An Affair to Remember:
The 9th Taipei International Birdwatching Fair 2007
by Teresa Cervero
The 9th Taipei International Birdwatching Fair
2007 was held at the Guandu Nature Park on November 3 and
4, with around 21 delegates from Australia, India, Japan,
Thailand, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China, Philippines,
the U.K. and the USA ; over 30 local exhibitors representing
conservancy groups, NGOs and suppliers of outdoor gears &
optics, some adventure tour companies. The theme for this
year's fair was " Biodiversity". The WBCP was represented
by Mike Lu, Anna Gonzalez , Goh Yue Yun (a member from Singapore)
and Teresa Cervero.
Festival banners lining the
entrance to the park
I decided to join the WBCP team for the Taipei
international bird festival while on the road to Mt.
Palay-Palay on a Sunday afternoon with Mike and Alex,
barely 2 weeks before the festival date. The
invitation letter was emailed on Monday, visa
application filed on Wednesday and approved on
Friday. And that was that - I was ready to go on my
first journey to Taipei and attend my first (but
surely not the last) international bird festival.
Mike, Anna and I flew to Taipei via Cebu Pacific on
the 2nd of November before noon and landed two hours
later in high spirits. We were met by a member of
the Wild Bird Society of Taipei (WBST), Mr. Wang
Ho-kai, who immediately offered us refreshments while
we waited a bit for delegates from India and Japan.
Soon after, we were shuttled in a comfortable tourist
bus to our accommodations: the Chien Tan Overseas
Youth Activity Center. The weather was overcast and
pleasantly cool (and by our standards, merited donning
on a sweater). At the entrance of Chien Tan, we were
greeted by the loud call of a perched Common
Kingfisher in plain sight and two Common Moorhens
swimming around the pond. (We later learned that this
year's festival "insignia" bird was the Common
Moorhen. An omen of good things to come?).
The eve of bird fair: The Mayor of Taipei
City, Dr. Hau Lung-bin hosted dinner that evening, to welcome
the delegates. The young mayor addressed the guests in fluent
English, later followed by the President of WBST, Dr. Leo
Liu. We feasted on a sumptuous spread of Taiwanese cuisine
and all the delegates were introduced by the emcee (ala "roll
Yue Yun flew in from Singapore late in
the afternoon and upon arrival at the welcome dinner,
I noticed Yue Yun's bemused reaction when her presence
was announced by the emcee: " Ms. Goh Yue Yun, Wild
Bird Club of the Philippines, from Singapore"….
NOV 3 and 4: Guandu Nature Park came to life at the
opening of the fair at 8:00am.
Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin
delivers the welcome
remarks at the Welcome Dinner
Tents were decorated and the various tarpaulins, posters,
books, flyers, badges, bandanas, tee-shirts, and novelty items
were brought in by the delegates and exhibitors. Music, dance
numbers, games, puppet shows, lots of fun activities, lectures
and non-stop birding at the Guandu Nature Park kept the visitors
high-wired all day long. The interesting bird guide books
offered by various clubs, souvenirs and creatively-crafted
mementos were too irresistible not to buy. The face-painting
booth was a popular stop too by the kiddies and the oldies.
Anna opted for the Chinese Goshawk while I had the Taiwan
Yuhina painted on my cheek.
Just before the opening ceremony, the arrival of a huge Black
Stork circling the festival area enthralled the guests to
no end. It was a rare "sighting" and almost everyone craned
their necks to have a good look at the Black Stork in flight.
One notable thing about being in this fair is the frequent
public announcement of bird sightings in the park and upcoming
lectures/activities. As soon as the name of a bird is announced,
the visitors and delegates would rush to the Nature Center's
viewing hall to look for the new sighting. We got plenty of
exercise climbing up and down the stairs and leisurely walking
around the premises; trekking to the hides to have a look
at the beautiful Mandarin Duck and the elegant Whooper Swan.
