Location: Coastal Road and Ital-Thai
Date: 02 March 2003
Time: 6:30 am - 10:00 am
Weather: Dry conditions, bright and clear
Birders: Mike Lu, Mads Bajarias and Ned Liuag
Lu and I returned to Tambo in Parañaque this morning
to check on the status of the sites we birded early last month.
We entered the grassland at 6:30 by the usual route near the
unfinished section of Coastal Mall shopping complex. The entire
grassland had been consumed by a recent and bigger grassfire,
clearing large swathes around the main trail.
saw our first birds at the trailhead - a flock of eight juvenile
SCALY-BREASTED MUNIAS foraging in the dry grass beside Macapagal
Boulevard and a handful of BARN SWALLOWS overhead. Though
early in the day, it was already quite hot.
headed directly down the side path leading to the channel
marked Lagoon B in Map 90 of the CitiAtlas. From the trail,
we could see that the first phase of construction had started
in the ASEANA Business Park on the opposite bank. The tide
had reached its lowest ebb when we arrived, leaving large
sections of exposed. This allowed us to get closer to the
water and enjoy unobstructed views up and down the channel.
the top of the trail, we could already see LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS
foraging on one of the sandbars. Moving quietly so as not
to disturb the plovers, we moved down the slope to the shore
and saw three LITTLE EGRETS searching for prey in the shallows
upstream. We also had good looks at five WHISKERED TERNS that
flew back and forth close as five meters from our position.
One LITTLE HERON broke cover shortly after. As we tracking
the herons flight downstream, we caught sight of a COMMON
SANDPIPER picking its way on the opposite bank and two COMMON
KINGFISHERS zipping across the surface of the water. Training
our binoculars in the grass above us, we caught sight of todays
first CLAMOROUS REED WARBLERS.
the grassfire had cleared the vegetation, Mike and I were
able to climb a pair of 10-foot mounds beside the channel
and get a 360-degree view of the area. This point shall be
designated as Point One. From the top of the rise, one got
a panoramic view of the Makati skyline to the northeast; our
old birding area in the SM Bay City property to the north;
dry grasslands and the mudflats of Lagoon C to the west, and
Manila Bay beyond.
our vantage, we could easily see the large congregation of
herons and egrets in the scrub on the western edge of the
Asia World property adjacent the mudflats. As the sun rose
we could see flocks of as many as 25 herons arriving from
the west and south. The arrivals would continue for the next
was past 7:00 when Mads Bajarias, who had been hiking in Makiling
yesterday, rang Mike on his cell phone to inform us that he
had arrived. As he spoke to Mads, the Little Heron flapped
back from its hunting ground to perch in the reeds a few meters
behind Mike. I could see Mads at the trailhead a quarter of
a kilometer away. Then the ground caved in from under Mike
and he nearly fell into the pit in the middle of the neighboring
mound. This incident distracted us somewhat and we lost sight
of Mads in the tall grass. It turned out that Mads had taken
the left fork in the trail leading to the "Floating *Village,"
the fishing community Mike and I had visited in February.
It turned out to be productive for him. In the area, he located
a single BRIGHT-CAPPED CISTICOLA and the first of the BROWN
SHRIKES, which he notes had rather gray heads. This suggests
the lucionensis subspecies from China. I did not locate any
of the rufous race superciliosus, which I found more common
during my trips to the Bay City (South Reclamation Area) grasslands
last year. The plumage of the Brown Shrikes here was stained
with ash from the fires, giving them an untidy appearance.
linked up with us a short distance from the mound and we went
around the fence and followed the channel that branches from
Lagoon B towards the mudflats. We crossed the brook and went
up the small rise (designated as Point Two) above the thorny
scrub and old mangrove stand. This is the same observation
point Mike and I used to view the flats last month. From here,
we saw a pair of Little Egrets in the shallows of Lagoon C
and scores of plovers on a sandbar, which we identified to
be Little Ringed Plovers. In the dead bush beside the brook,
we saw a Common Kingfisher then a short time later it was
replaced by the first WHITE-COLLARED KINGFISHER of the day.
the backdrop of condominium towers, we estimated over 100
BLACK-CROWNED and RUFOUS NIGHT-HERONS flying in the vicinity
of Asia World CityThe majority of herons I saw in the Asia
World property were Black-Crowned Night-Herons. One even decided
to perch in the mangrove stand less than 10 meters from us.
decided to walk across the flats and see if we could cross
to the island and thence reach the bay, but we did not relish
the thought of wading in the shallows. We were halfway across
the flats, watching the herons flapping overhead when the
tide came in, first bubbling up from the tiny holes in the
sand. This called for a hasty retreat.
proceeded to explore the thickets parallel the fence that
leads to the gate of the Tambo fishing village. In the thorny
aruma scrub below Point Two, we spotted another Clamorous
Reed Warbler. Mike flushed out a ZEBRA DOVE and a pair of
PIED FANTAILS that had been calling in the undergrowth, while
Mads and I tried to get a better view of tiny warblers that
was hopping among branches armed with two-inch thorns.
and I spent almost 10 minutes peering among the thorns. The
birds we were certainly the size and shape of GOLDEN-BELLIED
GERYGONES, except the throat, chest and part of the belly
appeared yellowish and the rest of the way dirty white. The
birds were in the right habitat but we could not decide until
we heard it vocalize part of its wheezy song. (Considering
that there is one species of Darwins ground finch living
in isolation on one Galapagos island and it practically changes
in size and bill shape from year to year owing environmental
changes, a variation in plumage is no surprise.)
