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WBCP 2003 Annual Report

Membership

The club membership now stands at 149 members.

The founding members of the WBCP are Tina Alejandro, Kitty Arce, Mads Bajarias, Ricky de Castro, Carmela Espanola, LuAnn Fuentes, Arne Jensen, Ned Liuag, Michael Lu, James McCarthy, Jon Villasper

Robert Alejandro, Desmond Allen, Irene Arboleda, Nilo Arribas, Pia Belardo, Lilian Bellen, Joven Descanzo, Tatin Descanzo, Gil Dy-liacco, Michel Hezelot, Michele Hezelot, Dindo Llana, Benedict Lu, Marichelle Osis, Albert Ramos, Armi Ramos, Annette Tamino, Mark Jason Villa.

Guided Trips - 18

As part of the Club's objective to promote birdwatching in the country, members of the Execom shelled out their own money to purchase binoculars in order to conduct guided trips for the general public.

Members of the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation were introduced to wild bird photography with a trip to the Manila Zoo to take photos the resident semi-wild colony of Rufous Night-herons and the Pasig River for migrant Whiskered Terns. Another trip was scheduled for Manila Bay Environmental Management Programme personnel to the Tambo grasslands and mudflats in Paranaque.

Two trips were conducted for Haribon Foundation staff at the birding sites in Fort Bonifacio (American Cemetery, & Libingan ng Bayani) and the reclamation area sites behind the Petron gas station and Asiaworld. Club members also assisted Haribon Foundation in Candaba for World Birdwatching Month in October by providing 4 guides and renting out binoculars.

The Club also conducted lectures and guided trips for UP and Ateneo alternative classes on campus. Four guided birdwatching trips were held for a class of De La Salle University Environmental Management class to the reclamation area, in particular the Oriental Pratincole colony behind the Petron gas station along Macapagal Blvd and the Tambo mudflats.

Guided Trips
Guided trip for DLSU students in the reclamation area between the SM offices and the Petron gas station along Macapagal Blvd.

Club Trips - 13

Club Trips
Egrets flying above the mangroves in Freedom Island in the Coastal Lagoon of Paranaque

Within Metro Manila, club members visited Ninoy Aquino Park, Ateneo de Manila University campus, the University of the Philippines campus, La Vista Subdivision, La Mesa Dam, the American C emetery & Libingan ng mga Bayani, Nayong Pilipino, the reclamation area and the Coastal Road lagoon.

Birdwatching sites visited in the nearby provinces were Mt. Makiling (Laguna), Mt. Palay-Palay (Cavite) and the Candaba Marsh (Pampanga).

ANNUAL SUMMARY REPORT FOR 2003

The Records Committee was established under the Executive Committee of WBCP in May 2003 and headed by Chairperson Mike Lu who oversaw all coordination and follow-up work. Among the main activities conducted to ensure establishment and development of the Committee and the continued reporting on birds was

• Encoding of field observations;
• Verification and review of incoming data of unusual reports and rare birds;
• Networking and correspondence with other birdwatchers and ornithologists in the Philippines and abroad,
• Drafting of rules and terms of references for the Committee
• Drafting of a preliminary updated Philippine List of Birds
• Drafting of a new bird reporting format

OBSERVATIONS
Observations were received from the very active club members and supporters in the Clubs email group, but many more wished to contribute including Haribon Foundation's scientists and field researchers, and local and foreign bird watchers and ornithologist including Tim Fisher, Andy Mears and Todd Pepper.

The many thousands of observations came from no less than 125 sites representing many parts of the country (40 sites within Metro Manila and 85 sites outside of the Manila area) and included observations of a stunning 358 species (OBS XXX This is excluding observations by Haribon Visayas and Lala Espanola, Sulu SeaXXX) out of which 10 species surprisingly were only recorded from the Metro Manila area.

RECORDS DATABASE
The establishment of an open and updated database on records of Philippine wild birds occurrence and distribution is the first ever in the Philippines and the interest and support for it has been overwhelmingly positive. Not only among the club members, but the many who visit the Records file on the Club's website or are in contact with the Club otherwise. The database and the reporting system is under redesign to make it easier to maintain and use.

RARITIES
With a fast growing number of species being reported, it was decided to establish a long needed system of verification of records of very rare birds and birds reported outside of their normal ranges - many of which can easily be misidentified due to their resemblance with similar looking common species or subspecies. This system of assessment and verification is only to ensure enough documentation for publication in the Club’s website and reports and is by no means to decide what an observer may have seen. The system will be launched in the beginning of 2004.

UPDATED CHECKLIST
The knowledge about Philippine birds is rapidly expanding as more and more research work and data are being published. In 2003 alone the three leading bird checklists of the world (Sibley and Monroe, Clements and Howard and Moore) were updated and contributed to revisions in names, taxonomy, distribution and occurrence of Philippine birds. Also The Asia Red Data Book on threatened birds launched by BirdLife International contributed new data and knowledge on 130 of the Philippine birds.

Many of these information cannot be found in the field guide of Robert Kennedy et al from 2000 and because of this and the positive development described above, it was decided to update the Philippine Checklist of Birds with a preliminary list. It is not likely that the current checklist by Dickinson et al from 1990 or the Kennedy field guide will be updated for many years.

The intent is to have a Philippine list more closely in accord with what accepted and used by the rest of the world. This preliminary list will provide the update of species accepted by the majority of ornithological academe, and the majority of the world's birding societies and clubs. Hopefully, it will also lead to Philippine ornithologists and birders, and also foreign visitors, starting to report their records in accordance with the latest taxonomic treatments and making them more familiar with the names used globally and their synonyms used in the Philippines.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The following members and supporters of the Club made invaluable contributions to the Committee's work:

Desmond Allan (input to verification of rare or unusual records), Nilo Arribas Jr (computer design of report format), Pia Belardo (encoding of checklist files), Arne Jensen (drafting of a preliminary checklist for Philippine birds, rules for Records and Rarity Committees, evaluation of rare observations, back-stopping of data-encoding), Mike Lu (coordination, follow-up, foreign correspondence and encoding of data), Ned Liuag (encoding of observations), James McCarthy (design of reporting formats) and Steve Pryor (co-drafting of the preliminary checklist for the birds of the Philippines)

The Records Committee are very grateful to all of those who have contributed invaluable information and observations and to those who with patience and perseverance - sometimes sacrificing family life - made it possible for the Committee to get operational and serve club members and sympathizers.

--Arne Jensen