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eBON November-December Round-up 2020

By Mike Lu, Bayani Barcenas, MJ Bugante, and Gwen So

November 2 – Club trips to Tanza (Navotas)

The Tanza coastline was one of the sites visited by birders since the early days of the Club for its many wader species, the notably the Chinese Egret.  However, the difficulty in access made it less often visited through the years until recent improvements in road networks.  News of a flock of Pied Avocets, an uncommon winter visitor had birders heading for Tanza.  When a Black-faced Spoonbill made a rare appearance, Tanza became the hottest destination for the next few weeks. Unfortunately, sections of the mudflats are now being reclaimed by the LGU of Navotas thereby destroying the feeding areas of these winter migrants.

Nov 14 Saturday Night Kapihan – Patch Birding: Laguna de Bay

Yani Barcenas welcomed fellow birders to his local birding patch right beside the country’s biggest freshwater lake, Laguna de Bay. He described the essence of patch birding as becoming totally familiar with all the birds in one particular area, in this case the freshwater wetland not far from his house. Patch birding taught him to look at the birds more closely. Familiarity with his patch extended to knowing where and when to find different species in his local area.

Nov 15 – White-breasted Waterhen release

Ronaldo Udtujan of Sampaloc (Manila) caught a White-breasted Waterhen in his backyard and immediately got in touch with the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines.  Since there is no wetland anywhere near Ronaldo’s residence, WBCP president Mike Lu got in touch with Las Pinas-Paranaque Wetland Park manager Rey Aguinaldo and together with Ronald, they brought the waterhen to the wetland park and released the bird.  Photo below shows Ronaldo Udtujan with the White-breasted Waterhen prior to its release on Pond 1 of the said wetland park. 

Nov 21 – Public Kapihan – Behind the Bins: Birding Preps and Etiquette

Every third Saturday, the club conducts a public webinar to spread awareness about birds and birdwatching. In this session, there were three speakers. Gwen So talked about what preparations are needed for a bird trip. The two-part preparation involves studying the birds and the conditions (weather, tides) conducive to birding, the other is what stuff to bring. Karen Ochavo shared what to do during birdwatching – how to observe, what to look out for, and proper behaviour. Postbirding was discussed by Jops Josef where he shared how to interpret and consolidate data gathered. He discussed the importance of being citizen scientists and an app called eBird which is an online database where people all over the world submit checklists.

November 22 – Club trip – Palo Alto, Baras (Rizal)

Another newly-discovered and easy birding site out-of-town is Palo Alto Subdivision in Baras (Rizal). The road network of the residential area has been laid out for many years.  Just a handful of houses have been built and the sloped remain forested hence endemic forest birds such as Red-crested Malkoha, Scale-feathered Malkoha, White-eared Brown-Dove and even migrants like Ashy Minivet are easily seen by the roadside.   

Nov 28 Saturday Night Kapihan: Tanza Bonanza!

The arrival in October of migratory “star” birds in the mudflats of Tanza, Navotas such as the Black-faced Spoonbill, Chinese Egret, and Pied Avocet just to name a few have certainly caused a frenzy among birdwatchers and bird photographers alike. This prompted a Kapihan session to discuss the situation in Tanza beginning many years ago when Arne, Mads and Mark surveyed the area. Gwen talked about how to go there, what to expect and what stuff to bring while Cheta introduced the birds. Mads shared his past experiences and other members like Arne, Jon and Mike pitched in to give more information.

November 29 – Philippine Scops Owl release

When a Philippine Scops Owl flew into a friend’s house in Kawit (Cavite), Yen Diego wasted no time in getting in touch with the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines to seek advice on how to handle the situation.  WBCP President Mike Lu with biologist Jasmin Meren immediately headed for Cavite and to assess the condition of the owl.  The bird was in excellent condition and was released in the coastal scrublands of Noveleta in the late afternoon. 

