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8,725 migratory birds surface in Candaba, Pampanga

January 24, 2011 7:47 am

CANDABA, Pampanga, Jan. 23 — At least 8,725 migratory birds of 41 species were found roaming around the Candaba Wetlands during the 2011 Asian Water Bird Census (AWC) held on Sunday at the Wildlife Reserve Park in Sitio Dona Simang, Visal San Pablo here.

The census was spearheaded by Mike Lu, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) president, and other club members in coordination with the municipal government officials headed by Mayor Jerry Pelayo.

Lu noted that the number of migratory birds in Candaba significantly decreased as compared to at least 11,000 record last year.

"The ducks did not stay maybe because of lost of habitat," he said.

The WBCP president disclosed that during their previous visit in the wildlife reserve park, they found that most of the areas were flooded.

However, in the recent census, he observed that the water level was no longer the same.

"This could have contributed to the decrease of migratory birds here," he said.

Leny Manalo, chief of staff of Mayor Pelayo, said the level of water decreased naturally due to climate change. In fact, he said, most villages here did not submerge in floodwaters last year.

The Asian Water Bird Census, initiated in 1987, is aimed at providing the basis for estimates of waterbird populations and monitor changes in waterbird numbers and distribution by regular and standardized counts of representative wetlands.

The bird census is part of the global water bird monitoring program of the International Water Bird Census coordinated by the Wetlands International and the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.

Meanwhile, it can be recalled that before the year 2010 ended, the Candaba wetlands marked another Philippine record when for the first time, a Greater White-fronted Goose, a bird living usually in Northern and Central North America and Europe , was spotted in the area.

This was confirmed by two members of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines –- Alex Loinaz and Sylvia Ramos, the photographer who first captured the Greater White-fronted Goose flying freely here.

The Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) is a goose species closely related to the smaller Lesser White-fronted Goose (A. erythropus).

In Europe, it has been known simply as "White-fronted Goose"; in North America , it is known as the Greater White-fronted Goose (or "Greater Whitefront"), and this name is also increasingly adopted internationally.

Migratory birds have been visiting the Candaba swamp from October and go back home in their country of origin starting March of every year.

Other rare migratory birds such as seven purple swamphens (Porphyrio porphyrio), Chinese pond herons (Ardeola bacchus), and black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) were also previously included in the list of species documented in the said wetlands by birdwatchers.

The water bird census is also part of the incoming Ibon-Ebun Festival to be held in February. (PNA)