Monday, January 15

Asian Waterbird Census and the Pied Harrier

The weather at Candaba yesterday was perfect for birding.  The sun shining brightly and a cool breeze blowing clouds to give shade when it got too warm. The best weather I've had there yet.  Mount Arayat stood out clearly against the blue sky and the ponds teemed with life.

There seemed to be less Philippine Duck this year, less Northern Pintail and Northern Shovellers too.  But there were so many Garganey!  The Tufted Duck were my favorite this year, and I watched them dive and pop out of the water with their tufts perfectly in place and their dark heads glinting in the sun.  Caught sight of a few Eurasian Widgeons and a single Common Pochard.  Didn't see any Green-winged Teal, which would have put the duck species count at eight.

I watched a Pied Harrier harass the Garganey, sending clouds of them flying up from the water's surface.  I wonder if they ever accidently bumped into each other in mid-flight.  They almost looked liked a school of sardines moving in perfect synchronization.  Almost.  Strangely, the Pintail and Shovellers didn't seem daunted by the Harrier.  It didn't surprise me though that a few of the Philippine Duck skittishly took to the air as the Harrier flew past.  It certainly doesn't take much to alarm those birds.

The Pied Harrier flew with so much poise and confidence!  Imagine having a hundred small ducks flying in confusion around you, and occasionally being dive-bombed by herons! It didn't seem fazed at all.  There's a lesson there somewhere.

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