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WBCP Roundup of Club Activities: October – December 2023

Compiled by Mike Lu


October 3–6: More than a Maya exhibit @ Fisher Mall, Quezon City

The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines was invited again by Fisher Mall to take part in the “More than a Maya” exhibit, this time at their Quezon Avenue mall.  WBCP exhibited photos of common urban birds and a print of a Rufous Hornbill by artist David Tomb. WBCP also coordinated with the Tarlac Provincial Tourism to bring in their photo exhibit of the birds of Lake Canarem. The exhibit also featured bird paintings and sculptures by various artists. The 4-day exhibit had daily activities for students such as art workshops and story-telling. WBCP members led by Rose Lacson volunteered to man the WBCP booth selling club merchandise.     

Photos of common urban birds used in the Club’s previous Biodiversity Fair.
WBCP members at the WBCP booth on opening day (L-R) Gwen So, Riza Melicor, Irynn Abano, Rose Lacson, visitor Sr. Christiane Oyales, Babie Magadia, Tinggay Cinco
Ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the exhibit led by Moleen del Rosario of Fisher Mall

October 14-16: 12th Asian Bird Fair – Kota Kinabalu @ Sabah International Convention Center  

The Sabah Birdwatchers Association hosted the 12th Asian Bird Fair at the Sabah International Convention Center in Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia).  The 2-day bird fair attracted conservation organizations, birdwatching societies, ecotour operators, ecolodges, and optics companies from across Asia – and even from Australia and Colombia. Keynote speaker was Noah Stryker, an American birdwatcher who set a Big Year record for seeing more than half the world’s birds species in 2015. Forums and talks introduced birds from different parts of the world, bird photography ethics, engaging children in nature awareness, and tackled more serious topics such as how birdwatching plays a role in ecotourism and how to prevent the next bird species extinction. 

Side activities for children include coloring, face painting, and sketching.  There was also a lunchtime auction with items donated by various exhibitors.

Dinners were fun-filled opportunities for networking among the delegates.  The first night started with a human bingo game to get delegates to know each other. The Sabah Tourism Board hosted a cultural night on the second evening. The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, the host of the ABF 2024, tendered a fiesta-themed Turnover Dinner with a jack en poy game and pera or bayong-style Philippine trivia game. The evening ended with the ABF raffle/auction where delegates contributed bird merchandise, crafts, and products from their home countries.   

The last day brought delegates birdwatching in Mt. Kinabalu where both Whitehead’s Trogon and Whitehead’s Broadbill gave good shows and concluded  with a sumptuous sunset buffet courtesy of Shangri-La Rasa Ria.  

The WBCP delegation was composed of Karen Ochavo, Nikki Realubit, Tinggay Cinco, Alice Villa-real, Jayanti Pandey, Denise Samson with Mike Lu (ABF Execom) and Maia Tanedo (ABF Secretariat) and Alain Pascua and Djop Tabaranza (for Haring Ibon).      

WBCP members and friends at the WBCP booth
Turnover of the ABF flag from Sabah Birdwatchers Association to the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines with ABF Execom
Nikki Realubit giving a talk on Philippine birds

October 18-21: Club trip to Baggao, Cagayan

Baggao, in the province of Cagayan, is home to the critically-endangered Isabela Oriole.  In celebration of Tien Oriana’s birthday, Enrico Legaspi and Dean Arcega joined Tien on an early morning flight to Tuguegarao and stayed at the Tnuno Grill & Restaurant where they would stay for the next three days.

The Isabela Oriole was surprisingly easy to see. A flock of four showed up at three different times during the trip: once in a tree full of Luzon Tarictics, once with a storm of Rough-crested Malkohas (a distinct subspecies!), and one last time in the pouring rain in the company of Bar-bellied Cuckooshrikes. It was amazing to see something so rare, with an estimated 50-250 individuals left!  The trio also opted to do the Blue Waters River Trek, a popular site for visitors. It wasn’t birdy, but it was a beautiful trek.

Enrico Legaspi, Tien Oriana and Dean Arcega on the Blue Waters River Trek.
Target species: the Isabela Oriole!

