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New migratory birds seen in Candaba

Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:23:00 01/14/2010

Filed Under: Animals, Environmental Issues, Conservation

Mallard (with green head) amongst a flock of Philippine <br>
                    Ducks and Garganey.
Mallard (with green head) amongst a flock of Philippine
Ducks and Garganey.
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Two new species of globetrotting birds have been seen at the Candaba Swamp ahead of the 2010 Asian Waterbirds Census on Jan. 17.

The additions to the swamp’s rare, or new, residents are a Mallard (wild duck) and a Grey-headed Lapwing, said Michael Lu, president of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP).

The Mallard was photographed by Tonji and Sylvia Ramos, while the Lapwing by Luis Limchiu, according to a report from Leny Manalo, chief of staff of Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo.

The birds were seen in late December until the first week of January, Lu said in a telephone interview.

While new in Candaba, the Mallard and Lapwing have been seen on three different occasions in various parts of the Philippines .

The Great Bittern, on the other hand, was seen again in Candaba starting last year, Manalo said. Photographed by Romy Ocon, it was the fourth time that it has been found roaming in the Philippines .

Lu said the population of migratory birds, while down to 12,613 last year in three major spots here, has grown to be “more diverse.”

He said more species have been seen because there are more bird watchers now.

“Also the structure of the habitat has changed. There are more rice fields now but there is a concentration of marshlands,” Lu said.

The Pelayos stopped cultivating the property, devoting it as home to birds escaping winter in China , Siberia , New Zealand and other parts of Asia from October to February.

The census on Jan. 17 will be done jointly by the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the WBCP. The census, which started in 2006, is held before Candaba’s Ibon Ebon Festival on Feb. 5 and 6.

The sighting of the rare Black-faced Spoonbill, Pied Avocet, Black-browed Reed-warbler and Eurasian Spoonbill gave the Candaba Swamp and the Philippines records in bird conservation efforts.

The Candaba Swamp is one of five wetlands in Central Luzon . The others are the Paitan Lake in Cuyapo and Pantabangan Dam, both in Nueva Ecija; Puerto Rivas in Balanga City; and Consuelo in Macabebe, also in Pampanga.

In Bataan, the wetlands in Balanga City counted 18,679 birds on Sunday, up by almost 4,000 from those found in 2009, DENR records showed.

Among the common species found in the park are the Asian Golden Plover and Kentish Plover.

Seen also in the coastal villages of Tortugas, Sibacan, Puerto Rivas Ibaba and Puerto Rivas Itaas were Whiskered Tern, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt, Grey Heron and Black-headed Gull.

Lu said the increase in the number of birds in Balanga City may have been due to the establishment of a wetland park there by Mayor Jose Enrique Garcia III and the city council.