Posts Tagged ‘Terns’

All Around The Coast

Last week I felt very bored, I haven’t been birding for nearly two weeks so I decided to pay a visit to LPPCHEA with Tristan (Cousin).The sky was grey and the air was quite humid; the sky made it very clear that it wanted it to drizzle. The tide was very low, you could see the mud that once lay beneath the murky waters.

The usual Little Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons roam the waters while Whiskered Terns fly in the air. Peeping in the mangroves, we saw a lot of Pied Fantails singing melodically. While we were observing a flock of about 200 Black-winged Stilts by the shore, some huge tern-like birds fished the waters in front of us, and they were possibly gulls.

We made it all the way to the lagoon area where we found a lot of birds, Black-crowned Night Herons, Little Egrets, Common Moorhens, White-collared Kingfishers, and Yellow Bitterns. After a long forest trail, we made it to another lagoon area with more of the birds form the other lagoon plus Grey Herons, and Rufous Night Herons.

We walked from one side of the lagoon to the other, startling a flock of around 15 – 20 ducks, most likely Philippine Ducks, but we’re not entirely sure for they could’ve been a mixed flock. We tried waiting for them to go back, and while doing so I also spotted a Warbler, but it moved too fast for me to ID.

We gave up on the ducks and decided to walk along the shore. We spotted a lot of brown-colored Doves, but we were not sure what specific species because they were gone in just a flash. Flying in the air, were two Philippine Ducks headed towards mainland.

At the tip of LPPCHEA, we saw tons of Plovers on the mud flats and on the rocks. The most plentiful were Kentish Plovers, but there were also Asian Golden-Plovers and some Little-ringed Plovers.

We reached the very tip where some people settled to live and from there we went to the trail back. On the way back, we met some DENR officers patrolling the area, and had a brief chat. We also stopped by the lagoons again, and to our delight, there was a lone Philippine Duck in the water. We were so happy to see it, since it was our target bird for the day even though it wasn’t our lifer.

We got out of LPPCHEA and looked back at the path we went and realised we’ve walked for kilometres, and only now did I feel tired. I was exhausted, but happy that I finally got to bird after nearly two weeks of no birding.

 

The City of Water Birds

Last sunday morning, the heat of the sun was just peeping out of the horizon when I was in a packed van of  eight people, me, my dad, my tito, my cousin, and other WBCP members with more in the other vehicles. It was my first time to go to Balanga City, Bataan and I was so excited to see the diverse water birds found there.

Our first stop was in Ochog Fishponds; I was so excited not only because of the birds but also for another thing. I went to Kuya Jun, and asked if he brought it. He reached into the trunk of the car and pulled it out. My Field Station Beltpack by Lowepro; the thing cost me Php 3,000, but it was worth it because the bag really does make birding a bit easier, especially identifying and listing. http://products.lowepro.com/product/Field-Station,2273.htm

The fishponds had many Egrets, with the plain eye I thought there were only like 200, but the experts told me to count them, and even gave me tips. They said it was “training” for the Water Bird Census ; it was confusing to count those birds, but we ended up with approx. 660 Egrets in that area.

Flock of Water Birds in the  Large Fishpond

Flock of Water Birds in the Large Fishpond

Behind the Egrets were some Black-winged Stilts, though some looked grey. The others explained that it was a different sub-species of Black-winged Stilt, while in the pond opposite this was a bit deeper, and it had my next lifer. It had several Little Grebes, known as the diving duck since it can dive for alnost 10 seconds, but when it surfaces it’s already in a whole different area. I got to experience this, the grebe was just right in front of me  when “splash”, it’s  gone. When I tried to find it it was right in the middle of the pond already.

We left for a while, then when we returned the Columbia participants were there. The Guided Trip has started. It was the same birds in that area, so we went up ahead where there some houses, and when we birded near some people whom probably fish in these ponds. We  saw a little boy torturing a juvenile Common Moorhen. It’s leg tied to a rope, the kid pulling it up from the water then throwing it back in.

The poor bird looked like its half dead. I myself don’t like seeing any animal get tortured. I’d the kind of person who gets guilty just because I accidentally stepped on a snail. My eyes couldn’t take seeing the bird in pain so I just looked away. In a while we did get the boy to release his victim, but I don’t think it will last long in its condition.

I put the moorhen at the back of my mind and continued birding, looking at the ponds right next to the area where the “torture” happened. I got me 3 lifers in that  in those two pond: the Long-toed and Rufous-necked Stint, and the Marsh Sandpiper.

When we were about to leave already, there was a bird that caught Kuya Mike’s attention. It had a black tail and yellow bill with black on the tip. A quick look at the Kennedy, and the bird was identified as the Grey-headed Lapwing. It was rare to see it in the Philippines, being an accidental. We were so lucky to be able to see it here; It was a lifer for nearly all of us.

Grey-headed Lapwing

Grey-headed Lapwing
Lifer no. 106

Once everyone had satisfied themselves with the lapwing, we drove off. But not without seeing another lifer, for while in the car we saw tiny birds on the wet mud. “Kentish Plovers!” they said. I see plovers a lot, but they are one of the hardest birds for me to ID so it’s not usual for me to add a plover to my Life List.

We proceeded to our next destination, Balanga Wetland Park. It was a saltwater area, not like Ochog which had freshwater ponds. We saw several waders off shore, undisturbed. The only waders I could identify were Asian Golden Plovers and Common Greenshanks.

