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February 2017 Roundup

by James Biron

February 3, 2017 – Wild for Wetlands
St Paul’s College, Parañaque

The Wild for Wetlands Fair happened last Feb 3, 2017 at St. Paul’s College in Parañaque. There were venue changes, but the organizers finally settled on Fr. di Francia Center of Studies in Sucat.

The day started slow but then took off after lunch. The group had a sizeable audience composed mostly of the religious – many nuns and would-be nuns.

First speaker was Joy Navarro from the BMB who spoke of Philippine wetlands. Gina Mapua was next who talked about Philippine Wetland birds. Other speakers touched on garbage and reclamation. Roy Velez of Save Freedom Island gave the audience a little historical tour of how the shoreline of Las Piñas and Parañaque looked like before any reclamation work.

Over-all it was quite an eye-opener for everyone concerned. The strangest thing was that the whole event occurred in the chapel, and all speakers spoke from the pulpit.

February 4, 2017 – Manila Bay Traverse 2
Manila Bay

The conservation of Manila Bay continues. Arne Jensen, conducted the fourth in a series of studies done in a period of one year this time concentrating on the rivers, mangrove areas and mudflats along the Bulacan coastlne.

Yes, Manila Bay encompasses the entire area from the mouth of Malabon-Navotas River to its end point along the coastline of the province of Bataan. Noting down specific locations of rivers in Bulacan, identifying and counting shorebirds based on geographic locations specified by a satellite map.

Making history in birdwatching in the Philippines, a drone was used to record sites where the highest concentration of waterbirds were spotted. From sunrise to sunset, their twelve hour boat ride commenced from Dampalit in Malabon at 5:30 am ending with their disembarkation point at the fish market at Panasahan in Malolos Bulacan exactly at sun down. Having the best boatmen made the group feel safe and secure as they navigated in out of the bay into rivers, streams and estuaries.

The Eurasian and the Far Eastern Curlews were lifers for some participants. Both are now classified by the IUCN as threatened and endangered. Also sighted were Caspian Tern and the Ruff. It was a dream team for birdwatching along the coast of Manila Bay, all for the purpose of conservation and being true to the Wild Bird Club of the Philipppines’ motto of fun, science and camaraderie.

February 5, 2017 – Club Trip to Orchard Golf and Country Club
Dasmariñas, Cavite

Sunday, February 5 at 5:30am or earlier was the call time for meeting at the lobby of the main clubhouse. Everyone was there – Dennis Nunez, Orchard club manager plus several staff, Jops, Jon Villasper, Manette Inocencio (minus George who was fishing) and Harry Miller.

Hernan and Gina got lost along Aguinaldo highway in the dark, but they made it in the nick of time. Immediately they were off on our golf carts, divided into three teams. Manette and Harry’s team went off to survey the front 9 of Palmer 1; Jops and Jon’s team to the back 9 of Palmer 2, while Hernan and I were led by Dennis himself through Player 20.

Gina’s team’s first stop was at a good-sized lake partially covered in kangkong and hot pink waterlilies.  It was still dark but we could make out some Black-Crowned Night Herons and the cool air was filled with the sounds of Phil Pied Fantails and Brown Shrikes. Then we noticed two forms on the water. She couldn’t believe her eyes – Two Philippine ducks!! Just floating on the water about 100 meters away, totally unconcerned and looking at them.

Even Gina’s excited loudness didn’t faze them. They just went about their business, paddling here and there before they finally settled on the base of an ipil-ipil, still quite visible to us. Wow!!

And it seems they have been around for some time already. Gina hopes they consider Orchard a good enough place to raise their babies.

Eventually we had to move to other spots, the ducks didn’t move. Because when the groups met up, Jops and Jon went off to see them and they were still there at the base of the ipil-ipil.

What Gina especially liked was how management of the golf course has maintained certain areas of the golf course in its almost wild state. All around the lake was a narrow strip of vegetation left to grow thick and naturally. All around the edges of the links, thick swathes of grass were allowed to grow and trees and bushes were left almost untrimmed. That’s probably why there were so many grassbirds and pipits on the greens.

All in all, the saw 50 species that morning, with Harry and Manette seeing a whopping 43, Jops and Jon with 28 and Hernan and Gina with 20.

Then while we were having breakfast, Jops pointed out a club member who had spoken to them. He knew a few things about the birds on the course. He said there were “mallards” in another pond. We suspect they may be the same Philippine Ducks but Dennis is going to send out two teams to verify if there really is more than one pair of ducks. 

There is talk of conducting the bird survey at Orchard twice a year now. Keep an ear and eye out for the next event.  Lots of fun!!

February 16, 2017 – World Wetlands Day
LPPHEA, Las Piñas, Parañaque

In celebration of World Wetlands Day at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, Thursday, February 16, 2017.