October 21: World Migratory Bird Day @ Las Piñas–Parañaque Wetland Park

Maia Tañedo listening to a reaction from student participants.

The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines – in partnership with DENR-NCR, the Biodiversity Management Bureau, Villar SIPAG Foundation and with support from the Team Energy Foundation – celebrated World Migratory Bird Day 2023 with 320 high school students from the cities of Las Piñas and Parañaque.

The students went through the following activities: lecture on birds and bird migration, birdwatching, and an ecowalk to identify the plants of the beach forest. Due to the inclement weather, the coastal clean-up did not push through.

WBCP members who volunteered for this event were Mike Lu, Tinggay Cinco, Maia Tañedo, Linda Gocon, Maithri Jansz, Lisa Pagkalinawan, Anthony Arbias, Lani Arbias, and Lisa Rodriguez.

Anthony Arbias introducing the plants of the beach forest.
Linda Gocon giving an introduction to birdwatching.

October 21-22: 25th Taipei International Birdwatching Fair @ Guandu Nature Park

What does an environmental lawyer, a data analyst, a wildlife biologist, environmental banker, and a corporate entrepreneur have in common? Well, short answer – birds! Long answer, Karen Ochavo, Nikdye Realubit, Krees Castaneda, Patcha Pangatungan, and Jenny Ramos all attended the 25th Taipei International Birdwatching Fair last October 21-23. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Wild Bird Society of Taipei and the fair was more than the usual smorgasbord of delight filled with cute merchandise featuring birds and high-energy birders with more than visitors on the first day. Concurrently held during the Fair was the 2023 International Wetland Symposium with three presentations from the Philippines: first on the general status of Palawan forests and birds, second on the Puerto Princesa Underground River, and third on the Pagatpatan Wetland Learning Center in Butuan City. What was special was the crowd raising introductions during the official dinner, and the endless supply of food and coffee given by country neighbors turned close friends.

The all-girl WBCP delegation (L-R) Jennifer Ramos, Nikki Realubit, Patcha Pangatungan, Karen Ochavo, Krees Castaneda

October 24: Senate hearing on reclamation

Upon the invitation of the Senate Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change, Mike Lu and Nikdye Realubit represented the WBCP at the 2nd Public Hearing for two proposed senate resolutions to conduct an inquiry on large-scale reclamation projects nationwide and the other one specifically for Manila Bay.  The hearing was held at the Senators Recto and Laurel Rooms of the Philippines Senate, presided by Senator Cynthia Villar and bill proponent Senator Koko Pimentel both questioning the process for securing the Environmental Clearance Certificate issued by the Environment Management Bureau of the DENR.  Resource persons who gave their opinions included Director Mundita Lim of the Asean Center for Biodiversity and representatives from the Philippine Ports Authority, among others.    

Ant-reclamation advocates (L-R) PAMALAKAYA representatives Mia and  Fernando Hicap, Center for Environmental Concerns representative Jon Bonifacio, and WBCP Execom Mike Lu and Nikki Realubit

October 29: Club trip @ Heritage Park, Taguig

A mid-afternoon guided trip was organized for homeschoolers at the Heritage Park in Taguig City.  The highlight for the mixed group of first-time and second-time participants were 4 Coppersmith Barbets with a lone Blue-tailed Bee-eater on a leafless tree. Other resident species such as the Spotted Dove, Cattle Egret,  and White-breasted Waterhen also gave good views for the participants despite the increased activities at the cemetery. WBCP volunteer guides were Mike Lu, Nikki Realubit, Enrico Legaspi, and Jayanti Pandey. 

Enrico Legaspi and Nikki Realubit guiding the homeschoolers
One of the 4 Coppersmith Barbets that gave a good view to the participants.


November 1: Guided trip for homeschoolers at Ninoy Aquino Park

A guided trip organized for homeschoolers was held at the lagoon area of the Ninoy Aquino Park. It had been drizzling on and off, birds were far and few fortunately a few species like the Barred Rail, Common Kingfisher, and Black-crowned Night Heron gave the participants some very good views. At the end of the trip, more than 15 species were recorded.  WBCP volunteer guides were Mike Lu, Tinggay Cinco, Nikki Realubit, Alice Villa-Real, Lolet Tan, and Jops Josef.     

