A year after I last joined Arne’s waterbird survey in Manila Bay, I found myself back in the Atlag fish port in Malolos, Bulacan, boarding a small motorized banca, and heading out to the bay. This was my third time to participate in Arne’s survey and for this trip I was with Arne, Tinggay, and Harry.
|Boarding our banca at sunrise|
|Arne discussing our “game plan” with our boatmen|
The count officially started as we sped through the river heading out to Barangay Pamarawan. Egrets and terns were flying around us, out to get their first meal of the day, and night herons were flying overhead heading home to roost.
|It was low tide that morning so our boatmen had to navigate slowly|
|At one point, Tinggay transferred to the smaller paddle boat and we were
pushed to deeper waters
Our first stop was on a little “island” in Barangay Pulo-Pulo. There were good sightings there though quite far. We saw Whimbrels, Little Terns, and three Chinese Egrets among other waders.
|Our small “office” in Manila Bay =)
Photo by Harry Miller
|Chinese Egret busy foraging for food|
|Some Little Terns on a sand bar|
After counting the area, we headed back out the bay and stopped at a place the boatmen called “Capiz Beach” in Bambang. The water was too shallow so Arne and I transferred to the paddle boat and headed to the beach to check for birds. We found almost none…
|Arne scanning a potentially bird-y area for birds. Nada.|
As we transferred to our next stop, the fish pens and exposed rocks served as additional “sites” with Greater Crested Terns, Black-headed Gulls, Pacific Golden Plovers, and Ruddy Turnstones.
|Terns and gulls in a row|
|Greater Crested Terns are always a delight to see =)|
|Pacific Golden Plovers on exposed rocks|
The gems of the trip, for me at least, were the salt pans we visited. Aside from it being my first time to see actual salt pans, it was waders galore!!!
|That’s Harry on his scope, scanning for birds|
We spotted a huge congregation of waders in the inner, empty plots of land so we went for a closer look and found a big group of 68 Far Eastern Curlews! There were also lots of Lesser Sand Plovers, Kentish Plovers, Pacific Golden Plovers, and Red-necked Stints. Another treat for me was seeing Curlew Sandpipers. It has been awhile since I last saw them!
|Part of the flock of curlews we saw|
|Tinggay, Arne, and Harry counting and listing birds|
We finished counting at around 5PM, and we sped back, wet and tired, to the fish port in Atlag. We had a total count of 6,127 birds for the day. Not bad and especially since we were able to stumble upon that big flock of Far Eastern Curlews! I’m grateful to have played a small role in this endevor and I can’t wait to read the final report on this project and see the results of Arne’s efforts 😊