Wednesday, November 2

Checking out Candaba

Last week, Adri and I went on a quick trip to check out the road conditions at Candaba and found ourselves walking under the hot morning sun!

Upon arriving, we stayed on the highway straight towards Brgy Paligui to check out the back way, which turned out to be under water!  The farmers were already preparing some of the fields and large flocks of Wood Sandpipers were moving around.  Egrets and Black-winged Stilts were also a-plenty. We were hoping to get a glimpse of a pair of recently sighted Glossy Ibis but no luck.

With the back way unavailable even by foot, we back tracked to Brgy Bahay Pare and tried our luck there.  The dirt road was looking good: rough but dry, and some farmers were out working.  Upon reaching a familiar bend (where there was a domesticated duck pen right before the irrigation pond), we were faced with an evil looking mud puddle.  Deciding not to risk getting stuck, we asked permission to park by the road.

"Good idea," the farmer said, "you're sure to get stuck before you reach the ponds!"

As we geared up to go, the sun was already shining bright.  A cool and pleasant wind blew though, signs of the changing seasons.

Pairs of Pied Bushchats greeted us along the path.

Olive-backed Sunbirds (not really something you would associate with Candaba) sang cheerfully from the thorny camachile trees.

We flushed Lesser Coucals along the way, they took curious looks at us before disappearing into the tall grass.

As we came up to the ponds, we were surprised to see that they were choked and overgrown with grass and greenery and that hardly any water could be seen!  Perhaps this season's rains have not been enough to flood the ponds which were surely drained last summer for planting and irrigation.

Larger birds were easy to sight: Grey Herons and Purple Herons and Black Crowned Night-herons stood in silent patrol.  Small but frequent flocks of Wandering Whistling Ducks and Philippine Ducks flew by, but were quickly swallowed up by the greenery as they landed on the covered waters.

We made our way west of the ponds in the direction of the highway.  Most of the fields were still under water.  Whiskered Terns, all sorts of egrets (Little, Intermediate, Great and Cattle) and Herons were perched on small islands of land. 

Strangely, we saw a few Garganey which had landed right beside a large congregation of domesticated ducks!  They seemed diminutive swimming beside their hybrid cousins!

I think it's the first time I've seen migrant ducks swimming with domesticated ducks.

In the distance, a few Philippine Ducks were swimming in the open, flooded waters.  A lone Tufted Duck seemed a little lost by itself.

Nearer to us, many Little Grebes were popping in and out of the water in the floating vegetation. They were quite vocal and I realised that I had never really paid attention to what they sounded like before.

We passed by a duck farmer who had collected some duck eggs and was leaving one of his dogs to watch over the ducks.  He mentioned how high up the dikes the water was during the previous 2 typhoons Karen and Lawin but how the weather was improving.  He was wondering from which direction we had come from as we were now nearer the back way which was flooded and inaccessible.  We pointed in the direction we had come from and he gave a little scratch of his head. (I could almost hear his thought bubble: Crazy birders!).  "Not many wild ducks yet," he said out loud, "Just the ones that are here all year round. Four more days of this sunny weather and the road will be dry and passable."

It was already nearing noon and so we made our way back to our car.  All the usual suspects were out: flocks and flocks of Red Turtle Doves and Zebra Doves, noisy grassbirds and warblers, Yellow and Cinnamon Bitterns flying low across the ponds, Shrikes defending territories, Gerygones hopping about the rain tree canopy, swallows and bee-eaters gliding gracefully above  the fields, rails nervously crossing the paths.

As we left the pond area, a stately Purple Heron flew near us.

We had a very nice surprise on our walk back.  Several Eurema butterflies were puddling on the road!  They flew up in the air and surrounded us like yellow confetti as we passed them.

They quickly settled down and allowed us to get low shots of them delicately sipping minerals from the still damp ground.  I never thought this would be a sight I would see in Candaba!

Uneventful but all in all, it was a very pleasant walk and morning - hopefully a good sign of good birding days at Candaba ahead.

1 comment:

  1. Naka-four days na! Hehehe =) Enjoyed reading this! Will visit Candaba soon! =)