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Bird from Europe finds home in Candaba swamp

Philippine Daily Inquirer
By Tonette Orejas
Central Luzon Desk
First Posted 21:52:00 04/03/2010
Filed Under: Animals, Conservation, Environmental Issues

Photos courtesy of Alex Loinaz

CANDABA, PAMPANGA, Philippines—A 30,000-hectare swamp in Central Luzon contributed another record for the Philippines when a bean goose, known only to live in Europe, was seen for the first time here on March 27, an official of an international conservation group said on Tuesday.

“This is the first record for the Philippines,” said Dr. Aldrin Mallari when reached by phone on Tuesday. Mallari is country director of the Fauna and Flora International, a nongovernment organization founded in 1903.

What is more baffling is that this new species of birds made the Philippines their refuge from winter. “They’re usually in the South [like Korea and China],” said Mallari, a biologist. Alex Loinaz, a member of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP), is credited to be the first photographer to capture the image of the bean goose.

Loinaz said he saw the bird in a pond right next to the rest house of Mayor Jerry Pelayo on Saturday afternoon. The pond is part of the 200-hectare property that Pelayo’s family owns in Barangay Doña Simang.

The mayor and his wife, Lani, have stopped growing rice and fish there since 2001 to give migratory birds a home. The globetrotting birds come as early as October and are usually gone by February.


Mallari said the sightings of new species in the Candaba Swamp might be due to the increase in monitoring activities by birdwatchers.

“They’re getting better at monitoring,” he said, adding that was how the Calayan Rail, an endemic bird in the Philippines, was seen at the Calayan Group of Islands near Batanes. Then, too, the flight to the Philippines might have been prompted by climate change.

“Their habitat may have been destroyed because wetlands are converted into other uses. The birds are pushed farther to the south [to find] roosting area or food,” Mallari said.

“It is not remote to think they’re in search of a warm place. They might have ridden on prevailing winds amid early and severe winter,” he added.

Loinaz said he was not sure what species the bird belonged to when he took its photograph.“I had three books with me. It was not in the first one but it appeared in the second and third books,” he said.

There’s debate on the classification of the bean goose, though, Mallari said. Capturing the image of the bean goose gave Loinaz three country records, too. The two others, taken three years ago, were an American wigeon and a dowitcher. He saw both in Candaba. In the Asian Waterbirds Census in January, the WBCP and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources found two new species. These were wild ducks called mallard and the grey-headed lapwing.

The first was photographed by Tonji and Sylvia Ramos while the second was taken by Luis Limchiu. Although newcomers 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 in 2009. Photographed by Romy Ocon, it was the fourth time that it has been found roaming in Philippine areas.Previous tally by the municipal government showed 67 migratory birds and 53 local species in Candaba.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 town, also in Pampanga.