February 16, 2017 – Springwatch
Cagayan Valley & Ilocos Norte

Raptorwatch has started this year’s community based information campaign for the conservation of the Grey faced Buzzard locally called SAWI in Region 2, Northern Philippines.

Infographics and banners designed by Jelaine Gan were delivered to the local universities and LGUs for distribution to the different barangays and for display in prominent areas.

The universities and LGUs are reproducing these posters and banners for greater dissemination.

A local farmers cooperative with extensive membership in Region 2 will be discussing ways and means to assist in the information campaign during their annual meeting in the first week of March. An anonymous donor has kindly printed the materials, which shall be shipped to CSU-Sanchez Mira soon.

Essay, poster and infographic design contests on the conservation of raptors will be held in the university. The winning entries will be used in future campaigns.

This year’s campaign will be capped by a visit of 14 Japanese guests from the ARRCN, JSCB and allied conservation groups who will be distributing binoculars for the raptorwatch activities of the university and the communities.

February 17, 2017 – Van de Ven-Realubit Nuptial
Heart of Mary Church, Antipolo

The president of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, Willem Van de Ven takes a bride, fellow biologist-birder Nikki Dyanne Realubit

February 20, 2017 – Manila Bay Bulacan River Survey 2
Manila Bay

Taking every chance to learn about water birds, Cristina “Tinggay” Cinco always say yes to Arne’s invitation for surveying Manila Bay. This time Tinggay really had another round of very rare lifers- The Dunlin (quite rare for the Phil. having been recorded only 3 times) and the Caspian Terns!

Treading the muddy beach of Sta. Cruz mangrove forest reminded her so much of being in Cabusao, Camarines Sur, where she wasn’t able to extract her leg from the very soft mud. But it was a most productive day thanks to the expert boatmen, Mang Benny, Eric and Brian who navigated the in and out of Bulacan’s side of Manila Bay, while cruising down the rivers of Pamarawan, Tawiran and Bugwan from Malolos to Paombong and back.

It has been almost a year since Tinggay’s first survey from Navotas last April 2016, and this was her 4th. She’s hoping she can still join the other survey in the future, all for the cause of conservation. Till the next one.

February 20, 2017 – Wetland Wonders of the Philippines Photo Exhibit
Philippine Senate

Wetland Wonders of the Philippines photo exhibit this afternoon at the Philippine Senate with Senators Cynthia Villar, Loren Legarda and Nancy Binay.

February 26, 2017 – Guided Birdwatching Trip
Plaza Mexico & Maestranza, Manila

Guided birdwatching trip this Sunday afternoon at Plaza Mexico and the Maestranza. Little Egrets perched near the banks and a Common Kingfisher had the first-time birders ooohing and aaaahinig. Other species seen were the Zebra Dove, Asian Glossy Starling, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Philippine Pied Fantail and the Brown Shrike.

The Whiskered Terns showed up in full force but were disturbed by the sirens from the fire trucks. Photos here show a Little Egrets and a Black-headed Gull in non-breeding plumage.

February 26, 2017 – 30th Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race
Fraser’s Hill, Malaysia

Fraser’s Hill is located in Pahang state in Malaysia. The 30th Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race was organized by the Malaysian Nature Society together with state of Pahang to highlight the more than 300 species of birds that can be found in the area.

A celebration of the rich biodiversity area, Fraser’s Hill is nestled in Titingwasa Ridge, named after Louis James Fraser, one of the pioneers in mining tin in Malaysia. Fraser’s Hill became a favorite retreat for British Forces during its occupation of Malaysia.

For Tinggay, she was lucky enough to be part of Team WBCP that participated in the race. Though they did not win, it was great gaining more than 30 lifers! All in the spirit of friendly competition, other Asian and European countries joined the race.

Tinggay also delivered a brief presentation on birdwatching as an ecotourism activity together with other Asian countries like Nepal, Japan, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand. An interesting talk was also given by new friend Mark Wilkie on nature watching in South Africa.

The event at Fraser’s Hill also meant meeting other bird enthusiasts, renewing ties with old friends and establishing new ones from other countries. Honored to have met Dr. Hum of Birdlife International from Nepal and learning the impact of ecotourism and nature conservation in the present times. Dr. Hum fondly remembered his participation in the 1st Asian Bird Fair in Davao while they were having breakfast at Puncak Inn.

The International Bird Race at Fraser’s Hill was a once in a lifetime experience for them. Congratulations Malaysian Nature Society for a very successful and well attended event. Thank you Henry, President of the Malaysian Nature Society for the invite and attending to all of the WBCP members’ concerns during their stay at Pahang. Tinggay’s second visit to Malaysia maybe short but this was a great experience to be added in her lifetime journal as a birdwatcher.

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