After a few wrong turns, we finally saw the empty rice fields of Barangay Paralaya. At first, the muddy plots of land looked empty but upon closer inspection, we could see stints, plovers and sandpipers aplenty!
|There were lots of cute Little Ringed Plovers in the dry mud.|
|Lots of Long-toed Stints wading in the shallow water.|
While scanning the waders, Jops was able to spot a couple of them with distinct bills curved downward. They would probe the water with their bills, sinking them quite deep. Jun, Jops, and I deliberated and suspected them to be Curlew Sandpipers which was later confirmed when we consulted with other birders. We just got an unexpected Candaba lifer!
|A pair of Curlew Sandpipers wading the water.|
Along with the waders were other grassland birds that would come out from the plants now and then to forage in the open.
|There were LOTS of Buff-banded Rails, some staying out|
in the open. We even saw a couple walking beside a cat!
In the corner of the nearest paddy field, a Buff-banded Rail would keep popping out of the vegetation and would be closely followed by a darker rail. We got excited at the possibility of it being a Brown-banded Rail - a bird that would be a lifer for us three. Unfortunately, it turned out the bird was a juvenile Slaty-breasted Rail, still a nice bird to see and observe.
|Slaty-breasted Rail (juvenile) coming out of the grass.|
When the rail stayed out of view, we turned our attention to the other fields. More and more birds were flying in and it was exciting spotting and identifying them. We saw Marsh Sandpipers, Wood Sandpipers, and Kentish Plovers. Other birds we saw were Yellow Bitterns, Pied Bushchats, and a Common Kingfisher. Jops was at his "spotting best" and saw a snipe in plain view!
|We were thrilled to see a snipe out in the open, foraging for food|
and preening by the water's edge.
All around us, birds were coming out: White-breasted Waterhens kept crossing the road and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters glided above us calling "Pirik! Pirik!" A flock of Chestnut Munias hopped along the dirt road and tiny Zitting Cisticolas would fly in and land among the tall grass. Lots of egrets also flew in and landed in the pond in front of us and we were able to study the differences between a Great Egret and an Intermediate Egret. In the inner paddy fields, terns flew as a huge white flock and pipits ran around the edge of the road.
Jops was the only one of us diligent enough to count the birds, and his efforts paid off. He spotted a couple of birds in the water, probing the shallows with their long, two-toned beaks. Jun also noticed them earlier and we concentrated our efforts documenting the birds and trying to identify them. Our best guess was that they were Black-tailed Godwits but we needed confirmation. And confirmation we got! After emailing birder friends Desmond and Felix, we got the same ID: Black-tailed Godwits.
|The pair of Black-tailed Godwits.|
With two unexpected lifers for me and Jops to add to our list (one for Jun), we drove back to Manila with growling stomachs for a well-deserved lunch. =)