Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 09:26:00 04/16/2009
Filed Under: Animals, Nature
The lone Sttreaked Reed-Warbler caught
during the 2-week survey
MANILA, Philippines—A joint Filipino-British
team of ornithologists found a rare streaked reed-warbler
(Acrocephalus sorghophilus) during a recently concluded survey
of the Candaba Marsh in Pampanga province, according to the
Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP).
Michael Lu, WBCP president, said the streaked
reed-warbler “is globally threatened” and was
last seen at the Candaba Swamp eight years ago.
The small and inconspicuous species is a
migrant from northeast Asia whose breeding grounds remain
unknown to this day, according to Lu. It spends the winters
exclusively in the Philippines.
Last year, a team from WBCP and the UK-based
Wetland Trust surveyed the same area but did not find any
streaked reed-warblers. The search, however, led to the discovery
of the black-browed reed warbler (Acrocephalus bistrigiceps),
which turned out to be the first on Philippine record.
Expedition member Jon Villasper
extricating a bird from the mist-net
This year’s team, led by Briton Philip
Round, a warbler expert based in Thailand, included WBCP researchers
Carmela Espanola, Jonathan Villasper and Desmond Allen.
They surveyed reed beds in six sites in central
and southern Luzon, using fine nylon mist nets. Despite catching
and releasing a total of 235 birds, only one streaked reed-warbler
was found—in a stand of reeds in Candaba.
In the early 1980s, the streaked reed-warbler
was a common sight in Candaba in its preferred habitat of
tall reeds by open water. In recent years, Lu said “its
population declined almost to extinction due to habitat loss.”
In spite of having been nominated as an internationally
important wetland site under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands,
less than 1 percent of Candaba’s original 32,000 hectares
of mainly reed bed habitat remains. The rest have been converted
to rice fields.
Indeed, the survey team experienced difficulty
locating areas of extensive reed beds anywhere in Central
Other birds caught, tagged and released included
84 resident clamorous reed-warblers (Acrocephalus stentoreus)
and 57 other migrant warblers consisting of 48 oriental reed-warblers
(Acrocephalus orientalis) and 9 Middendorf’s grasshopper-warbler
Captured birds were fitted with an alloy
bird band on one leg. Each band was stamped “DENR Manila”
and had a unique identifying number. This was the first time
that bands specifically made for the Philippines were used.
All data of the species, dates and locations of the birds
are lodged with DENR. This way, band numbers of birds later
captured or found dead, if communicated to the DENR, will
help plot the movements and life history of Philippine birds.
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