We braced for the worst possible road conditions (we've been getting reports of bad road conditions from fellow birders) even if our group was bringing an SUV and a pick-up. I was bracing for a long walk to the mayors house and more the hot walk back. But, to our pleasant surpirse (and relief!), we were blessed not only with dry, solid roads but also good weather for a great birding morning.
|Grey Herons atop on of the houses in the mayor's property.|
We took the Balagtas exit from the North Luzon Expressway, took the bypass road, and found ourselves birding in the empty rice fields of Candaba at 6AM. There were lots of egrets and terns, as well as Black-winged Stilts already foraging in the rice paddies right before the t-junction. Waders were also flying in to start searching for food and we were able to see pretty-looking Marsh Sandpipers and beautifully marked Wood Sandpipers.
We also spotted another lifer here! We saw smaller looking waders running around, probing the mud with their bills... Long-toed Stints!
|Our lifer for the day: Long-toed Stint.|
We then moved to the t-junction, parked our cars on the side of the road, and were treated to great views of a Common Kingfisher, Yellow Bittern, and even a fly-by Black Bittern. The usual Purple and Grey Herons were there and there were small groups of Wandering Whistling Ducks flying around the marsh. A flock of White-shouldered Starlings also flew in and out of the trees lining the road.
|Yellow Bittern hiding in the grass.|
We drove further up the road and saw a lot of White-breasted Waterhens, together with some Barred Rails, Zebra Doves, and Red Turtle Doves.
|White-breasted Waterhen on the road. In the background is a dove.|
We parked our cars outside the mayor's house and decided to just walk the rest of the way, since we were unsure of the road conditions in that area. We were targeting the large area just beyond the old watch tower where lots of ducks congregate. And lots of ducks we saw! Though too far to ID all the ducks accurately, we were able to spot Philippine Ducks, Northern Shovellers, and Garganeys making up a huge mixed flock of thousands of ducks in the water! We also enjoyed watching a Little Grebe in one of the ponds.
|Little Grebe - one of the birds I always enjoy observing!|
Photo by Jops Josef
In the surrounding ponds, we also saw a small flock of Tufted Ducks and also a lone Eurasian Coot! I love how the coot looks, with its stark white frontal shield and beak forming a unique shape and contrasting with a black head and charcoal body. This wasn't a lifer for me but I got such great views of it!!!
|Eurasian Coot digiscoped by Jops|
It was getting very hot by the time we reached the watch tower and we soon headed back to our cars. We took quick short breaks in the shade of the trees and saw more stilts and a huge flock of terns flying over a portion of the rice fields. Before noon, we were packed up and driving to the expressway to get lunch. It was Alan and Alex's first time to go to Candaba and they were really amazed at the place and Jops, Jun, and I were very happy with our bird list of more than 50 species for a half-day of birding.
PS We missed you, Rob!