January-February 2020 Roundup of Activities

by Mike Lu

The start of the year has always been the busiest months as the WBCP takes part in the Asian Waterbird Census in different wetland sites in partnership with different organizations and agencies.  Aside from the AWC, we also had a good number of other activities for club members.

New Year Party

The annual WBCP New Year Party was held on January 4 at the Josef residence.  The get-together was a potluck affair with some members bringing in their home-cooked dishes.  There were the usual merchandise sales, silent auction, and games such as birder bingo, white elephant and name-the-theme-song.  It was a happy occasion as old and new members to get to know each other and plan for the month’s activities.   

Members playing the Birder Bingo game.
Items on the Silent Auction table.

Asian Waterbird Census

The annual Asian Waterbird Census is held on the second and third weeks of January every year. The WBCP conducts waterbird counts in different wetland sites, mostly in Luzon.  On January 11, the LGU of Balanga City (Bataan) sponsored the census in the different wetland sites in the city.

Egrets and terns congregate in a drained fishpond in Barangay Sibacan, one of the wetland sites monitored during the waterbird census in the City of Balanga

In partnership with the Wetlands International, selected sites in Bulacan and Pampanga along the Manila Bay were monitored.   One record from these trip made headlines, the sighting of 24 globally-threatened Black-faced Spoonbills in Barangay Taliptip (Bulacan), proposed site of the new Manila International Airport.  Other sites include the Pampanga River where waterbird counts top 24,000 birds!

A flock of 24 globally-threatened Black-faced Spoonbills made an appearance in Bulacan at the proposed site of the Manila International Airport. Photo by Jasmin Meren.
Black-headed Gulls by the Pampanga River. Photo by Trinket Constantino.

In partnership with the Team Energy Foundation, the WBCP conducted a census in the power plants of Team Energy in Pagbilao (Quezon) on January 22-23 and in Sual (Pangasinan) on January 15-16.

The Club also conducted our own census in Candaba (Pampanga) on January 19 and at the Las Pinas-Paranaque Wetland Park on January 26 as the official DENR-led census were held on weekdays when most birders were not able to join.   The data from the counts were transmitted to the DENR regional offices later.

Converted habitat in Candaba.

Unfortunately for the waterbirds in what used-to-be the Candaba Bird Sanctuary, the new owner of the property converted most of the wetland for agriculture hence most birds were seen in the adjacent properties which have not been drained yet.

WBCP members Cheta Chua and Ruben Bala were tasked with counting egrets and herons at the Las Pinas-Paranaque Wetland Park.

Guided Birdwatching Trips

The Club conducted 3 guided birdwatching trips upon request from different organizations/groups. On January 9, a guided birdwatching trip was conducted for Mabuwaya Foundation at the Las Pinas-Paranaque Wetland Park for students of Isabela State University and visiting Dutch students from the University of Leiden (Netherlands). On January 11, a guided trip was conducted for Fairmont Subdivision residents in their subdivision in Antipolo. On February 15, in partnership with the UP Wild, the Club conducted a guided trip at the campus of the University of the Philippines in Diliman (Quezon City).

Students from the Isabela State University and the Leiden University were introduced to birdwatching at the Las Pinas-Paranaque Wetland Park.
Guided birdwatching trip at UP Diliman campus in partnership with the UP Wild.

Club Trips

One of the benefits of becoming a WBCP member is joining birdwatching trips exclusively organized for club members. On January 25, club members headed for La Mesa Ecopark (Quezon City) to see the endemic Black-chinned Fruit Dove and migrants White’s Thrush and Brown-headed Thrush. On February 2, club members headed for the birding hotspot on Marilaque Highway in Infanta (Quezon Province) for Luzon forest species such as the Flame-breasted Fruit Dove and many others, February 9 at the UP Diliman (Quezon City) and the University of the Philippines – Los Banos (Laguna).

All eyes on the Flame-breasted Fruit Dove at the Marilaque Highway, part of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in Infanta (Quezon Province)
Time for a group photo at the University of the Philippines – Los Banos (Laguna).

Special Trips

The Club was invited by Toyota Motor Philippines to conduct a quick survey of birds found on their plant site in Santa Rosa (Laguna) on February 2.  The Club had initially done a survey of the property way back in 2004 when Toyota had started a mini-forest.  Now 16 years later, the trees have grown and most of the grasslands have gone.  It was interesting to note the difference in bird species recorded due to the change in the ecosystem.  The Club gave advice on how to enhance the habitat to attract more bird species.    

Birdwatching at the man-made forest at the Toyota Motor Philippines plant in Santa Rosa (Laguna).

On February 16, Club members surveyed the Orchard Gold and Country Club in Dasmarinas (Cavite).  The Club had been surveying the golf club annually since 2010 and had given advice on how to enhance the bird habitats.  Orchard Golf had followed these advices (i.e., let wild grass on the border of the courses grow wild) and now has seen an increase in bird species (close to 80 species) including the globally-threatened Philippine Duck which now resides in the golf course.   

The wild grass and reeds surrounding the water trap provides much needed habitat for water birds such as the Eurasian Moorhen and the Philippine Duck.

Execom members conducted an ocular trip to the Sinagtala Farm and Adventure Resort in Hermosa (Bataan) on February 23 to check out the venue for a planned Urban Biodiversity Fair in partnership with the International College of Excellence (Pangasinan) early next month.  The resort provides excellent birdwatching opportunities as it is situated on the ridge overlooking the Bataan Natural Park with easy access to the natural park as well. 

Sinagtala Farm and Adventure Resort sits on a ridge overlooking the Bataan Natural Park.

Records Committee Meeting

The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines Records Committee met on February 9 to discuss the release of bird records from the past years, updating the Philippine checklist, and how to encourage more members to report their bird sightings on eBird.

With Willem van de Ven chairing the meeting, Records Committee members Cristina Cinco, Christian Perez, JJ Brinkman, Jops Josef, Djop Tabaranza, and Mike Lu got together for a meeting on February 2.

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