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Winter Visitors in the Parañaque Mudflats

Date: 14 December 2003
Trip report by Carl Oliveros
Birdlist by Arne Jensen

Mike Lu, Arne Jensen, Nilo Arribas, Nino Fajardo, Carl Oliveros, KC Doctolero, Orly Punzalan

The birders met up at the Petron service station at the corner of Macapagal Blvd and EDSA Ext. After a lot of waiting, the group left the meeting place at past 6 a.m. to go the first site - the Tambo mudflats situated behind the Uniwide Coastal Mall. We were crossing Macapagal Blvd from the parking lot at the back of the mall when we saw our first birds of the day, 2 PACIFIC SWALLOWS. A minute later, we saw a flock of 9 CHESTNUT MUNIAS swiftly flying across the trail in front of us and a perched BROWN SHRIKE to our left. Much of the reclaimed land was covered with tall grass. Soon, Arne disappeared amidst the tall grass and he reported seeing a male BRIGHT-CAPPED CISTICOLA when he re-emerged. At 6:33, we identified a juvenile LESSER COUCAL perched on some tall grass about 30m away from the trail. Shortly afterwards, Arne heard the call of a STRIATED GRASSBIRD but we did not see it.

At 6:37 we saw a flock of GREAT EGRETS taking to flight and leaving the mudflats far down the trail. They were probably disturbed by other visitors walking past. Apparently, not only birders visit the area for recreation. We saw a CLAMOROUS REED-WARBLER and an INTERMEDIATE EGRET before we reached the first section of the mudflats. In this area, a channel about 25m wide forked into two - one going straight into another channel and the other flowing into the mudflats. There were about 10 WHISKERED TERNS flying around us. >From time to time, they would dive into the water to catch fish. This was a lucky day for the birders because we saw three rail species in one area - 2 BUFF-BANDED RAILS, 1 RUDDY-BREASTED CRAKE, and 2 BARRED RAILS. There were also at least 3 YELLOW BITTERNS and a sub-adult BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON. On an island of mud in the middle of the channel, we counted around 10 LITTLE RINGED-PLOVERS, 1 COMMON SANDPIPER, 1 COMMON GREENSHANK and 1 YELLOW WAGTAIL. We also saw a COMMON KINGFISHER in the area.

By 7:20 a.m. we were back on the trail that led to more of the mudflats. We saw a WHITE-COLLARED KINGFISHER perched on one of the large metal pipes that serve as drains. After crossing a small stream and walking past small trees, we finally came to a wide expanse of mudflats. To our right, the water from the channel spreads across the flats in front of us before making its way to Manila Bay. On the far end in front of us, we could see small houses on stilts while to our left was the posh Asiaworld complex. There were about 90 egrets in this area, which were mostly LITTLE EGRETS. Mike found the gem in the flock - a CHINESE EGRET. Not as conspicuous as the egrets were the small waders. We counted LESSER SAND-PLOVERS, 30 ASIAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS, at least 1 LONG-TOED STINT, 120 LITTLE RINGED-PLOVERS, less than 5 KENTISH PLOVERS, 15-20 LESSER SAND-PLOVER, COMMON SANDPIPERS, and 4 COMMON GREENSHANKS. We saw 3 BARN SWALLOWS that kept on flying left and right in front of us. At the far banks of the flats, a BUFF-BANDED RAIL and a group of 4 BARRED RAILS were also busy looking for food. We were fortunate to see an OSPREY soaring up high above the grassland but we were later astonished to see that there were already three of them! Arne, Mike and I walked on the mudflats to identify a wagtail that looked like the White Wagtail but we concluded that it was just a YELLOW WAGTAIL. We didn't realize that we were already one and a half hours past our scheduled departure from this site. But who notices the time when there are so many interesting things to see? On the way back to our cars we saw 3 more BROWN SHRIKES and a big flock of CHESTNUT MUNIAS.


We arrived at the restaurant row along Coastal Road at around 9:50 a.m. The restaurants were closed but one restaurant staff (I believe his name was Albert) let us in and allowed us to make observations under the shade. He was even nice enough to light some incense candles to overpower the foul smell of the mudflats in those parts. However, he did ask for some money for cigarettes. From the dilapidated deck of his restaurant supported by unwavering bamboo stilts, we observed 2 GREY HERONS, 24 GREAT EGRETS, 5 LITTLE EGRETS, and about 330 waders, most of which were LITTLE RINGED-PLOVERS. The rest was composed of KENTISH PLOVERS, LESSER SAND-PLOVERS, and around 10 COMMON SANDPIPERS. We refueled with some Skyflakes then we left the restaurant at around 10:45 a.m.

