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WBCP Mid-year Report

MEMBERSHIP

The club membership now stands at 121 members.Majority of the members are based in Metro Manila, but membership from the Luzon provinces has increased. We now have members from the following: Cavite (5), Laguna (3), Bulacan (1), Bataan (1), Pampanga (4), Nueva Ecija (3), La Union (2), and Benguet (1).Outside of Luzon, we have members in Cebu (7) and Davao (2). The WBCP also has 7 members based abroad: US (2), Canada (1), UK (3), Singapore (2) & Japan (1). As expected, most members are Filipinos. However, foreign nationals based in the country and abroad have also signed up as club members. Among these were British (6), American (5), Canadian (1), Danish (2), Indonesian (1), Singaporean (2) & Indian (1).


TRIPS, Guided and Club

Guided Trips - 24 trips

The first half of the year showed a big increase in the number of guided trips. The figures include the monthly-guided trips for first-timers, organized trips upon request from different institutions and trips with visiting foreign birdwatchers.

The WBCP is committed to conduct monthly-guided tours for the general public to introduce bird watching to more people. For these introductory trips, the sites visited were usually in Metro Manila. Among these sites were the American Cemetery in Fort Bonifacio (3 trips), Tambo mudflats in Parañaque (1 trip), UP Diliman campus in Quezon City (4 trips), Rizal Park and Pasig riverbanks in Manila (1) and the first guided trip in Cebu held at the Royale Cebu Estates in Casili, Concepcion.

The WBCP was also invited to conduct bird-watching activities for the DLSU Eco-camp in Mt. Makiling (Laguna), the Slow Food Convivium at Candaba Marsh (Pampanga), a class of Environmental Journalism students at the UP campus (Quezon City) and for WWF members who attended Figaro Foundation's coffee farm tour at the IIRR compound in Silang, Cavite.

The club played a key role in promoting bird watching in the country by providing assistance and bird guides to visiting birders. In January, club members took Singapore-based photographer Edsel Ramos to the Tambo mudflats for a photo shoot.

Scott Lin and Party with Palawan guide

Four Taiwanese birders led by Scott Lin, from the Endemic Species Research Institute in Nantou, Taiwan, came on a 3-week bird watching trip.

In February, nine birders from the Wild Bird Federation of Taiwan led by its president, Dr. Tseng Guo-fang, also spent 3 weeks birding different sites in the islands of Luzon, Mindanao and Palawan. Davao-based birders Mr. & Mrs. Bruce Glick, & visiting American birder Ron Martin were shown around the UP campus in Quezon City while Canadian birder Todd Pepper, on his last business trip to the Philippines, asked to see the Tambo mudflats.

Canadian birder Marc Boss who came in April to attend the International Parliamentary Union conference joined club members on a birding trip with to Mt. Makiling.

May started with a request by the Philippine Eagle Foundation in Manila to accompany American birder and author Dr. William Clark on a half-day birding within Manila. Japan-based UP Geology graduate Allan Fernando, who first birded with the club 2 years ago, was shown around newly discovered sites in his old alma mater. Singapore businessman & bird photographer Ivor Lee went on his first trip to Subic in the company by 3 birders. Another Singaporean, Yong Ding Li, visited sites in Luzon, Bohol, and Palawan with new-found birding buddy, Mark Villa.

Club Trips - 26 trips

The WBCP regularly conducts bird watching trips for club members. From January to June 2005, 26 trips were organized. These trips include joint trips with the DENR for bird counts during the Asian Waterbird Census.

Birders at Westgrove Heights, Cavite

The club scheduled one trip each to the following sites in Metro Manila: Tambo Mudflats (Parañaque), Arroceros Forest Park (Manila), University of the Philippines (QC), Ateneo de Manila University (QC) & the parking lot of the Burger King in Welcome Rotunda (QC) to watch a pair of Peregrine Falcons!

Outside Metro Manila, the club scheduled one trip each to Westgrove Heights (Laguna), Mt. Makiling (Laguna), Boso-boso (Antipolo), Tanay (Rizal) & Sta. Cruz (Zambales). Four trips to Mt.

Asian Waterbird Census

In cooperation with the Manila Bay Environmental Management Project (MBEMP) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the WBCP contributed to the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) with data from six sites.

Last year, the WBCP led the first census for Manila Bay sites within Metro Manila. This year, the club led again the census for two Metro Manila sites --Navotas and Parañaque.