visits to this area should afford time for a closer inspection
of the thickets and mangrove stand. This should turn up more
said the croak-like calls we could hear coming from the regenerating
mangroves could be a species of bittern.
the way back to Point One, we stopped to watch another White-Collared
Kingfisher in graceful flight above the flats and close looks
at a Common Kingfisher perched in a hole in the bank just
above the water surface. We also chanced upon a Common Sandpiper
hunting its next meal along the opposite bank.
tide was rising steadily when we returned to the main trail
and headed for Point One. On the bank of Lagoon B opposite
Point One, we caught sight of a single LESSER SAND-PLOVER.
The Little Egrets were still foraging upstream, but most of
the plovers had flown into the ASEANA Business Park grassland.
By half-past 8:00, the sun had become too hot to bear and
we decided it was time to head for the Coastal Road. We saw
a few more Brown Shrikes - all lucionensis subspecies, a Zebra
Dove, a handful of EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS, the usual Barn
Swallows and the flock of juvenile Scaly-Breasted Munia on
the way back to the car.
was light towards the Coastal Road and we reached
the rundown restaurant complex shortly. To our complete
surprise, the flats opposite the restaurant were teeming
with bird life. In this area, the number of GREY HERONS
had risen from 55 in February to 62. We also counted
44 egrets, of which I determined eight to be GREAT
EGRETS and the majority closest to shore being Little
Egrets. Among the dozens of unidentified plovers gathered
in the middle of the flats, about 50 meters from the
embankment, were two BLACK-HEADED GULLS and nearby
a single White-Collared Kingfisher sat on a piece
of driftwood. Soon after we arrived, a dozen Whiskered
Terns burst from the flats and started wheeling in
agitation above the shallows.
of the egrets were further out near the Ital-Thai construction
compound, our next destination. However when we reached there,
we discovered that the party of clam foragers wading across
the flats had spooked the flock. At this time, Mike also remembered
that he had his brothers camera with its 200-mm lens
in the back with us. Lucky for us, we spotted a group of 14
waders from the embankment outside the Ital-Thai gate.
the flats for egrets, I had not paid the waders close attention.
of their all-white bellies and thin black bills, I believe
these to be MARSH SANDPIPERS though our list of suspects included
Common Greenshank and Wood Sandpiper. I could still be wrong,
so we have to wait and hope that the photographs Mads took
from the car window turn up well.
walk along the embankment turned up more Little Ringed Plovers,
a Common Sandpiper and one female MALAYSIAN PLOVER. While
Mads tried to angle for a better photo of the Little Egret
perched on a wicker basket in the middle of the shallows,
I wandered off into the nearby scrub. I inadvertently flushed
three Zebra Doves down the trail and a pair of Pied Fantails
and four White-Collared Kingfishers in Mads and Mikes
direction. Trudging back to the car in 31-degree heat, our
noise caused a Little Heron to launch itself from the reeds.
The last bird of the day proved to be a TAWNY GRASSBIRD, which
Mike and I heard in the grass nearby before it flew towards
cover in the distance.
like a trip to the mudflats to make my day!
Grey Heron - 62 in mud flats 100+ meters from rundown restaurants
off Coastal Road
2. Great Egret - 8 in mud flats off rundown restaurants
3. Little Egret - 3 in Lagoon B, 2 in Tambo Mudflats, 30+
in flats off restaurants
4. Little Heron - singles in Lagoon B and flats outside Ital-Thai
5. Rufous Night-Heron
6. Black-Crowned Night Heron - together with previous species,
100+in AsiaWorld City
7. Little Ringed Plover - Common throughout
8. Malaysian Plover - single female in flats outside Ital-Thai
9. Lesser Sand-Plover - single seen in Lagoon B
10. Common Sandpiper - Singles in all sites
11. Marsh Sandpiper - 14 in flats outside Ital-Thai construction
12. Black-Headed Gull - 2 in flats off restaurants
13. Whiskered Tern - 10+ in Tambo area and flats off restaurants
14. Zebra Dove - singles in Tambo grassland, 3 in scrub outside
Ital-Thai construction area
15. Common Kingfisher - 2 in Lagoon B, 2 in Tambo Mudflats
16. White-Collared Kingfisher - singles in Tambo Mudflats,
1 off restaurants in Coastal Road, 4 outside Ital-Thai construction
17. Barn Swallow - common in Tambo grassland and Lagoon B
18. Golden-Bellied Gerygone - pairs in scrub thicket bordering
19. Clamorous Reed Warbler - 2 in Tambo grassland
20. Tawny Grassbird - 1 in scrub outside Ital-Thai construction
21. Bright-Capped Cisticola - 1 seen by Mads in Tambo grassland
22. Pied Fantail - 2 in scrub thicket bordering Tambo Mudflats,
2 in scrub outside Ital-Thai construction site
23. Brown Shrike - common in Tambo grassland
24. Eurasian Tree Sparrow - scant numbers in Tambo grassland
and scrub outside Ital-Thai construction site
25. Scaly-Breasted Munia - flock of 8 juveniles on edge of