Black-browed Reed-warbler caught in
05/05/2008 | 10:02 PM
MANILA, Philippines - A local group of birdwatchers
announced that it has recorded the first Philippine sighting
of a black-browed reed warbler (Acrocephalus bistrigiceps),
a common and widespread species of reed warblers in other
parts of Southeast Asia.
In a statement, the Wild Bird Club of the
Philippines (WBCP) said the bird species was sighted during
a brief four-day survey of the Candaba Marsh in Pampanga last
April 27. After being caught, the migrant species was later
released unharmed after photos were taken by a representative
of UK-based The Wetland Trust, a group which assists in wetland
The group’s survey, which was originally
intended to locate the globally-threatened streaked reed warbler
(Acrocephalus sorghophilus), was also able to provide the
first overview and survey of the condition of wetland habitats
in Candaba. Besides the Wetland Trust, the group was also
assisted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
and the Office of the Mayor of Candaba municipality.
According to the WBCP, the black-browed warbler,
like its relative, spends its time foraging close to the ground
inside undisturbed reed beds.
The Philippines remains the sole wintering
groups of the streaked reed warbler in the whole world, the
group said. The rare bird was regularly seen in small numbers
in Candaba until the mid-nineties.
Since then, very few sightings of the streaked
red warbler has been recorded because most reed beds at Candaba
have been drained and converted into rice paddies, discouraging
birds, especially rare ones like the streaked reed warbler,
from foraging in the area.
“This small, buffy-brown insectivorous
bird migrates to the Philippines every winter from its (still
unknown) breeding areas somewhere in Northeast Asia,"
its statement said. “Like many other wetland birds,
it is of conservation concern owing to habitat loss-destruction
of native marsh vegetation and its replacement by rice paddies
The group also maintained that the streaked
reed warbler remains present in Candaba, claiming that one
was sighted just a few days before the survey by a visiting
birdwatcher, the first confirmed record for seven years. The
birdwatchers group also said that its population is likely
to be very small.
However, after a team from WBCP and the Wetland
Trust covered a representative selection of sites throughout
the greater Candaba marsh last month, it neither found any
streaked reed warblers nor any extensive areas of likely suitable
habitat (thought to be reeds, sedges or other tall grasses).
“Although reeds are widespread throughout
Candaba, most were in small fragments lining the banks of
ditches and rivers. These fragments are probably too small
to hold any sizeable numbers of streaked reed warblers. There
were no large and contiguous expanses," said WBCP President
Michael C. Lu. “The largest single block of reeds that
our survey team found was only about five hectares, and even
most of this had been thoroughly burnt."
The group also underscored the national importance
of the province for a great range of waterbirds, including
herons, bitterns, egrets, and the threatened endemic Philippine
Duck (Anas luzonica).
“We are encouraging the local government
of Candaba to create awareness among its communities to stop
burning of the remaining wetland vegetation to save what is
left for critically endangered wetland birds," Lu added.
The WBCP plans a follow-up survey in January
or February next year, before the annual burning of reeds
has started. In addition, it is hoped to survey further sites
elsewhere in the Philippines. - GMANews.TV