Posts Tagged ‘Waders’

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.

 

A Migratory of the Coasts

It took me a while until I posted this,  due to many different reasons. One reason is that I am having my Trimestral Exams this week, and I had to do some studying. I actually put in mind not posting it at all, but of course you, my loyal readers, would not like that. I took the thought of not posting this out of my mind, and started typing.

I put my head down and peeked into the bush, something was moving inside, wagging its tail slightly. It was obviously a wader, a bit grayish-brown. I slowly got closer to the unknown bird, but then I flushed it. No matter, I was still able to see it quite enough to ID it. It was another Common Sandpiper.

There were relatively six species that were very common there that Sunday afternoon. The first two were too obvious, which were the Little Egret and Black-crowned Night Heron. The White-collared Kingfisher was very common, every minute we would at least see two White-collared Kingfishers fly in front of us and we would usually hear its loud call. Little Herons were more common today than all the other days we have been there, and so were Pacific Swallows.

The other bird was a bit of a surprise for me to see so many; Common Sandpipers, everywhere. The migration season is really starting to come out of its shell, and reveal itself. A month ago, I have never even seen a Common Sandpiper, but now here I am in LPPCHEA seeing dozens of them flying over the water occasionally landing on the shore or on rocks or boulders, hiding behind them making it hard for me and my Dad to see them.

Other than those birds we also spotted some others as well. The Yellow Bittern stayed in its usual spot, but it ran away once it saw me and my Dad coming closer. Deeper in LPPCHEA, we saw some electrical wires and on them were more birds. We first saw some Spotted Doves on these wires, they would occasionally drop on the ground and feed, I think. My Dad also saw a green bird looking like a parakeet. It looked like an escaped pet bird and it was not in the Kennedy Guide so we suspected that it was.

Going back to the neared side of LPPCHEA, we decided to go in what Ivan Sarenas (WBCP member) calls the Tiklingan” “Place of the Barred Rails”. We went inside and saw some Pied Fantails, hopping about and fanning their tails. We spotted one Barred Rail which flew immediately after sensing us coming. Once we reached what I think was the DENR station, we really wanted to see a lot of birds in the lagoon, sadly I think the yapping of the dog scared all the birds away.

Deeper inside we heard a very awful noise that I know, but cannot recall. We slowly tip-toed to where we heard them and at the sight of the bird, I remembered the call. It was the unpleasant call of the White-breasted Waterhen. One glimpse of it, then when it realized it was being stalked on; It ran into the vegetation.

We returned back to our car, the last birds we saw were Glossy Swiftlets as they flew above our heads, then the bats came out and replaced all the birds. I was very happy today because it was just the start of the migration season and already, migratory birds were everywhere. Excitement ran through my veins at the thought of what I will see once the migration season has reached its peak.

Bird List

  1. Little Egret
  2. Black-crowned Night Heron
  3. White-collared Kingfisher
  4. Little Heron
  5. Pacific Swallow
  6. Common Sandpiper
  7. Spotted Dove
  8. Yellow Bittern
  9. Barred Rail
  10. White-breasted Waterhen
  11. Pied Fantail
  12. Glossy Swiftlet

Pledge to Fledge Weekend (Part Two)

It was the second day of the “Pledge to Fledge” weekend, and this time were holding a guided trip with my relatives in LPPCHEA. I am the one who introduce my relatives to birding and it was good to know they were willing to come tomorrow. They were actually very new to birding since I only took them birding like once(?) but we didn’t see many birds when I birded with them before, but now that they are with experienced guides, they’ll probably see more birds.

We started off with an orientation, as usual, which took a bit longer than when I joined a Guided Trip before I was a member of the WBCP. We then went to the beach of sand and trash with some comments and questions on why there was so much trash in that area. We set the Spotting Scopes and did what we do, bird.

The Orientation of the Guided Trip
<Photo by King Pandi>

There were still the usual Black-crowned night Herons and Little Egrets everywhere. Then the other member spotted a Common Sandpiper on the beach, as we birded. I was so happy that there were waders now, for it symbolizes that the migration season is starting.

Little Egret <Photo by King Pandi>

Other than that, there was also a Sand Plover. It took a while to ID what kind of Sand Plover, but then Kuya Ivan confirmed it as a Greater Sand Plover due to the yellow feet. I was not satisfied with just calling it a lifer just like that; I needed to see the feet to be able to call it a lifer, good thing I did. 🙂

We went to a different beach, deeper in LPPCHEA where we spotted some White-collared Kingfisher, and a Spotted Dove. The Spotted Dove was a very unique bird with its black patch with white spots on the nape. We also spotted a Pacific Golden Plover and a Grey-tailed Tattler, both lifers. The Pacific Golden Plover was so beautiful, with it’s gold and black plumage. The Grey-tailed Tattler looked kinda cute. 🙂

Before going home, we saw a Pied Fantail on the street. This was the first time complete strangers actually asked me questions about birds, but functioning as a guide was very fun. The faces of the people when they see the White-collared Kingfisher or the Black-crowned Night Heron :O. I would definitely love to function as a guide again.

For those interested to “Pledge to Fledge” here is the link.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/509/572/301/pledge-to-fledge/

Bird List

  1. Black-crowned Night Heron
  2. Little Egret
  3. Common Sandpiper
  4. Greater Sand Plover (Lifer)
  5. Spotted Dove (Lifer)
  6. White-Collared Kingfisher
  7. Pacific Golden Plover (Lifer)
  8. Grey-tailed Tattler (Lifer)
  9. Pied Fantail
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