I got  three lifers there, not waders but gulls and terns. The Black-headed Gulls which were perching on the wooden poles and on the the mudflats. Two terns, which were the Common Tern which was slightly bigger than the Whiskered Tern, and the Great-crested Tern a large tern with a black crest, very distinct from the other terns.

We walked through a mangrove trail ending up in a “supposedly” empty beach, but sadly it wasn’t. A small group of people were playing and relaxing around. When the other birders went here last time, they said the beach was empty so several waders could be seen along the shore, but now there aren’t much, just a few Common Greenshanks and Sandpipers, but we did get a good view of a Brahminy Kite hunting for food.

We went out of the beach and back through the trail and took a little break, but then we were alarmed by the call of the other birders. They’ve spotted what might be a Chinese Egret which I think is rare. It was a bit hard to distinguish it from a Little Egret, so we took pics, vids and got as many witnesses as we can to await confirmation. If it will be confirmed as a Chinese Egret, then I got me a new lifer.

btw Kuya Jops, if your reading this, I can’t send you the video of the Chinese Egret since the file is too big.

My whole body was agonizingly tired after a whole day of birding. I slept the whole trip back, but I was happy since I got nine lifers in this trip, ten if the the Chinese Egret is confirmed. Balanga was amazing and the diversity of the Water Birds obviously does not disappoint. I can’t wait for the next time I would get the chance to go to Balanga again.

Birds at the Fish Market

It was an early Sunday morning, yet the weather was already hot with the sun shinning high in the sky. The smell of trash and dead fish lingers in the air as the fumes of the Fish Market and LPPCHEA mingle together to create a  foul smell. I didn’t mind the smell though, it didn’t bother me, besides I have smelled stuff way worse than that.

Most people come here to buy, obviously, fish and other seafoods, but me, my Dad, my tito, and my cousin came here to look for water birds, particularly the Common Greenshanks which some birders have reported in this area. The shallow waters were inhabited by Egrets, Herons, Waders, and Terns, but the hard part was identifying them individually. The most obvious bird in the crowd was a lifer, the Grey Heron, bending its wings in a strange position.

The Egrets comprised of Little Egrets, Great Egrets, and Intermediate Egrets. There were plovers there, of course, but sadly we weren’t able to ID any of them aside from the dozens of Asian Golden plovers. Juvenile and immature Black-crowned and Rufous Night Herons were plenty, more than the adults.

It was the first time I saw terns perched on the water, well not exactly on the water but on the very watery mud. I see them perch on telephone and cable wires over Pasig River, but not on the ground, and especially not on the water. It was actually very low tide and I guessed that they used it as an advantage to be able to rest right after fishing in the deeper waters. Most of the terns were Whiskered Terns, but we knew that there were more, but we just couldn’t get the luck to ID them properly.

Our main goal for today was finding the Common Greenshank, and my Dad spotted something. After peeking through the scope a lot, looking at the confusing field marks, and taking glances at the book, we finally confirmed that it was a Common Greenshank. I was so happy that it stayed in that one spot so that we were able to ID it. My last lifer of the day, the Common Greenshank.

 

The Day is Warm, the Birds are Wet

The Hagonoy Pumping Station in Taguig City is a project of the MMDA to help during floods by pumping the flood water towards Laguna Lake. The lake is now filled with reeds and vegetation, a great home for many water birds, like Bitterns, Swallows, Moorhens, Terns and much more.

Hagonoy Pumping Station Area
<Photo by King Pandi>

The warm sun came out of the dark clouds after the long days of rain and flood.The heat of the sun gave life to the birds and birders alike. Tristan (Cousin) told me about Hagonoy Pumping Station and about the birds he found there, but the bird that made me most excited was the Black Bittern, being an uncommon bird, some birders have not even seen one :).

It was Saturday when me, my Dad, and my Sister packed up our gear and went there with enthusiasm on the birds that we might see. We arrived at about 4:30 in the afternoon, and already I got a Lifer. Whiskered Terns were flying around everywhere; it was my first time to see a tern and I love the way they flew, gracefully diving down to catch fish.

We met up with Tristan and his family and almost immediately we saw Yellow Bitterns and Cinnamon Bitterns, in the vegetation. I was so shocked to see so may Bitterns in one place. Pacific Swallows flew above us as we kept looking for birds, then we saw a huge black bird with a long neck. It is what I have been waiting for, Black Bitterns, they were very common in this area and we ended up seeing more than 5 of them. I have another Lifer :). Another black bird then revealed itself to us as we continued birding, Common Moorhens. A lifer, again :).

Black Bittern in Flight < Photo by Jerome Manalad>

Common Moorhens <Photo by King Pandi>

As the sun started to set we saw a lone Little Egret in the distance and Black-crowned Night Herons were starting to appear. Some Glossy Swiftlets flew above me while we were observing the Black Bitterns and we saw a Striated Grassbird coming out of the vegetation and going on a pole.

Little Egret
<Photo by Jerome Manalad>

Before we left we saw some birds that we could not ID, a Tern with a black body with whitish wings, and a Bird that was yellowish, looking like a Heron.

We left the place filled with happiness that we saw all these water birds, and especially the uncommon Black Bittern. When we got home, I saw two WBCP activities next weekend so expect me to post very soon :).

Bird List

  1. Whiskered Tern
  2. Cinnamon Bittern
  3. Yellow Bittern
  4. Black Bittern
  5. Common Moorhen
  6. Little Egret
  7. Black-crowned Night Heron
  8. Pacific Swallow
  9. Striated Grassbird
  10. Glossy Swiftlet
  11. Heron sp.
  12. Tern sp.
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