Posts Tagged ‘WBCP Guided Trip’

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.

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My 100th Lifer

Hurrying through the busy roads on the way to UP were me and my driver. I was late for the Guided Trip which started an hour before I arrived. I missed some good birds like the Coppersmith Barbet and the White-collared Kingfisher. I have seen both before, but seeing them again would be nice. My goal actually for today was to reach my 100th lifer, being at 98 I was determined to see 2 new birds today.

I missed this so much, being with the WBCP. It’s more fun, even happier when they’re around, and most of all, easier to see birds. We started off, or at least I started off, at the side of the road, since they were already there when I caught up with them, but the original meeting place was near the UP Main Library.

We saw a lot of Brown Shrikes, and Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers on the trees at the side of the road, while on the road were hundreds of joggers completely unaware of their presence. When you look up, you could see Lowland White-eyes and Golden-bellied Flyeaters high-up on the tree tops. We were unprepared for the next surprise, a raptor that is somewhat white in plumage. It came and went in a matter of seconds.

We entered a slightly forested area, the UP Lagoon. The place was crawling, well… flying, with Brown Shrikes and Yellow-vented Bulbuls. Some birders finally spotted my 99th lifer. They showed me the bird, and it kept flying around but in the same area, so we were still able to follow it. It was an immature Brush Cuckoo eating a very hairy caterpillar we Filipinos call “Higad”.

It flew away, but luckily everyone in the group, including the participants to the Guided Trip, saw it. We then continued out the Lagoon, but not without seeing two cute Zebra Doves on the path. It was almost time to go, but we still had one stop left. Ate Maia (WBCP mamber) told me that it was a sure sighting of my 100th lifer in that area.

Sure enough, it was. Immediately when we got there, the others were already pointing at a Mango Tree. It took me a while, but I finally saw it. A Philippine Nightjar roosting on a branch at plain view. We woke it up from its sleep, but it soon went back to sleep when it figured that we weren’t a threat.

Philippine Nightjar <Photo by Jun Osano>
100th Lifer!!!

I was so thrilled to see my 100th lifer, but sad that I had to go home already. I looked at my fellow WBCP members, and well… I will miss them. It has been a while since I saw them, but now that I was birding with them again I had so much fun. It’s true that birding is more fun with more people, especially with people who are more experienced than you are because you learn from them, and it’s fun to be able to share stories with each other. I just hope there will be a next WBCP activity very soon.

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

Pledge to Fledge Weekend (Part One)

For the past two days WBCP has been holding “Pledge to Fledge” Guided Trips  to the public. Guided Trips in which we try to “Fledge” non-birders to try on birding, most of the participants were actually some of the member’s friends and relatives. The word “Fledge” means to take care of a young bird until it is ready to fly.

Day one of the of the “Pledge to Fledge” weekend, I was a bit confused because I thought we weren’t going to join it. I originally thought we were going to UP Diliman, but to my surprise my dad said “Okay, were going to La Mesa Ecopark.” I thought he was messing with me, but then I knew he was serious as we passed the road on the way to La Mesa Ecopark.

We met with the other birders at the Spill Way and they were just as surprised to see us there as I was. I saw a group of 20+ participants, and each face was surely ready to learn more about birds. Before entering the actual park, Kuya Jun showed me a Common Kingfisher. It was so cute with its orange belly and blue-green back, definitely my favorite Kingfisher that I have seen so far.

We entered the park entrance, hoping to get lucky on the Ashy Ground-Thrush, but alas, no Ashies. We went deeper into La Mesa Ecopark, seeing Olive-backed Sunbirds on some heliconia plants and birds of paradise plants. I have now realized that knowing plants and trees are actually important in birding, so that you can tell what plants and trees do birds favor.

We spotted some Osprey before entering the Nature Trail, and inside the trail were some cute little Philippine Pygmy Woodpeckers and Black-naped Orioles which got a lot of attention from the participants. Yellow-vented Bulbuls and Pied Fantails would show themselves once in a while

My dad saw the very first Rufous Paradise Flycatcher and I was disappointed because I thought I wouldn’t see one that day, but as I was walking down the path with Alain Pascua behind me. I saw something orange, in my mind I’m like “Dried Leaf?”, but the leaf moved “Rufous Paradise Flycatcher?!” I got my binoculars and sure enough, it was. I was so happy, and later on, everyone got a chance to see the Flycatchers.

We went out out of La Mesa Ecopark, and Kuya Jops collected the binoculars that were borrowed by the participants. Me and my Dad went to the Spill Way again, and saw some participants. One has been birding for a long time, but never joined the club, but he said he would soon. The other was his friend, a first time birder.

We saw some Little Herons and Little Egrets with Common Sandpipers, lifer. An Immature Black-crowned Night Heron was present  and still,  so were Barred Rails, swimming and drying themselves. Lowland White-eyes flew above and a White-eared Brown Dove perched itself on a small tree.