A few minutes later we arrived at our final stop, the Ital-Thai Construction site next to the toll gates of Coastal Road. Since we did not have permission to enter the site, we parked on the side of the road that led to the Ital-Thai gate. There was nothing much to see from that vantage point. It was more interesting to hear about Arne's story about how people relieved themselves along the coast of Mozambique. Luckily the security guards at the gate let us in the site to have a peek at the mudflats situated just behind the gate. We had to leave our cars outside the gate. It was a good thing we got in because it was a sight to behold. Some described it picture-perfect for National Geographic. The numbers will just speak for themselves: 250 COMMON GREENSHANKS, 145 MARSH SANDPIPERS, 1 BLACK-WINGED STILT, 131 LITTLE EGRETS, 14 GREAT EGRETS, 145 COMMON REDSHANKS, 10 ASIAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS, and more than 400 WHISKERED TERNS. We had to rush our count because the security guard feared his boss would be coming in soon. We were outside the gate by 11:15. We were treated to a last batch of birds when we came out. Since the tide was rising, some birds such as the 58 COMMON GREENSHANKS were moving to their roosting areas. We also observed a YELLOW BITTERN, 22 ASIAN GOLDEN-PLOVERS and 60 WHISKERED TERNS.

At 11:45, we said our good-byes and thank-you's. We had a great time. Five and half hours seems so fast when you're seeing a great number of birds and a great number of species.

Trip Report - Birdlist Report

Date : Sunday, December 15, 2003
Time : 06.20 – 09.40
Weather : NE, 0-4 m/sec, 2-3/8 cloud cover, clear visibility, + 25-28 C.
Participants : 7

Observed species and numbers :
1. Great Egret 45+
2. Intermediate Egret 1
3. Chinese Egret 1
4. Little Egret 90+
5. Black-crowned Night-Heron Immature 3
6. Yellow Bittern 4
7. Osprey Near “PEA-Lake” 3
8. Buff-banded Rail 4
9. Barred Rail 6 + (2), 8
10. Ruddy-breasted Crake 1
11. Asian Golden-Plover 30
12. Little Ringed-Plover 140
13. Kentish Plover 10
14. Lesser Sand-Plover 6-8, 6
15. Common Greenshank 5
16. Common Sandpiper 2
17. Long-toed Stint 1
18. Whiskered Tern 150
19. Lesser Coucal Immature 1
20. Common Kingfisher 2
21. White-collared Kingfisher 1
22. Pacific Swallow 2
23. Barn Swallow 3
24. Arctic Warbler 1
25. Clamorous Reed-Warbler 4
26. Striated Grassbird (3)
27. Bright-capped Cisticola Male 1
28. Zitting Cisticola 2
29. Yellow Wagtail 2
30. Brown Shrike 4
31. Chestnut Munia 30+

Locality : COASTAL ROAD LAGOON (including mudflats around Mangrove Island and mudflats south of guardpost, Thai-Italia Corp.
Date : Sunday, December 15, 2003
Time : 9.50 – 11.30
Weather : NE, 0-4 m/sec, 2-3/8 cloud cover, clear visibility, + 25-28 C.
Participants : 7

Observed species and numbers :
1. Grey Heron 2
2. Great Egret 38
3. Little Egret 136
4. Black-crowned Night-Heron 2
5. Little Heron 2
6. Yellow Bittern 1
7. Asian Golden-Plover 100+
8. Little Ringed-Plover 150+
9. Kentish Plover 20+
10. Lesser Sand-Plover 10+
11. Ringed- Plover sp 200+
12. Common Redshank 145
13. Common Greenshank 308
14. Common Sandpiper 5
15. Marsh Sandpiper 145
16. Black-winged Stilt 1
17. Wader sp Tringa species 200+
18. Whiskered Tern 560
19. Spotted Dove 1
20. White-throated Kingfisher 1
21. Arctic Warbler (1)
22. Striated Grassbird 2
23. Grey Wagtail 1
24. Tree Sparrow 10+

Notes: Mangroves and mudflats south of guard post hosted large concentrations of Tringa-waders. Most were hiding in a distance in shade under or near the mangroves making counting difficult. Probably are some species overlooked and the numbers presented are minimum figures as we were only allowed limited time and very limited access to the area. This area together with the Tambo Mudflats, and probably the coastal mangroves of Navotas, are without doubt the most important and diverse coastal wetlands left in NCR.