. We organized four trips
to the American Cemetery, the Libingan ng mga Bayani, Tambo
mudflats, and the Coastal Road in Metro Manila for beginning
and first-time birders. These activities are organized for
the public and free of charge, except for the minimal binocular
rental fee. Because of public interest in the bird walks
and its usefulness as a medium for promoting the hobby and
recruitment, the Club plans to continue with this activity
in 2004 and organize one every month. To our knowledge,
we are the only organization that is engaged in this activity
in the country.
Club initiated 13 trips for members within Metro Manila,
including special permit areas like the abandoned Nayong
Pilipino park beside the airport and the La Mesa Dam watershed
in Quezon City, and day trips to Mount Makiling in Laguna,
Mt. Palay-Palay in Cavite and Candaba Marsh in Pampanga.
were invited to conduct four bird watching sessions for Environment Management
students enrolled in De La Salle University in Manila and to organize one Alternative
Classroom activity each in the state-run University of the Philippines in Diliman
and Ateneo de Manila University in Loyola Heights, both in Quezon City. We also
organized two bird watching activities for the staff of Haribon Foundation and
assisted in the annual Candaba Marshlands birdwatching trip that drew 70 first-time
gave a presentation on birdwatching to the members of the Federation of Philippine
Photographers Foundation and guided photography enthusiasts to document urban
green areas including the Arroceros Forest Park in Manila.
members were present to welcome Dr. Robert Kennedy, author of the comprehensive
Guide to the Birds of the Philippines, during the book launch at the Museum of
the Filipino People. With 13 members in attendance on a weekday, The Wild Bird
Club of the Philippines was easily the largest contingent among the environmental
and conservation organizations. It is interesting to note that the book was already
sold out months in advance of Dr. Kennedy's visit in October.
the year, Club members also extended assistance to birders visiting from abroad
– Todd Pepper of Canada, Ivor Lee of Singapore who contributed several photographs
appearing in our website, Carlos Pijoan of USA and Anders Forsberg of Sweden.
We would like to continue doing this and invite birdwatching hobbyists, scientists
and conservationists to get in touch with our Club when they are in the country.
BUILDING OUR RECORDS
early as 2002, the individuals who were brought together
in the Birdwatch Philippines e-group, the precursor of our
Club and retained as our information service, started compiling
records for Metro Manila and areas outside the capital region.
the first initiatives undertaken by the interim executive
committee was the establishment of the Philippine Records
and Rarities Committee to ensure reports conform to internationally
accepted standards and scientific procedure. The Committee
includes ornithologist Arne Jensen and long-time birdwatcher
James McCarthy. Our Club believes that birdwatchers can
and should contribute to the scientific record.
Close-up shot of the nest with eggs found in the Black-Crowned
Night Heron colony in Paranaque
bird lists draw from data gathered by individual members, nature conservation
groups and international sources. The bird list for Metro Manila, to our knowledge
is the first one in existence. The Country bird list contains data sent in by
Club members on trips outside Metro Manila and is supplemented by records from
birdwatchers visiting from abroad, and the Haribon Foundation.
activities did not go unnoticed by policy makers. The Manila Bay Environment Management
Project, an arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources requested
our Club to present our findings concerning bird life along coast of Parañaque.
This resulted in an agreement to cooperate in spearheading the Asian Waterbird
Census in the section of Manila Bay within the National Capital Region in January
SPOTLIGHT ON BIRDWATCHING
Birdwatching captured media attention in 2003. Investigative reporter Howie Severino
did a segment for GMA-7's late evening news program SAKSI on birdwatching and
the breeding grounds of the Oriental Pratincole and Black-Crowned Night Heron
that the Club discovered in the South Reclamation Area. The PROBE TEAM, internationally-acclaimed
telemagazine produced the episode "Mga Tagong Ibon ng Maynila" [The
Hidden Birds of Manila], presented by artist-birdwatcher Robert Alejandro.
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism took note of Howie Severino's report
and published it as "Birdwatchers in the City" in the September 2003
issue of the quarterly I-Magazine. Birds and birdwatching received an interesting
review in reporter Maida Pinedas "Sightings Beyond the Maya" which appeared
in StarWeek magazine, the Sunday supplement of The Philippine STAR.
Philippines is a mecca for birdwatchers and scientists. And while our Club is
not yet in the position to undertake projects that are vital to the conservation
of habitats and bird species, our aim in the medium-term should be to promote
birdwatching not as an end in itself but as the means to influence public opinion.
the few months that we have been birding around Metro Manila, we have seen rapid
disturbance in bird habitats. We recognize that commercial development will have
to take place sooner or later, but it is in the common interest to temper this
development with environmental planning and protection and the maintenance of
public free spaces and green areas.
a self-financing, membership-driven organization, the WBCP is in a best position
to educate by example and to inspire in others the responsible enjoyment of nature.
But we cannot go it alone. So it is with sincerity that we extend our offer to
cooperate and share information with scientists, educators, birdwatchers and nature
conservation organizations here and abroad.
the channel in Tambo mudflats