Tuesday, January 12

Candaba to start the birding year

Candaba is always a good idea to start the birding year.  A few days into 2016, Adri and I wanted to check out the roads leading to the ponds. A late December storm had flooded most of low lying Bulacan and Pampanga and Adri wanted to check out accessibility for his upcoming trips.

We started out at the back route at Brgy Paligue where the dirt road leading down from the highway was obviously not passable to most vehicles.  The first 10 meters or so was sticky mud, deeply rutted by tractor tire and still soft.  After that the road was quite dry and hard - but it hardly mattered since the first part was not passable.  We decided to walk to the mayor's ponds - many of the farmers were out working: plowing and tilling the fields to ready them for planting.

It's the time to ready the fields for planting.

Hundreds of Whiskered Terns were flying and landing all over the muddy fields, while a few egrets (all present: Cattle, Little, Intermediate and Great) congregated on some plots.  Every now and then a cloud of Black-winged Stilts would take to the air in their mesmerizing synchronous flight.

Whiskered Terns perched on the mud.

Egrets, egrets, egrets.

Along the path, Striated Grassbirds, Clamorous Reed Warblers, Zitting Cisticolas, Pied Bushchats and Common Kingfishers flew back and forth.

A male Pied Bushchat always has a female somewher nearby!

In ditches filled with water hyacinth, Yellow Bitterns, Common Moorhens, White-browed Crakes and White-breasted waterhens played hide-and-seek.  When we arrived at the back ponds, a Lesser Coucal was enjoying the hot morning sun.

A Lesser Coucal sort of out in the open.

As we approached the mayor's ponds we flushed the Red Turtledoves who predictably flew to the tall eucalyptus trees across from us.  We were happy to see several Philippine Ducks swimming in the vegetation choked water, with a few Wandering Whistling Ducks hiding nearby.

Philippine Ducks!

As we moved on, we also saw a few Green-winged Teal. A Black Bittern flew by and landed in the open quite a distance away.

A Black Bittern

In the distance somebody fired a few gun shots and all of a sudden the air was filled with hundreds of ducks!

Ducks in the air!

By then it was getting VERY hot and so we decided to walk back to our car on the highway and try out the roads from Brgy Bahay Pare and check out the ponds from the other side.

I saw all the farmers with their plows and carabaos working hard under the hot sun and reminded myself again to always finish the rice on my plate. (Not only did the farmers work hard for that rice, but the birds lost their habitat for it!)

Farmers busy in the fields

We had no difficulty at all on the dirt roads to the ponds.  On the un-planted plots of land nearing the ponds were several Wood Sandpipers foraging in the mud.

One of several Wood-sandpipers.

At the ponds we were pleasantly surprised to see many other migratory ducks.  Aside from the Green-winged Teal we had spotted earlier, there were also Northern Shovellers, Eurasian Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Garganey, and a lone NorthernPintail.  We thought we had spotted a Gadwall but we lost it on the scope and couldn't find it again for confirmation.

A Eurasian Wigeon and a Philippine Duck.

An Eastern Marsh Harrier flying over the ponds momentarily distracted us. Adult and juvenile Moorhens walked on the kangkong and Little Grebes would pop in and out of the water.

By this time the sun was bearing down heavily on us and waves of shimmering heat were making it difficult for us to view the ducks. The very still Grey and Purple Herons and Black-crowned Night Herons began to look like shiny mirages in the green.  

So, happy with the morning's sightings and having confirmed that the roads were passable, we decided that it was time to go.  Not too bad starting the birding year with several hundred ducks and waterbirds!

Sidenote: a few days later, Rob H., Irene D., and Mel T. would spot 2 ducks which were country records!  Looks like we need a return trip to Candaba soon!

For our complete birdlist for that day, click here.


  1. Candaba is love =) Feeling ko kasama ko kayo when I was reading this hehehe =)

    1. Your presence (physical or virtual) is always welcome Maia! :-) Thanks!