The wetlands of Candaba in Pampanga is (2nd) home to a variety of migratory birds during the months of November to February (late autumn - winter in the northern hemisphere). The birds are plentiful during those months.
I revisited the bird sanctuary last weekend on a mountain bike (68km one way, whew!). Biking to a wildlife/bird sanctuary seemed like a good "clean and green" statement to start the year :).
The fields around the sanctuary were being prepare for planting. During the rainy season these fields are underwater so they are used as fish ponds. When the planting season comes, they are drained and the fish harvested. The small fishes, frogs and snails make up the smorgasbord for the birds.
I notice that egrets and terns are particularly numerous, sharing the feeding grounds (terns and egrets are fish feeders).
egrets and terns
I was amused at how a flock of Black-winged Stilts(shore birds) and Whiskered Terns(sea birds) just stood there, at exactly the same spot, for hours. These stilts and terns breed in warmer areas and the abundance of food in Candaba this time of the year makes it a perfect nesting ground. Thanks to Romy Ocon for identifying the birds for me.
stilts (on the water) and terns (on the dike)
According to wikipedia: " The breeding habitat of all these stilts are marshes, shallow lakes and ponds. These birds pick up their food from sand or water. They mainly eat insects and crustaceans."
I spotted several specifies of egrets there - Great Egrets, Lesser Egrets, and Chinese Egrets just to name a few. I'm sure there are other species, I'm not just knowledgeable enough to identify them.
a Great Egret foraging
I love watching the terns do their aerial acrobatics. They twist, turn sharply, or dive abruptly. The gull billed terns do not usually dive for fish, instead they catch insects in mid-flight. That must explain their superb flight agility.
Whiskered terns in flight
The egrets on the other hand are a graceful contrast to the jaunty terns. They glide and land without making much of splash on the water.
preserving the wetlands
Most of the locals (farmers) are conscious about the preservation of the sanctuary. Some admitted that they used to hunt wild ducks there but now guard the area against hunters and poachers.
The town of Candaba also held its first Ibon-Ebon Festival (Ibon means bird, Ebon means egg) last February 1-2 of 2008 to enhance the public's awareness of the conservation efforts and to promote the wildlife reserve as an eco-tourism destination as well as highlight the town's duck-egg industry.
easier access to Candaba
The road linking the bustling town of Baliuag (in the adjacent province of Bulacan) to Candaba is now being concreted (roads like this are part of the "farm to market road" initiative). This road, impassable during the wet season, runs right near the reserve area. If this road becomes a busy highway, it would certainly have environmental impact on the birds.