In support of the Pledge to Fledge (P2F) birding outreach movement, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines held two public guided trips during its inaugural weekend, August 24-26, at the La Mesa Ecopark (LMEP) and Las Piñas – Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA).
Pledge to Fledge
by Jops Josef
P2F is an international grassroots campaign started by the Global Birding Initiative, to introduce friends and acquaintances to the vibrant pursuit and observation of wild bird species. It is a terrific opportunity to share birders’ love for birding with others, and to help people discover the allure of birds while connecting with the natural world around them. P2F is designed to help birders effectively recruit their non-birding friends, nurture them toward becoming a casual birder, and then, ideally, into a citizen concerned about bird conservation and the environment. (from P2F website: http://www.globalbirdinginitiative.org/pledge-2-fledge/).
Day One of Pledge to Fledge at La Mesa Eecopark
Bad weather threatened to come during the first Pledge to Fledge weekend due to Typhoon Igme doing a Fujiwhara effect, even raining during the early hours of the morning of August 25. Fortunately, the skies cleared up just as everyone started coming in at LMEP. P2F Ambassador of the Philippines Mark Villa started the activity by giving a beautiful explanation to the 30 participants who signed up on what “fledge, fledging, and fledgeling” meant and how it all connected to the P2F initiative.
After the short introduction the 30 participants started birding the spillway, all of whom can be considered more than lucky to have their first taste of birdwatching at LMEP that day because the migrants have started coming in. Just at the immediate area, all had good views of a Common Kingfisher, Little Egrets and Common Sandpipers, along with resident species of Pied Fantails, Yellow-vented Bulbuls, White-collared Kingfisher and Eurasian Tree Sparrows.The group was also treated to view a different set of species as they went inside the park – Pied Fantials, Oriental Magpie Robins, and Black-naped Orioles were seen during the walk. Everyone was also able to observe an immature Olive-backed Sunbird feeding on Heliconias.
But it was inside the trail where the participants got the best treat of the day.Just days before, a Rufous Paradise-Flycatcher, an uncommon bird species that could only been seen in the understory of forests, was spotted inside the park. The group was taken inside the trail, in hopes of getting them to see some of the LMEP star species. And despite being an extremely large group walking the trails, everybody got good views of the Rufous Paradise-Flycatcher. It was then that the importance of green corridors to the survival of the bird species like that of LMEP was discussed with the participants. And seeing such wonderful bird species like the Paradise-Flycatcher, was more than enough for them to understand.
Before the grouped moved inside the park, three bus loads of architectural students arrived. While they were merely there for other activities, WBCP guides saw their arrival as an opportunity to reach more people. The students were engaged and invited to view the scopes focused on different birds. Though, all of them were hesitant to try at first, around 70 students immediately got interested as soon as the first “Wow!” was heard after seeing the Common Kingfisher.
Day Two of Plege to Fledge at LPPCHEA
The stretch of good weather continued during the second day, August 26, of WBCP’s P2F activities at LPPCHEA. Despite the strong winds, a total of 44 birdwatchers and participants came to the highly controversial coastal area of Las Piñas and Parañaque cities.
Participants were treated to good views of Black-crowned Night-Herons, a Striated Grassbird, Chestnut Munia, White-collared Kingfishers, Spotted Doves and a pair of Golden-bellied Flyeaters chasing each other. But the highlight species that day were the migrants again – Whimbrel, Grey-tailed Tattlers, an Asian Golden Plover, and Greater Sand-Plovers – more proof why this area plays an important ecological role not only for Philippine species, but for migrating species as well.
WBCP Goals Aligned with the Goals of the P2F
“P2F really is another name for what the bird club (WBCP) has been doing already since it started and epitomized by its unbelievably big-hearted members, who have often organized public guided trips simply for the sheer joy of sharing the love of birds and birding,” says Mark Villa.
The goals of the P2F are really simple, that even without them knowing it, WBCP members are already doing their part to share their passion. For Mark, every time birders talk about birds and birding to friends, or post an FB status message of the fun birding trips and species they have seen, or when bird photographs are shared, are already ways how birders are contributing to the goals of the P2F.
…Into Citizens Concerned about Bird Conservation and the Environment
Admittedly, he (Mark) was afraid to bring family and friends to LPPCHEA, for fear that they will not enjoy birding because of the filth and garbage or smell that has been associated with the area. But when he brought two family members and a friend to LPPCHEA, he was surprised when he learned that they really had fun and enjoyed finding out about having a beach in the city, as well of course as seeing the birds through the scope. But more than that, Mark accomplished what P2F ideally wanted to happen to those participating in the program – after the activity his guests not only asked him to invite them again to the next birding trip, but his sister even thought about throwing a clean-up party at LPPCHEA.
Imagine what we can achieve when simple acts of sharing our passion with people is multiplied by the number of birders worldwide.