We nearly got lost in the Pampanga area while finding our way to the Candaba Wetlands, but good thing the local Pampangueno people knew the way. One by one we asked them directions to Candaba and slowly we started making progress getting there. They talked to us with a sort of accent and used the terms “dine” and “rine”.
We finally stumbled into the muddy trails of Candaba, but sadly we could not go in deeper to the actual site due to the very deep muddy road. We had to make do with the ricefield at the side of the dirt road and hoped for the best. We actually saw tons of birds in the ricefields and most of them were waders.
The very first wader we saw that day was the Black-winged Stilt; I have not seen it before due to the fact that it was a migrant. I actually thought at first that my first Black-winged Stilt would be in LPPCHEA, a much closer habitat to home, but with almost the same kinds of birds.
Candaba was an amazing experience for me. I got a total of five lifers that morning; one of which was the Black-winged Stilt, but other than that I also got the Wood Sandpiper, along side with some Common Sandpipers. I finally got to see the deepness of the fork of a Barn Swallow and can finally count it as a lifer. I also got the Red Turtle Dove there while they were flocking together with the waders, and me and Tristan (Cousin) were sure that most of the egrets we saw there were Cattle Egrets.
I was so happy to see such a diverse array of water loving birds in one area. I actually love water birds, but they are just so hard to ID since they nearly look the same. If we were with other WBCP members on this trip, we would have seen more birds, but what I liked about this trip that I was able to ID most of the water birds here myself and that makes me a bit proud.
We did see many other birds in Candaba like Chestnut Munias the size of mayas, and mayas the size of Brown Shrikes, and Brown Shrikes the size of Long-tailed Shrikes, and Long-tailed Shrikes the size of Zebra Doves, and Zebra Doves the size of Yellow Bitterns, and Yellow Bitterns the size of Cinnamon Bitterns, and the Cinnamon Bittern being the biggest Cinnamon Bittern that I have ever seen. I swear that birds here look or ARE bigger than those found within Metro Manila.
There were many birds there and esspecially many waders but I only got to see their true diversity when the mixed wader flock flew just a few meters off the water of the ricefield. I saw an amazing display of different species of waders, but didn’t know how to ID them. They looked so similar but you could see different shades of gray, black and white, and occasionally see a glimpse of color in the flock.
I was so glad that I have finally got to bird in Candaba, but the day is still young and this is only part one of my birding weekend. The rest will be left on suspense mode until tomorrow :).
To be continued…