It has been a while since Jops and I last helped conduct a guided trip for first-time birdwatchers, so when WBCP member Tony requested an afternoon trip to Candaba for him and his colleagues, we made sure to make time for it.
|Jops giving the introductory talk about birdwatching.|
We started our walk at the big pond just before the mayor's house. There were lots of Grey Herons, Chestnut Munias, and Barn Swallows keeping still in the area, which already made the participants eyes go wide. Little did they know that they would be seeing so much more!
Just standing in the area, we saw Common Kingfishers, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, White-shouldered Starlings, and Red Turtle Doves. Lots of Wandering Whistling Ducks would also fly by only to land hidden in the grass. One of them, however, chose to land in a small clearing right in front of us. It stayed a long while, giving us great views!
|The very bold Wandering Whistling Duck posed a while for our group.|
|It even gave us a great view of its "behind" - a view I rarely see!|
By this time, the group was really getting into birding and were pointing out birds to each other. We moved on to the inner ponds and saw a small flock of Philippine Ducks. After a few minutes, some Wandering Whistling Ducks flew in to join them, allowing for everyone to study the difference between the two species.
|Participants pointing out birds to each other.|
|A couple of Wandering Whistling Ducks wading with the |
larger Philippine Ducks.
We were observing the ducks when Jops and Brian (who also volunteered to help guide) spotted a raptor flying very low over the rice fields just behind us! This got everyone excited as we all followed the huge light-brown raptor fly over the fields, gliding confidently just inches from the planted rice! We followed it until it perched on a pole sticking out from the middle of the vast rice field and we were able to put in on the scope. It stayed long enough for us to identify it as a female Pied Harrier, a lifer for me and Jops and for everyone else as well! It was such a treat because I rarely see raptors in Candaba.
|Some of us were able to digiscope the Pied Harrier |
even though it was quite far.
Our last stop was by the watchtower. Most of the fields were planted with rice, leaving just one pond with water. Here we saw Tufted Ducks, more Philippine and Wandering Whistling Ducks, but added Little Grebes and some male Green-winged Teals to our bird list. The first-time birders were starting to point out new birds to us... Long-tailed Shrikes, Little Egrets, Purple Herons, and Black-crowned Night Herons.
During the activity, I would overhear our new birders talk among themselves, discussing the differences between the ducks they saw, "Yung may black sa mata, Philippine Duck yun." ("The one with black across the eye is the Philippine Duck.") and listing the birds we saw on a small piece of paper, already making their life list. Taking people out to experience birdwatching remains a huge source of joy for both me and Jops and we are so looking forward to our next trip.