Monday, January 27

guided trips in january part 1: candaba

its always a great experience for me birding with first-time or newbie birders.  seeing "common" birds through their eyes always makes the bird new and exciting again.  so it must be a good omen that january began with 2 very different guided trips, in 2 very different places for 2 very different groups of people!

on the 2nd weekend of the month, adri and i joined leni, who was taking a family of four (dad, mom and 2 daughters) who lived in her neighborhood for a guided trip at candaba. the weather was perfect for morning birding at candaba: there was a cool breeze, the air was crisp and dry and the sunlight was golden.  mt arayat rose clear above the plains of rice fields. at the main pond we immediately spotted 52 eurasian teal (green-winged teal)! it was the largest flock of teal i had ever seen! they were swimming in a small clearing in the middle of the weed-choked pond. a few philippine ducks looked swam around the edge of the grass.

52 eurasian teal!

of course more obvious at the main pond were the colony of black-crowned night-heron and several purple heron.  both species had individuals in various stages of maturity, and clumsy stick nests were visible sticking out of the grasses.

to our surprise,there were less ducks at the adjacent pond.  the largest group was a flock of tufted duck, joined by a lone garganey.  there were a few philippine duck, and even fewer northern shovellers.

can you spot the garganey among these tufted duck?
while we were observing the ducks behind the grass (we had to move away from a very paranoid carabao mother and her new-born calf), we spotted another group of birders waving at us from across the pond.  it was kitty, irene, rob and mark b!

watching birds (& birders!) from behind the tall grass

when they had walked over to our side, they pointed out a little grebe, sitting on a nest built hidden in the kangkong (Ipomea aquatica). the eggs had already hatched and every now and then a little striped chick with a reddish beak would pop out from underneath.

a little grebe sitting on its young on a well-hidden nest

the back ponds were already drained and planted so we decided to back track and head to the main house. just as we had parked by the gates, a flurry of herons at the main pond caught our attention.  an eastern marsh harrier was flying over the pond!

a migrant eastern marsh harrier flying low over the ponds

a raptor is always a very good bird on a guided trip - perhaps it is the majesty and strength of the bird that never fails to impress not only the newbies but even the more experienced birders.

as we prepared to leave, the well-hidden wandering-whistling ducks took to the air, more than a hundred of them, disturbed by a group of excursionistas who were clapping their hands. 

wandering whistling ducks disturbed - not by a raptor, but by humans clapping their hands!

it seems that people can be more threatening to the birds than raptors!


  1. Wow, you saw a lot of birds! Too bad it had to end with some "pasaways".

  2. Yes Bob, I guess they didn't think they were doing anything wrong, sadly.