Thursday, February 5

AWC in Balanga

I was so happy to have had a work meeting scheduled on a Saturday  moved a day earlier!  It meant I could take part in the AWC (Asian Waterbird Census) at one of my favorite sites: the City of Balanga in Bataan.

Balanga has always been supportive of the AWC and of preserving the wetlands of Manila Bay. It is always a joy to take part in their activities.

This year, I wasn't assigned to my usual site at the Balanga City Wetland and Nature Park but to the private fishponds behind the cemetery at Barangay Puerto Rivas Lote.  When our team arrived at the site, it was cool and cloudy. The first few ponds had water in them and we could see several Little Grebes even in the distance.

The next couple of ponds were drained and held hundreds of egrets!  Little Egrets, Great Egrets and Intermediate Egrets!

And of course there were also large flocks of Balanga's unofficial mascot: the always elegant Black-winged Stilts.

I was surprised that there weren't too many waders to be counted.  Only a few Marsh Sandpipers and Plovers.  It was a challenge counting them so far away!

Because of the low count, we were done quite early and so we had time to admire the Whiskered Terns flying around us.

While having our thoughtfully packed breakfast, a flock of Black-winged Stilts flew gracefully into (and later out of) the pond right beside us.

When all the teams assembled at the City Hall, it turned out that the lower count (compared to previous years) was a trend for everyone.  The total count was at 12,599 waterbirds for all 4 sites.  

Tallying up the counts

It's hard to pinpoint what could have contributed to the lower count.  Was it the timing? The tides and fishpond water levels?  Was it the weather? Environmental changes? A combination of all of the above?  It certainly is difficult to tell.

Still, Balanga always holds impressive numbers and a few surprises for birders who persevere.  I am looking forward to many more birding trips to this city by the bay.


  1. Missed this! Hope to join the AWC in Balanga next year =) Exciting!!! ;)

    1. Exciting talaga! :-) I'll join you next year!