Common Kingfisher perched out in the open despite the slight drizzle.

November 4: Guided trip at University of the Philippines -Diliman

Since it has been a while that WBCP has held a guided birdwalk for the general public, slots for the November 4 guided birdwalk sold like hotcakes being filled-up within a day of its announcement. A total of 29 participants attended the birdwalk. Bird activity was surprisingly low despite starting early. Perhaps it was the sun out earlier and hotter than expected, compared to past days. The group did not even catch a break on getting good views of the Collared Kingfisher and Black-naped Orioles which are usually present for any birdwalk at UP. Despite this, participants saw a total of 14 species, with awesome views of Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker foraging for breakfast. At the end, 21 of 29 participants joined the Club! Welcome new members!

November 17: Talk at the University of the Philippines

WBCP was invited by the former UP College of Arts Dean Mitzi Aguilar-Reyes to speak to her first year students. Their project was to make head dresses of Philippine birds for the annual UP Lantern Parade scheduled on December 20. WBCP members Gabbi Reyes and Gwen So prepared a presentation, with notes from Mike Lu, to introduce the beauty of Philippine birds, and conservation.  The talk also highlighted the physical features and how to identify and distinguish birds from one another since these were important to the project. The students were also treated to a quick birdwatching session which was met with much excitement and enthusiasm.

November 24: Quarterly Monitoring at NAIA

WBCP member Angel Chan participated in the quarterly monitoring of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport grounds led by the DENR-NCR. Together with the Manila International Airport Authority and Paranaque City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) personnel, the teams recorded 23 species. Of the bird species, the most common were feral pigeons and Scaly-breasted Munias, each with more than a hundred birds seen.

November 26: Guided trip at Tagalag Fishing Village (Valenzuela)

The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines conducted a guided birdwatching trip for the general public at the Tagalag Fishing Village in Valenzuela.  The first-time birdwatchers saw Wandering Whistling Ducks, Common Moorhen, and Philippine Swamphen among the 15 species seen that day.  The volunteers were led by Mike Lu, Melvin Yap, Mary Rodriguez, Paul and Judi Bahaynon.   

Tagalag Eco Park is one of the easiest places to go birdwatching in Metro Manila.
Wandering Whistling Ducks taking refuge in the thick vegetation.

November 28-29: Xavier School Environmental Fair

The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines participated in the 2023 Xavier Environmental Fair held on November 28-29, 2023. The event took place at the Xavier School campus in San Juan City.  The 2023 Environmental Fair’s theme was Greenovation featuring outdoor activities such as birdwatching, recycling, agricultural produce and compost processing. Exhibitors presented on stage interesting topics such as converting plastic waste into upcycled products such as floor tiles, garden pots and classroom chairs. WBCP members Enrico Legaspi, a Xavier alumnus, did an introductory talk about birdwatching to the students on the first day of fair, while Maia Tanedo gave the presentation on the second day followed by a short bird walk in the school grounds to highlight birds present in the area. Angel Chan and Tinggay Cinco also manned the WBCP exhibition booth to lend a hand in the inquiries regarding the Philippine birds featured and activities related to birdwatching.

Maia Tanedo and Tinggay Cinco at the WBCP booth.

November 29: AWC Planning Workshop at Quest Hotel (Tagaytay)

In preparation for the conduct of the 2024 Asian Waterbird Census, the Biodiversity Management Bureau organized a planning workshop involving AWC coordinators nationwide to review current AWC protocols, bird count methods, and to discuss the mobilization of DENR field personnel and volunteers.  Mike Lu, representing WBCP,  gave a presentation on common water birds and practice counting followed by a short quiz on bird identification and estimating numbers in bird flock.  On behalf of WBCP, copies of the Wild Birds of the Philippines coffee table book were also handed over the DENR regional offices through the AWC coordinators.    

