Candaba Before Christmas

Two days before Christmas Day, I was enjoying the cool wind and picturesque landscape of Candaba in Pampanga. Away from the traffic, crowds, malls, and groceries, the quiet, laid back countryside was perfect for clearing one's mind, even for just an afternoon.

The relaxing landscape of Candaba.

The hanging Amihan (Northeastern monsoon winds) was blowing cool and strong that afternoon, as we birders scoped out Black-winged Stilts, Great and Little Egrets, Whiskered Terns, and some waders.

Some Black-winged Stilts and a Little Egret foraging for food.

Aside from the waders and egrets, around us were Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Yellow Bitterns, and lots of White-breasted Waterhens. We moved closer to the Mayor's house and along the way found a pond with ducks in it. We were hoping we'd still see the Common Shelduck which Jops and I were able to successfully twitch earlier in the month. Unfortunately, the Shelduck wasn't anywhere to be seen that afternoon. We did see some Little Grebes and some ducks: Philippine Ducks, Northern Shovellers, Wandering Whistling Ducks, Green-winged Teals, and Garganeys. Most were hiding in the reeds though.

A Philippine Duck (the large one in the center) and some
Tufted Ducks (the male has the whiter/paler chest.)

Most of the ducks were settled in the reeds.
(There's a male Green-winged Teal hiding in the middle of the photo.)

It was an easy afternoon of birding. We saw a hundred Grey Herons flying above us and saw even larger flocks of egrets flying over the marsh. Huge flocks taking flight is always an amazing sight to see! 

Egrets flying over the marsh.

Aside from the huge flocks, the highlights of the trip for me were seeing a Black Bittern in plain view and spotting a nesting Purple Heron. It was a nest lifer for me =)

The Purple Heron would stand and re-arrange some twigs on its nest...

.... before settling down again.
We found our way to the Mayor's house and birded a bit more in the area until the sun set. Our last bird for the day was a Purple Swamphen perched atop some bare branches.

The Purple Swamphen in the purple sunset.
With night settling in, we drove home but not before getting dinner and of course making our birdlist. We saw a total of 47 species that afternoon in Candaba, just before Christmas =)

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