Tim Fisher with Mike Lu
The WBCP also initiated the first joint AWC with DENR-Region 3 at Bgy. Simang, Candaba, Pampanga.. The club also conducted a joint 2nd quarter bird count with the DENR in April in Bgys. Simang & Paralaya in Candaba.

Cebu-based WBCP birders also contributed data from two new wetland sites not previously covered by the DENR --Binlod in the town of Argao, and the South Reclamation Project in Cebu City.
 

OTHER ACTIVITIES

In January, UK-based WBCP birder Jon Hornbuckle gave a lecture on Birds of the Philippines before 60 birders and students at the University of the Philippines

World Bank's Environmental Champion Award
Canadian birder Todd Pepper on his last business trip in March turned over three pairs of used binoculars to the club.

In May, the president had the opportunity to meet with Philip Round, ornithologist and author of Birds of Thailand.

Awards

In the launching of the World Bank's annual state-of-the-environment publication, the Philippine Environment Monitor (PEM) 2004, the WBCP was chosen as one of the Environmental Champions. PEM 2004 recognized environment champions "who have relied largely on their own resources and have demonstrated strong commitment to become pioneering champions of environmental protection."

The awards, given out for the first time this year, was held at the Visitor's Center of the Ninoy Aquino Park on June 20, 2005. The awards were handed out by Secretary Mike Defensor of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Mr. Joachim von Amsberg, the Country Director of the World Bank office in Manila.

On the same month, the Babuyan Expedition led by Carmela Espanola was awarded a British Petroleum Conservation Programme research grant award in the silver category for their project that seeks to conserve the Calayan Rail.

Media Exposure

We had requested the Mayor of Candaba to publicize the Asian Waterbird Census in January. The nation's leading newspapers (Inquirer, Bulletin and Star) and major news networks (ABS, ABC, GMA & RPN) featured the census.

The Candaba birds were also featured in TV shows, Magandang Gabi Bayan & Jessica Soho Reports. Senator Pia Cayetano of the Committee on Environment also attended the bird count.

Manila Bulletin's Picture Perfect column by Raffy Paredes featured the bird photographs of Gerry de Villa on May 11 and Romy Ocon on June 15.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer posted an article on June 23 written by Delfin Mallari, Jr. on the Philippine Ducks and other wild birds found inside the Mirant power plant in Pagbilao, Quezon. The writer was accompanied by WBCP founding members Mike Lu and Ricky de Castro, who also works for Mirant.

Mayor Jerry Pelayo of Candaba and Senator Pia Cayetano with daughter

The June 26 issue of the Starweek magazine of the Philippine Star featured the Babuyan expedition members - Lala Espanola, Carl Oliveros & Mads Bajarias - in the article, Crusaders of the Wild by Ann Corvera.


Club Affairs & Future Plans

On January 8, the WBCP held an election to select officers for the year 2005. The new members of the Executive Committee are Mike Lu (President), Jon Villasper (Vice- President), Kitty Arce (Secretary) and Albert Ramos (Treasurer). As stipulated by the club by-laws, a fifth member should be elected by the newly elected Execom. The Execom's unanimous choice was Nilo Arribas, Jr., who is based in Cebu.

The club is planning to hold the first-ever Philippine Bird Festival in November. The festival hopes to bring to attention the country's avifauna diversity to the general public. We plan to mount photo and art exhibits, conduct lectures and bird watching trips.
Other Concerns

While the WBCP has initially set itself out to be a bird-watching club, it eventually has to be involved in conservation work. Apart from its participation in the AWC, the WBCP also attended a consultative meeting at the DENR to draft an action plan to preserve the Candaba marsh.

WBCP also continues to monitor the government's plan to reclaim parts of coastal Parañaque & Las Piñas where over 100 species of resident and migratory birds had been recorded by club members in the last two years.

While it seems that the DENR-NCR has given up hope on saving Tambo mudflats, we were assured that the mangroves and mudflats on Freedom Island has taken the interest of the local governments of Las Piñas and Parañaque. We hope to present a plan to both local government units to save the island and will continue to monitor developments.

The WBCP hopes to bring media's attention to the continuing destruction of the only primary forest left in Cavite. A highway being constructed through the Mt. Palay-Palay National Park, the only Important Bird Area (IBA) in Cavite has momentarily been stopped due to lack of government funds.

In less than two years of bird watching in this site, the WBCP has recorded more than 130 species of birds, a record that easily rivals those in the over-birded Mt. Makiling and the Subic Bay mountains.

The WBCP was recently invited by Robert Cereno, program leader of the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems for a meeting to get input from club members on how the park could be more birder-friendly