Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dude-birding in Candaba

It has been quite a while since I last went birding. Last Saturday, I was able to join Adri and Trinket guide a group of grade schoolers, their teachers, and their parents in Candaba. A bit unexpectedly, it turned out to be a dude birding trip, having most of the birds staying put in one area in front of us, no need for a long walk which wasn't so enticing given the heat we've been experiencing lately.

We arrived ahead of the agreed upon meeting time, so we decided to do some birding by ourselves. We were a bit surprised to see how much the landscape has changed since the last time we visited. The large pond at the T-junction had large portions cleared of vegetation, exposing large parts of mud. Here we saw lots of birds: Philippine Ducks, Wandering Whistling Ducks, Purple Herons, lots of Common Moorhens, and  also some Black-crowned Night-herons all standing around and foraging in the exposed mud.

Large portions were cleared of vegetation exposing both mud and birds

Sadly though, the other side of the road which was on a slope was burned. No more perches for the noisy Clamorous Reed-Warblers.

This was the area where the Siberian Rubythroat was seen last month

We drove around the property, spotting more birds mostly on the road - lots of Barred Rails, White-breasted Waterhens, Zebra Doves, and Red Turtle Doves.

Barred Rail
White-breasted Waterhen

The other ponds surrounding the Mayor's house has also been mostly drained and planted with rice. Nothing much to see except for the grassland birds and more Common Moorhens and the occassional fly-by bitterns. We also spotted a Purple Swamphen sticking out of the water hyacinths.

Purple Swamphen - such a prehistoric-looking bird!

Before we reached the Mayor's house, we saw a group of men dragging a huge net, fishing in the pond. We stopped to inspect their catch and were amazed at the very large carps they harvested! They also had a good catch of tilapia for the morning.

Part of the morning's harvest

Manong lifted the huge fish for a photo-op

We rounded the road and found ourselves near where we started. Another group of birds foraged in this cleared area of the large pond and we decided to wait here for the participants. Aside from the ducks, we saw Black-winged Stilts, Great Egrets, Little Egrets, and beautiful Pheasant-tailed Jacanas in their breeding plumage.

Always a treat to see Jacanas!
We got great views of them even though they were quite far.

The convoy of participants arrived, led by a big, red tourist bus and we began the activity. After birding in the large pond, the kids spent time collection samples from the pond behind the mayor's house. They got to ride the banca to closer inspect the plants and animals in the water.

Teacher got to be the boatman for some of his students =P

 Adri was able to find a clump of bats in the coconut tree above where we were standing. (So, that was where the squeaky sounds were coming from!) We also saw a bigger clump in the tree beside it!

Bats!

We were done towards noon, the teachers and parents buying some freshly caught carp at 20pesos per kilo. Even though the migrants have gone, it was not a bad dude birding morning in Candaba. =)