Candaba Marsh, Pampanga
Date: July 25, 2004
Birders: Jill Lucero, Mike Lu, Nilo Arribas, Mark Villa,
Orly Punzalan, Romel Barrera, Ruben Bala, Jr. & Tim Fisher.
report by Jill Lucero
Birdlist by Mark Villa
It was just past 3:45
in the morning when Mike swung by my place, I was greeted
by Mark when I got in the car. We then proceeded to
pick up Nilo before heading for Candaba Marsh. Candaba,
Mike had told be, used to be marsh lands before being
drained and turned into cultivated fields.
the North Expressway, we stopped by the Petron gas station
to meet up with Orly and Ruben. Then it was off to Shell
station just off the Sta. Rita exit, where Tim Fisher,
noted author of the Guidebook to Birds of the Philippines,
and another member Romel were waiting for us.
arrived at Candaba just after 6:00 AM as the morning sun rose
to greet us. Tim's car took the lead as we followed a shortcut
across the rice fields. The muddy roads & potholes put
a strain on the car engine and wheels, one wrong turn of the
wheel and we would have fallen off the road and onto the rice
Tim stopped the car when he spotted a small flock of BLACK-WINGED
STILTS. Everyone got out of their cars and scoped the landscape
with our binoculars. The sun cast a golden reflection upon
the surface of the water, causing some including me, to put
down our binoculars because it was hurting our eyes.
We got back in our cars and travelled a little more down the
road. From that point onwards we would be trudging on foot.
Everyone put on their boots, except for Romel and I. Though
Mike had warned me the day before of the muddy conditions,
I was not able to procure boots. Romel on the other hand was
not able to receive the text Mike sent advising him to bring
We shouldered our backpacks and gears and started our hike.
At first it was fairly easy walking, but then the muddy clay
started to form a cake around my shoes, and my shoes got heavier
and heavier as the trail got muddier and muddier. I moved
to the side of the road were the vegetation made it a little
easier to walk.
was able to spot some CINNAMON & YELLOW BITTERNS.
But I think one of the highlights of the trip were the
GRASS OWLS. Mark was the first to spot one as it flew
low on the horizon just above the grass. By and by we
again spotted a Grass Owl, this time it had a rat in
its claws. Everyone was so excited. Ruben remarked that
just seeing the owls would have been worth the trip.
if trudging through the mud wasn't enough, it started
to drizzle. We took shelter by the side of a wooden
hut. Luckily, we didn't have a downpour, and the rain
stopped after a while. Behind the hut was a large pond,
someone spotted a lone
LITTLE GREBE swimming on the far side. Even with the
binoculars, all I could make out was a black spot floating
on the water. Tim provided a closer view from the spotting
scope and it was beautiful.
group decided to go further up the road to follow the
direction of the flight of a PHEASANT-TAILED JACANA.
I took a look at my shoes and decided that it can still
take a few beatings. But as I started to follow after
them, my left shoe got stuck in the mud. All my pulling
and yanking couldn't get it free. I signaled to Mike
that I was stuck, and he was kind enough to come back
and pull my shoe loose for me.
At that point, I felt the road had beaten me and I decided
to rest at the hut. It turned out to be for the better
as the lone grebe is now joined by another companion.
The grebes swam in and out of the reeds, ocassionally
making a dive and popping up closer to our position.
Mike and I watched them for quite a bit until they swam
farther out to the opposite side of the pond. Other
birds that flew by were a PURPLE HERON, a flock of GREAT
EGRETS and a pair of PHILIPPINE DUCKS.
binoculars trained on a flying black bird which Mike identified
as a BLACK BITTERN. He said I was lucky because I was able
to spot Black, Cinammon & Yellow Bitterns in one day.
I also spotted a bird perched on a shrub which turned out
to be a CHESTNUT MUNIA.
the guys came back down the road, Mike pointed out the two
grebes. We then made our way back to the cars. Tim spotted
a raptor perched on top of a tree in the distance. Using the
scope he concluded it was a female PIED HARRIER. Just when
we thought the day couldn't get any better, someone spotted
the owls again. This time there were four of them at once.
Tim surmised that it could be a family. We observed them for
we neared the cars, another owl flew towards us. It flew above
us it's head focused and it's eyes looking at us, almost in
a curious kind of way. It flew past us and circled back again.
We finally got back to the cars, it was almost ten now. I
was able to get back without falling, which was good because
I didn't want to give Orly the satisfaction of taking my picture
with me sitting in the mud.
Mike showed Tim some photos taken by Romy Ocon and Ivor Lee.
We also gathered around to take a peek. A couple of the photos
had beautiful pictures of birds, but were marred by the surrounding
garbage. Nilo commented that this could actually be a good
opportunity to prove that if birds could thrive in that kind
of environment, what more if we could take care & preserve
their natural habitat.
club experienced a milestone when Tim signed up and became
a member. As Tim and the others chatted for a bit, Orly trained
the spotting scope on a pair of LESSER COUCALS perched on
a bush. Nilo and Romel took some group pictures and finally,
it was time to go. Tim went off ahead of us as he had an appointment
We took the long way home this time, stopping by the Petron
gas station to grab a bite to eat. The first thing I did when
we got there was to change my clothes. Though my shoes had
served me well, I had to throw it away. Over lunch, Mark jotted
down the birds seen which totalled an amazing 36 species.
Given the opportunity, I would go back to Candaba. But first
things first...boots !
1. Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis - 3
2. Purple Heron Ardea purpurea - 3+
3. Great Egret Egretta alba- 20
4. Little Egret Egretta garzetta - 2
5. Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
6. Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus - 10+
7. Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis- 20+
8. Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis - 5+
9. Philippine Duck Anas luzonica - 2
10. Pied Harrier Circus melanoleucos - 1, female
11. White-browed Crake Porzana tabuensis - 1
12. White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis olivaceus -
1, more heard
13. Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus - 2
14. Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus
15. Greater-painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis -
16. Sandpiper sp - 10+
17. Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum- 2+
18. Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus - 7
19. Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus - 5+
20. Zebra Dove Geopelia striata - 8
21. Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis - 5+
22. Grass Owl Tyto capensis - 6
23. Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus - 1
24. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica - 20+
25. Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier - 3+
26. Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata - 2, males
27. Golden-bellied Flyeater Gerygone sulphurea - heard
28. Clamorous Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus
29. Striated Grassbird Megalurus palustris - 5+
30. Bright-capped Cisticola Cisticola exilis -1
31. Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis - 10+
32. Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica - 1
33. Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach - 1
34. Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata - 2
35. Chestnut Munia Lonchura malacca - 20+
36. Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus - 50+