| Rare birds Sighted
at Candaba Swamp
Published on page A20 of the Jan. 16, 2006 issue of the Philippine
By Tonette Orejas with additional editing by Mike Lu
CANDABA, Pampanga -- Three species of rare migratory
birds have been sighted in bigger numbers at the Candaba Swamp here.
Seven Purple Swamphens (Porphyrio porphyrio), two Chinese Pond Herons
(Ardeola bacchus), and 556 Black-crowned Night-herons (Nycticorax
nycticorax) have been seen, according to the Asian Water Bird Census
2006 by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources.
At a single sighting event for the same period last year, the club
and the DENR saw only one swamphen, one pond-heron and more than 250
night- herons, according to Michael Lu, president of the 130-member
bird watchers' club.
Lu said the globally threatened Philippine mallard counted over 1,200
from only about 800 last year.
They were among the 35 species found at one site stretching about
70 hectares of land in Sitio Doņa Simang, Barangay Vizal San Pablo.
The total bird population reached nearly 11,500, a number that Lu
found "very high." "It's too small a site, but the birds are in greater
number this year," Lu said.
L to R) WBCP birders Mark, Anna, Moises and Telor
Asked why this was so, he said the birds tended to flock
at the Doņa Simang site, comprised of two ponds, because farmers had
begun the planting season. The farms were either being fallowed or
already bedded with seeds.
These activities disturb the birds that come from October to February
to seek winter refuge at the 32,000-ha swamp that extend to the provinces
of Nueva Ecija and Bulacan. Lu said the birds had made the ponds their
Uncultivated as a fishpond during the rainy season or rice farm during
the rest of the year, the ponds, owned by Mayor Jerry Pelayo, have
naturally nurtured lily plants, like the tukal, that are the favorite
food of the birds.
The black-crowned night-herons might have arrived in bigger flocks
because of forest fires in Indonesia. They have shown signs of breeding
in the Philippines and have become residents as well, Lu said. Lu
said the migratory birds had not yet been found to be free from the
avian influenza virus. But tests done on migratory birds in Hong Kong,
Taiwan and Singapore showed that they birds were not carriers of the
fatal disease. "If they (birds) are sick, they'll be hard put by exhaustion
to reach their destinations," he said.
L to R) WBCP birders Mads, LuAnn and Mike
Neither did the creatures show signs of mixing with
domestic fowls, he said, citing the open duck farms from the stretch
of Barangay San Agustin to Vizal San Pablo.
The Candaba Swamp is one of over 60 wetlands sites monitored by the
DENR during the Asian Waterbird Census. It is also home to various
reptiles, insects and plants.