Little Egret <Photo by King Pandi>

Immature Black-crowned Night Heron

Barred Rails

I started raining so we had to leave, plus we were getting hungry, on the way out we saw some Pacific Swallows and a White-breasted Waterhen crossing the road, how ironic.

Bird List

  1. Common Kingfisher (Lifer)
  2. Olive-backed Sunbird
  3. Osprey
  4. Philippine Pygmy Woodpecker
  5. Black-naped Oriole
  6. Yellow-vented Bulbul
  7. Pied Fantail
  8. Rufous Paradise Flycatcher (Lifer)
  9. Little Heron
  10. Little Egret
  11. Common Sandpiper
  12. Black-crowned Night Heron
  13. Barred Rail
  14. Lowland White-eye
  15. White-eared Brown Dove
  16. Pacific Swallow
  17. White-collared Kingfisher
  18. White-breasted Waterhen

to be continued…

Coastal Storm

Typhoon Gener

Winds of up to 120 kph and gustiness of up to 150 kph, Nearly 28,631 people were affected while 2,413 are currently staying in evacuation centers.

Typhoon Gener

View of Typhoon Gener over the Philippines

We drove to LPPCHEA, wishing that the hard rains would not affect the number of birds. It was a guided trip with some UP Diliman students studying journalism. Mike said that some people from TV5 would be there and film us birding :-). I was so excited of the fact of being on TV. It was something that I have wanted since I was a kid, but they were probably gonna focus on Kuya Mike (WBCP Member) and I was fine with that.

We arrived in LPPCHEA a bit too early, the trip was scheduled at 4pm and we came at 3:30. I decided to take pictures of the garbage on the shores to show to my club in school, FOME (Friends of Mother Earth). We looked around and due to the rain, the birds lessened from dozens to a few at a time. We could still find the usual Little Egrets and Black-crowned Night Heron. Pacific Swallows were quite common and flying very low. Tito Jerome then found a Barred Rail and a Yellow bittern walking in the mangroves, staying there for quite a long time.

Coastal Garbage 1

Far view of the LPPCHEA garbage

Coastal Garbage 2

Close up of the LPPCHEA garbage

Ate Maia and Kuya Jops (WBCP Members) finally arrived, with a van of GMA. I was a bit confused why it was GMA, not TV5, well I really didn’t care. We showed them the Barred Rail and Yellow Bittern, while Ate Maia was busy being interviewed. Some cars came in with some more WBCP members and the Journalism students with their Professor. They are quite short and enthusiastic, they were given they’re binoculars and an orientation, which reminds me of my first guided birding trip. Once Mike arrived, the cameras were all focused on him. We then found a few Chestnut Munias in the tall grass.

First Guided Trip

My First Guided Trip in Philippine Science High School <Photo by King Pandi>

The UP students rarely took notice of me, the only time they did was when I spotted some Black-crowned Night Herons fly behind them. I would’ve liked to guide them, actually someday I wish to head a Guided Birding Trip, maybe in a few years I would :-). I feel a bit of comfort in teaching people about birds; I feel happy when they feel enthusiastic about seeing a bird that I have seen hundreds of times. I would someday want to actually inspire someone to bird as a hobby, like what happened to me before. Memories :-). But they didn’t really need me there since Kuya Jops was there, and he does have more experience.

The rain kept pouring, while me and Tristan (Cousin) went further in LPPCHEA, while the UP students kept astonishing over the White-collared Kingfishers. I loved their surprised and happy faces, wishing that I was there, talking about the magnificent, blue Kingfisher to them. While there we found a lot of White-collared Kingfishers and a black bird flying right at the corner of my eye that Tristan confirmed was an Asian Glossy Starling. I could hear the calls of Striated Grassbirds in the distance, while we found a currently empty nest on a tree.

We were returning to the where the others were when a van, which Kuya Mike explained as the van of TV5, came to us and asked us if we were cousins competing on the length of our life lists. True enough we were, so we said yes, then they said we might be videoed for the show of Sharon Cuneta called “Sharon”. I was so happy I could throw up while they asked for my number.

When we got back, my family was there to pick me up later, after birding. I told everyone the good news, and while conversing with the other birders my umbrella went inside out, and we all had a good laugh of it :-D. Once we were ready to leave, that was the only time I noticed I was soaking wet.

Once we left the place, I was glad to be out of the rain, but still craved to go back to bird. I really want to be part of the Trips Committee or the Education and Training Committee once I got enough experience. In a few years or maybe sooner, you would see me guiding Newbies and being interviewed ;-).

Barred Rail

BARRED RAIL <Photo by Jerome Manalad>

BIRD LIST

  1. Little Egret
  2. Black-crowned Night Heron
  3. Pacific Swallow
  4. Barred Rail
  5. Yellow Bittern
  6. White-collared Kingfisher
  7. Chestnut Munia
  8. Asian Glossy Starling
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