December 5 Kapihan – Balancing Development with Nature Preservation

While some members were birding in Tanza, they witnessed the slow reclamation of the area which led to the discussion on balancing development with biodiversity. This became the topic for the club’s regular Kapihan, with Anna Gonzales and Jamie Dichavez of the Ayala companies as speakers. Anna talked about three key points in balancing development with biodiversity: work with existing ecosystems; restore native vegetations, rewild/regenerate; and use to enhance amenities. Jamie on the other hand, shared about sustainability using three key steps: identify, set policies, and communicate.

December 10 & 11 – AWC workshop with BMB

The Biodiversity Management Board organized a workshop through two half-day Zoom meetings for regional DENR representatives to review Asian Waterbird Census protocol and bird count methods and discuss the mobilization of DENR personnel and volunteers in the conduct of the AWC 2021.  WBCP president Mike Lu and VP Cristina Cinco represented the WBCP in the workshop. 

The fishponds of Sibakan in Balanga (Bataan) are one of the sites included in the annual Asian Waterbird Census. 

December 12 – Saturday Night Kapihan: Cleaning our Optics

Veteran birding couple Adri and Trinket Constantino did a quick run through on how to clean binoculars and scopes using a variety of tools and equipment. After the cleaning demonstration, a short talk on how to care for your optics and how to store them when not in use followed.

December 13 – Club trip – Palo Alto, Baras (Rizal)

Club members went on another trip to Palo Alto, the latest forest birding “hotspot” and although it was drizzling intermittently birdwatchers had good views of a female Luzon Hornbill, Philippine Serpent Eagle, Naked-faced Spiderhunter.  A Hooded Pitta also made a quick appearance. 


December 15 – Oceana Press Conference

The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines represented by Mike Lu gave a statement at a press conference after Oceana successfully filed the Writ of Kalikasan against the construction of the New Manila International Airport at the Supreme Court. At the press conference, Atty. Jun Viterbo, petitioners Atty. Gloria Ramos of Oceana and Ka Renato Cruz were present to make their statements. Additionally, guest experts Dr. Jurgenne Primavera of the Zoological Society of London and Xian Gueverra of Youth Advocates of Climate Action Philippines also attended the event. Several members of the media attended the press conference and 17 news site wrote about the filing of the lawsuit. 

December 16 – Bulacan airport court case in the news

Bulacan airport sued over environment issues, SMC vows to address concerns,the%202%2C500%2Dhectare%20airport%20city

December 19 – Public Kapihan for Kids

Last December 19, 2020, the Birders Kapihan team held Children’s Hour, an online public session, aimed at cultivating nature awareness and appreciation in kids. Attendees watched and discussed the online film “An Eagle’s Feather”, which features the rescue of a Philippine Eagle. After this, Jelaine Gan and Ternel Telesforo taught the kids how to draw leaves and birds in a Nature Journaling segment. Lastly, everyone tested their bird knowledge in an exciting game of Jeopardy. This is the first Birders Kapihan: The Public Sessions catered to children, but it will not likely be the last.

December 26 – Christmas auction

The first night of the Christmas get-together was a P 50.00 online auction where all items start with a base price of P 50.00.  Club members gamely participated in the 25-item auction with items ranging from bird books, figurines, stickers, diaries.  The most hotly-contested item was a Granite Gear backpack donated by our constant sponsor, the Primer Group of Companies. 

December 27 – Christmas party

In lieu of the annual New Year Party, the Club opted for a virtual Christmas get-together which started with a lively duet by Yang Villa and Mijon Tanghe.  Club members from outside the Philippines joined in the get-together among whom were Raul Puentespina (Hong Kong), Willem van de Ven (Netherlands) and Nikdye Realubit (US). The program was emceed by VP Tinggay Cinco and Pres. Mike Lu.  The 3 games were ably hosted by Mariel Uyquiengco for How well do you know your Club ?, Cristina Montes and Gwen So conducted a haiku contest and a tricky third game How well do you know your birds by birder couple Luann and Mads Bajarias.

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