Mike Lu and DENR regional office representatives with copies of WBCP’s Wild Birds of the Philippines coffee table book


December 2: Club trip to Tanza (Navotas)

To get members prepared for the annual Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) in January, a club trip to Tanza, Navotas was organized for members to learn water bird identification in the field.  Of the 29 species observed, highlights were the Pied Avocet, Javan Pond Heron, and the different plovers.  Joining the trip organized by Tien Oriana were Gwen So, Bambi Martinez, Moleen del Rosario, Joemar dele Vega, Larry Codiamat, Emerson Uy, Russell Andaya, Patcha Pangatungan, Nat Galibut, Jesam Jimenez, Rich King, Ana Alcantara, and Cheta Chua.

December 9 and 10: Club trips to Candaba Marsh (Pampanga)

Candaba vista: Egrets and herons in the foreground and wild ducks in the background.

Club members headed for Candaba Marsh to look for migratory wild ducks.  Garganey, Common Pochard, Northern Shoveller, Northern Pintail, Tufted Duck,s and a Ferruginous Duck were seen as well as resident Wandering Whistling Ducks.  Other migrant species such as Little Egrets, Great Egrets, and Grey Herons were aplenty.   The December 9 trip was led by Enrico Legaspi with Tien Oriana, Karen Ochavo, Patcha Pangatungan, Cathy Mendoza, Cheta Chua, David Angeles, Ria de la Cruz, and Gab Opao.

The second group organized by Mike Lu went a day later with Ravi Iyengar, Dan Moore and his wife Sylvia, Mark Moore, Anthony & Weng Custodio with daughter Frances.  

December 17: Guided trip at Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park

The last guided public birdwatching trip for the year was held at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park for the participants to see the wintering water birds.  Twenty first-timers signed up for the activity plus a 30-man team from Drake Business Services Asia. After the orientation and introductory birdwatching at the Wetland Center, the Drake Business Solutions team embarked on a coastal clean-up while the first-time birdwatchers headed out to Freedom Island to observe waders.  Later, both groups rejoined for a short hike to the mangrove forest boardwalk. WBCP members who joined this activity were Mike Lu, Krees Castañeda, Ingrid Magnata, Jem Chua, and Josh Cerdenia.       

Group photo of guided birdwatching trip participants.  
The Yellow Bittern at Pond 1 gave participants a good view.

December 23: Club trip to Dampalit Megadike and Tagalag Eco Park

Gulls, terns and other waders on the mudflats in Tanza (Navotas)

Club members Mike Lu, Karen Ochavo, and Rich King braved the holiday traffic to see the Pied Avocets at the Tanza Marine Park via the Dampalit Megadike in Malabon.  It was low tide and many shorebirds such as Common Redshanks, Common Greenshanks, Marsh Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts, and Greater Sandplovers were feeding.  Farther away, a flock of 60+ Pied Avocets appeared as a line of black and white birds.  Due to problems with vehicle parking, the group moved to the Tagalag Eco Park after spending an hour at the megadike.  Tagalag resident species such as Wandering Whistling Duck, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Common Moorhen, and Purple Swamphen were all seen well.

Pheasant-tailed Jacana in Tagalag Eco Park.

December 30: Club trip to Caylabne Bay Resort (Cavite)

Club members organized a trip to the Caylabne Bay Resort in Ternate (Cavite) for a year ender trip.  The resort is situated in a cove with mangroves, beach and lowland forest.  Aside from a good variety of forest birds, the resort also hosts a flock of resident endemic Philippine Ducks.  The counts for the Philippine Ducks and other waterbird species will be submitted to DENR Region IV-A to be included in the Asian Waterbird Census count. Members who joined this trip were Mike Lu, Rich King, Stevie Mehta, and Timothey Romero.  Bird photographer Sean Melendres also accompanied the group.     

The resident flock of Philippine Ducks at the mangrove estuary can number upwards of 100 birds.  
Birders (L-R) Mike Lu, Sean Melendres, Stevie Mehta, Timothy Romero, and Rich King

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