Manning the WBCP booth: Mike Lu,
Dr. Liu, Anna Gonzales and WBST volunteer Mr. Chen
Anna, Yue Yun and I would often galivant around the
park and leave Mike alone in the booth. (Thanks Mike
for being such a patient "bantay"). We peered through
the spotting scopes in the viewing room and sat in
the hides to study the markings and behaviour of the
feathered visitors on the marshes and ponds - Common
Teals, Northern Shovellers, the regal Grey Herons,
Green-winged Teals, Mallards and Little Grebes. A
Crested Serpent Eagle even perched on a pole in
the grasslands. We were delighted by the Himalayan
Tree pie and the tawny-flanked Prinia flitting from
one lotus flower to other water plants, snapping at
the tiny insects; the Common Kingfishers pouncing on
the tiny fishes in the pond. There were countless
Chinese Bulbuls, some Black Drongos and Black-collared
Starlings. Children's laughter added to the din.
It was wonderful to watch the eager participation of the children
in the puppet shows; quest games and even the art of fish
"netting" which Anna tried to do.
The WBCP booth's brilliant- colored back drop of the
collage of Philippine endemics (illustrated by Jon
V.) was a "must-see" for the visitors. It must have
been the most photographed tarpaulin. We almost ran
out of things to sell by the end of Day 1. We had a
short supply of the tee-shirts (Calayan Rail design
and Arnel T's 3rd Philippine Bird Fest logo). The
Jon V stickers of "endemic birds of the Philippines"
did brisk sales. Many of the visitors where looking
for more merchandise, especially the "Philippine Eagle"
t-shirts. They inquired about birding in the
We had our usual coloring activity
for kids -- the kids were attracted to Robert
Alejandro's cut-out bird "flags" which we stuck on
"walis tingting" and used as part of our booth décor.
Uncle Mike was kept busy cutting out the crayon-
colored bird drawings and handing them to the kids.
Legislator Tien Chiu-Chin visits the WBCP booth
Group photo of foreign delegates from Hong Kong, China, India, Japan, US, UK, Australia and the Philippines |
There were presentations by the representatives of the exhibitors/bird
societies. Mike did an excellent audio-visual presentation
about the WBCP and the documentary about the 2nd Philippine
Bird Fest and the Unicef-sponsored "Just Watch Don't Catch"
educational campaign on the avian flu epidemic which the WBCP
conducted in St. Paul's Paranaque/Tambo area. The member of
BOCA (Bird Observation & Conservancy Association, Australia)
was very impressed by the video productions and the activities
of the WBCP.
During the Farewell Dinner hosted by
the WBST, all of the delegates were able to express
their views on the 2 - day event. We all shared our
personal experiences, highlights and thoughts about
the birdwatching fair.
Suggestions were also broached for next year's
bird festival. Everyone was happy to have been there and be
a part of an environmentally conscious and nature-loving community.
1. The event was well-organized and it was a good
learning experience for all of the participants.
There were 500 volunteers (300 from WBST and 200 from
the local community) who helped out. A lot of
attention was paid to the details and mechanics.
2. As cited by the Wild Bird Society of Thailand, they
did not expect their tshirts/other items to sell like
hotcakes - they were out of stock by noon of day 1.
The same case for WBCP, we even had less stuff than
Thailand. Let's start thinking of new merchandise
and educational materials about Philippine birds for
future bird festivals . More pictures of our
endemics! The Wild Bird Society
of Japan was one of the booths with plenty of books,
calendars, stickers, buttons, bookmarks,
birding-related novelty & educational items to sell.
The WBST of course was well-equipped too.
3. It was inspiring to see all the visitors who came to Guandu
Nature Park to support the event - latest count was 10,000
in 2 days. The Taiwanese are nature lovers! They were very
supportive of the event. Many participants would buy things
just to show support. It would be great if the WBCP could
find an outdoor venue (not necessarily as expansive as the
Guandu Nature Park) for the 4th Philippine Bird Festival.
(Alice and Chary - start looking for the right spot in Puerto
4. In line with the theme of the 2007 Taipei
Birdwatching Fair, let's try to be more proactive in
the advocacy for the conservation of the habitats (the
forests, wetlands and oceans of the world) in our own
little way. Small steps can lead to bigger leaps. We
can begin in our own backyard, our own country. And
then perhaps, we can help save this Planet from total