Birdwatching Trip to Subic and Anvaya Cove
by James Hutchison
I’ve never been to Subic nor to Anvaya Cove, so when the opportunity came up for me to join the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines to do birdwatching and a bird walk, I did not think twice about it. My mom and I are both newbies in birdwatching, and we try to join the WBCP whenever time permits. We were both thrilled to join the club last March 25, to the Anvaya Cove Beach and Nature Club in celebration of its 9th anniversary with the theme of “Earthfest.” They asked several of the WBCP members to help guide a bird walk.
I got into birdwatching at the age of nine in 2011 when I visited Malaysia with my family. I came back in Manila and found out about the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines. I became an avid birdwatcher and I got my mom into it as well. We both became members of WBCP in 2015. Now she’s always with me on every birdwatching trip, we’re inseparable.
We met the group at 4 A.M. at the UP Marine Science Institute, and there was a van from Anvaya Cove waiting to take us to Subic first and then on to the resort. Since it was my first time to go birdwatching in Subic, I was full of anticipation. I’ve heard so many stories about how great this place is for birdwatching. Subic is covered with dense forest which is home to a wide variety of birds that are normally difficult to find elsewhere. Within 5 minutes of getting out of our vehicle, we immediately saw kingfishers, malkohas, and parrots. The two hours we birdwatch, we got to see over 20 species of birds some exciting ones for me are the Besra, Coleto, Philippine Falconet, and even a migratory Oriental Cuckoo (a lifer for a few of us). After about 2 hours of walking around in different trails, we packed up and headed for Anvaya Cove.
We arrived at Anvaya around 10:30 A.M. and were ushered in for a late breakfast. Afterwards, we set up our booth. The bird walk wasn’t until 4 P.M. when it was cooler, so we spent our time resting in the shade and even did a little bit of “birdwatching.” At one point there was a Brown Shrike just above us in a tree that we watched for about 5 minutes while lying down on the ground.
The people from Anvaya even set up several different nature activities such as the herb gardening workshop, sea turtle mural project, and of course the bird walk. These activities were meant to help people better appreciate the environment and the animals that inhabit them. They even had several native tribes perform around Anvaya Cove as part of their 9th anniversary celebration in conjunction with the earth hour such as the Pawikan Street Dance Competition.
When the bird walk started around 4:30pm, only a few people showed up at first, some of them being kids, but it picked up later and we soon had around 30+. We walked around Anvaya and got to show them a few common species of birds: the Coppersmith Barbet, White Collared Kingfisher, Intermediate Egret, and Brown Shrike. We showed them how to identify different birds and some of the calls they make. It was fun to see the little kids get so excited about birdwatching. Their enthusiasm reminded me of myself when I first started birdwatching. After an hour and a half of birdwatching, we got to show our participants over a dozen species of birds.
After a long day of birdwatching, the WBCP group sat down for dinner. When we left for Manila around 8pm, many of us were already sleeping in the van. We arrived safe and sound and parted ways.
I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to join such wonderful people who are avid birdwatchers. I learned so much from them; their birding enthusiasm is quite contagious. I am thankful for my mom who is my birdwatching partner, helping and guiding me in this endeavor.